Notes from the past

A letter from local ornithologist, David C.

I must say DKG’s Tawny Owl & Kingfisher photos are really good. Tawny Owls seem to be doing okay in Wiltshire and Kingfishers are also widely distributed. They seem very inefficient breeders with only about half the chicks surviving their first Winter from more than one brood each Spring!

I spent my early wildlife-watching years (1948/1954) on the Northern side of what is now Southwick Country Park, along Lambrok Stream to Wingfield Road. It really was a different world with Lapwing (we called them Peewits) nesting in most of the fields.  Our challenge was finding the nests in the middle of a field while being distracted by the birds doing their broken wing trick and being mobbed. Four big pear-shaped eggs laid on a few bits of straw !  Yellow Hammers & Skylarks were common, but we are lucky locally as there are quite a few still around.  In those days birds-of-prey including owls, and herons & kingfishers had been almost wiped out due to farming use of DDT as an insecticide. It made fish/meat eating birds infertile. 

Another now scarce bird, the curlew, used to roost in a local swampy pond and the first collared doves had just arrived in the UK.  My field guide classified them as a rare vagrant !  We never used to see roe deer or badgers and now they are very common, so things have certainly changed !

I find the Southwick Country Park website inspiring, with lots of variety, what’s going on, and where help is needed. Well done FoSCP, keep up the good work.

Header picture: Skylark
All photographs (CC0)

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