18 May 2009

Nature notes - a quick update

This is just a quick post to fill in some gaps from various trips and sightings from early May.

May has generally been a lot less pleasant than April, with showers and blustery winds the order of the day. However, that hasn't stopped nature going about its business, and there's still been plenty to see while out and about on my day-to-day travels.

The first Swifts arrived back in Henley-in-Arden on or around 7th May, very much in line with previous years. While driving around the neighbouring countryside, there seem to be more Lapwings over the fields than in previous years, and I'm hoping this marks a return to wider spread breeding due to changing farming practices. Fingers crossed anyway.

On the subject of breeding birds, I put my first ever nest box up in autumn last year, and I'm now the proud steward of a family of Blue Tits. They're going through fat balls like crazy, but it's worth every penny - it's amazing to watch just how busy the parents are at the moment.

The photo is of a bracket fungus on a dead tree where my wife works. It's absolutely amazing and I have meant to photograph it every year it appears. I read somewhere that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants - is that true?

And finally, I missed one trip to Ufton Fields out of my regular trip reports, and it was an important trip for one key reason. I have often been told that Ufton represents my best chance of finding Turtle Doves locally, and while I couldn't actually see any last weekend (10th May), I did hear several birds, softly purring along The Ridge in between the Wood Pigeons. Ultra distinctive and ultra exciting, although I was gutted that 45 minutes of searching didn't throw up so much as a glimpse. Still, never mind - nice to know they're there.

Bird of the week: Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur), a beautiful elegant bird with a soft, distinctive purr. Sadly rare these days, and still in decline.

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