Nature Watch with John Fletcher

hedgehog and leaves

John lives in Great Shefford and runs the Great Shefford Nature Watch facebook group and has kindly agreed to write a monthly nature column for us.

Local Wildlife in May

Here is some of the amazing wildlife to look out for this month:

The arrival of the beautiful swallow having flown three thousand miles from Africa and sleeping on the wing.

The first cuckoo will soon be make that amazing call to let all birds know treachery is at hand.

Barn Owls will very soon be hunting for mice and voles between East Garston and Great Shefford, such a beautiful sight watching them quartering the fields then dropping like a stone on an unsuspecting victim.

Red Kites will be sky dancing and locking talons in mid air like a distant scene of a dogfight, and will be getting mobbed by angry crows protecting their nests.

Hares are a beautiful sight this time of year. Watch them boxing in the fields as the female tells the male ‘I’m not ready yet’.

Bats are attracted by flying insects so if you keep an outside light on at dusk you have a chance of seeing these surprisingly charming creatures feeding.

Hedgehogs are out of hibernation now and love to wander up and down the garden looking for slugs and small invertebrates. Please do your best not to use slug pellets as these will have a detrimental effect on other wildlife as well. For instance song thrushes eat snails and if a snail has eaten slug pellets the toxins get into their system and the thrush’s eggshells don’t form properly and when the mother sits to incubate she crushes the eggs.

Butterflies to look out for are Brimstone and Orange Tip along with the usual Peacock and Tortoiseshell, and of course the gardeners favourites the small and large whites otherwise known as cabbage whites…A really special one for me is the Holly Blue with a very light blue underwing and striking azure blue above. I find it’s a great idea to buy books for identification though online is just as handy.

Bees are always a welcome sight especially Bumblebees with their dominant black and yellow colours but it’s the tail which defines what type it is. Buff tailed and white tailed are the most common but there’s cuckoo, gypsy cuckoo and many more so keep your eyes peeled.

To keep our precious wildlife safe:

Please drive carefully along local roads as there are deer everywhere and if you are near a stream you might, like us, have an abundance of ducks this year with a plethora of ducklings. I found a dead female on the road in our village and dead ducklings have been found on the road in East Garston.

Please also think twice about using slug pellets in your garden due to the toxic affect on hedgehogs and birds that eat the slugs and snails. Here are some tips on gardening without slug pellets.

Thank you!

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