Sunday, 3 September 2017

Every year is different......

Common darters by Petter Hagger
Have you noticed that every year is different? My computer tracks all my photos by date so I can see what the place looked like at the same time each year. In dry summers the trees and grasses look burned off by August yet this year they are still lush and green. The horrible spring weather had its benefits after all; at least it did for the flowers and the butterflies. For the birds, the results were more mixed.

Some birds only raise one brood of chicks a year and so, if they nest too early, or too late, or are just unlucky with the weather, it’s a catastrophe. The blue tits in our camera nest box failed to brood the eggs properly, presumably because one parent died. It was a late spring, causing many migrants to arrive late and in smaller numbers than usual. This was a terrible year for nightingales, with just a handful of singing males arriving here, and they didn’t all find mates. Only one pair of turtle doves showed up. As Donald Trump would say, “Sad”. Im really worried for the future of these particular birds as, if they produced no young this year, we might not get them back at all. Until recently we bucked the trend and held on to our nightingales while the Uk population as a whole steadily declined. So much for complacency.
Wild flowers in Peter's Field

However, those birds that nested later or have made repeated attempts produced quite a few chicks. We have two pairs of nesting barn owls this year (plus one in the quarry) and our buzzards nested again. For butterflies and dragonflies, this was a brilliant year and the wildflowers still look good in September.

We have had a few interesting migrants in recent weeks including a wheatear, an osprey, sandwich terns, ravens and hobbies, but my star bird was the great white egret that stayed and stayed. Now the first winter wildfowl are arriving from Iceland. Watch the numbers of widgeon, teal and shovelers build up over the coming weeks.  

Rose hips
This autumn, I forecast a bumper crop of berries and fungi and, because our water levels are low, perhaps some interesting waders to watch.

If you want to keep up with the changing seasons, why not join Martin Runchman on his Third Thursday Walk each month?