The ramblings of an all-round naturalist based in north Surrey
Wait awhile in early Spring
I've been spending a bit of time in the garden recently, tidying up from the neglect of winter. A bit of cutting back; raking up leaves that dropped after the autumn winds or were blown out of their hiding places by winter gusts; reducing the rampant ivy; giving the lawns their first trim of the year (although neither modest affairs would win any awards, being more moss and tree root than grass); cleaning out bird feeders and topping up the ones in use; clearing the pond of floating debris (this doesn't take long as it is very small indeed). Wherever I looked, there were signs of the season ramping up - buds where there were no buds just a few days ago, leaves unfurling, flower unveiling. A bit of sun and the attendant warmth enticed Brimstones and Small Tortoiseshells out of hibernation. If I actually switched the moth trap on (I haven't so far this year) there would no doubt be the usual suspects to greet me, the Hebrew Characters, the Clouded Drabs and the Common Quakers. The season is getting ready to progress further, and within just a matter of weeks all will be a riot of growth and colour. This time of year sees a speeding up of change, when the muted palette of winter is well and truly condemned to the memory. Treasure it, because as each day passes the changes occur faster than you can take in. Colour swapped for other colour, growth for other growth, one suite of species to make way for another. Life in a humble garden may never stop, but the freshness and newness of Spring is a special time. Sometimes it is tempting to want to fast forward to Swifts, orchids and chalk downland slopes full of buzz and perfume. But be patient. Wait awhile in early Spring. There is plenty of time for all of that.
Not taken today, but during a previous summer. All asleep at the moment, but soon to stir...
Yesterday evening I had written a lengthy post on the subject of birding behaviour during the second lockdown, but then deleted it rather than publish it - this after a bit of soul-searching when I thought better of it, and decided that it might ruffle a few feathers That wasn't something that I wished to happen. So I tweeted this instead: As can be seen, it has gathered a lot of interest, with over 58,000 views, 40 Retweets and getting on for 950 likes. But what about the 'not likes'? Even though I do put out the odd contentious tweet from time to time I am still a sensitive soul and do not like to think that anybody would be upset by what I post. I felt happy that the above post would be taken as a pat-on-the-back to those birders who have stuck to the government lockdown recommendations. Plenty haven't - or at least have played loose with the nitty-gritty of lockdown - and this has annoyed me somewhat. I could go into a bit more detail, but really don't want to.
I don't know what has sparked it off, but a number of birders on social media have voiced their dissatisfaction about the way in which certain organisations are managing nature reserves. Along with my thoughts about the Surrey Wildlife Trust's custodianship of Holmethorpe (see last post), there have been missiles lobbed at the Kent Wildlife Trust (Oare Marshes) and the RSPB (Dungeness). I can add my two-pennies about the latter... The reserve at Dungeness has come on an awful long way since my first visit in 1976. There has been much beneficial habitat creation, with 'new' reed beds that now support Bitterns, Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tits, and a mosaic of water bodies that are excellent for wildlife beyond birds. The visitor centre, when it was opened, was a massive step up from the wooden hut that used to stand there. And where there was just the one hide, at least nine are now scattered across the reserve. So, what's not to like? If I were being uncharitable, th
A mild spell of weather during the 'dark' months of November, December and January will alert most keen students of moths to switch on the MV/actinic trap. Apart from the small selection of species that are still on the wing during the winter there is the chance of picking up a few migrants, especially if the mild weather is due to the airflow coming up from North Africa and Iberia - and that is the case right now. There have been migrants coming to the Banstead MV over the past couple of nights, but so far have been confined to just the expected - a few Silver Y and Udea ferrugalis . However, hope is high, as there are plenty of high value moths being recorded along the south coast and in SE England. Last night's haul here was fair, with a cast of late-autumn regulars that included this Satellite. The trap is on once more. My walk out to inspect it in the morning will be one filled with more hope than usual.