A hunter in the trees

by Simon Knight

My walk in the park was short and definitely sweet last Sunday morning. My first sighting was of a sparrow hawk.

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Buff tailed bumblebees

The aerodynamically unlikely buff tailed bumble bee queens are out of hibernation and, buzzing around between the park’s spring flowers. Here is a video about their surprising flying skills:

Today we are publishing the introduction and section 1 of our objection to planning application 20/00379/OUT to build 180 houses in the meadows at Southwick Court, between Trowbridge and Southwick Village. It is both a summary of the park’s biodiversity and a reminder that we need to protect our green spaces and wildlife whenever and however we can.

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Our blackthorn blossom has been beautiful this year.

pictures by Suzanne Humphries

Blunt-tailed Snake Millipede

The blunt-tailed snake millipede (Cylindroiulus punctatus) is tiny: it grows up to 25 mm. It is pale brown and its segments are coloured in a way that makes it look striped; it often has darker spots along each side. Its native habitat is the rotting wood and leaf litter of deciduous woodlands but it is just as happy to live in the untidier places in your garden. All millipedes feed on dead plant material, they are essential nutrient recyclers.

Both photographs are by Christophe Quintin.

An irresistibly astonishing fact!

At more than 70 years of age, Wisdom the Laysan albatross has hatched another chick. While we admit that the chances of seeing an albatross in our park run from highly unlikely to nil, some facts are just too astonishing and irresistible to be ignored.

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A splash of colour in the park

by Simon Knight

It is lovely to finally see flowers and colour arriving in the park, signalling that spring will soon be upon us.

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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)

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