Sickleholme Nature Notes
Different weather patterns dictated our golf during March, with the course closed on several days due to snow, frost or flooding before a drier spell at the end of the month saw both members and wildlife enjoying things rather more. Wildflowers started to be noticeable with lots of Dog’s Mercury and Daisy, the yellows of Lesser Celandine, Coltsfoot, Primrose and Dandelion. Wood Anemones then appeared right at the end of the month, together with one of the Bittercress species. These all complimented the blossoms on the trees and shrubs, and it started to look as if Spring really had arrived. A Peacock butterfly was reported, our third species of the year already, but mammal sightings were restricted to Grey Squirrels and Rabbits with no records of deer this month.
Most of the reports from members related to our birdlife including one bird that I really would like to have seen. Mid-month, a Short-eared Owl was reported as flying across the 2nd fairway. There have been reports of up to three on nearby moorland and they invariably delight those lucky enough to see them. As the photo shows, the yellow eyes dominate and in flight they often seem to be checking out the observer (see image). Amongst other raptors, the Buzzards were seen in display flight several times and on 28th, several members reported five in the air together. Kestrel sightings were also frequent, but I was left confused by a large hawk on 26th. It was possibly only a female Sparrowhawk, but I am almost convinced that had I my binoculars with me then I might have been able to confirm it as a Goshawk.
Up to four Mandarin Ducks continue to tour the course looking for nest holes (they would readily settle for a Barn Owl box), a Raven was notable, and Curlews reappeared above the 9th hole to add their atmospheric calls. Amongst smaller birds, Siskin and Lesser Redpolls could be seen/heard as they moved between conifer plantations, the Long-tailed Tit flock split into pairs and the first warblers were back in the form of Chiffchaffs; at least three singing by the month end. Lots more to look forward to in April, I feel certain.