Having moaned about the lack of birds at the bird table throughout  last month, they are back with a vengeance.

I can only presume that as most of them would still have been nesting, they were passing up food on the table for something a little more alive!  While most of the fat balls are being eaten by the Magpies, the food of choice seems to be the crushed seed.

Pretty much everything we have visiting will eat it.


The list of species seen this month includes

  • Kestrels
  • Goldfinches
  • Chaffinches
  • Magpies
  • Jackdaws
  • Dunnocks
  • Swallows
  • Great Tits
  • Blue Tit
  • Jay
  • Wood Pidgeons
  • Cuckoos
  • Pheasant
  • Buzzards
  • Blackbirds
  • Song Thrush

Like the Buzzards, we only tend to see them when the wind is coming from the South.

They seem to prefer pointing down the hill ,which is South facing,  and use the uplift to help maintain their position. Unlike the Buzzards, who are better soarers, the Kestrels have to work  hard to maintain their position. What you do notice is the head is completely still while all this is going on. Amazing birds.

Our resident Pheasant Percy, has been renamed by Sand, to Piglet. He’s learned fly onto the wall and hop across that to the bird table, where he will snaffle up anything on it.

We moved the fine seed feeders higher up the pole, as we found he was tapping this with his beak knocking the seed out onto the table.

The other day, we had 6 Jackdaws, 2 Rooks, a Pheasant and 3 Magpies feeding under the table and on it were a couple of Chaffinches and 2 Magpies. Harmony  lasted until one Magpie took exception to a Rook feeding on his bit of grass and all hell broke loose. Birds flapping off in all directions, except the two Chaffinches, who don’t seem to be phased by any amount of infighting.

We think those two particular Chaffinches are a pair and are regular visitors to the table. We know this, as the female has a tufted crest of feathers on her head, which other females we’ve seen, don’t.


On the Botany front, we have pretty much identified all the low hanging fruit, so from now on things start to get a little more difficult like the Grasses and the various mosses. While a few of the grasses are simple to identify, there are a large number which superficially look identical.

To help with the identification, I’ve acquired a copy of Francis Rose’s Book ‘The Wildflower Key’ While this has helped a lot, the amount of Botanical terminology involved, makes for a steep learning curve. Trying to figure out your upper and lower Glume and is that Awn on the Lemma or a Glume, means a lot of to and fro-ing between the Glossary and the beautifully drawn colour plates. I dare say it will become easier  with practice.

One things for sure, when it comes to  grasses, our Collins ‘Guide to British Wild Flowers’ is inadequate for this purpose.


This month, we have identified and added the following specimens to our Catalogue.

  • Common Sorrell (Rumex Acetosa)
  • Cock’s Foot (Dactylis Glomerata)
  • Wild Teasel (Dipsacus Fullonum)
  • Soft Brome (Bromus Hordaceus)
  • Common Couch Grass (Elytrigia Repens)
  • Rough Meadow Grass (Poa Trivialis)
  • Ribwort  Plantain ( Plantago Lanceolata)
  • Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium Dubium)
  • Foxflove (Digitalis Purpurea)
  • Navelwort (Umbilicus Rupestris)
  • Cleavers (Galium Aparine)
  • Tormetil (Potentilla Erecta)
  • Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus Corniculatus)
  • Slender Speedwell (Veronica Filiformis)
  • Red Clover (Triflium Pratense)
  • Common Mouse Ear (Cerastium Fontanum)
  • Yellow Iris (Iris Pseudacorus)
  • Meadow Buttercup  (Ranunculis Acris)
  • Hairy  Buttercup (Ranunculis  Sardous)
  • Perennial Rye Grass (Lolium Multiflorum)
  • Crested Dogs Tail (Cynosurus Perenne)
  • Broad Leafed Dock (Rumex Obtusifolius)
  • Common Marsh Bedstraw (Galium Palustre)
  • Soft Rush (Juncus Effesus)
  • Yorkshire Fog (Holcus Lanatus)
  • Meadow Cranes Bill (Geranium Pratense)

On the land management front, our plans to clear a 1.3 acre field back to meadow have been put on hold. We did clear a margin around the edge but found the reason the field has been fallow for so long, is the amount of rock buried in it. With some hefty machinery, it should be possible to clear, but at the moment we have decided to try tackling something a little smaller  of about half  an acre.

Before

After
We’ve cleared the  margins around the wall and found a lot of them have fallen down. Over the years soil has built up over the remains and we now have walls partly enclosed in shallow sloping soil banks. I’m inclined to leave these as they are and the amount of work involved rebuilding them is beyond us physically or monetarily if we were to get in someone to do it.

This field is filled mostly with Fern and Bramble, although neither of these have reached the centre, where there is just rough grass, some of which is concentrated in hard tufts of Soft Rush. I did find the trick with Bramble is just to drive the mower over it a few times without the cutter on. This flattens everything and allows the cutters to just clip the tops without  overloading the engine. A couple of passes and then a regular cut every few days gets us back to ground level.

I’m hopeful that the regular cutting will keeps the unwanted fern and bramble at bay, whilst encouraging the grass to grow through and cover all the dead patches.  At some point next Spring, we can decide how to prepare the ground for seeding with some Meadow Flowers and see what happens.

On the subject of grasses, our other fields – which are being used by our neighbour for silage – are growing like the clappers. With the extended cold Winter and delayed Spring, I’m not sure  he will be able to get two cuts this Summer, but in any event, they look great and we are looking forward to enjoying in seeing what comes up over the Summer