Foxes- Down in Sussex, I’ve been lucky enough to watch a family of Foxes with six cubs (more on those tomorrow)- panting with the heat. With such a big family, they have really needed more than just the parents out catching food, which is predominantly the plentiful Rabbits. As here, Fox parents are often helped to provide food by other family members, including last years’ cubs, not yet mature enough to breed. Conditions: Sunny periods with heavy rain and strong winds due this evening. Temperature: Max 17- Min 11 c.
Bee Count time: Lupins, where I am staying, are proving a great source of pollen for Buff-tailed Bumblebees- just look at the colour and size of those pollen-baskets. An average pollen basket can contain around a million grains of pollen! Throughout June, Friends of the Earth want people to record Bees in their garden. There is an easy app for a smart-phone, with identification guide -a good way to really look at the variety of bees visiting your garden. Conditions: Sun and cloud with a
breeze. Temperature: Max 20- Min 10 C.
Great Tits, like this male this morning, can be seen feeding their newly fledged young all over the UK at present, so keep your eyes peeled. The most studied species of birds in the world, one researcher has calculated that the Great Tit parents feed a nest of fledglings the equivalent of us bringing home 100kg’s of shopping every day for three weeks! The bright, wide gape and mouth helps stimulate the adults to feed the young. Even out of the nest, the young birds are demanding. Conditions: Hot and sunny. Temperature: Max 21- Min 12 ..
Tree Sparrow- These beautifully marked birds used to be seen in many places, but their population dramatically crashed by a devastating 93% between 1970 and 2008. Concentrated conservation efforts have led to a slight rise since. Best seen along hedgerows and wood margins, they have a brown cap, unlike the House Sparrows grey cap, and a black spot on their cheeks. You can see them in South Yorkshire, at Old Moor- there is a colony in the aptly named Tree Sparrow Farm area there, and at other reserves. Conditions: Hot and still. Temperature: Max 20- Min 15 C
House Martins– Traditionally, House Martins nested on cliffs, like this colony we watched on the East coast chalk cliffs recently. SInce the 19th century they predominantly build their intricate nests of mud-pellets and grass, lined with feathers, under the eaves of buildings. Damp mud is essential, and this noisy group of Martins were flying continually to and fro between a patch of mud, dripping from a spring, to their large nests on the other side of the small bay. Mud needs to be within 300 metres, preferably much closer. Many sites, including my mum and dad’s old house, have been abandoned, numbers have dropped and the House Martin is now, sadly, on the amber list. Conditions: A cooler, wet day. Temperature : Max 18- Min 14 C.
Gannets: I can’t really go to Bempton Cliffs, the largest mainland Gannet colony in the UK, without one feature on them. Named after the old English ‘gano’ meaning ‘strong’, the monogamous pairs, when meet up at this time of year, go through ‘sky-pointing’ rituals (see photo’s), before mating and laying one egg. Born brown, they gradually go through varying degrees of black and white till mature at 5. At about 3, their wings are described as like ‘piano keys’– see juvenile photo. Living into their twenties, they are our largest sea-bird, and can dive from 40 metres to a depth of 22 metres, searching for fish, squid etc. Conditions: Cloud, sun and breeze.
Temperature: Max 20- Min 13C.