Looking for migrants

Dear Lads,

It has been a glorious weekend here. Hot and sunny with just enough breeze to prevent to becoming too uncomfortable. So yesterday we decided to head to Attenborough and see what we could find. As you can imagine the car park was heaving and we spent quite a while trying to sort out a year’s car parking permit. This was compensated for by the sight of the returned sand martins. We watched them entering and leaving their burrows entranced for quite a while.

Here it has changed from early spring to late spring in a matter of a couple of days. Last time I drove to Derby the trees barely held any blossom now they are rapidly covered in leaves. It is as if Spring has become compressed.

Anyway back to my tale. The cettis warblers were singing from every part of the reserve. They were most obliging and came out to be viewed which was very satisfying. An avocet was on Clifton pit unusual but not beyond probability. We missed the little-ringed plover as it had flown off before we could see it and the redstart had likewise departed. However, we walked to LongEaton Meadows and back along the railway line. Butterflies had also decided that spring was now here and were out in force. In a matter of hours, we had seen Brimstone, Peacock, Orange-tip, small white, comma, Small tortoiseshell and speckled wood. They all looked in pristine condition so we assumed they had recently emerged.


Photographs are from butterfly conservation unless stated

We spent five hours wandering about looking for migrants and although we didn’t see any other migrants we head willow warblers and we had a lovely time. We returned home to discover another springtime tradition. Just as the bulbs bloom and the migrants return, the mad woman next door was cursing and swearing whilst she threw bottles and other objects down the garden.

The wonderfully named hairy footed flower bee Anthophora plumipes was out in force as were early bumblebees buff-tailed Bombus terrestris and common carder Bombus pascuorum. We saw several bee-flies  Bombylius major and a hoverfly with a batman marking on the thorax Myathropa florea.


Myathropa florea.

Photographs are from BWARS

This morning another glorious day started and since we were later getting up I went for a swim so after fifty minutes in the pool ( 40+ lengths) and having washed the costume I was just getting ready to go out when I noticed the live trap beside the shed had been triggered. As you know we use the live traps to catch any rats that come off the fields and think that our garden is a cushy place to set up home. I release them a mile of two away beside the river.  We had caught a hedgehog. We had suspected that there were hedgehogs in the garden for some time, now we have definite proof. We gave it some cooked chicken and water which it ignored and we let it go once we had photographed it.

We had caught a hedgehog. We had suspected that there were hedgehogs in the garden for some time, now we have definite proof. We gave it some cooked chicken and water which it ignored and we let it go once we had photographed it.

So being late we set out for Carsington water and made it in good time. If we thought Attenborough was crowded yesterday today Carsington was packed. We didn’t see the willow tit at the feeders but did see a couple of waders on the edge and a pair of linnets on the vegetation. Everywhere we went chiffchaffs were calling. We found reed bunting and tree sparrows on the feeders.


The lady in the hide told us about the peregrine on the mill at Belper so we drove that way to try to see it. Imagine how thrilled we were to have an osprey fly over the car as we drove along. Our delight increased when moments later a buzzard dive bombed the osprey and it literally flew towards us and just over the windscreen. It was truly magical

We parked in the riverside gardens at Belper just as the peregrine flew in and landed on the mill. it remained there for the whole time we visited. The usual suspects were on the mill pond and the river. We found a bench to have our picnic and were surprised to find a tree bumblebee Bombus hypnorum on the berberis near our bench. So sated and with two new species for the year we headed home visiting Thrumpton on the way to see if the corn buntings were around. Whilst we didn’t see or hear any corn buntings the fields were alive with skylarks singing and we did pick up both a sparrowhawk displaying above us and a kestrel hunting along a ditch. I think five raptors is excellent for a day and we have both thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Is it alright if I call the hedgehog Bumble?

Lots of love





Hi Lads,

This weekend has been quite quiet with the rain on Saturday, not to mention being busy today and so as I have very little news for you I thought I would tell you a modern day morality tale.

I first saw Phil last winter. He appeared outside the door one morning and I could see immediately that he was hungry. It was bitterly cold and wet and he looked bedraggled.  I could see how dispirited he was from the way he way he walked and gazed about him in a desultory fashion. He had obviously been a handsome individual , but he looked rather as if  he had hit rock bottom.

As you both know I am a pushover and so I found some food. Of course, he didn’t thank me but he looked a bit happier.

Of course, being smart, he realised that if there was free food around he should try his luck again. He continued to appear at work, looking hungry and bedraggled and I continued to feed him. Despite holidays and weekends, from Monday to friday, he would hang around waiting for food. I never allowed him to come in but I was prepared to buy some food. I am such a sucker and he soon became bolder approaching the door and sitting just outside. Over the course of the last few months, he has definitely put on weight and is looking very attractive. Other people began to notice his presence and would comment on how he seemed to be hanging around the place all the time. Some people thought he was a distraction. When I came to work people would update me on Phil’s antics or on how noisy he had been. Some individuals seemed to particularly delight in telling me how long he had waited for his breakfast making me feel both guilty and rather embarrassed.

Anyway, as Phil became more used to us he approached us more closely. when I opened the door he didn’t look so terrified and instead of running away he just stayed out of reach.  People would come to the room just to see Phil sitting just outside the fire door. He started to alert me to his presence by occasionally tapping on the fire door so that I would know he was waiting. I still only fed him either early morning or late afternoon.

Now, however, he has come to believe that I am just present in order to supply his desire for constant food and I am sure he tells his friends that he has me tamed and ready to feed him on demand. He has taken to rapping on the glass at odd times during the day demanding food and looks very put out if his demands are not met immediately.  He will condescend to take the food out of my hand now rather than insisting that I put the food down and walk away. He is still a bit aggressive as he snatches the food but I expect he cannot help that.

 He is certainly looking far better much brighter and confident. Last week he brought his girlfriend Penelope to visit.  He is about twice the size of Penelope so I think I have been definitely been overfeeding him. She is still rather shy and diffident and is much harder to observe. It can only be a matter of time before lots of little Phils and Penelopes arrive and I will have a whole flock of pheasants. I wonder whether Phil and Penelope will bring them to visit me.


 With love  from your rather gullible mother