Wild Honeysuckle- still odd ones out, alongside its red berries (poisonous to us but eaten by birds). It is pollinated by long-tongued bees, and Moths- why the scent is stronger in the evening (they can pick it up a quarter of a mile away). This is the Woodbine of Shakespeare: Oberon- “Quite over-canopied with lush Woodbine”, and William Bullein, in 1562 wrote “Oh how swete and pleasaunte is Woodbine”. Probably thus-named from its habit of distorting young trees it twists round, children still pluck a flower and suck nectar from the base as we did. Garden varieties are as good for wildlife as the woodland native species. Conditions: Dry, still with light cloud again. Temperature: Max 10- Min 6C
Native Honeysuckle berries
Chiffchaff- A blue-tit-sized warbler, very active, flitting through small trees searching for insects among branches, and sometimes out to catch them mid-air. It’s Chiff-chaff call makes it easy to identify in spring, while singing, but less easy to distinguish from the slightly brighter Willow Warbler, once breeding is over. It has darker legs, and tends to feed higher in trees than the Willow Warbler. Most of ours migrate to the Mediterranean over winter but some, like these, migrate in from Scandinavia and increasingly stay over winter. Conditions: Mostly light cloud. Temperature: Max 12- Min 7C.
Chiffchaff preening in the autumn sun
Chiffchaff showing its light eye-stripe
Jack Snipe- Usually secretive birds, the smallest of the Snipe family, these newly arrived migrant Jack Snipe were, unusuall,y feeding for hours in the open near a hide at Kilnsea, Spurn Point. Apparently, keen twitchers describe such unusually visible behaviour as being ‘very confiding’! They ‘bounce’ -continuously- as they feed. Beautiful to watch and superbly camouflaged, they have distinctive cream and deep greenish-blue metallic stripes down their backs. You may be lucky and get glimpses more locally at places like Old Moor. Conditions: Showers and sun. Temperature: Max 10- Min 7c.
Jack Snipe- size comparison- you can just see the head of a young Coot in shot
Jack Snipe feed on seeds, plants and small organisms in the water
The colourful stripes down a Jack Snipe’s back
Autumn delights: If for no other reason than it is that time of year again, and soon to be half-term, when forays into the woods and parks are possible, here is a drawing of autumn fruits and seeds I did a while back. Happy hunting. Conditions: Cloudy and still. Temperature: Max 13- Min 8c.
Firecrest, a bird I’d long to see, but thought I never would, this was one of three reported landing at Spurn Point last week– just washing itself a few feet away in a
Firecrest, aptly described by the RSPB as a ‘tiny restless jewel’
Firecrest washing at Spurn
puddle there! Usually in bushes or high in trees, where our native birds nest (mostly in the SE but spreading), numbers rise from migration in winter. Similar size to Goldcrests but more olive, with this distinctive head pattern, I’d always thought Firecrests differed by having a more orange crest, but not so (compare with the last post of Goldcrest). In fact males of Gold- and Firecrests have more orange crests, which they can raise when agitated. Can be in mixed tit and Goldcrest groups- keep your eyes and ears peeled. Conditions: Cool and sunny, rain later. Temperature: Max 13- Min 9c.
Migrating Goldcrests in every bush at Spurn Point, (east coast), last week. The farmers said that, sometimes, they just ‘litter’ the lawns there, recovering from crossing the North Sea. Goldcrests were called ‘Woodcock Pilots’– people couldn’t believe our smallest birds were capable of the journey alone, assuming they rode across on the Woodcock’s back! The weight of a 5p coin, they also have one of the highest-pitched calls (and therefore one of the first a hearing person may not hear as they get older!)- zi-zi-zi- worth earning as you often hear it before seeing it. Expect to see them more easily in our gardens and parks soon, as native birds are augmented
by these winter arrivals. Conditions: Still, sunny and cool. Temperature: Max 12- Min 7C.
Female Roe Deer- smaller and more graceful than the buck I posted in spring, this doe is changing from her foxy-red summer coat to her greyer winter coat. Extinct in England in the 18th Century, but surviving in the Highlands of Scotland, it has been reintroduced – now, there are half a million in the UK. Like this one on grazing land near Spurn Point, Roe are spreading out of the woods-a sheep kept moving her on! Having lost all natural predators here, such as Wolves, Lynx and Bears, they have to be culled to prevent too much habitat damage
Female Roe Deer
Female Roe Deer grazing among the sheep
Roe Deer- doe
Roe Deer doe
. Conditions: Cloudy and coo following gorgeous sunny days. Temperature: Max 14- Min 8c