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May 24th- garden mammals and swift diary.

The wind dropped substantially today but it remained cloudy and cool until we finally saw the sun late in the afternoon. I have seen three different species of mammal in the garden today. Bank voles live in holes under a wall and entertain us regularly with their forays to eat sunflower seeds. I leave a rough strip around the edge of the garden which gives them a hidden running area. They are frequently active during daylight hours and we hear their very high pitched squeaking often. We also hear them eating. They are feasting on dandelions at the moment and their gnawing can be quite loud.

Less easy to see in daylight are wood mice. They live in our shed and can be seen when I set my trail camera as they share peanuts and sunflower seeds with our hedgehogs. As far as I know our female hedgehog will be giving birth to young soon. She is well established in our hedgehog nest box. I feed our hedgehogs peanuts, sunflower hearts and a commercial hedgehog food. The spring has been so dry, they must be having a difficult time finding worms, slugs and snails. It is important also to make sure they have safe access to water.

Swift Diary

Our swifts left at about 8.30am and they were absent for the whole day. In fact I didn’t see a single swift between then and now, 5.57pm. It was good to have swift reports from my parents who live in Sleights, North Yorkshire. Last summer a pair of non breeding swifts built a beautiful nest in one of their three nest boxes . The first of the pair arrived home late last night to roost and today they were fortunate to have some spectacular flypasts by up to five birds. I found this intriguing given that we had no activity here at all. It shows that swift activity can vary in different areas.

The large number of swifts that recently moved north through France have not added to our count here in Gilling East- yet. I suspect many of these swifts will have bumped into the strong winds associated with the area of low pressure which has been moving east over the UK. There may well be a concentration of swifts in northern France waiting to make the final leg of their journey to the UK. In fact I would be surprised if we don’t see an arrrival of birds tomorrow or Tuesday.

2 thoughts on “May 24th- garden mammals and swift diary.”

  1. Hi Jonathan, lovely sketches and notes as always. Here in Southend-on-Sea in Essex we have seen a big influx in our swift numbers from five to twelve, very low flying and screeching. Last years youngsters ?

    On the sketching front glad to report I have started my own lockdown garden diary starting with wild flowers I have discovered in the garden. Easy to sketch them as they don’t move. A good starting place !

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