Home   Bourne   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Rippingale nature columnist reflects on the joys of nature in his garden





I was without a working car for a few weeks from mid- February until early March which was reminiscent of the last lockdown in that I was forced to reacquaint myself with nature locally, writes Rippingale nature columnist Ian Misselbrook.

As you know during late February and early March we had a lot of rain, I also had a bad cold, so at times I didn’t venture very far. Fortunately, this coincided with my garden and the various feeders becoming very popular with the birds. I participate in the BTO’s (British Trust for Ornithology) garden birdwatch, so I record the species and numbers of birds, butterflies, mammals and amphibians in my garden every week.

During this period, I recorded 21 species of bird and three wild mammals each week and 26 species of birds in total over the three weeks. The highlight was undoubtedly regular visits by a flock of up to five siskins, small mostly green coloured finches, joining the goldfinches and greenfinches on the sunflower hearts. Two male blackcaps one of which sang every day also brightened up the dull days.

Siskin. Photo: Ian Misselbrook
Siskin. Photo: Ian Misselbrook

A little further afield, a walk down the local fen produced evidence of spring migration. Stonechats which winter in small numbers in our area but nest on heaths and moors were on the move. I located four of these attractive members of the chat family within a mile or so of my home.

Whooper swans which nest in Iceland, northern Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle have wintered here in greater numbers than usual and by late February and early March could be seen and heard flying back to their breeding grounds. They are not called whooper swans for nothing and at dawn one morning I could hear their loud whooping as they flew north over our house.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox every morning - sign up to The Briefing here

As I write in mid-March very few spring migrants have arrived, but many of our resident birds are well on with breeding and nesting. The mild winter weather seems to have encouraged many birds to sing earlier than usual. I heard song thrushes in December and chaffinches in early February. Our resident birds of prey are not wasting any time either. A few days ago, I heard a red kite calling from her perch in a tree and a few seconds later a male kite arrived and mated with her. It was all over in a few seconds with both birds flying off in opposite directions.

Siskin. Photo: Ian Misselbrook
Siskin. Photo: Ian Misselbrook

At another site a pair of buzzards were soaring over a spinney; surely their nesting site. It was one of those rare days when we had sunshine and blue skies which made a lovely background for these magnificent looking raptors.

Ian Misselbrook
Ian Misselbrook

Hares were chasing each other as early as January and they are now boxing. What we witness are the female hares fending off the unwanted advances of males. Brown hares are particularly easy to see at present as so many crops have failed in the floods.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More