Notes from a field - Bob Sheridan
Langham in Rutland
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October 2015 The   summer   has   been   quiet   for   the   ground   dwelling   birds.   The   pond   has   dried   up   and the   moorhens   have   decamped   to   the   brook.   The   pheasants   have   spread   out   into   the fields   and   ducks   have   disappeared.   I   did   not   see   any   pheasant   chicks   this   year   which   is unusual. It is always an anxious time to see who will return later in the year. The swallows    managed   to   fledge   a   brood   of   four.   The   first   to   fly   made   a   poor   start   and landed   just   in   front   of   me.   I   was   going   to   see   if   it   was   all   right   but   the   parents   were dive - bombing   my   head   so   I   backed   off   and   watched   from   a   little   further   away.   Within   a few    minutes    it    launched    itself    into    the    air    and    was    soon    performing    aerobatics. The others   managed   to   stay   in   the   air.   I   don't   know   where   the   swallows   have   gone   this year.   They   normally   stay   around   and   are   seen   hawking   over   the   field.   This   year   the   sky has   been   virtually   empty   and   the   parents   did   not   return   for   a   second   brood.   Will   any make it back next year?
The   first   week   in   August   I   saw   three   fieldfares.   This   seems   very   early   as   I   would   not   expect   them   until September   or   October.   About   the   same   time   I spent   a   pleasant   twenty   minutes   or   so   watching   a   pair of   what   I   think   were   garden   warblers   (   my   warbler   identification   is   not   very   good)   feeding   their   young. From   a   distance   I   at   first   thought   they   were   spotted   flycatchers   as   they   were   catching   insects   on   the wing   from   a   tree   branch.   It   was   only   as   I   got   closer   I   realised   they   were   warblers.   The   kite   seems   to have found a mate as I spotted a pair over the village. The   buzzards   have   found   a   new   technique   for   catching   Rabbits.   They   sit   very   still   on   a   fence   post   in area   that   divides   rough   grass   and   short   grass.   I   have   not   actually   seen   them   catch   anything   as   it   is difficult   to   get   close   without   them   flying   off.   The   squirrels   have   been   busy   in   the   garden   as   peanuts are   coming   up   in   my   potted   plants!   Peanuts   are   interesting   to   grow   as   the   plant,   once   the   flowers have   been   pollinated,   grows   down   into   the   soil   where   the   nut   develops.   Hence   the   other   name   for them   is   ground   nut.   If   you   try   this   at   home   they   need   an   early   start   and   make   sure   you   use   nuts   in   the shell,   roasted   ones   don't   work!   The   little   egret   put   in   an   appearance   at   the   end   of   August,   as   did several   goldcrests   picking   insects   from   the   fir   trees.   A   shrill   squeal   alerted   me   to   a   group   of   magpies attacking   a   young   rabbit.   The   rabbit   escaped   and   ran   off   but   this   is   the   first   time   I   have   seen   magpies act as a group to attack an apparently healthy animal. A   pair   of   muntjac   deer    seem   to   have   taken   up   residence   and   are   regularly   seen   out   in   the   open   in   late afternoon.   One   of   them,   along   with   a   fox,   was   seen   in   a   nearby   garden   early   one   morning.   One day   I decided   to   see   how   close   I   could   get   to   one   of   them.   The   wind   was   behind   me   so   I   didn't   expect   to   get very   close.   I   made   no   attempt   to   conceal   myself,   simply   standing   still   when   it   looked   in   my   direction.   I kept   getting   closer   and   closer   and   with   every   step   thought   this   is   going   to   be   the   last.   Eventually   I   got to within ten yards and watched it for several minutes before it went back into the trees.