Nature Notes

Jul 31, 2018 | Bits & Bobs

This month’s notes have news from pretty much round the clock. There’s exciting daytime news, and some jolly night-time news.

First is news from Knepp Castle Estate. There are turtle doves nesting – several pairs breeding successfully. This beautiful bird’s numbers have gradually declined by over 90%, so hooray! And lots of butterflies there too – 300 purple emperors reported and the rare white-letter hairstreaks. The emperors like to live in oak trees and feed on dung and carrion, so are good at tidying up! Sallow (goat willow) is what their caterpillars feed on and it grows freely at Knepp, like many other so-called weeds.  Talking of wild plants, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the giant hogweed by the road in Loxwood. It’s not a popular plant, I know, but you have to admit this ‘forest’ is impressive. 

Up in Bedham a great black headed gull appeared very early one morning and later quite a crowd of black-backed gulls turned up in Arundel. Are they coming further inland to look for food – maybe nipping into the Wetlands for some corn? Luckily no gulls have taken the toads from round here – among my favourites as you know – and newts have been seen too – even a report of some adders.  I wish I’d seen them!  BUT I did hear an unexplained noise the other night…and when I took our old dog out, there was a ‘teenage’ hedgehog right on the step. Apparently it regularly visits next door, and gets a bit of cat food. More hoorays!. The barn owl has been seen a couple of times, which is great news, we often hear the tawnies too, and the odd bat flits by on our late walks.

And moths seem to be doing ok this year. I found one inside the dog’s medicine box yesterday – a good sized moth that I’d failed to rescue the night before. I went to bed miffed – opened the little box in the morning and out it flew! Amazing to sneak in there! I released it this time, so felt much better! Sadly – just after the moth moment, while driving up the B2133, I saw a big bird in the middle of the road. It was a beautiful juvenile buzzard, probably hit by a tall vehicle when flying low, with hardly a mark on it.  But then more good news – yesterday we picked up a very small hedgehog in the lane that needed some help – more of that next month……

Now, lastly, sometimes a crowd of jackdaws can be a bit annoying – but recently, in Pulborough, one was seen trying to eat a pear ripening on the tree. It pecked – the pear swung on its stem – it pecked again, several times – no joy. Off it flew, and came back with another jackdaw, who perched on the other side of the pear and steadied it. They both pecked at it till it fell out of the tree. They promptly flew down and shared it!  How clever was that??!

Sue J