The Countryside About Us: July 1993

posted 29 Jun 2013, 08:21 by James Mansell
By all accounts the great activity in the bird world during these summer months is, as ever, providing much of interest in our gardens and fields. Garden nest boxes, much favoured by blue tits and great tits, are in full production. The blue tit will lay her clutch of eggs probably over 10 days, yet they will hatch out on the same day. Swallows and house martins are flying many miles a day, collecting mud for nest building and insects for themselves. I was interested to see the beginnings of a house martin’s nest in the shop doorway of what used to be the village bakery. Ground nesting birds will be at great risk from our increasing fox population, which in turn, thrives on the rabbit “explosion”. The entertaining but rather plainly attired spotted flycatcher, should feature in most rural gardens if a modicum of vegetative cover is available. Best of all, my evenings are made the better by the sight of a patrolling barn owl.

Feeding birds in the summertime is unwise, but why not replace the bird table with a “butterfly table”? Whilst I can take no credit for the idea, a suspended tray with shallow container of a sugary solution, regularly renewed, will provide a feeding station for them and entertainment for you.

The welcome showers of early May will have been of great benefit to the barley and wheat crops. Oil seed rape especially is “water hungry” to help swell the pods of seed. These same growing conditions certainly also encourage intruder weeds! Go away for a few days in May, and your garden weeds almost certainly seem to revel in your absence

Have you ever possessed a “homing duck”? An injured mallard, rescued by a neighbour and brought to me for repairs, is now fully fit apart from a slight limp and returns most days from I know not where, demands feed, and just as suddenly departs.

Roger Sykes