Bird Notes by Bill Johnston

Local maternity hospital?

A BIRD which sadly I haven’t seen or heard here at Mossies for quite some time is the Wren. In fact, upon checking back through my monthly bird records for this location, I discover that the last time I saw one here was at the beginning of December. Now I know the Wren population is prone to massive fluctuations, severe winters like the one we recently experienced takes its toll on these tiny creatures. One of the reasons for this is that they are so dependent on tiny insects and caterpillars for food, a very scarce commodity during hard and prolonged winters. Let’s hope the offspring of any survivors will eventually find their way here to bonnie Mossies very soon!

Having a moss and woodland/scrub area in front of our house there is always a wealth of wildlife activity to be seen and heard. The shy roe deer are resident here and can be seen at almost any time, but early morning or in the evening usually the best time to see them grazing the lush, green grass at the side of the farm road. This time of year, May and June, is when the females give birth. The young are born hairy and with open eyes and for the first few days of their life they are kept in a shelter, usually amongst long dense grass. The female visits them regularly so that they can suckle.

It is so important that if you happen to find a baby roe deer when you are out and about that you follow and abide by two simple rules 1) - do not touch it no matter how appealing it looks and 2) - leave the location as quickly and quietly as possible. By doing so this should ensure that the female is not scared or put off visiting and feeding her youngster, she knows where it is.

Whilst badgers do not reside in the moss they certainly use it as a source of food with signs of their searching often being seen.

However, I have seen the odd badger now and again trundling up the road in the dusk of a summer’s evening, always a delightful sight.

Another user of the moss is of course Mr Reynard and indeed up until a few years ago one used a gap/space amongst a large pile of stones as its daytime shelter, the tell-tale odour was quite prevalent for some time!

Sadly rabbits abound in the moss, I wish Mr Fox would come back, he might help to get rid of a few! Oh I know they are so endearing like, especially the baby ones and so delightful to watch as they hop and play about on the grass – but what a damage they do in the garden! Can anyone suggest some plants which could act as a deterrent and make my garden less inviting to the little d****s!?

Back to my avian friends and at this time of year the moss could certainly be described as a virtual maternity hospital providing nest sites for a variety of birds. Summer visitors using it at the moment for this important part of their lives are Willow Warblers, Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Garden Warblers. These warblers are seldom seen but their different songs make them very easily identified as well as making our dawn chorus a delight to listen to. Amongst our indigenous residents indulging in the same activity are Robins, Chaffinches, Tree Sparrows, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Collared Doves and of course Wood Pigeons.

A very busy place indeed and with all the different shades of green of the new leaves on the different trees plus the beautiful and aromatic blossom of the hawthorn the moss is indeed a wonderful and delightful place to stay beside.

Finally, our Boiler shed Swallows, who returned last month, have built another new nest which now contains five eggs and which are being incubated by two very efficient prospective parents.