Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – May 2019

When the children were small the arrival of visitors caused great excitement, even more so when they brought playmates and presents. The arrival of our summer migrant birds is accompanied by no such noise- they just seem to appear.

Whereas the calls of the chaffinch used to hang in the air, they are now swamped by that most melodious of songs- that which belongs to the willow warbler. It is described as a “fluting descent” but this does not do it full justice as the quality of the sound is so pure that it is difficult to put into words. I heard perhaps 10 singing clearly in a half mile stretch of path, announcing their presence to any creature who was listening.  Of course, they may have been just passing through, moving on to areas further north but we had the joy of their songs to enhance our day. Although a small bird we could find them easily, guided by the call. Other small birds make very little sound so are often overlooked. Later during our walk, we saw one such species- the tree-creeper. True to their name, he (or she) crept up a branch seeming to defy gravity as they moved up the underside of that particular branch, before flying off to the base of another tree to try again. I do not know how it did not fall off as it was upside down, presumably the arrangement of their toes helps.  Apparently the tree-creepers living in the Channel Islands are a different species and have shorter toes- I wonder if this makes them more or less likely that they will come a cropper? Watching for wildlife is often unpredictable and seeing a tree-creeper is always a surprise- but a very pleasant one at that.

Flowers have more regular habits though they too can catch one out. We never know when will be the best date to enjoy the bluebells as sometimes it is mid/late April though some years it can be well into May before they form those wonderful blue carpets. They should be quite a picture by the time you read this article as they are gradually coming out into full flower. The greater stitchwort is also on display looking like a delicate daisy. They always make me think of the joys of spring with light green leaves seeming so fresh. This is another good reason to take a stroll in the woods, a decision with which my dog is in full agreement.

Photograph Bob Coyle (Wildlife Trusts)