Monday, 25 June 2012

The Ground-nesters.

After walking round the fields with Tess this afternoon, after the silage bales have gone, I really fear for the offspring of this year's ground-nesting birds. In our fields we have pheasant, partridge, curlew and oyster-catcher, the occasional snipe and here and there maybe a wild duck.
They would have all hatched off within the last three or four weeks.

Where the tractors and trailers have pulled out of the fields on to the lane the land is churned up like a ploughed field and as you walk around the field you can feel the water lying underfoot. Imagine what it would have been like when the rain was pouring down (we have had plenty of that), the wind was blowing and the grass was still long. Tiny new-born chicks have little chance of surviving in that environment.

Partridge, the farmer is fond of telling me, are little bigger than bumble bees when they are born and all of these birds are quite frail until they get going. As I walked round today I didn't see a single young bird (I usually see a few who haven't managed to hide in the hedge bottom before I reach them) and - more importantly - I never heard a single warning cry from a parent bird. Usually at this time of the year the curlews and oyster catchers are calling loudly and trying to attract the walker's attention away from their young.

Our barn owl is still hanging about and flitting from barn to barn. I intend to e mail the R S P B about getting a barn owl box once we have found somewhere to put it. Our friend and neighbour has such a box in one of his barns and last year a pair of barn owls raised two young. This year they have been ousted by a pair of jackdaws. I really can't think that owls would be turned out by jackdaws but whatever the reason there are now young jackdaws making a racket in the owl box.

The seasons seem to be haywire this year and even though it is not raining today it is by no means a settled day - there is a lot of ominous cloud around and very little sunshine.


Rachel Phillips said...

Yes, it is a very wet summer. And yes, the house is still cold and I am lighting the woodburner every night. It is only wet and cold and we will survive and harvest will come as it always does, whatever, and we will get it in.

ArcticFox said...

Just as a total aside (I always do this) - I have not seen quite so few ducklings as there has been this year...... very low numbers indeed!

As for Barn Owls - here's a useful page - I think my aunty managed to knock one of these together from this site!! Barn Owls

Heather said...

We are about an hour's drive from the Somerset Levels and farmers there are facing awful problems as their land has suffered prolonged waterlogging and flooding. Hay lost, crops lost, and of course the wildlife will have been seriously affected. We have been lucky and enjoyed an almost summer day today but who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Cloudia said...

are you trying to send us on a 'snipe hunt' dear? LOL!

Lovely to register the daily changes you chronicle.

Have a GREAT Week

Aloha from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

John Going Gently said...

if partridge babies are anything like my quail chicks I had last year....they are tough little buggers!

Eryl said...

Fingers crossed that at least some of the chicks have survived.

Dartford Warbler said...

There are fewer insects around this year and that must have an effect on the bird population, as well as the continuous cold and wet.

I hope your Barn Owls have found somewhere else to raise a family.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

If Oystercatchers aren't kicking up a racket there must be something seriously wrong I fear. Definitely a topsy-turvey year but nature will bounce back as it always does from natural events; it's only when man does something to change the environment that real problems occur.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, the current pattern seems to be "one nice day, ten wet ones" or something like that!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the cheering comments. I am sure Rachel is quite right - it is exactly what the farmer says - it is just so depressing at the moment.

Reader Wil said...

The weather in your country has been just as unsettled as in the Netherlands. Now the sun is shining. I haven't seen many young birds around and, on the other hand, birds I 've never seen before in my garden, like marsh tits. We usually have plenty of blue tits and great tits, but now I haven't seen them for quite some time! Strange.
Thank you for wishing me a good stay in Australia. Friday I am off.
I agree with you: Esther is a beautiful name!

Bovey Belle said...

I noted on Springwatch that they were talking about the weather had caused many wild birds to lose their first broods and that they were canvassing for a mate again to start over. I'm sorry there seem to be so few ground-nesting chicks about, but as John said, nature will bounce back.

I note that my Bramley apple tree has fruit setting, but has just put out a fresh tiny bit of blossom at the top . . .

Good luck with your Barn Owls. Lovely birds. We have Tawnys here.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for the interesting comments. That Barn Owl site is well worth a visit - so thanks for that Arctic Fox. Also Bovey Belle's comment suggests hope for the future.