The Skies Above
Now that some of you are being more eagle-eyed about what natural history I thought I would prompt you to look to the skies for one of nature’s true wonder. In the sky above the village this evening, adult swallows are teaching their offspring to fly. With the humid weather, insect life is lower to the ground so the birds are not too high up and the noise of the swallow families is almost deafening.
We all remember when our children went out on their bikes for the first time; it’s a bit like that. But the REAL ‘Attenborough’ moment in in the skies above Sherborne right now. Don’t delay, go over to the Abbey in the early evening, as all the young swifts are learning how to fly.
The swift is the last of the swallow, house martin and swifts to arrive back from Africa each year in the late spring. They nest under the floor tiles of the odd buildings in Sherborne (long may they continue). Almost as soon as they arrive in early June, they think about nesting and raising their brood. Incubation is very short, hence why the young birds are about now. The young birds look brownier that the adult and have smaller wing and tails, but they are born to fly.
The great joy is watching the aerial display in the sky and hearing them ’scream’ for joy as they fly. It’s a bid like teenagers on their scooters !
The abbey is the best spot, but there is a smaller colony by the post office and up to north of the Oxleys Sports Centre.
It is a wonder and will only be here for a few more weeks before the swifts are gone again for another year. Our telephone box now has a white board with observations and suggestions concerning the natural world around us. Check it out. Also, do add anything of interest you’ve seen. Hmm, that’s open to misinterpretation …
Those of you with eagle eyes may have seen our semi- resident red kite drifting through the sky above the village. It looks like a very large buzzard but with an out-of-control tail that wafts about in the breeze.
Last year I saw the bird flying over Manor Farm around the large pine trees by Church Lane. The bird may be looking for a nest site and the pine trees could be ideal. I saw a bird again last week flying west to east across the fields near Mead Corner.
They are spectacular bird in the air and it is amazing to think that with a little help from us, their numbers have soared in the last 40 years. At that time there were only a very few pairs left breeding in west Wales. The blood line was so in-bred that the birds hardly had any chance of survival. Also, most Welsh hill farmers disliked them very much. With the introduction of some fresh blood stock from Sweden the red kite population has soared. They live on carrion so no problems to livestock or poultry.
Keep an eye out for them and let us know if you see one by marking it up in the phone box. Better still see if you can take a photo!
Getting ready to fly.
Enjoying the sunshine!
Spring in Glanvilles Wootton (May 2019)
Now that spring is in full swing and the Cuckoos have returned from the holidays in North Africa (look at the BTO website).
There are a number of real wonders out there if you listen or open your eyes.
Firstly, for those of you who like me, love to get up early in the morning (4 ish is good). Stand outside with your early morning cup of tea and listen.
The Village is blessed (and I really mean it) with the most wonderful ‘Dawn Chorus’. The humble Blackbird is really the Soprano of the chorus, but the early birds (forgive the pun) will hear that the chorus starts at least 15 -20 minutes earlier before the Blackbird enters the stage and reaches their song perch.
The chorus is started every morning with the same sequence of bird song, starting with the wren and closely followed by the Robin, sometimes this is the other way round, but not often. The tiny Wren’s song is so wonderful, its almost as good as a Skylark !
The Blackbird will climb its way up to its song perch, to centre stage from its overnight roost and sing and believe me, it is worth getting up early for.
The other bird that we have which sings in the morning and evening which is both rare and a specialist of Glanvilles Wootton is the Song Thrush. Its song is never the same !
The second wonder of the spring / early summer are all the swallows, house martins and swifts. Sadly we don’t have many swifts in the village but venture into Sherborne one evening in mid to late July and watch to skys around the Abbey. The arial acrobatics are wonderful and so much noise. All this is FREE to see and its there every evening !
How many Swallows and House Martins do you have around your house: Please Respond, please. Lets try to save these wonderful visitors, there are lots of ways to do this.
Likewise the Spotted Flycatchers, do any of you have these wonderful little birds; insect catchers par excellence.
They arrive very late in the year from North Africa when there is a plentiful supply of insect about here. They have become increasingly rare.
Lloyd Rimmer & Naomi and Louise Dutton have spotted our resident Red Kite a few times flying over the village this last week. I wonder if it is nesting near-by ?
The dawn chorus is a real wonder of our natural history world and it happens every morning at this time of year, and in the same order !
Most of us / you will seldom hear it unless you make an effort to get up in the morning.
Get up and go and listen and your day will be the richer for it, believe me.
Now is the time to get you bird boxes up in your Garden; the National Nest Box week (yes there is one) has just finished. Designs of nest boxes are up in the village information exchange (the old phone box) or you can go onto www.bto.org website and click on the nest box link.
There are also several other really interesting links; follow the migration route of some semi-local cuckoos. The tawny owl calling survey is interesting and something that the village could get involved in.
A new survey is on Spotted Flycatchers.
I am particularly interested in this fabulous little insect eating bird; it was once common but has been steadily declining. It often sits on a wire (fence, phone or electric) and then darts off to catch an insect and then back to its perch, all in a blur. The little bird arrives from north Africa about May time, so we have time to get our eye in.