The Messenger - Serving Gislingham, Mellis and the Thornhams

Nature Notes - July 2020

Date: 3 July 2020

First up, we have a photo of a Goldcrest (overleaf) from Jean Kemp at Spring Farm. Jean has had a pair of these little birds nesting near her kitchen window and has been watching their comings and goings. This is the UK’s smallest bird, weighing in at just 6 grams. Still at Spring Farm, I had a call from Jean to say that they had a Wren’s nest in their porch. I popped over to take a look to find a parent bird busy feeding the one baby remaining in the nest. But all was not well - the tiny youngster didn’t seem able to move around properly and a careful investigation revealed that the bird had some twine entangled around one of its legs. The Kemp family deftly removed this and order was restored!

Goldcrest

Regular readers may recall me expressing some frustration at having seen evidence of hedgehogs in the garden but not one of the prickly characters themselves. This spurred us into action and an investment was made in a “Trail Camera”. This camera can be setup to take photographs or video automatically when something moves in front of its lens, and at day or night. After a few days of disappointment - success, this little hoglet has now become a regular nocturnal visitor! A little further afield, at Lopham Fen, Peter Cottee came across a pair of dragonflies in the reeds. I’m no expert on dragonflies but I think that these are Emperor Dragonflies. These impressively large creatures grow up to nearly 8 cms in length and make an impressive sight when they’re zooming around. However, these two appear to have something else on their minds… Our next contributor’s photo this month comes from Eddie Prior who came across a Chaffinch that had unfortunately had a close encounter with a window pane. As Eddie writes, …”the little chap winded himself by flying into a window. After a bit of a cuddle he decided to hang around and we had quite a conversation before he decided it was time to go.”

Hedgehog

Next up we have a trio of photos from Mike Heath, including a splendid Yellowhammer, taken from the footpath that runs from Mill Street towards the school. These colourful birds are, unfortunately, endangered, their numbers having been in decline for many years. Mike has also come across a Turtle Dove in Gislingham. Sadly, this beautiful bird is another on the endangered list. Loss of habitat and their food sources are amongst the problems they face, together with predation by, amongst others, birds of prey and domestic cats. This week we found on our lawn the tell-tale sign of a ring of grey feathers - probably once belonging to a Collared Dove. Locally, we do have several birds of prey around, including Kestral, Red Kite, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. And, as if that wasn’t enough, in May, Tony Clarke saw a Peregrine flying over the village! Finally from Mike we have a delightful photo of a House Sparrow feeding one of its young. When I was a nipper, Sparrows were so commonplace no one took any notice of them - sadly, they are much less common these days, although they do seem to be making a rather noisy comeback along Mill Street!

Chaffinch

Next up we have a trio of photos from Mike Heath, including a splendid Yellowhammer, taken from the footpath that runs from Mill Street towards the school. These colourful birds are, unfortunately, endangered, their numbers having been in decline for many years. Mike has also come across a Turtle Dove in Gislingham. Sadly, this beautiful bird is another on the endangered list. Loss of habitat and their food sources are amongst the problems they face, together with predation by, amongst others, birds of prey and domestic cats. This week we found on our lawn the tell-tale sign of a ring of grey feathers - probably once belonging to a Collared Dove. Locally, we do have several birds of prey around, including Kestral, Red Kite, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. And, as if that wasn’t enough, in May, Tony Clarke saw a Peregrine flying over the village! Finally from Mike we have a delightful photo of a House Sparrow feeding one of its young. When I was a nipper, Sparrows were so commonplace no one took any notice of them - sadly, they are much less common these days, although they do seem to be making a rather noisy comeback along Mill Street!

Yellowhammer

Back in late June on a particularly hot day I ventured out on a butterfly safari to Bradfield Woods. This turned out to be pretty successful with a great number of Silver Washed Fritillarys being seen fluttering about. I was also fortunate to see several of my other target species - the White Admiral. Indeed, whilst discussing the day’s results with the Warden, we watched as a Spotted Flycatcher swooped down to take one in flight!