Owing to the dreadful winter the land has been waterlogged preventing us from doing any heavy work in fields or woodland. Instead much of my time was spent supervising the conversion of an old stable into a small gallery (see NEWS). Now at long last it seems we have finished with the weeks of cold weather and rain. During this time I hardly touched a camera all I managed was to photograph long-tailed tits on a bird feeder outside the kitchen window! They took very little notice of me even when I was standing a couple of metres away.
Compensation for the hard winter was the profusion of long-
tailed tits outside the kitchen window
Our best news is that the barn owl is back. This most beautiful of birds can be seen floating around the rough fields most mornings and evenings in its hunt for voles and mice. Even during the very cold spells when the ground was covered with snow the owl could be seen in broad daylight looking for food, an indication that it was short of food. Apparently many barn owls died during this hard winter so it would be wonderful 'our' bird found a mate and produced some chicks - wishful thinking perhaps. The bird roosts in a barn owl box erected in one of the old cattle barns.
The picture will hardly win any awards but it is a record of our
barn owl having a short rest after a brief hunt for voles in the long
grass. It roosts in a cattle shed just twenty-five meters away
Our first real Spring day was on the 20th, its appearance was heralded not only by sunshine but also a few drone-flies, bumblebees, a brimstone and the song of the first blackcap of the season. The first cuckoo was perfectly on cue, being heard at the bottom of the Rookerywood on the 16th, whereas the chiffchaff has been around for a week or two now. A bonus is a pair of Greylag that have decided to nest on the little island pond - it is almost invisible even when viewed through binoculars but can be just seen in a photograph taken with a long telephoto lens. The island has more cover this year so with any luck the eggs will survive the carrion crows. Over the next few days the fresh green haze of Spring will be spreading through the trees.
It is said that in many parts of the country deer damage is more serious than global warming. This is the increasing opinion among many naturalists and ecologists, and certainly applies around here. The heartbeat of England's natural history is woodland, but in many areas deer destroy almost all greenery below about a meter resulting in no wild flowers, no new saplings, no diverse shrubbery and thin hedges. Around here all that survives is pendulous sedge and dog's mercury which deer hardly touch, the former out competing all else.
But I can't think of a better way to help wildlife. It all boils down to habitats. Besides which, charity begins at home!
Most of the deer population explosion has occurred within the last twenty years or so. If there was an open season for these vermin with far more drastic culling methods instead of all this pussy-footing about, the biodiversity of plants and wildlife would increase by leaps and bounds and the countryside, woods especially, would be so much more beautiful. The RSPCA and Bambi brigade don't help of course as they don't believe in controlling anything. Sadly there are a lot of ignorant folk around who argue on an emotional level and can't see the larger picture. The heartbeat of England's natural history is woodland, but in many areas deer destroy almost all greenery below about a meter resulting in no wild flowers, no new saplings, no diverse shrubbery and thin hedges. Around here all that survives is pendulous sedge and dog's mercury which deer hardly touch, the former out competing all else.
|Dawn in Rookery Pond|