Nature Notes – February 2023

by Andy Johnson

At last signs of spring: great tits, robins, starlings, mistle thrushes and song thrushes are all starting to sing. Early nesting rooks are well on with their constructions above the green, while below, snow drops are in full bloom with yellow patches of aconites.

Judi Elmer was telling me that both she and Jane Meeres have been woken recently by the ‘screams’ of foxes. This is the breeding season for foxes. Normally they operate as individuals and hold a territory, but at this time of the year they bark and give out blood curdling screams to attract a mate. It is hardly surprising that Judi and Jane heard one, as Judi has a large dog fox which regularly frequents her garden and is quite dismissive of her presence.


The recent cold spell and frozen ground has forced fieldfares and redwings into gardens with fallen apples for food. Margaret Ward has an ornamental crab apple which still contains a lot of fruit. A flock of over fifty fieldfares has regularly swarmed the tree in the past few days. In a month, these winter thrushes will be heading back across the North Sea.

Recent sightings include an otter seen on Common Lane and three egrets that have frequented the flooded fields opposite the Coore Arms and Ham Hall Lane. Amongst the birds that John Cherry has been feeding in his garden is a blackcap (normally a summer migrant) but over the past fifty years more are becoming resident. Ever since arriving in the village I have suspected this to be the case, as in late January I hear snatches of song from the hawthorns opposite our bungalow.