Notes from a field - Bob Sheridan
Langham in Rutland
August 2015 Although   the   weather   has   been   less   than   ideal   there   is   always   something   to   see. The moorhens   have   hatched   a   second   brood   of   chicks    and   at   just   a   day   old   the   parents have   them   out   in   the   field.   It   is   always   amusing   to   see   five   black   tennis   balls   running around.   Something   I   have   never   seen   before   is   the   chicks   from   the   first   brood   helping to    feed    the    younger    ones.    The    mother    moorhen    is    very    protective    and    will    fly    at anything   that   gets   too   close   to   her   brood.   Even   the   grey   squirrel   makes   a   run   for   the nearest tree. Most   of   the   female   pheasants    have   disappeared   either   nesting   or   finding   plenty   of food   elsewhere.   Only   "Brownie",   another   female   and   a   cock   bird   remain.   Brownie   was hatched   in   the   field   two   years   ago,   one   of   the   few   to   survive.   Pheasants   seem   to   be poor   parents   and   mortality   amongst   the   chicks   is   high.   Brownie   is   now   very   tame,   she follows   me   around   and   will   eat   out   my   hand.   A   pair   of   partridges    are   around   but   much more   secretive   than   the   pheasants.   Perhaps   because   of   this   they   seem   to   make   much better parents and rear more of their chicks.
The   numbers   of   collared   doves   fluctuates   wildly,   mainly   due   to   the   sparrow   hawk ,   if   the   piles   of feathers   are   anything   to   go   by.   Cleverly   the   hawk   never   wipes   them   out   completely   and   always seems   to   leave   a   pair   to   breed   again.   Collared   doves   are   easy   to   recognise   by   their   brown   grey almost   pinkish   feathers   and   black   half   collar   around   the   neck.   The   wood   pigeon   is   a   much   larger   bird with   white   neck   patches.   Usually   seen   in   the   company   of   the   collared   doves   and   wood   pigeons   are stock   doves.   They   are   smaller   than   the   wood   pigeon   and   easily   distinguished   as   they   have   a   glossy green patch on the neck instead of a white one. Russell,   the   crow,   arrived   three   years   ago   unable   to   fly   due   to   a   damaged   wing.   Somehow,   with   some extra   food,   he   managed   to   survive   and   was   able   to   fly   again.   He   soon   found   a   mate   and   every   year brings   the   youngsters   to   show   them   where   the   food   is.   He   will   sit   and   caw   loudly   until   thrown   some bread   which   he   then   takes   away   piece   by   piece   and   carefully   hides   it   in   the   grass.   I   am   not   sure   if   he does   this   to   save   it   for   later   or   if   he   is   showing   the   youngsters   how   to   search   for   food.   This   year   he has just arrived with four young. Badgers   make   their   nocturnal   visits   carefully   digging   holes   to   use   as   latrines.   Occasionally   a   fox   is seen   out   and   about   during   the   day.   The   rabbits   are   multiplying   as   only   rabbits   can   despite   the   best efforts   of   the   buzzards   and   a   large   ginger   cat   which   is   a   regular   visitor.   The   buzzards    are   less frequent   visitors   at   this   time   of   year.   They   may   be   nesting   but   if   they   do   appear   the   crows   soon   see them   off.   At   other   times   of   the   year   they   coexist   reasonably   happily.   Look   out   for   the   kite   now   an almost   daily   visitor.   Kites   are   easily   distinguished   from   buzzards   by   their   narrower   wings   and   deeply forked   tail.   Another,   less   regular,   visitor   has   been   a   little   egret .   Smaller   than   a   heron   it   is   pure   white with black legs and yellow feet.