Village Wildlife Diary for November 2019

Long Buckby Green Spaces’ Christmas Tree
Laura Howard (local potter who uses the clay from C.E.P.) and Daniel Tabor, Chair of L.B.G.S.

Long Buckby Green Spaces has entered a Christmas tree in the exhibition at St Lawrence Church on 7th and 8th December. The message of our tree is ‘Plant a tree in 2020 and help to save the planet’.


Ring-necked Parakeet
Kingfisher

27th November, Alan Webb sends a photo’ of a Ring-necked Parakeet that’s sitting on his bird feeder down at The Wharf. Keith sees a Kingfisher near the stream below St Lawrence’s. My farmer friend suggests it’s been the wettest November since 1963.

25th November, my wife gets up for her Ambulance shift at 0430hrs and I wake enough to register a calling Tawny Owl from the paddocks behind Lime Avenue or Berryfields.

24th November, a Carrion Crow is put out by a couple of Black-headed Gulls who have the cheek to grab at a worm in front of the Crow. The sky has Woodpigeons, Redwings, Gulls, Jackdaws and the odd Skylark.

23rd November, dull and wet, but a Blackbird utters a few notes of song in an effort to save the day. A Robin also issues a tune but it’s as melancholy as it is sweet. Jack Snipe again at CEP.

21st November, Brian finds Annual Mercury, an uncommon plant, near the Football Club.

Redwing
Tawny Owl

18th November, loading the van on the drive is ceased as a Water Pipit goes over calling. Possibly the bird from the end of last month? This and the previous one flew over just above the roof tops which might suggest being local. Where to start looking with all this flood water is the big question.

16/17th November, as is traditional for this time of year we are up in a cage on a teleporter erecting Christmas lights for the Parish Council. I spend a lot of time looking upwards and shouting orders but am rewarded by views of Red Kite, Sparrowhawk with 30 Starlings, Lesser Black-backed, Common and Black-headed Gulls, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Blackbird and Collared Dove, all over or at Market Place.

15th November, CEP has a vocal Meadow Pipit, a Green Woodpecker, winter Thrushes and a new visitor in the form of a Jack Snipe. A smaller cousin of the ‘Common’ Snipe.

14th November, rain in excess transforms Surney into a water-world, a scene from a Norfolk grazing marsh, with a hundred Black-headed Gulls feasting on drowned worms.

10th November, a Mistle Thrush sings tentatively, from behind Murcott, and a Starling also sits and attempts a bit of ‘song’ on a chimney in High Stack.

Kestrel
Dunnock

7th November, a Chiffchaff near the Castle site sings as if it’s March.

5th November, high over the village the blueness of the sky is clear and clean, and into view comes a skein of ‘grey’ Geese, perhaps a dozen birds. I am working so no Binoculars to hand. I strain hard and look at the ‘v’ formation, and l listen intensely but they’re too fast, and too high and I don’t get a positive identification. It was a pleasant few seconds of magic and I have learnt to just let these moments go.

2nd November, 60 odd Redwings, 15 Fieldfare, a dozen Blackbirds, and seemingly more Robins, and Goldcrests. Wrens are amongst the reeds and sedge grasses at the pond and an adult and immature Moorhen noted. CEP looks and feels autumnal. A dog walk on the parish boundary below Vanderplanks Covert is an afternoon treat and 2 Bumblebees look like queen Buff-tailed. A late Chiffchaff calls clearly and is easy to see with less leaves to hide amongst. A Female Kestrel is using the old, bare twigs on the tops of the half-dead Hawthorns to perch and stare downwards. The breeze playfully lifts and flicks her feathers but she is deadly serious. Suddenly she falls off into the wind and breaks into a frenzied hover, and then drops with half a spiral to bounce into the long grass with wings held high. I watch for a few seconds but no…She’s unlucky this time.

Village Wildlife Diary for October 2019

On Helen’s Front Lawn
Parasol Mushroom

31st October, I am unloading the van for work on Tebbit Close and I hear a distantly sharp, solid and loud single Pipit flight call. I look up to see a fairly large, pale bellied bird I am fairly sure is a Water Pipit. These birds breed on Mountains in Europe but winter in small numbers in the UK. Grey Wagtail, ‘big’ flock of Wood Pigeons, more Redwings, a Coal Tit, and Cormorant reported. ‘An alien invasive’ is quoted as I get collared to discuss the amount and variety of fungi about, whilst in the pub. Nice when nature gets noticed!

30th October, Wildlife expert Brian Laney reports an adult Hedgehog from South Close. Thinking about it I have recently noted a number of mainly small swished ‘hogs from several village High Streets during my travels for work. Though I still can’t work out if this means that they now only live in villages, or the road–kill victims on countryside are scavenged quickly and so the evidence of their presence is lost.

29th October, CEP has a Snipe and vocal Green Woodpecker. Conspicuous by their absence over the last month, a dozen Fieldfares (Wintering Thrushes) appear. Quite a few species that normally come over from the continent in September and October have been held up by the onslaught of westerlies, but they’ve now eased and the migration is in full flow.

Blewit
Dog-sick Slime Mould

26th October, incessant rain and the predictable floods. There is no joined up policy for the passage of water from where it falls to where it goes. The big farmer that brings in a big excavator and digs out all his ditches in one session does not mention this to his neighbouring farmer/landowner down-stream. All of a sudden more water flows at a far quicker rate and bottle-necks, and consequent floods are inevitable.

24th October, rain and wind and rain again. The colourful leaves are blasted off and washed away. Over Thrupp grounds a flock of 25 Golden Plover are circling. These birds are from way up north or even Scandinavia. 2 Cormorants over the village look like they’re heading to Daventry Reservoir. I get an interesting record from a chap who whilst driving sees 2 Polecats briefly fighting on Sandy Lane.

Giant Clitocybe maybe
Horse Mushroom

19th October, At CEP 2 Red Admiral on the fallen apples, and 2 male Common Darter dragonflies basking in the pallid sun. At home a small orange ‘butterfly’ out in the warm is not what it seems and after a fair bit of effort to get good views, turns into a Satellite moth. In a reverse of habit the Little Owl that has been about the gardens and fields at the back of us most nights, decides to call at 1830hrs as I’m out the back doing the recycling. I race in, grab the binoculars and go and hide behind the hedge at the top of the garden to try and hear where it’s calling from. I slowly stand up and see a small rotund, grey/brown shape sitting on a foot peg on the power pole nearby. I focus in and am stared at by a pair of intense, bright yellow irises. I daren’t breathe, and time stands still, but then a flick of the wings and gone.

18th October, mildness brings out Red Admiral, a Queen Bumblebee, Hawthorn Shieldbug, and flowering Buttercup, Dandelion, and Knapweed. Raven, Red Kite and Buzzard are in the air.

15th October, a flock of 14 Siskin with 10 Redwing going over Armley is a sign that more birds are moving to winter quarters.

Lawyers Wig
Shaggy Parasol

13th October, Members of the CEP committee and the Gardening Club are hosted by the Bunnage’s for an apple pressing session. The Apples came from villager’s gardens and the orchards at the park, and were soon transformed into a gorgeous sweet drink.

12th October, Grey Wagtails are coming into the village, with 1 at The Castle, and 1 off High Stack. More Fungi enquiries, and I’m out of my depth with identification.

10th October, The Fungi species are really making a show as I get several photos and reports over the early part of the month. A newt is found, and a Skylark is heard. Alan sees a Tawny Owl at The Wharf.

No sorry
Verdigris Toadstool

7th October, more Redwings, flocks of twenty or so, and the sky seems to always have a varying number of Wood Pigeons, with a flock of 200 noted. Goldcrests reported from the village.

6th October, the high grounds of Thrupp have as far back as I can remember regularly hosted passage or wintering Lapwing, and even though their population appears to be in continual decline, 40 birds cross the Daventry Road mid-morning and make my day.

5th October, 0600hrs Little Owl calling, ok.. I’ll get up. In the sky at Cotton End is one lonely Meadow Pipit, uncertain of whether to carry on migrating or stop for a rest. It is soon joined by 1 Swallow and 2 House Martins, and they all move off south. I can hear the familiar ‘seeep’ of a Redwing but can’t yet see it. There are about 6 Robins, 4 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackbirds, and a Mistle Thrush is back on the big berry-laden Hawthorn tree next to the Sheep Shed. He is agitated and looks ready to defend his tree and its precious fruit at all costs. A flock of 50+ Redwings scatter from the dense Blackthorn as I approach. I saw them last in July in Arctic Norway where they are a breeding bird.

Village Wildlife Diary for September 2019

hours of fun
don’t know

25th September, daily fly-over Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Yellow Wagtail. I fail as usual to identify the fungi growing in the park. Small Tortoiseshell and Green-veined White reported. The former seen to be settling down for hibernation in an out-house.

22nd September, David reports a Tawny Owl calling from trees behind Ashmore. Several Swallow low and south. Cath sees Peregrine over Wright Road.

Tortoisehell with fly
Knopper Acorns

21st September, at CEP I flush 2 Snipe whilst cutting Willow. Several Goldcrest, Blackbirds and Chiffchaff are present. I keep treading on odd shaped Acorns under the Oak and decide to have a good look at the tree. It has no ‘normal’ acorns on it at all, all are ‘Knopper’ types, strange star shaped fruit infected by a parasitic wasp. I scan the ground and only find Knoppers. This name comes from the distorted shape resembling a medieval German felt hat. The upshot is that this tree will have no viable way or reproducing from this year’s fruit. Cath sees Comma and Speckled Wood.

17th September, the sky has birds going to and fro. 60+ Linnets are ready for winter, a handful of Skylarks go over, the odd Meadow Pipit and Yellow Wagtail. Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail and a 20 strong flock of Long-tailed Tits reported. The vocal Little Owl is becoming a regular post-midnight in our row of gardens along Armley. There is a young Rat in the Yew tree eating the berries (if you please!) and shows no fear as it sits in an old Wood Pigeon’s nest taking the evening sun.

Brown Rat loves Yew berries
Melanoleuca maybe

14th September, 0100hrs and the Little Owl is calling so loudly it wakes me. The moon is huge and a mist is developing. 0645hrs I unlock the Park and find the small bird flock busy on the sunlit hedge at bottom left. There are easily 20 Chiffchaff, some singing, some displaying, 6 Blackcap, some with black and some with brown ‘caps’. 2 Goldcrest and the usual Tits of 3 species. 2 Cormorants fly over, as do several Rook, and 3 Raven, and 1 disturb 2 Moorhen from the pond.

11th September, it is blustery but mild and humid, courtesy of ex hurricane Dorian. There seem to be Southern and Migrant Hawkers everywhere I go. A brief lunchtime visit to CEP and a (the) mixed flock of small birds includes a good dozen Chiffchaff, 1 obvious young Willow Warbler and 1 interesting probable adult. This bird seems larger, with contrasting clean, white underneath, with a lemon yellow vent/under-tail, the upper-parts are distinctly greyish. Bats are reported from Rockhill Road, The Leys and Grange Farm.

Male Migrant Hawker
Male Ruddy Darter

8th September, Thanks to Ian for the annual mow of grasslands at CEP. The exposed ground is now of interest to a passing Red Kite, and a Kestrel. I hear Yellow wagtail and Meadow Pipit, and see at least 4 Chiffchaff, a Southern hawker and 20+ Common Darter, and one Ruddy. A flock of Mistle Thrush and a Grey Wagtail reported.

7th September, a Hobby over East Street heads for Cotton End but is intercepted by the Swallows from Highfields. It avoids the noisy throng and heads south towards Ashmore. A small Toad is reported, and we find a Grass Snake.

Grass Snake plays dead
Buzzard

6th September, a tinge of autumn but 30 odd House Martins over The Banks and Pytchley Drive are still busy feeding until being interrupted by a prospecting Hobby. Two minutes of counter moves by the flock and their predator sees the falcon go very high and around into the sun, only to come straight back out like an arrow having targeted a lone Martin slightly away from the others. A worn out Painted Lady reported.

3rd September, Alan reports Willow Warbler from the Wharf.

1st September, of course I used to be young and fit and now I’m not so. Last week’s manoeuvre to get better views of the Redstart (jumping the stream) has left me with a swollen left ankle and a swollen right knee. I do remember the ankle going over as I landed fully on the knee. I don’t use my hands to ease the fall as I always hold on to my binoculars so they don’t smack me in the face, and because they cost a couple of month’s wages. Was it worth it for better views of the bird? Yes it was and always will be. Although I can’t walk yet.