The next four weeks or so are, on average, the warmest of the year and the summer should be at its peak. It doesn’t seem like high summer as I write this as the rain is falling and the temperatures are in the teens. However, yesterday was a bit better and I took a walk around Wybunbury Moss, something I haven’t done for quite a while. My now regular circular walk through the woodlands and meadows around the outside of the Moss really help to give me a sense of the moving seasons and how this small bit of countryside changes as the year moves on. I got a good list of 30 birds yesterday (all recorded using the BirdTrack smartphone app, which uploads records to the British Trust Ornithology’s database) but the Moss is much quieter now than previous months. The great rush to breed is now reducing and there was less bird song to be heard; July is a time when many birds are moulting after their broods have fledged so they tend to sing much less. Whilst the birds are quieter, the wild flowers are much ‘louder’ now and there’s quite a good show at Wybunbury. Wandering around the area I saw plenty of flowers I knew and plenty I’ve yet to learn the names of but those I could identify included red campion, honeysuckle, rosebay willowherb, foxglove and common spotted orchid. In addition, the brambles aren’t just flowering, they’re starting to show the first signs of a good crop of blackberries. As well as birds and flowers, there were a few butterflies around to be seen including large white and spotted wood.
There were also some mammals around including rabbits and the little dexter cattle being used to manage the grassland around the outside of the Moss. They look a bit like Spanish fighting bulls but they’re quite friendly and are more like large pointy-horned dogs.
On a slightly depressing note, the autumn migration has already started with the swifts starting to make their long return journeys south. Thankfully, there’s still quite a few weeks of summer left!
Yesterday I went for a walk around my local nature reserve, Wybunbury Moss. I volunteer there quite often with the local conservation group I’m part of but I also like to go for a walk at the Moss and probably do so every three weeks or so.
I usually use the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) BirdTrack app on my phone to record all the bird species I see and hear. Yesterday, I recorded the most bird species I ever have done at the Moss, a total of 31. One of the great things about BirdTrack is that you can go onto the BTO’s website and see all the records that you have submitted. Interrogating my records for Wybunbury Moss reveals that I have recorded 57 species at reserve since January 2013.
While many of the species were fairly common, I did note both Raven and Willow Tit. Ravens are starting to recover their former territories and I often see them at the Moss – for me their calls give me a real sense of wilderness. The Willow Tits, as I’ve blogged previously, are a local rarity and have been in significant decline over the past few decades, so it was good to note them at the Moss again.
I first saw the ravens within the woodland that surrounds the Moss and they were calling quite irately for some time. There was suddenly a call in return and I spotted a sparrowhawk nest high up in a fir tree. Now I know where it is, I will have to return with my camera to see if I can get some shots of the youngsters after they leave the nest.
On the way out of the Moss, I passed through an area of wildflower meadow and took the following shot…
Visiting the Moss on a frequent basis means I get a real sense of the changing seasons. From the first warm spring day spent on the Moss itself clearing fir tree saplings, to hearing and seeing some of the first migrant birds returning to breed and the trees coming out into leaf, to the wildflowers starting to bloom in the meadows. The season has been pretty special so far.