Sickleholme Nature Notes
If we were to allocate a colour to August at Sickleholme then I think that it would have to be purple. Not only were we able to we look up at the magnificent heather on the moorlands above us but there were also heathers on the course, as well as the last of the Betony, both Greater and Rosebay Willowherb, plenty of Knapweed and even more purple in the various thistle species. When the sun was shining the course looked superb.
Most of the birds had gone quiet except for the young Buzzard that was seen and heard almost every day as it cried for food. It was frequently seen chasing after a parent in its quest. The last sighting of the Swifts that I know of, was two seen by Mike Elsworth on 22nd and almost all will have left our shores now for their wintering areas. Even some of the commoner resident bird seemed to disappear, such as the Dunnocks that can usually be seen around the clubhouse feeders. This is the main month of feather moult and as the new feathers grow through the birds can be all but flightless so a good reason for skulking out of sight in the bottom of hedges. Notable records were five Mandarin Ducks that flew west on 29th and several reports of Raven “kronking” overhead. Tit flocks began to form, one of which carried at least a dozen Long-tailed Tits, and a pair of Moorhen seem to have successfully raised three young in the pond by the practice area.
No new butterfly species appeared, so our count of 12 for the year was somewhat short of my forecast of 16 but we did finally get a dragonfly in the form of a Southern Hawker which posed nicely near the practice ground. Now that more people are reporting their sightings, I have little doubt that we can increase the counts for both insects next year.
After, birds, butterflies, moths, dragonflies and wildflowers, I tend to lump everything else from our local wildlife as “critturs”. In that respect, we added two more this month. Several members reported small furry creatures, often running across a green, and once I had seen a couple I was able to identify them as Field Voles (also known as Short-tailed Voles). We seem to have a good population on the course which is undoubtedly helping to feed the young Kestrels that have bred in the copse to the right of the 9th fairway. The other surprise was a report of trout in the stream below the 13th tee. I confess to wondering how that could be but sure enough, several of us saw two Brown Trout, of about nine/ten inches in length, in exactly that spot.
All in all, an interesting and very colourful month.