Nature Notes – December 2023

by Andy Johnston

The autumn weather can be best summed up as wet, windy and warm, which has enabled many flowers to be still in bloom due to a lack of hard frosts. The first week in October saw the last of our local swallows, house martins and hobby leave for Africa and the arrival of field fares, redwings and blackbirds. After the breeding season blackbirds disappear from the village for a couple of months. One view is they go into the wider countryside. As someone who regularly walks the immediate countryside, I rarely, if ever see any. They must therefore migrate, but to where is a mystery.

This week I counted 9 hares cavorting in the field behind Scruton Grange. Rob Raine says he saw 45 one evening and that their numbers are increasing rapidly, possibly due to recent mild winters.

After over thirty years of dog walking along the Swale, Jane Meeres has seen her first otter by the recently formed cut-off, and Colin and Pauline Brewster have spotted a family of otters consisting of two adults and two cubs. Arthur Fawcett has seen a red kite on a couple of occasions, bats have been seen hunting along Fleetham Lane at dusk and five waxwings feeding on the yellow berries of our Joseph Rock rowan tree. These berries are favoured by many birds and there are two trees near the village green, one near the junction of Station Road and Common Lane, and the other in the garden of John and Jaqueline, facing the village green.