|Kestrel on the compost bin|
It seems that excavating the silted western boundary ditch has attracted curious water voles they've dug some exploratory burrows already! It's unlikely that they'll colonise properly until the vegetation (that gives them cover and food) is established. Some of us have spotted field voles scurrying about the field and we've found skulls of them in barn owl pellets around the place. Hares are still using the site and young rabbits have been spotted at the warren on the other side of the canal. Terry and I saw a weasel running along Meadow Lane recently. A friend of mine, who works as a signalman at Rufford station, reports that he sees foxes there very regularly (just a five minute foxtrot down to the field) - so we're right with our security plans for our hens. Locals are reporting seeing roe deer grazing on Low Meadows early in the morning so do keep your eyes peeled. Bats will be active now and should be seen feeding along the canal. The frog spawn has produced tadpoles in the pond - take a look if you have a moment.
Speedwell and forget-me-not add a dash of blue and red dead nettle that colour amongst the fast growing ruderals, especially near bare ground. It'll be great to see the expanse of ground that's be sown with wildflower seeds come into bloom during the summer - it'll be a haven for bees, butterflies, moths and other insects. Butterflies are out and about with brimstone, small tortoiseshell and peacock seen recently; look out for orange-tips once the lady's smock flowers in any damp areas.
As the seasons change their has been a great deal of avian activity with winter species that feed in the local fields and overfly the field, such as whooper swans and pink-footed geese, having recently departed north. They've been replaced by migrants returning from Africa; swallows (they breed in the stables just up the road), sand martins and house martins all flying over. Blackcap, chiffchaff and willow warbler have all been heard singing in our hedgerow (on their way to the local woods and copses) and we should hear whitethroats and sedge warblers imminently.
A barn owl has been regularly hunting the field (pellets reveal it's been eating mainly field voles) and the two regular kestrels are presumably also taking voles. Several buzzards are seen soaring overhead daily and you can often hear their distinctive mewing calls. Little owls are using a local barn so do keep your eyes peeled. Carrion crows, jackdaws, rooks and magpies are common in the area and use the field but do be alert to the local pair of ravens who are often feeding on Low Meadows at the moment. Curlews are also displaying there and you can often here them in their bubbling display flight.
We're lucky to have some amazing nature around us and it's great that we're working towards keeping it that way.