Nature Notes – September 2023

by Andy Johnston

It has been a strange summer weather wise; June was very dry and sunny but with cold evenings. House martins returned in good numbers but many failed to build nests due to a lack of mud and those that did now have their second broods. Butterflies were scarce and hedgehogs had a dreadful breeding season owing to a lack of food caused by the drought.

The third week in July brought much rain and lower temperatures to Scruton. Our village swifts, who have been bucking national trends by slowly increasing, left immediately prior to the inclement weather. They are known to be sensitive to electrical storms. Thanks to the absence of summer floods, river birds have bred well. Over the past decade little egrets have become more plentiful than grey herons and are seen on the Swale in ever increasing numbers, but where they breed locally is a mystery. August has seen more butterflies about, especially red admirals, white butterflies and grasshoppers. Current planting of next year’s crops is now accompanied by gulls, many of which have bred at the coast or in northwest Europe and are here for the winter. Some actually breed on the high roofs of the business estates in Northallerton.

Tawny OwlHazel Pratt has sent a photo of a tawny owl looking through her bedroom window. A hobby has been seen twice, chasing house martins over the village.