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May 16th- pied wagtail, song thrush and swift diary

I mowed the lawn this morning, leaving plenty of areas of dandelions and longer grass. I find it fascinating that a different shorter stemmed form of dandelion grows in mown areas. They flower no more than an inch or so above the mower cutting height. I welcome this, but today’s lawn mowing revealed how important areas of short grass are too.

Blackbirds, a song thrush and a female pied wagtail were quick to descend onto the lawn as soon as I had finished mowing. I sat in my studio and enjoyed making pencil and watercolour sketches of all three species. The pied wagtail came very close and each time it seized an insect there was a sharp audible snap of its beak. The male blackbird looked so elegant today, sleak and sooty. His mate is on eggs whilst he tends to rapidly growing fledglings from their first brood.

It is wonderful to have song thrushes around, they are very beautiful to look at and they enrich our lives with their impressive song. I leave rough margins at the edge of the garden for them to forage for snails. They are well known for their ability to crack open snail shells by hitting them against a hard surface, known as a thrush’s anvil. To encourage this I leave large flat stones. They are quickly accepted and soon surrounded by a variety of snail shells. So it is well worth leaving a couple near your prize border or vegetable garden.

Swift Diary
Very little change still. Our pair left the nest box at about 8.30am and were seen twice during the day as they made very quick low level flypasts, but still no sign of any new birds. However a couple of migration watchpoints in France recorded good numbers going through yesterday. Some of these could well be UK swifts. We will find out very soon…

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