|Waders at Severn beach. Simon Williams|
The lane through the village is called ‘Nupdown’ – a loony-tunes combination of Up and Down. Walk along it and you’ll find the tiny 'tin tabernacle' of St Mary the Virgin Church, a corrugated-iron chapel dating from 1914 but still in use, accessed via a tiny plank bridge through a hedgerow and down a rough little path...
Previously I would have sexed it - 'a male' if it was large with a strong broad face - 'female' if it looked daintier with a narrower face. However I recently attended a talk by Bristol University researcher Jo Dorning called 'The private life of the red fox' ( based primarily on research on Bristol foxes), where we learnt that it is actually difficult to accurately sex them without looking at their private parts... We also learnt that females only come into heat for three days of the year, generally in January, while the males anxiously hang about for their mating chance; so a friend who saw a fox couple mating a couple of weeks ago while riding round Abbotts Leigh actually caught a rare sight. Both sexes are promiscuous though there is a dominant pair in each social group, and litters often have cubs with different fathers - but generally everyone in that group mucks in and helps rear the cubs...
|Aust Ferry Nicholas Mut.ton|
I went to an early morning extra-high tide at Aust this morning – exciting as the water surges up and over the road where normally it never reaches. A crow and gull frenzy builds up around forty minutes before high tide - perhaps when the water goes over the normal high tide safety-zone for the small mammals and pushes them into the open. I noticed that the crows are much better at catching these small creatures, while the gulls then try to steal the limp little bodies off the crows!
I managed to get marooned myself in the middle of the road, and had to ask for sanctury from a parked Land Rover as the water came up and over my boots...
|Storks mating. David Wilson|
Now this year we did hear sounds in the roof space beyond the converted area, but I thought it was still just starling attempting to get in from outside. However just now I was rummaging in that roof storage space with its access door ajar, when WHOOSH, a starling flew out and into the room! I rushed over to open a window to let it out, and it escaped - but not before it had defecated all down the window sill (the oily stain still lingers...) So, I am really hoping to hear the peepings of nestlings once again this year. But what a persistent memory they have of this nesting site - is it embedded in a scent trail, or their navigation systems or what? Miraculous really.
|On Table Mountain. Rudi Winter|
|Moschatel. Andrew Curtis|
|Water vole. Peter Trimming|
I had a first view of a starling fledgling on our back lawn today (which I assumed / hoped was one of those from the nest in our roof). Its parents had tugged a large worm from the grass, minced that into a ball, and were feeding this to the youngster.
|Mont St-Michael. Jean--luc Lebrun|
|Biodiversity Heritage |
|Porthmeor Beach sunset. OLU|
|Big feet! John Fielding|
On a length of open water, a swift skimmed down to drink once –
On a very busy M4 roundabout, two adolescent mallards were busy crossing three lanes – I hope they made it…
Beautiful water and waterside plants tended to go in themes, with just one or two species dominating a length. On the banks were pale pink marsh woundwort as pretty as orchids, water figwort,
|Brooklime. Alan Murray-Rust|
|Mullein Moth caterpillar|
|Amphibious Bistort. Derek Harper|
| Oldbury Power Station|
Justus Watson Folsom
|Rosebay Willowherb seeds|
|Wood Sandpipers at Pilning. Paul Bowerman|
|Common Teal. Lip Kee|
And two pairs of swans swam serenely far out in the big bay, with St Michaels’ Mount behind them.
|St Michaels Mount Bay|
Dr Duncan Pepper
|Newport Wetlands Visitors' Centre|
|Grey Wagtail. Richard Bowerman|
|Lesser Redpoll. Mike Pennington|
There were swan families on the River Kenn. One adult pair were doing a courtship dance, with that beautiful mirroring of movements of bowing and billing. Does that lead straight to mating, and is it very early for that?
|Short-eared Owl at Aust. Paul Milsom|