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.