Nature Notes

Jul 31, 2017 | Bits & Bobs

August 2017 …..

In the middle of June we had a week’s holiday on Paxos, a small Greek island with lovely people and delicious food, and no jobs that had to be done! A real ‘chillaxing’ treat!  It was when we got back home and birdsong filled our ears again that I realised what had been missing. There’d been lots of swallows and seagulls, and loads of butterflies, but hardly anything else in the air, and virtually no songbirds. Too quiet! Mind you, we could be in danger of bankruptcy from hungry youngsters at the moment. They’re emptying the feeders at least twice a day – tits of all varieties, also sparrows, finches – green and gold – starlings, spotted woodpeckers, jackdaws, rooks and crows! Plus ground feeders, chaffinches, blackbirds, robins, dunnocks, and a thrush or two. A whole family of goldfinches were in the garden of the old Forrest Stores, I hear. I can’t remember when we last had so many late broods, and all so hungry. But I love them, every one.

I mentioned the butterflies on Paxos, and this year they are thriving here too. Amongst many species we’ve had a marbled white in our field, a white admiral reported at Bedham, peacocks, tortoiseshells, gatekeepers and commas. As you see from these terrific pictures (not mine!) taken alongside the Wey and Arun Canal, dragonflies are doing well too.

Meanwhile, up at Newpound, some friends had great pleasure watching deer raising two fawns in their field, staying around until the hay was cut. But then a swallow’s nest fell down in their stable. Great anxiety all round, as the babies were still so small, and sadly one had died. Impossible to replace the nest, so they cut a plastic pot in half, filled it with hay, fixed it to a beam and put the four babies back in. They left them, fearing the worst, but in the morning the parents were there feeding them, and ……

…..eleven days later they fledged!

Talking of hay and fields, what a lot of white clover lately.  It’s all over the village, the green has been carpeted with it and many gardens too. A feast for the bees.

Why just the white variety I wonder? Does it cope better with dry weather?

And yesterday, outside Sainsbury’s in Billingshurst a red kite was circling happily on thermals right above us. Further south there’s been a report of a nest with two youngsters. They definitely seem to like Sussex now. Athletic and dramatic in flight, they mostly scavenge for food and pose very little threat to anything larger than a rabbit. I hope we can make them welcome here. Nearer home, our buzzards are becoming more independent by the day, and my favourite kestrel is still around.

So – lots of things to see and hear at the moment, and although it’s lovely to jet off occasionally, it’s awfully nice to come home to our green and pleasant wildlife-busy land.  With these changing times, let’s hope that we can keep it so!

Sue J