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Nature Notes - Oct-Nov 2017

Fieldfare and redwing are now to be seen all around the village. Flocks of these winter visitors from northern Europe have migrated to the UK to avoid the harsher winters found on the continent – and what a welcome sight they are in late Autumn. Numbers will slowly increase but I did see a flock of around 20 redwing on the 18th Nov and was pleased to have a solitary fieldfare visit the garden on the same day. In a mixed flock redwings are the smaller bird in comparison to the fieldfare which has a harsh ‘chack, chack, chack’ call.

At Partons Pool on a very mild 12th November I saw what I expected to be my last Red Admiral butterfly of the year. Results from the annual Big Butterfly Count indicate that this migratory species of butterfly did very well this year (even with it being the wettest summer in 100 years!). Records indicated a 75% increase on the 2016 Count. I certainly saw a lot more on the buddleia this year.

Last month I wrote about the garden bird table. A frequent visitor recently has been the great spotted woodpecker and I include a photo that I took of a male (the female has also visited) who has a habit of taking over the peanut feeder. They are a delight to watch but once scared will not return for some time unlike the sparrows, tits and finches who seek refuge close by and then quickly return for more food.

Carolyn and Alan shared a sighting of a heron. What was unusual about this heron was that it spent two hours on the cricket field. On the photo shared the heron was clearly foraging, rather than in stationary pose with its neck bent over its chest. They will take small mammals and may be seen frequenting fields after harvest but I am not sure what the cricket field had to offer.

Bee and Joe B spotted a barn owl on the 17th Nov out towards Bearstone sat on a post. Given the clear night it was unmistakable. This road with it wide verges and numerous fence posts is a regular hunting and perching spot.

You may have noticed a flock of lapwings in typical wavering flight over the fields to the north of the village (they are certainly harder to spot amongst the stubble). I have counted 24 birds on two separate occasions over the past three weeks. This is a lovely sight in winter and we are lucky to have them resident – our summer breeders being joined by winter migrants.

I maintain a list of birds that I have seen or heard in, and from, the garden. This currently stands at 45 species. Dick W recently shared his own lists with me which was a fascinating read, clearly highlighting the changing seasons. Please share your own nature sightings with me using the contact details provided.

Great spotted woodpecker on the feeder in my garden. The male has a red patch on the back of the head, the female does not. In summer you may see one with a red crown - this is a juvenile. We have several breeding pairs in the village.

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