Orchids at Midsummer

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I've been further abroad in the last few months in pursuit of excercise and wildlife .

Several trips to Askham Bog YWT Reserve ( which I would recommend to anyone , since it has an easy boardwalk for walking round ) have shown me Flag Irises, the Water Violet, and in the last weeks a fine display of Spotted Orchids :~

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The insects there are also impressive, and the Dragonfly season now well under way. Here's a Four-Spotted Chaser :~

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One butterfly they have that we don't is the Large Skipper :~

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We lost our Bishopthorpe Watervoles recently , presumably to Mink , so imagine my pleasure at Askham Pond one evening at seeing two fighting, with a youngster looking on. This on a fine evening two weeks back. Askham also has a resident Buzzard, which you might see if you go there, along with Sedge Warblers and Blackcaps.

Talking of Mink, I have received several reports of their presence from friends who live on the river,but until now have never seen one myself.
That changed last night, with a clear view of one sauntering along the beach opposite the Palace.This of course is not it, but gives a pretty good impression of what I saw :~

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Since a friend has recently moved to Allerthorpe,  just to the west of Pocklington ,
I've also been out to Allerthorpe Common ( another YWT Reserve ) a couple of times .
It's a heathland area on sandy soil , having a rather different flora from here , and the reptiles and insects that go with it.
They have rare things like the Marsh Cinquefoil, and more Orchids like the Northern Marsh :~

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The Marsh Cinquefoil :~

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And the Lousewort and Yellow Rattle , both parasites of other plants' roots :~

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Birdwise, I have little to report, save for the Sandmartins , which were very hard to spot last year , are back nesting in various banks along the river.
Johnno Leadley enquires whether anyone has seen Spotted Flycatchers recently ?
I certainly haven't, but then often I miss things.I confess that despite their being familiar from my youth , I have never seen one here in Bish.

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I had a magical evening with a friend doing a bat-survey around Stub Wood in Acaster: I held the bat-detector and the recorder while she took notes.
Starting at dusk , it took us about ninety minutes, with the most beautiful mist rising from the river. We saw about eight hares,but got somewhat bitten by mosquitos for our pains.
Two bat species, the Common and Soprano Pipistrelles , appeared on our detector.
I understand that Noctules are also in that area.
It's great fun to stand there stock-still while a perfectly visible bat flies around one very close, while it's echo-location is perfectly audible through the machine .

I cannot recommend too highly taking walks in the night at this time of year : rare beauties are to hand , once you get over the biting things.

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It's been a tremendous season for plants this year , and I cannot recall such an early and rich flowering , especially after last year's desperately late Spring.
The driest Spring on record has meant lots of sun, and the result has been a fantastic display and the appearance of several species we haven't seen for a while.

Ragged Robin , which appeared to be extinct here for the last two years , has re-appeared in the fields up from the river.
There has also been a fine display of Great Bellflowers on the bank near the bridge.

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A new one to me is the Ribbed Melilot, a member of the Pea family , on some roadside verges :~

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After these interesting diversions from nearby , one spot in the heart of the village worth a look is the Old Churchyard.
Since it was restored and railed in some years back, the Trustees have been encouraging the wildflowers there, and the present display is very impressive.

I have been asked to make a species list , and I will do so over a complete year,
but my present notes suggest something like 75 plant species and counting.

For such a small area that's pretty remarkable, and it's now been crowned this last week by the appearance of both Pyramidal and Spotted Orchids , which must have been lurking as seeds for a very long time:~

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I feel fairly certain it's a Pyramidal, though it has lost that characteristic shape.

The density and richness of the flowers at present is quite lovely...though one passerby was heard to remark that it should all be mown short , because it looked untidy......oh well !

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Woodcock, Waxwings and Moles.

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Woodcock , Waxwings and Moles.

This second hard  winter will end , eventually , though it's hard to imagine at present. The very first green shoots are appearing , very tentatively indeed, and if you look hard you can see snowdrops in the Palace grounds. The first Winter Aconite leaves are up , but no flowers as yet.
With the ground so hard and frozen for so long , Spring will be late in coming again , and our wildlife has taken a pounding during the last two months.
So there's not a great deal to report at present , apart from some interesting Bird events.

Before Christmas ,  after the heavy snow , and with all Northern Europe in the grip of Arctic air  there was a mass migration of Woodcock from Scandinavia .
Apparently this is not uncommon  , but conditions were so bad they arrived exhausted and desperate, and landed in unusual spots like my garden.
This one wandered around probing for worms for an hour or two, so I was able to take some pics.
 I really must clean my windows more often....
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The Woodcock is normally a solitary and shy woodland bird( which explains why I have never seen one before) but this one had been tamed by hunger.

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Another more immediate migrant is the Waxwing.
Having missed them last year , I was delighted that Pendragon got word to me in time for me to get out on Saturday morning early to see them.
 A flock of 30+ in a poplar tree on the cycle track just a little south of Jupiter. This rather grey morning I was able to get some snaps, but Jono Leadley has put up some much better ones in a parallel post.

Waxwing-flock-small.jpg
If you are quick this week they might still be around.
They really are the most spectacular birds , with very smart plumage. About the size of a Starling , and go around in flocks in a similar way , but entirely intent on fruit bushes.
At present they are stripping all the roses and cottoneasters they can find , before moving on.

The snow and floods must have effectively exterminated the vole, mouse and shrew population on the Ings , and I often wonder after such calamities how long they take to recover.
Evidence of recovery in those mammals is hard to seek , but another inhabitant , the Mole , has given ample evidence this week , with an extraordinary rash of new molehills all along the higher ground nearer the riverbank .
I counted over sixty , presumably the result of several individuals making new tunnels after they had been collapsed by the floods and frosts. They make such tunnels as traps for earthworms , and once built they will keep them supplied with worms fro some time.

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Waxwings in Keble Park

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Jono Leadley has recently seen the light and moved back to Bishopthorpe after some time spent 'dahn sarf'.

A keen birder, Jono has taken some great pics of Waxwings that appear to have taken a liking to the rose hips on the cycle track, and any berries there may be on trees around Keble Park.

Here are a few of the waxwing pictures. If you want to see more, take a look at Jono's 'Birding Dad' blog at www.birdingdad.blogspot.com

 

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Harvest Time.

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HARVEST TIME :~


The Ings have now all been mown , for the first time in about six years.
As I mentioned in my last , this is not necessarily bad news, since it will encourage new growth , and just possibly a bit more diversity in the wet meadow flora.

The dominant tall grass on the Ings here is Reed Sweet-Grass , Glyceria maxima, that many mistake for the common reed .It doesn't grow quite as tall , but it's nonetheless impressive.

Glyceria maxima.jpg

The downside is the loss of cover for animals of all sizes, from insects to deer.
The first field to be cut is already looking very green, but it will not have time to grow to any great height before next year's breeding season , which may affect the birds that nest in it, such as Reed Buntings  .

There will have been casualties amongst the birds and mammals : I found a dead mole ,
an hour or two after the mower had been round , but that is they way of things.

Now to some bad news...

I believe we have now lost our watervoles from the drain , possibly to Mink,
which have been frequently seen along the river.

I have looked regularly for any sign , since they leave little grazed areas, but found nothing.
I will check carefully over the winter, when observation is so much easier, but I don't think we shall see them.
If anyone has seen one recently, let me know.

On the same lines, we have also apparently lost our Sandmartins.
I walked north a week or two ago on a fine day, to watch them in the sandy bank
by Fulford where they have long nested.
Nothing .
Lapwings also absent from that area , where last year they were conspicuous ;
though they are still to be seen on the fields towards Acaster.

And as many will already now, someone has shot the Grey Seal that was active in the river earlier this year.
Nature is very cruel, or should I say indifferent.
But we don't have to add to it.
The animal, according to the RSPCA , had obviously been injured some weeks before it was found. It was shot with a shotgun , which suggests an adult culprit rather a silly boy with an air-rifle.

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INSECTS

A couple of new things :
A Lesser Stag Beetle  , which I met sitting on a Tansy flower.

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Since we are on the topic of beetles, we are presently having an explosion of  7-spot Ladybirds. I haven't seen any Harlequin ladybird invaders recently .
The Tansy Beetles are doing well in Acaster: I have just walked the flood bank south of Naburn Lock, and they are flourishing there on the numerous clumps of Tansy.

On-Tansy.jpg

Grasshoppers : ever since I've lived here, I have never seen a grasshopper.
This summer I was delighted to find them in my front lawn ( well miniature meadow really , since I've not mown it this year ). Only Chorthippus brunneus, the common field varity , but nontheless welcome. So far I've not found them elsewhere in the village , but they must be around.

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We also have the Small Copper butterfly : just a few , but a new one for my list.
Not a rare species by any means , but nice to have them.

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PLANTS :~
We can manage a little rich profusion of wildflowers, in a few corners .
Here's a pic taken by the drain on the Ings about two weeks ago :

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Mostly Marsh Woundwort, with Vetch in front and Hemp Agrimony behind.

Some new plants  :
Enchanter's Nightshade, growing in the old churchyard.
A great name, supposedly used by Circe to turn Odysseus' sailors into pigs.
I believe it may have been brought in on someone's trousers....

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And the Field Pansy , growing in unmeasurable profusion beneath the still uncut barley:~

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High Summer

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Catching up on over a month's worth of observations , and a lot to cover.
Sorry this first bit is a little old hat .


One rarely gets a really memorable day in wildlife terms, but the last Friday in May was one such.

Starting with a nice view of a Buzzard being harassed by four Crows over Ramsey Avenue ;
Buzzards are unusual here, and I thought for a moment it was a Kite from Harewood, where they are now flourishing, but definitely a Buzzard.

Then a trip down the cycletrack to see how things are coming along further out in the countryside.

Skylarks ; Yellowhammers ; the first , distant Cuckoo near Escrick. I hung around for half an hour hoping it might come closer and appear , but no.
Strange that we call it the Cuckoo : " wop-poo " seems nearer the mark.

Then over the fields of green corn, two hares.
They then proceeded to stand up and box , as if on cue.
This went on for not more than a minute until one conceded and ran off , pursued a little way
by the victor.

In the hot sunshine , the scent of blossom was pretty overwhelming.

The Hawthorn was just out , the Dogroses, the Broom, the Crabapples.
Glorious.

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Nothing much remarkable to report since then, though I have discovered another hedgerow tree or shrub which I had not noted before .

The Guelder Rose : quite a few in the hedgerow along the footpath to Copmanthorpe
(down Cop Lane, over the little footbridge and then across the fields ), and some ,
presumably planted , in the boatyard .

They say that the more species in a hedgerow, the older it is. So the Copmanthorpe hedgerowmight well qualify as one of our oldest , which makes sense given its position .
It has Hawthorn ,Blackthorn , Field maple , Elder and Guelder Rose , and probably more.

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Otherwise , just to cheer things along, here are some excellent pics from Jane Thomas.
The Banded Demoiselle :~

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Scorpion Fly female :~


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And our own little rarity , the Tansy Beetle :~

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Since these came in , a few extra things.
I've been looking at Trees, prompted by buying the excellent Collins Guide.

I was surprised to find that we have two Elms : a Wych Elm growing out from
the Bishop's garden over the Old Churchyard track, and a Japanese Elm
to the north of the track to the moorings. Since Dutch Elm disease took hold in the
Sixties, these are now a rare sight , but both these species are resistant.

We also have a Hornbeam in the Old Churchyard , planted of course, but unusual round here.

I have found more smaller plants in my continuing exploration of our Flora ;
the Black Bindweed :

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And in the Old Churchyard , which is looking very well at present ,
Musk Mallow , growing alongside the ordinary Mallow.

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And the Cut-Leaved Cranesbill, in the same place.

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Parts of our wildflower areas have burgeoned wonderfully after the very late start ,
and I don't recall quite as much sheer abundance before.
And there are three ( just three ) Ragged Robins , a plant we ought to have in some abundance:~

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INSECTS :~
Two new to me here .
The Ringlet Butterfly :

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And the Dark Dagger Moth :

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For the first time in some years , this week some of the Ings meadows have been mown
by local farmers in search of forage.
They have only been able to do this because of the unusually dry conditions:
I suspect in previous years their tractors would have got bogged if they had tried.

Hoping that the Reed Buntings and other ground-nesting birds have already flown , I don't regard this as
any kind of disaster , though it does look a bit startling after the very tall vegetation.

Interesting to contrast our meadows with Fulford Ings , which I visited the other day.
This area is lightly managed as a Nature Reserve , and has a richer , more mature flora, with many more
Sallows and Birches , and one or two plants like the Stitchwort we don't appear to have ,
though it is in every other way similar.
An interesting contrast.

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And finally , on Sunday my path was crossed opposite Naburn by three Weasels, an adult and two youngsters.
Resembled nothing so much as a string of furry sausages being whipped across the path.


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Spring at last...

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My predictions about the Hawthorn ( coming out around Old May Day , the 13th ) were slightly over optimistic : it is only just starting on a couple of trees.
Next week , if the weather holds,  we should have a massive display.

I've been out and about with the camera , so here are a few heartening pics.

The Blackthorn/Sloe :~

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Cowslips:~

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Crabapple:~

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Greater Celandine , at the Old Churchyard :~

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Not related to the Lesser Celandine, but a sort of cabbage , with a remarkable
vivid yellow sap that looks as though it could be used for painting or dyeing.
Poisonous.
Another Cabbage/Mustard ( there are an awful lot of those and most of them live in Bish ) ,
the Wild Radish :~

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Living on the edge of a field of Rape :~

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Dandelion : if these were a rare exotic , everyone would have them in the garden.
We have them anyway as our commonest weed , but look again.

Dandelions.jpg

Otherwise , the birds are the most obvious Spring sign.
Swifts are back, the Whitethroat curses disapproval from the hedge , and last week I watched a Curlew performing a display flight, trilling all the while, on the Ings near Acaster Malbis.

Just one Kingfisher this week , but I just had a report that they are nesting north of the palace.
No more sightings of the seal reported.

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We have to face the truth that Bishopthorpe is quite unremarkable in terms of its Wildlife ,
and apart from the Ouse itself , the drain along the middle of the Ings really is our most interesting area.
It runs for about 900 yards from the campsite to the Old Bridge .

There are one or two interesting plants, like the Amhibious Bistort and Marsh Marigolds,
Watervoles , and the Amphibians of course.
This week Harblow reported watching Sticklebacks , so I went and investigated :
sure enough,a very brief view , but not as good as this .

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He was lucky enough to see some mating behaviour he described as a display " dance " by a brightly-coloured male.
It was probably fanning the eggs in its nest in a scrape on the bottom ,
since the males do all the brooding of the eggs.

I saw Sticklebacks there very clearly some years ago, but at present there is so much scum on the surface that it's very hard to find any clear water to observe.

I worry about threats to this drain : the last 100 yards before the bridge are obviously dead,
presumably poisoned by runoff from the houses above : a couple of big concrete drains enter in this stretch.This section is also heavily shaded .
And now, at the other end , one of the adjacent fields nearer the boatyard has been cleared,
for what reason I don't know yet , just at the point where the watervoles have most often been seen.Too much disturbance here could be bad .

Parts of the drain could perhaps do with a little excavation to improve the flow, since they are completely choked... not that the wildlife minds that much , just adapts to the swamp.
But it needs to be done with great care for the habitat and what little wildlife it does contain.
We don't have much to be proud of here : we must take great care of what little we have .

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Just for fun , a nice pic from John in Stamford Bridge :
This Wood Mouse was attempting to excavate her nest under his back step : ~

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Loveliest of Trees, the cherry now...

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May Day Holiday :

The cold wind continues, but Nature will do what it must, regardless.

The tree-blossom is now at its height, and Bish looks at its absolute best right now,
at least when the sun shines.
We have a glorious mix of Native and Ornamental trees , and they all seem to be
flowering at once.
For the first time for years, my Apple and Pear are flowering at the same time.
The Blackthorn is making a fine display, along with the various Wild Cherries.

" May Day " is of course a bit of a moveable Feast , as I remarked last year.
I think it's going to be nearer the end of the month this time before the Hawthorn
really gets going.

I still reckon the season is about three weeks late compared with last year, when on the 2nd of May I made remarks about butterflies, and various plants which are not yet flowering.
The little iridescent green Dock-beetles are however appearing.

One plant success story : our Marsh Marigolds are doing well , flowering now, and I note
three more clumps which have appeared since last year.
There's also a new clump of Damas Violet in the wettest part of the Ings.

BIRDS :
The Whitethroats and Martins are back , though the latter seem in very small numbers.
No signs of Kingfishers, nesting or otherwise .

Sparrows : our traditional House-Sparrows are getting rarer, especially since
the EU rules about storage of grain have restricted their commensal food source.
 
But it's nice to note that Tree-Sparrows seem to be doing well here.
The difference is slight, but the Tree-Sparrow has this clear little mark on the male's cheek:
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The House Sparrow is slightly less dapper , and has no mark :

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Pics from RSPB
Next time you see sparrows, try and see which you are looking at.

MAMMALS :
 
The big Mammal news is really that  : our Grey Seal has returned, or possibly
been succeeded by another.
Saw him ( for it is I think a bull ) yesterday from the boatyard,and the day before.
Just cruising about like a small drifting pale grey log,with just the top of his nose showing,
then diving for about two minutes before re-appearing downstream.

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Seems quite unbothered by human activity , though I doubt the fishermen are very
happy about it, since he must be taking a fair number of big fish .

Friends living on a boat say they have had one or two superb evenings watching bats in
the gloaming , a pleasure I hope to share soon.


RANT.
 Just a little one, but the boatowners who returned like summer visitors a couple of
weekends ago always seem to feel the need to show their virilty ( for they are always a man
of a certain age with power tools , while Mrs.sits in the car looking bored ) by strimming or hacking down the plants on their bit of bank, as if it were their back garden.
 
It isn't : it's a wild riverbank, if ceaselessly shaped by Man.
The plants growing there need a little help, not extermination.

Quite a number of Sallows have been not just pruned, but hacked out this Spring between the Palace and Naburn, and we have this week had our delightful plot of Wild Garlic flattened quite unneccessarily near the boatyard.
I just wish they would direct their murderous intentions towards the Himalayan Balsam....



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Spring at Last...

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Thursday..

 The longed-for Spring totters in like a tired geriatric, rather than striding in like
a robust adolescent.
Plants are growing , but very slowly. The cow-parsley and nettles are at least five inches tall in places, and at least the daffodils are now well out, and today's sunshine reveals the first flush of green on the Hawthorn.
On the radio today they estimate things are about three weeks late.

Birds :
You might recall a while back , we had a report of Chiffchaffs being heard in January.
Well, on Monday I heard two singing competitively down by the old church.
Whether these are early migrants or robust survivors of the winter it's impossible to say.
Today, I have heard about six singing, and had a good view of one near Naburn.

The nesting behaviour of some birds is intesting to watch. I sat riveted as two Magpies defended their nest in a still leafless tree against a nosy Crow.
Whether the crow was intent on eggs, or seizing the nest itself, was impossible to judge.
Given the late Spring , I think it unlikely that eggs were yet laid.

Neither of these species is popular, yet they are both very succesful in this area.
Crows particularly are very numerous , even flocking on occasion ( and no , they were not Rooks ).
I had a corvine dispute involving eight of them in my garden recently , which went on very noisily for about fifteen minutes , but I simply couldn't discern what it was all about.
All the crow family are highly intelligent,and seem to have complex social lives.

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STOP PRESS : The first Swallow , today , along the river near Naburn.
Just one, and looking very cold in the cruel wind.

Amphibians :
 The Frogs and Toads have now all spawned : I missed it , but they must have got
it all over very quickly the week before last, when I was very busy.
A lot of dead ones afterwards, suggesting exhaustion and very low fat reserves at the end
of a very long winter.
There is spawn in a couple of places I had not noticed last year, but quantities are low.
Just placed a clasped couple of Toads out of harm's way on the cycle track, near the Newt Pond where they are happily calling  , and mating is still proceeding.

Insects :
When it's warm enough , the Bumblebees and Solitary Bees are about in some numbers, but there's not much flowering for them to collect from.

Mammals :
The Press report a Seal appearing in the Foss basin last week. Which means it may be up and down the river,and worth keeping an eye out for.
We had one two years ago, and it may be the same individual.
It's a big Atlantic Grey , a male by the looks of the photo.

And two days ago , I watched a Roe doe across the river from the boatyard.
They are often there at twilight , and probably very early. Stand by the Noah's Ark
presently building ( does he know something we don't ?) and look across into the jumble of trees and brush across the other side.
The deer exactly match the brown colour of the still dead vegetation, but give themselves away when they move.  Watched through glasses, they are grazing the new grass.
 Seen twice this week.

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The long-range forecasters ( not the poor old Met Office ) who got it right about last summer, and this last winter , are predicting a VERY hot summer .

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Life stirs...

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What a difference the change in the weather makes.

Not much growing or flowering yet, as if the plant world is still stunned by the night-time temperatures.
But a few things are taking advantage. The grass is already growing .

I shall indulge myself by posting absolutely my only claim to horticultural splendour.
The Early Purple Crocuses in my garden , which have self-seeded from a tiny clump over twenty years, are now in their full glory.  I have about a thousand , completely covering my back lawn...
 I took this pic in the midday sun, and I only wish I could bottle this for the rest of the year.
And the first Bee appeared on cue :

Spring-bee.jpg

BIRDS:

Lots of mating behaviour going on now.
You may have seen and heard the blackbirds squabbling at dusk .
There were six in my garden toughing it out to see who would get the territory.
The dusk and dawn blackbird racket ( and they are noisy ) is all about space : if they
control it , they can breed.
But they seem to be in a constant state of warfare over it.

I recently watched a large 80 + flock of Fieldfares flying north at dusk. Bit previous to be on the way back to Scandinavia, but maybe they know something we don't.

The Moorhen : such an unassuming bird , but we must have six or so pairs nesting here
along the river and the drain. The young are about the most vulnerable mouthful you ever saw,
but somehow they survive.The adults were very obvious during the long cold spell, which must have made foraging difficult for them.
Their burlier cousin the Coot is around, but seems to nest further down the river at Naburn.
Of course they will only just be starting to prepare for nesting, and no chicks like these will be seen until May :

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Common or Artic terns around on the sewage farm and the Marina at present :~

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Snipe are back on the Ings for the winter. It's been so flooded it's been difficult to get in far enough to disturb them , but they are there again, as last year. I put one up today , 14th March.

MAMMALS :

The previous reports of Otters may have been a bit wishful. I have been talking to
fishermen , always a good source as to the wildlife on the river.
Two of them quite separately reported Mink, in daylight.
Since they are concerned about Mink themselves, and are pretty experienced at
close observation , I tend to believe them . And otters very rarely appear in daylight.
If one saw a fleeting glimpse of an animal like this, one could be forgiven for thinking " Otter ", but it's a Mink :~

Mink DJS.jpg

Pic from DJS photography.

I have Mice .
I don't suppose I'm the only one, but every winter I seem to get a visitation.
I wouldn't mind if it were not for the nocturnal dancing.
My house is very quiet at night, so any noise is instantly noticed, and my visitors have taken to gnawing something in the space between the ceiling and the attic floor, just above my bed.

Out with the traps, I regret to say.

No sign of our amphibians yet ; though a friend reports that the field behind his house in Stamford Bridge is alive with frogs. If the weather warms up we can expect some activity.



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A very late Spring

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BIRDS : ~

I mentioned the Blackcaps overwintering recently, and I have just had a report of a Chiffchaff singing by the riverside.
Normally a summer visitor only , it's just possible that this was one of the Siberian subspecies, which like the Blackcap are starting to overwinter here.
Both these birds , like all our summer warbler visitors , are insect feeders , and the severe cold must have hit them hard, since the insects vanish .

There are however reports from the Midlands of birds living on sewage farms , near to main river courses. The warmth generated by the farms processes is enough to keep insects hatching al year round.Since we have exactly those conditions, perhaps the report is credible.
I shall keep my ears open.

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Kingfishers are about on the river again : seen two in the last week.

The Goosanders are still with us.They seem rather more nervous than last year,
and fly off at the slightest disturbance , very fast and low. Most powerful fliers.

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Many birds are starting pairing and nesting behaviour.
I watched some Jackdaws yesterday inspecting a nearby chimney pot, and talking to each other...doubtless discussing how to remove the wire thingy put there to prevent them nesting !

Jackdaws are intelligent and highly social birds, and I've always liked them ,ever since trying to rear a foundling when I was a boy. Like many at that time , I had read Lorenz's " King Solomon's Ring " about his studies of his local Jackdaws in Austria , a bestseller in the 1960s.
I kept the bird in a disused bathroom at school, and fed it three or four times a day,and it was doing well, jumping on to my shoulder and nibbling my ear. Whilst I was absent , it drowned in the toilet whilst trying to fly.
But I had about a month of its company , and it was a moving experience.

jackdaws Rob Fray.jpg

Plants :
The snowdrops are well out, and the first Aconites are now opening in a few shady spots. Otherwise the season is running perhaps two weeks late , and the overnight snow is somehow depressing : this feels like the longest winter I can recall.

Eranthis hyemalis 2.jpg


RANT :

Litter :~
I have just spent a pleasant hour in the winter sunshine with a binbag clearing litter
from the riverside track , something I have taken to doing a couple of times a year.
This is not some selfless public act , I just hate the stuff, and I'd sooner not look at
it every day, and it's not a deal of bother to carry a binbag .I made a small dent, but there's lots more to do.
Now is a good time, since the vegetation is at its lowest , and you can get at the stuff.

Litter that persists is of three kinds :~

Bottles , glass and plastic, and beer cans.

Crisp and sweet wrappers of the metallic/plastic kind.
We know that these are largely dropped by teenagers :it's just one of the things they do,
like lying in bed all day and grunting. The Sports Field suffers most, and parts of it are a mess and would benefit from a cleanup.

And the third , most curious kind : the plastic bag containing the Doggy Deposit, often hung
from a branch.
I cannot fathom the attitude that produces these.
The By-Laws say you should clear up after your dog , and there are a couple of bins in places round the village.
Fair enough , and many conscientously use them , despite the fact they are often overflowing.
But why obey the rule to bag it , then , presumably in a fit of resentment against authority, leave the damn bag to hang in perpetuity for all to see ?

Frankly , where surfaces are not paved and there is plenty of vegetation, much better just to leave it unbagged, since at least it has a chance to rot away naturally.
If entombed in a brightly coloured bag , it will last for years.

There are several spots which have obviously been used as a dump over long periods.
I don't buy the excuse that they were going to pick it up on the way back.
Forget once , fine, but many times ?
And there are obviously several of these phantom decorators at work. I suspect that no-one would ever catch them at it...

Perhaps dog-owners should revive the use of the houlette , the old shepherd's tool for flinging the valuable fertiliser where it was needed :~

houlette.jpg


Lest I be accuse of being another anti-dog whinger, I'm rather fond of them ,
as many friends will I hope attest, though not an a dog owner myself.
This is not anti-dog, but anti-squalor.

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