15 Jul Winchcombe Nature Notes
Winchcombe Nature Notes
All Nature lovers out there are in for a treat with our new series of articles, WInchcombe Nature Notes, written by local naturalist, Pete Rodgers.
Pete has kindly agreed to share his experience and knowledge of our beautiful countryside with Experience Winchcombe followers for you to enjoy.
So read on!
An occasional column
We are now halfway through the meteorological summer and the nights have been drawing in for three weeks! The countryside has become very quiet, mainly because our songbirds are no longer singing. For many the breeding season is over so males no longer need to sing to attract a mate and defend territory. Young have been around for some time now and are more or less self-sufficient.
Our best songster must be the blackbird, a familiar sight around Winchcombe as it delivers its rich, fluty song from an elevated position such as a chimney pot or television aerial in spring and early summer. We are lucky in having such a fine songster as one of our commonest birds. It’s closely followed by the song thrush which sings in short phrases, repeating each phrase three or four times just to make sure you’ve heard it. Although it is more likely to sing from cover, its repetition makes it easy to identify even if you can’t see it.
These are backed up by the wren who delivers a lengthy song completely out of keeping with its small size, the chaffinch with a cheerful little song, the dunnock with a rather scratchy, tuneless affair and the robin, with a somewhat wistful, plaintive effort.
Although the birds seem to have disappeared, they will still be around, keeping undercover as they undertake their moult, replacing old and worn feathers with something more serviceable. We are left to listen to the ubiquitous cooing wood pigeon, its close relative the collared dove and the somewhat noisy magpie, handsome but a potential threat to many smaller birds through its habit of raiding nests for eggs and chicks. If you’re lucky there may be the occasional screaming swift overhead but not for much longer as swifts will start their return migration once August arrives.
But nature still exists in gardens and hedgerows. Summer butterflies will now be emerging, perhaps the most obvious being the ‘cabbage white’, the bane of any vegetable grower’s life if those veggies include any member of the cabbage tribe. There is, of course, no such species as a ‘cabbage white’ but the large white and the small white are often referred to as such because of their propensity to wreak havoc in the cabbage plot. It’s not the butterflies themselves that cause the damage, only their larvae or caterpillars. They are eating machines and will decimate any food plant if control measures are not taken. But look out for more friendly butterflies.
Meadow brown and ringlet butterflies are now appearing occasionally in my garden and as summer progresses I would expect to see small tortoiseshell, painted lady, peacock and red admiral, all of which should add a splash of colour to the borders.
Insects will abound in any garden or hedgerow and can usually best be seen around flowers. Several species of bee will be drawn to the flowering borders along with hoverflies, designed to mimic wasps and bees with their, usually, black and yellow markings. And with any luck, the largest ‘fly’ likely to be found locally, the dragonfly. Not a true fly but a really impressive creature. The two commonest species likely to be seen locally are the common darter and the southern hawker, the latter recalling a small helicopter as it moves around its territory.
Pete Rodgers 15.7.2019