Nature notes 28/10/11
Posted Oct 29, 2011
After a two hour walk along the local sea front with just the waves and the odd fitness fanatic and early dog walker for company I arrived at my "local" nature reserve at dawn just in time to see a splendid sight. Just as the sun began breaking through the mist - a silent deadly buff and brown ghost drifting through the air, craning it's long neck. it's orange eyes glaring into the tussocks searching for cowering voles. I couldn't help myself I blurted out "Wow - short eared owl" - not a good idea near a shy creature with sensitive hearing. It plunged into the long grass and disappeared until two carrion crows mugged it driving it back into the air and then higher and higher until it sped away to the west.
By the time I got to the nearby harbour the sun was out and air and water were full of winter visitors - skeins of honking Brent Geese, the high pitched whistling of handsome Wigeon, burbling Curlew and the peeping of a kingfisher as it flashed past. It was cooler in the woods with little winter flocks of tits and goldcrest searching for insects and spiders hibernating in in hidden crevices, the odd woodpecker and a noisy flock of redpoll tearing up the cones on birch and alder to get to the tiny seeds.
Back to the foreshore where oystercatchers and meadow pipits worked the strand line and cormorants sat on post wings spread out warming themselves and the cold fish in their bellies in the winter sun.
To this point everything was as it should be as autumn slips into winter and then one of those increasingly common out of season natural events occurred. A meadow pipit lifted up flew high, then parachuted down singing loudly - zwee-zwee-zwee-zweee-zweee-zweeeeee - a courtship display either six months too late or four months two early.
As I climbed the headland it was getting very warm, the sea was unseasonably calm and across the heath Dartford warblers sang and Red Admiral butterflies drifted past and astonishingly a swallow swept by.
Walking back I| recorded a new plant species on the cliffs wild Chamomile an increasingly uncommon species that normally flowers in June, July and August - still in full bloom. Sea Pink another summer species has come back into flower and I saw a small white butterfly unlike the Red Admirals they don't overwinter as adults so this was most unusual.
During the walk I'd seen chiffchaffs which used to migrate to Africa for the winter and little egrets which were a mediterranean species until a couple of decades ago
It seems the wildlife has noticed the climate is changing even if the politicians haven't