Monday, 23 May 2016

23rd May

A walk early this morning confirmed that spring movement is over. Highlights were a pair of Red-legged Partridge, two Goosander, at least five Yellow Wagtails and Kingfisher, my first on the Swale since late winter. This is in marked contrast to last year when I saw them every time I walked along the river.
Along Potter’s Lane a little muddy pool in an arable field attracted hirundines after nesting material...

as did a tiny puddle on the new building site in Morton but the House Martins were almost impossible to photograph and this feeble effort was the best I managed!

Last year I didn’t add any new birds to the year list between mid-May and late August so thoughts inevitably drift to other wildlife to fill the gap…
This lovely little plant is Lady’s Smock (also known as Cuckoo flower or Milkmaids)…

…and it seems to be present in much higher numbers than last spring. I assume this might reflect the wetter conditions and therefore more extensive areas of the damp grassland it favours? You can eat the leaves  of this plant but picking the flowers is meant to bring on thunderstorms or to lead to the picker being bitten by an Adder before the year is out. You have been warned!  
Flag iris is another nice May flowerer. Appropriate habitat is scarce in the parish but the bog area in the Magic Garden always has the odd plant…

The little beck here had hundreds of tadpoles in yesterday. They were tumbling uncontrollably until they reached a small area of slack water which allowed them to turn and face back into the flow.

Elsewhere, these remnant flood pools, which I optimistically (but wrongly) thought would be wader magnets, nonetheless are important little foci for wildlife. Each pool having Shelduck on (up to four pairs now in the parish) as well as Yellow Wagtails and Lapwing.

The pool in the photo has three pairs of Lapwing nesting around its margins and there were at least half a dozen recently  fledged young running around the field yesterday. When the parent gives a particular warning note the young immediately flatten themselves and can be beautifully camouflaged. I remember once in Worcestershire stumbling upon a group of young Lapwings, the parent called and they immediately lay flat and I couldn’t relocate them despite only being a matter of feet from them.

Finally, ‘Caught by the River’ is an interesting, eclectic site highlighting new nature writing, music and other assortments loosely linked to the countryside. One section is their Nature Book Reader where they invite nature writers and others to highlight their favourite natural history books. I have contributed a small piece and the relevant section can be found HERE    

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