Water Voles

 There are three species of vole in Britain: the short-tailed or field vole, the bank vole and the water vole, which is the largest of the three and by far the rarest. Water voles (Arvicola amphibius) have experienced one of the most rapid and serious declines of any British wild mammal ever…

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Returning chiffchaffs

Has anybody heard our chiffchaffs yet? This is the time of year when they come back from the Mediterranean and Africa to nest in the park and their unmistakeable call is a welcome sign that spring is here. Message or email us if you have heard them .

All these pictures were taken in the park by DKG.

Lesser Celandine

The lesser celandines (Ficaria verna) are in flower. Celandines are the floral equivalent of the swallow, they appear around the same time and mark the coming of spring. In fact the word celandine comes from the Greek name for swallow: chelidon. One of its local names is spring messenger; others are brighteye, butter and cheese, frog’s foot, golden guineas and, less romantically, pilewort because it was once used to treat haemorrhoids.

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The Eurasian collared dove, Streptopelia decaocto, seems ubiquitous: one of the park’s noisiest and most common species. But it wasn’t always so.

How come?

Crocus vernus photographed in the park by Clive Knight. Crocuses are not native to Britain; they were brought here from central and southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and China, in the 15th century.

Endangered flight corridor

Of the 18 species of bats native to Britain, 13 have been identified in Southwick Country Park, in Southwick Court, and in the green fields between Trowbridge and Southwick. The thirteen includes the rare and endangered lesser horseshoe bat, a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and the internationally protected Bechstein’s bat, one of the rarest mammals in the UK.

Read on to see how proposed development will harm the bats’ habitat

Nesting

At this time of year, the reserve’s blue tits are looking for nest holes in our old trees. The ash tree at Fiveways harbours a nest every year and the newly fenced oak near at the bottom of the Arboretum seems to have attracted more than one pair already.

Here is a video of a female blue tit building a nest while, outside, the male guards the site from marauders and thieves.

Video from The Nest Box
Header picture by Simon Knight

Sunday walk

FoSCP members, Ian and Pat, walk in the park with Pat’s dogs early on Sunday mornings. Pat, our champion litter picker, picks up the rubbish other park-goers have left behind, while Ian surveys the fields and woods for first flowerings, new species and the occasional damage, and reports back to HQ. Here is last Sunday’s bag:

“…Bullfinch in the hedge near Stoat Oak, native Daffodils in flower and Stinking Iris leaves at bottom of Kestrel Field near to the pond…”

[1[ Bullfinch ‎(Pyrrhula pyrrhula);‎ [2] Native daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus); the flowers [3], seeds [4] and strap-like leaves of Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima)

Lambrok at Risk

by David Feather

Unfortunately, what is clear about the proposed development at H2.6 and the other two proposed housing sites (here and here) in the South of Trowbridge Community Area is that the original studies done for the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocation Plan (WHSAP) proposals were woefully inadequate. Now Wiltshire Council is involved in a poorly evidenced defence of the selection of this site and others in the area, and the developers are taking full advantage of this fact.

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Birdlife in an Old Oak

By Ian Bushell

I nipped up to the park this morning to see how the contractor was getting on with the chestnut fencing around the Oak we have been clearing in the Arboretum, near the entrance. Spring is just around the corner and some of the lives that the old Oak supports were evident.

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Pussy willow

A goat willow’s flowers, or catkins, known as pussy willow because they look like furry grey kittens’ paws, appear in February, one of the earliest signs of spring in the park.

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Mail and photographs from Chris Seymour:

Good afternoon, just wanted to share my photos with you of my frosty walk around the park this morning. Stopping at my favourite spot by the pond 🙂

Kind regards

Beautiful photographs; thank you, Chris.

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