Issue 27

Nature Watch: Spring/Summer 2010  marienkaefer-48

I usually write about the wildlife in the gardens, what′s been seen over the months and what you might see today. In all honesty I haven′t stepped foot in the garden for months so I thought I′d give you an idea of what″s beyond the clinic grounds in the surrounding area, along the river and some of the paths that go off in every direction.

You′ll find a lot of birds that visit the gardens along the paths; residents such as goldfinches, wrens, blue tits and many more. Summer migrants such as blackcaps, chiffchaffs and warblers can be heard and occasionally seen along the river or woodland paths, their grey and brown plumage overlooked. Mallard ducks successfully hatched and reared up to eight or nine ducklings, these often seen sunbathing on the river banks. Grey and pied wagtails spent there time on the river banks, along with the dipper and the resident heron which lazily took off as if it was really too much effort!

One morning in June I was lucky enough to see a mink on the bank opposite me. I′d been sat quietly for ten minutes when it appeared on a boulder and then silently slipped into the water. I watched all along the bank but didn′t see it again, for once I was in the right place at the right time! Mink have been on our rivers for years now and have had quite an effect on some of the wildlife. They either escaped from fur farms around the country, or were released by animal rights activists, not always thinking of the impact a species native to America would have.

In some of the fields orchids appeared in June and July; common spotted and pyramidal orchids popped up everywhere when it was thought there were only one or two. The list seemed endless as everything flowered in June, vetches, ox-eye daisies, cow parsley, yellow pimpernel and stitchwort filled the fields and hedgerows with yellow, white, pink and purple. A few new names appeared for me such as enchanter″s nightshade and herb bennet, even wild strawberries grew on the banks along the lane! And amongst all these and the various grasses, butterflies such as common blue, ringlet, meadow brown and the small tortoiseshell could be found throughout the hottest days.

I″ll leave you to enjoy the rest of the summer and hope you are able to see some of the wildlife that″s around, either on your walks or in the gardens around the clinic.