You might have noticed a regular article in the Chronicle known as Nature Diary. We are now adding this to our website so you can understand our local flora and flora a little bit better.
As the days lengthen and we approach Spring, we can start to think of the summer migrants that will soon be arriving but can also appreciate our winter visitors before the leave.
Two of the most common winter visitors are Redwings and Fieldfares. Both species are thrushes and have been in Crow Trees and Cassop Vale at varying times over the winter. The Fieldfare is quite a large, striking bird and is often seen in flocks. Redwings are smaller with a red patch under their wings (hence the name) and can also appear in sizable flocks. They will frequently erupt from the scrub and can have an arrow-like appearance in flight.
Another common winter visitor is the Teal, one of our smaller ducks. The drake is a colourful specimen. The female, like most female ducks, is much drabber but has a bright green wing patch visible when she flies (the much larger Mallard has a blue wing patch)
In March, it is likely that the first Chiffchaffs will start to arrive. A small, rather drab bird it can be heard before it is seen. Its name comes from its song, a repetitive “chiff chaff” but hearing it is a welcome sign that Spring is arriving. It will be April before many of our other summer migrants arrive but one of the first of these is a bird that looks almost identical to the Chiffchaff, the Willow Warbler. Although they look very similar, their songs are quite different, the Willow Warbler’s being a cascading trilling that perhaps signals Spring has actually arrived. Both these birds can be found in the scrub at Crow Trees and Cassop Vale.
One of the earliest flowers to appear will be the Coltsfoot in March. Growing in dampish places it is a common flower in the area. The flowers may look vaguely similar to small dandelions but the pointed leaves, growing all up the stem, are quite different from the dandelion’s.
Thank you to Richard Cowen for the article and the accompanying photographs.