Your very own Nature Reserve
In these difficult days of lockdown and social distancing, those of us lucky enough to have gardens or allotments, can at least find some joy in the birds that visit `our very own nature reserve'. Many species are now breeding or proclaiming their territories with songs and displays, and many migrants are returning from their overwintering grounds in Africa. Having recently moved house on the Isle of Wight to a more rural location, my garden bird list has been growing by the day, with the latest additons over the easter weekend of Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow Wagtail. The bird feeding station has proved very popular, particularly with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and Goldfinches, and there have been regular visits from Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits that are probably nesting nearby. As of 13 April, my garden bird list stands at 40 species and my year list has reached 128.
A delicate white bloom in spring woodlands, the Wood Anenome, is a member of the Buttercup family (Rununculus) and due to the fact it spreads very slowly, it is often used as an indicator of Ancient Woodland. Although the petals are usually white, they can also have a pinkish tinge or even a more deeper shade of purple and they are a magnet to hoverflies, their main pollinator. Other names for the Wood Anenome include Windflower, Thimbleweed and Smell Fox, due to the musky aroma of the leaves.
One of the great joys of spring is the return of many familiar birds to our shores, flying north back from Africa, where they have spent the winter months. First arrivals back on the island include Chiffchaffs, Sand Martins and Wheatears and even Ospreys can be seen flying over. April sees House Martins return to nest under the eaves of houses and Swallows are checking out barns and outbuildings for suitable nesting sites.
It is amazing to think that the Swallows we see on the Isle of Wight have overwintered in South Africa and flown over 200 miles a day at speeds of over 30 miles an hour over the entire length of the African continent and over southern Europe to reach their destination, nest and raise their young.