August - Nature Notes

Sickleholme Nature Notes

The poet, John Keats, probably had August in mind when he wrote “Where are the songs of Spring” and the course was certainly pretty quiet last month. Breeding birds had either departed southwards, as with the Swifts, were hiding whilst moulting into their new feathers (when they can be all but flightless and thus very vulnerable to cats and other predators) or were too busy feeding second broods of young. The only avian calls that I can readily recall were a few bursts from Robins and Wrens plus the still-hungry young Buzzards, Jays and one Kestrel begging for parental offerings.

Other species seen included three Nuthatch near the 10th fairway, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, low flying Swallows and the occasional Cormorant overhead.

Mammal reports were of Stoats and Brown Hares again, together with two reports of a female Roe Deer towards the top of the course. I suspect that more deer visit at night, as is evidenced by footprints and droppings. Some do, of course, bring ticks so something to look out for if your game sees you regularly in the longer grass.

Speckled Wood was added to the butterfly list but still only brings the total species to nine for the year. Has no one seen a Red Admiral, Painted Lady or any of the skippers?

One think that is clear, is that the dry weather will bring autumn early. Many of the wildflowers burnt off quickly and there is already plenty of leaf fall. That has removed a little of the colour from the course, but one exception is the berries on the Rowan trees (photo) which are ripening quickly. Also know as the Mountain Ash, it is a favoured food supply for all of our thrush species quite apart from being a most aesthetic tree.

Bryan Barnacle