Wildlife On The Farm – July 2017
Last year the Shelducks attempted nesting in a quite exposed badger sett but they must have been disturbed so failed to breed. The pair returned again in late March but I only saw one of them on odd occasions thinking the other had moved away.
I did check last year’s nest site but no activity there. On first of June I couldn’t believe my eyes when Mum and Dad Shelduck swam by with 9 newly arrived ducklings! I am not sure where the nest was but it’s a new record for breeding birds on the farm. The following day there were just 5 survivors and the day after just 3! Today, July 4th two survived and are almost as big as their parents so I think the parents did well in the end. The ducklings had a lot to cope with in their first few days, what with the wet weather, crows, herons, gulls and on land, foxes, mink and stoats.
Great crested grebes have also attempted to nest on the lake most years but have never been successful due to disturbance but yesterday, when the adult got off the nest I could see at least two large eggs present. So fingers crossed! I didn’t hear a Cuckoo at all this year but saw one fly over the lake being chased by a couple of Wagtails. Other birds of note seen recently include Grey partridge, a pair of Common tern, Little egret and a pair of Hobbys that I think must be nesting locally. Nice to have found Common spotted and Bee orchids this year around the lake. Butterflies include Painted lady, Marbled white, Large skipper, Ringlet, Small Heath, Meadow brown and Small tortoishell.
Loads of damsel and dragonflies now emerge: Emerald, Common blue and Blue tailed damselflies and Emperor, Black tailed skimmer and Four spot chaser dragonflies. I don’t often see Fox or Stoat very often but saw both within two minutes of each other the other day! Also had close views of a Chinese water deer has it leaped out of the corn field and nearly hit the pickup, I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the deer?
Just to finish, last Sunday afternoon I sat on the lake bank having a look what was about when the Spitfire and Hurricane circled over Shuttleworth area. I thought I was going to be treated to an expert flying display. Well I wasn’t disappointed, but it wasn’t from the planes but from a Hobby as it chased and caught many large dragonflies around the lake.
The speed and agility from this “mini” peregrine was breath-taking. I have seen them hunting before but usually they disappear after one catch but this time I watched it for 15 minutes or so. It caught many large dragonflies and each time it ate them on the wing. Just before it left it was joined by another Hobby which didn’t stay very long. Hopefully they are nesting not too far away. I took quite a few pictures but most are blurred due to the speed of the birds.
Written by Dave Parsons, Wildlife Photographer for Ivel Valley