Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Swifts and swallows still flying, eggs hatching, bats and dragonflies still about!

November summer confusing wildlife
November 2011. The clocks might have gone back and Christmas shopping started but in the garden at least, summer hasn't quite ended, says the RSPB.

The wildlife charity has been inundated with the kind of calls it would usually expect to receive in the summer for the past few weeks, showing how much of an impact the recent balmy weather has had on garden creatures.

Summer migrants like swifts and swallows which would traditionally head back to their winter homes by September are still being reported around the UK, particularly in the North. Blue tits were being seen taking food for young to their nests throughout October, which suggest they may have had an elongated breeding period and a second brood of young, despite usually only having one each summer.

Ducks were still frequently nesting under hedges throughout October too, whereas ducklings would usually be fully grown by late August. Even this week ducklings have been spotted sticking close to their mothers, which is extremely late.

Gardens are empty of birds
Garden bird feeders and tables are seemingly deserted as food is still available in the wider countryside. It is usually from July-September that the RSPB receives lots of worried calls asking ‘where have all my birds gone?' as they are still finding abundance of berries and insects but throughout November many have still not returned for our hospitality.

Wasps, butterflies and ladybirds still flying
Insects like wasps and ladybirds are still being seen in large numbers, particularly inside houses. And even butterflies are sticking around with red admirals being most commonly seen around plants like ivy.

Ducklings in London
A mallard at London Wetland Centre has hatched a clutch of 11 ducklings, about six months later (or perhaps earlier?) than usual. The ducklings, which should have made an appearance sometime between April and June, are enjoying the winter sunshine on the entrance lake at the Centre. The latest that mallard ducklings would normally hatch is August, but that tends to happen when a clutch has failed and the adults try for a second brood.

The warm winter weather has caused a flurry of other unseasonal events at WWT London Wetland Centre.

Peregrines paddling
Temperatures of 16C and clear blue skies proved too much for a couple of peregrines which were seen paddling, up to their breasts, off a shingle island in the main lake last weekend. These spectacular falcons, famed for their efficient hunting skills, looked more like a couple on a beach holiday than birds which are capable of decapitating their prey in flight.

Bats flying
What's more, some very dazed daffodil shoots sprang up within the grounds of the wetland centre, fooled into thinking that spring has arrived before winter has even started. Bats and dragonflies have also been spotted hunting over the reserve.


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