Nature notes from John Holt
4pm Local time on the 1st September and the big silver bird is depositing me safely at the airport of Busan –South Korea. The grass land of the airport is dotted with many Snowy Egrets, the same species we see in the Dever valley only here they are in big numbers. Before leaving for Korea I walked the dogs across the cress beds in Hunton, there was a single Snowy Egret who was not impressed by the dogs but what I did see which gave me quite a moment of excitement was a flock of what I call Pee-wits, Plover by another name or even Lap Wings. I counted 29, there were probably more. The number of these birds, as with others, has dwindled since my youth. This bird was once looked upon as the farmer’s friend, I have spent many hours watching the old stubble and rough ploughed fields left fallow from previous year’s crop to find the Pee-wits nests and mark them for the farmer to plow around – I doubt the farmers have time for that today and the spraying has killed off many of the insects that this species used to survive on. This flock is probably the same one that George Gray normally calls in to me from Manor Farm. I am sure he will be pleased to know they are still around, he will remember the old values.
For those of you who drive/walk along the Wonston Stoke Charity lane you will notice that the fallen trees are gradually being cleared from the water meadow, sawn and stacked ready for collection by the road. This has been achieved by just two people and two pieces of equipment, quite remarkable in my book.r the old values.
My plan for the water meadow was to create a wildlife corridor between Stoke Charity bridge and Giddy Bridge, the corridor to include wet unmanaged woodland at the Giddy bridge end, a lake in the plantation, and further woodland around the cress beds. It took two years to get planning permission to fell 100 trees and dig the lake, nature took down 300 trees in a three week period without planning – a big setback and one could say, a clean canvas. The woodland around the cress beds also lost 24 trees to the culling by the Scottish and Southern Energy in their bid to reduce power failures this winter – don’t hold your breath.
The wildlife corridor is still an ambition and the pond now registered in my old dog’s name as Mouse Pond has had a welcome visitor in the form of a Red Shank, seen several times by the digger man Matt – just the beginning I hope.
Image of Lapwing from www.rspb.org.uk