Nature Notes for Locked-down times March 23-29

Well, here we are one week in to lockdown and I hope everyone is still standing and sane. Things seem to have fallen into some sort of routine now and thank goodness the weather last week was so lovely; it made getting out for the permitted exercise a great pleasure. I’m trying to find as many different walks as I can and have been keeping notes of what I’ve seen en route. It’s been heartening to find so many different wild flowers, birds and trees close to, and in, the town. 

I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account but here are some of the highlights: on Monday it was a patch of lesser celandine, glowing in the sun and, unexpectedly, a huge bulbous buttercup plant (reflexed sepals) in full flower. Tuesday brought two buzzards sailing around happily near the woodland by the railway line. They were quite content until mobbed by a vocal posse of crows which resulted in a full on shouting match for several minutes; I’m not sure who won, but peace was eventually restored. The lane past Fitzpatrick Referrals is a good place to hear skylarks and several were singing on Wednesday plus, in the stubble, there were a couple of red-legged partridges and a kestrel was hunting over newly scarified ground. In the evening it was a particular pleasure to see a bat, probably a Pipistrelle, flittering around over next-door’s garden. I haven’t seen any here for several years, but maybe I’m just unobservant

One thing that has surprised me walking round Godalming is the amount of Elm coppice there is. It seems it can grow quite healthily to small tree size before being blitzed by the beetle. Horse Chestnuts are on the brink of bursting forth as are some of the Maples and in places Hawthorn is in full leaf. In a sheltered spot I found some bluebells in flower and a solitary plant of Honesty. That was Thursday and then on Friday, near Munstead Wood house, I noticed a huge patch of Borage which the early bees were delighted to see. I thought I heard a Willow Warbler but it was probably wishful thinking. There was one trill of descending notes and that was all so it could easily have been something else. However, there is no mistaking the Chiffchaffs which, all of a sudden, are everywhere and there are a surprising number of Stock Doves as well. The Rooks are nesting in the high trees (Oaks) near Busbridge Junior School. The majority have opted to go high this year though there are some that are more prudent. We could do with a good summer. 

A cold wind got up at the weekend which made walking slightly less pleasant, but even so there were white Violets, Cow Parsley, Hogweed, Groundsel, Greater Stitchwort and Wood Anemones to look at. Loads of Primroses everywhere of course and a couple of patches of Moschatel in some woodland. It will be interesting to see what this week brings, maybe just more of the same but, if we can get back to some warm weather, who knows what else might be encouraged. Do let me know what you find on your outings (Hugh has seen Wood Anemones at West Dean, Cherry blossom in Milford and Greater Celandine) and I can include your sightings in next week’s Lockdown Nature Notes.

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