An adder used to be called a nadder!Continue reading “Adder factoid”
Church Lane’s wildlifeContinue reading “Mail from Mel S.”
The media has made much of a recent meta analysis, Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers, published in the journal Biological Conservation. Researchers Francisco Sanchez-Bayo and Kris A.G. Wykhuys have come to conclusions so frightening that even the newspapers couldn’t find the words to make it scarier than it really is.Continue reading “Loss of insect species”
Has anybody heard or seen the tawny owl that was spotted in the park three weeks ago? We are hoping it is still here, perhaps with a mate, looking for nest sites.
Tawny owl calls are unmistakeable, the classic too-wit-too-woo, but their camouflage is excellent and they are difficult to spot against a background of tree bark. Here is a short video from YouTube to help with identification.
Contact details, if you have anything to report, are here.
More about tawnies:
While checking goldfinch facts to go with DKG’s pictures last week, we discovered, to our delight, that the collective noun for goldfinches is a charm. How charming is that?Continue reading “A charm of goldfinches”
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!Continue reading “Notes from the past”
A goldfinch high in an ash tree, photographed by DKG early on Tuesday.Continue reading “Goldfinch”
This is the robin that sang for the Friends of Southwick Country Park as they hacked their way through the thicket of bramble and blackthorn at the rear of the car park on Tuesday morning.
Three weeks ago a tawny owl was seen in the strip of woodland between Lambrok Meadow and Kestrel Field.Continue reading “Tawny Owl”
Our chiffchaffs will already have started the long journey back to their breeding sites in the park. They have overwintered in the warmth of southern Europe or northern Africa and are making their way home in a leisurely way with lots of stops for fuel; the males are the frontrunners and they need to arrive fit enough to find and fight for a territory.
They will begin arriving in March; their song (chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff) is one of the first signs of spring.
Pictures by DKG
Kingfishers are highly territorial; they pair up in the winter but keep separate territories until the following spring. It is probable, therefore, that our female has already paired up with a nearby male.
A kingfisher’s territory covers, on average, a kilometre of waterway; our female will be looking for a nesting site either very close to, or in the park. The Lambrok’s steep clay banks may well be perfect.
An excited email from DKG this morning:
” A few photos of our Kingfisher at last. After 5 years of trying to capture photos of the park’s resident kingfisher, yesterday (Sunday 20th) finally produced the photos I had been after. But these came about as usual with no intention of looking for it and if not for Ian, I would have even missed these shots.”
We, the Friends of Southwick Country Park, love animals. But we love animals in the right places and sadly, cats are not good for the Country Park. The picture shows a cat with a bird in its mouth but the range of creatures it can kill is wide. Cats can be really good predators. There is one report of a cat owner counting 10 prey brought home in one night.Continue reading “Cats and Country Park don’t mix”
Most birds can’t create pigments, other than melanin, on their own. This bluetit, high in the park’s canopy, can’t produce the pigment, carotene, that makes his tummy yellow; it comes from pigments in the green caterpillars he eats. The more caterpillars he eats and the brighter his tummy, the more likely he is to attract a mate.
Header picture by DKG; others CC0 from pixabay
More about our oaks.Continue reading “Oak gall ink”
Swan mussels have growth rings on their shells, inside and out, and you can tell a mussel’s age by counting the rings, just like counting the growth rings in a tree trunk.
The life cycle of a swan mussel (Anodonta cygnea) is extraordinary, a real illustration of the complexity of the park’s freshwater ecosystem, and the reason for the picture of a little shoal of three -spined sticklebacks . . .Continue reading “Life cycle of a swan mussel”
Our willow warblers are among the park’s smallest birds; at 8.7 grams, they are only half the size of a robin. Their migration route, though, is the longest of any of the park’s birds: over 8,000km all the way to sub-Saharan Africa, an astonishing feat of endurance, and in April they will come all the way back to the park.
by keithwlarson (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Another migrator from the spring of 2018:
The Chiffchaffs are back
Water voles and their burrows are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act but Natural England can grant developers a licence that permits disturbance. In fact disturbance is the very name of the game; the licence allows vegetation to be removed from up to 50 metres of bank in order to drive water voles from areas where development is planned.Continue reading “New research on water voles”
Back from our Christmas break with an interesting tidbit of scientific discovery from 2018.Continue reading “Migration”
Many of our little songbirds abandon their territories in the winter and flock, sometimes in large numbers; but not the robin. Robins stick to and defend their territories right through the winter and their winter song is part of that defence.
Singing in winter is a high risk strategy. It uses a lot of energy when food resources are low but hanging on to a good territory right through the winter gives a robin an advantage in the spring when the breeding season begins. His winter song is shorter, quieter and altogther smaller than it will be come the spring.
Header photograph by Suzanne Humphries
We are posting the first part of our comment on RPS’s Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) of the Church Lane Site for two reasons: firstly the PEA seems particularly ill-informed about the park, the Lambrok and dismissive of their ecological importance; secondly, so that anybody who might like to comment before the public consultation ends on Dec 21st can use any of our data.
Wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) are our largest and most common pigeon. Gregarious, very adaptable and given to flocking in enormous numbers at this time of year, they are an everyday sight in British towns and countryside.
In towns they seem unafraid but in the park they are shy and wary. Often the first indication that they are there at all is the loud clattering and clapping of their wings as they take off and fly away. Their call is the lovely, familiar background noise of spring and summer.
Of all the mammals on our species list, only the bats and the hedgehogs hibernate. We have found the tiniest piece of evidence that there might be dormice in the park, if so, that would be a third hibernating species.
Yesterday’s plump and cuddly grey squirrel sent us into an afternoon of Google-based research; here are ten things you may not have known about Sciurus carolinensis.Continue reading “10 facts about grey squirrels”
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…Continue reading “Water Voles”
In May of 2017, water voles (Arvicola amphibius) were identified by Wiltshire’s Countryside Team as resident in Lambrok Stream. Water voles are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They are protected against:
. . .intentional killing, capture or injury and intentional or reckless disturbance, obstruction, damage or destruction of their burrows.Continue reading “Protecting the Lambrok”