1st December – By the time you read this your year and hangover should just be abating. Good health and above all happiness in the New Year.
I have paid several visits to South Wonston during November to see the Starlings (pictured) gathering to roost at dusk. Almost on time to the minute, I have had the good fortune to see them, probably about 1000 birds by the time the stragglers have joined the formation. Amazing how a small group; probably 20/30 birds, seem to lose their concentration and drift out of the main flock then carry out some very tight manoeuvring to bring themselves back in line. Which bird decides the flight path, and how do the others receive the left, right, up, down signals? Whatever the system it has to work in Nano seconds to avoid obstacles and not fly into the ground. Worth a trip if they are still active. The Starlings also put on a winter coat at this time, the blues and green specks giving way to white flecks, quite Christmassy really.
The White Egrets are back in force on the SSI in Wonston, at least four being sighted at one time – they appear to have abandoned the cress beds at Hunton, I shall have to check the fresh water shrimp population and make sure their levels are where they should be. The shrimp is favourite food for the Egret but also a primary indicator of water quality.
The Brown Trout will be moving upstream now, keep your eyes open at Giddy Bridge and Stoke Charity Bridge for the disturbance in gravel (will look clean compared with surrounding) and see if you can spot the male and female, generally the female will be on the gravel, the male in line astern, possibly more than one male. Please will all the Riparian owners have a look on their patch and give me a count of how many gravel scrapes (Reds) you see and if possible how many fish.
Rain for November was pretty average, frosts fairly light. Rainfall Sutton Scotney 52.5mm, Stoke Charity 53.0mm and Alresford 79.0mm.
Image of Starlings from www.rspb.org.uk