What wildlife to look for in July 2017
May has a month of warm sunshine with some cold night. Early June, started in the same way be along came heavy rain that was welcomed by gardeners, farmers and I suspect some wildlife. At home, the House martins eventually arrived at the end of April. A new nest had to be built. The pair struggled for two weeks to complete their construction. Building took place in the early part of the morning. After 11 am everything stopped – the mud must not have been to the right consistency. Towards the end of the two weeks, we had some rain and the nest was completed within 24 hours. Interestingly the entrance was directed towards the window – have the martins been on a winter training course with their southern cousins? There was a lot of celebration once the nest was complete both inside and outside the house. Now everything is relatively quiet, the presumption being the female is sitting on eggs. It is hoped that I can report on adults feeding chicks in the next edition.
Not being content on just one nest, a second pair turned up in the last week of May. There was squabbling with the occupants of nest one – pair two tried to build adjacent to our existing pair. The new pair looked at our two remaining north-facing windows and settled on Lily’s bedroom for the site. Building began in the first days of June. It has been slow and laborious but progress by the new pair is being made. The Dodds household are delighted that ‘our’ pair returned and built a new nest and ecstatic that there is a second nest. For entertainment value it is far better than Big Brother or EastEnders.
Where to look for wildlife: College Valley
I am fortunate enough to pend quite a lot of time in the College Valley through work. It was therefore a delight to lead a walk in the Valley for AWG on Sunday 28th May. There were 12 of us that met at the Hethpool car park and proceeded (with permission) to Mount Hooley. The objective was to walk to the Hen Hole, have lunch and return.
The Mount Hooley car park produced House martin and Swallow whilst Crossbills (6+) and Lesser redpolls called over-head as they moved between conifer plantation. The Wilderness woodland was set out in the 1990’s and is maturing into an excellent habitat for a wide range of species. Chiffchaff, Cuckoo and Blackcap were heard and Large Bittercress was found in a wet area.
The next highlight was finding a male Ring ouzel singing and the ensuing squabble with a neighbouring male over a female. There was a lot of Rouzel activity as bird chased each other across the valley. Other birds in the vicinity include Wheatear, Whinchat, Meadow pipit, Water ouzel (Dipper), Common sandpiper and Grey wagtail. The white pompoms of the Hare’s tail cotton-grass made a spectacular back-drop.
We eventually made it to the lunch site to be greeted by a pair of Peregrine that hunted a pigeon above our heads. The watercourse and riparian zone was full of interesting plants such as Starry saxifrage, Parsley fern, Butterwort and several species of Lady’s mantles. A pair of grey wagtails performed and a Dipper’s nest was found in one of the waterfalls.
On the way back to the car, there were further good views of the Ring ouzels, Whinchat, and several juvenile Dippers. This was a great 4½ hours spent in the College Valley and we a very good selection of upland wildlife. Thank you for all of those that attended the walk. It was a very enjoyable and memorable day in the Northumberland Hills.
Mayflies are delica
Send all sightings to: Ian & Keith Davison, The Bungalow, Branton, Powburn, NE66 4LW Or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have wildlife queries you can email them to redsquirrel@alnwickwildlife group.co.uk – and they will be forwarded to an appropriate member who will try to answer them. No promises, mind – none of us are great experts!