Clewers Lane Nature diary


January 2015

A natural history of the Hedgerows and Gardens in Clewers Lane, Waltham Chase.

Words and pictures by  Gordon Larcombe

In the frosty January mornings, the songs of the male Song Thrush and Dunnock could be heard as the birds began to mark out their territories along the lane. Both species have mellifluous songs: that of the Song Thrush carrying far and wide; that of the Dunnock often being drowned out by the chirping of the House Sparrow colonies. A less noisy creature was this grey Heron who found a useful perch in a large Oak tree:

Jan15001

GREY HERON, CLEWERS LANE

Jan15002

THREE MALE BULLFINCHES, CLEWERS LANE

A small group of Bullfinches is ever present in the Hedgerow, feeding off the buds of the Bull Ace and other trees. Here you can see three mature males. Although the males are brightly coloured, the birds are quite secretive. Often the best way of detecting their presence is through their distinctive plaintive call. You can hear a sample of the call by opening this audio file  (double click the icon):

 

 

It is not the world’s best quality as it was recorded with my pocket camera. House Sparrows can be heard chattering in the background, and towards the end, a Blue Tit begins its scolding alarm call and then a Robin jumps in to finish.

The Bullfinch is a species about whose survival there is much concern by conservationist bodies – it is classed as AMBER risk due to rapid decreases in its population.

The House Sparrow is of an even greater concern – it is RED listed, which means that it is in big trouble. A colony of twenty to thirty birds inhabits the hedgerow and houses halfway up the lane. The birds will soon be building their nests in the roof spaces of some of the houses, accompanied by much chirping and twittering as the males display for their selected females:

Jan15003

HOUSE SPARROW, CLEWERS LANE

 

Mentioned earlier, the Song Thrush is also a RED listed bird whereas the Dunnock is AMBER listed. Given the desperate conservation status of all these species: Dunnock, Bullfinch, House Sparrow and Song Thrush and include winter visitors such as the Redwing, which is also RED listed, and  it is clear that places like Clewers Lane, with long-established hedgerows and trees are a lifeboat to survival.

On colder winter days, a small flock of a dozen or so Long Tailed Tits can be seen patrolling the hedgerow from West to East on the lookout for food:

Jan15004LONG TAILED TIT, CLEWERS LANE

 

Occasionally a Chaffinch or two puts in an appearance – this one is a female:

 

Jan15005FEMALE CHAFFINCH, CLEWERS LANE

 

Flocks of Goldfinches are regular visitors, their tinkling song spills out over the landscape as the members of the group keep in touch with one another. This one paused for a moment to pose:

Jan15006GOLDFINCH, CLEWERS LANE

A handsome Nuthatch put in a noisy appearance atop one of the old Ash Trees in the hedgerow:

Jan15007NUTHATCH, CLEWERS LANE

 

Our cheeky Grey Squirrel was out and about in the sunshine, prowling through the hedgerow on the lookout for seeds, berries and other morsels:

Jan15008GREY SQUIRREL, CLEWERS LANE

Finally for this month, small groups of Starlings have been congregating in the Hedgerow. This was good to see because the Starling is another RED listed species due to a severe decline in its population. Here is a small snapshot of one group, taken just after dawn on a grey morning:

Jan15009STARLINGS, CLEWERS LANE

 

On the verges, the leaves of the Lesser Celandine plants are showing through the grass and leaves to remind us that in a few weeks’ time the verges will be covered in yellow flowers – a welcome source of nectar for the early insects:

Jan150010LESSER CELANDINES, CLEWERS LANE

 

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2 Responses to Clewers Lane Nature diary

  1. karen anderson says:

    Clewers Lane Nature Diary.
    Gordon Larcombe.
    Just to let you know how very much I appreciate your wonderful nature diary. Such excellent photos and brilliant of you to include the audio clip. I’m afraid that being out at work I don’t spend a lot of time observing local trees, hedgerows, and their inhabitants but I do value it all. This has to be one of the nicest emails that I receive in the month.
    Many thanks. Karen

    • Gordon Larcombe says:

      Karen, thank you very much for your kind remarks ! I am glad that you get a buzz from reading about the wildlife in this piece of hedgerow – I enjoy watching and taking the snaps of the hedgerow.
      Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it will still be there in the summer 😦
      Gordon

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