© Mike Frisby - Langham in Rutland
Notes from a Field & Garden - summer 2020
March and April were certainly a change from the amount of rain we had in February. Only 37.6mm fell in March and 32.0mm in April. Over the last ten years April is averaging out as the driest month. The only "April Showers" we had were at the end of the month. The low rainfall continued in May with only 13.2mm falling. June saw more rain than in the previous three months put together, although most of this fell on two days, the 16th and 18th.Daytime temperatures for March hovered around 100C and at night time dropped below 50C with seven days of air frost. April was very warm with daytime temperatures mostly in the teens and peaking at 23.90C. The night time temperatures were still cool though, with only a few days over 50C and one air frost. The result of all this was that gardening conditions were made very difficult. The February rains flattened out the top surface of our clay rich soils and then the hot weather baked it hard and deep cracks appeared. This made for a lot of hard work in April breaking up the top layer to allow air and water to enter. Despite this spring plants have flourished and put on a magnificent display. Last time I mentioned the possibility of an otter in the village and there were reports of fish going missing. I had only just sent in my copy of the article when I had an email from Fiona Mitchell that she had taken a couple of pictures of what she thought to be of an otter . I was expecting a distant fuzzy picture but was amazed to see wonderful close ups which were obviously of an otter. The pictures were taken on the 18th January by the Old Hall and the otter was calmly walking up the road . Something I would dearly have liked to see. To make sure I had the pictures verified by an expert who confirmed they were indeed of an otter. So the mystery is solved. The missing fish have been taken by an otter. I have had no reports of any sightings recently so I assume that, having cleared out every fish pond in Langham, it has moved on. Having been confined to barracks most of my sightings have come from the garden or through the dining room window. It is amazing how much you can see from one spot. The male pheasants have been keeping themselves busy chasing each other across the field. One occasion that made me laugh was when half way through the chase the leading pheasant dropped to the ground and laid perfectly still. You could see the chasing pheasant stop and then look around thinking " where has it gone ". It wasn't as if was well hidden in long grass. Eventually it found where it was but it only went up to it and walked round it in circles. The first one remained perfectly still. After quite a while the chasing pheasant got distracted, the hiding one made a break for it, and the chase continued across the field. The pair of crows finally saw off last year's youngster and recently only one appears at a time, presumably they are now nesting. One day I glanced out of the window and noticed two crows but something did not seem quite right. A second look revealed that it was actually a pair of rooks which I never seen that close to the house. Although rooks are slightly smaller than crows they appear larger due to their much looser feathering. The best way to identify them is by their beaks. The rook's beak is much sharper but the real give away is white patch of skin at the base of the beak. They have appeared again several times and the crows then attempt to drive them off. Muntjacs are regular visitors , occasionally as a pair, and are often heard barking at night. I managed to get a photograph, through the dining window, of one that came particularly close to the house. Also at night the tawny owls can be heard and occasionally they call during the day. I wondered why the bananas I put out for the birds were disappearing until I saw the grey squirrel with a piece in its paws. It amazes me how fast their jaws work. An amusing sight was of the squirrel playing chase me with some baby rabbits. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves taking turns to do the chasing. A woodpecker could be heard drumming but I have yet to catch sight of it. For several days there were white downy feathers everywhere. I thought at first that the sparrow hawk had made a kill but the feathers were too spread out and there were too many of them. Eventually I realised that they were the result of over amorous wood pigeons. Although smaller in numbers the jackdaws are still about and are seen filling their beaks with horse hair to line their nests. Apart from the ones mentioned earlier, and the common garden birds, I have seen a little egret, pied wagtails, mallard, black headed gulls (now in their summer plumage) and house martins. Early butterflies were on the wing from late March. First to appear, as usual, were male brimstones followed a little later by a few females. Next seen was a tortoiseshell. The first few days saw the arrival of orange tips, again the males were seen before the females. It seems to be a very good year for orange tips as they are everywhere. I managed to get a photograph of a male and female preparing to mate on an aubrietia plant . The middle of April saw the first holly blue and a cinnabar moth. Several queen wasps found their way into the house in the first week of April. Following the recent sightings of the Muntjacs I put a trail camera in the small wood at the back of the house. I was please to see some good pictures of one of the deer taken during daylight hours so they are in full colour. Muntjac-1 , Muntjac-2 , Munjac-3 and Muntjac-4 One night, towards the end of June, I went to close the bedroom curtains and was surprised to see two large bats outside, just inches from the glass. There must have been a number insects there as they were around for several minutes. June has been a good time for insects with plenty of bees and butterflies. A walk along Mickley Lane and through Munday's Close saw seven species of butterfly. One exciting discovery of an uncommon moth was made by Anthony Wright who found a scarlet tiger moth Callimorpha dominula . Anthony also reported numbers of cinnabar moth. I have also seen quite a few in the garden. They may have come from the caterpillars seen on the ragwort plant I left to flower last year. I am always interested in other people’s sightings and comments so don’t forget to email me .
Langham in Rutland
© Mike Frisby - Langham in Rutland
March and April were certainly a change from the amount of rain we had in February. Only 37.6mm fell in March and 32.0mm in April. Over the last ten years April is averaging out as the driest month. The only "April Showers" we had were at the end of the month. The low rainfall continued in May with only 13.2mm falling. June saw more rain than in the previous three months put together, although most of this fell on two days, the 16th and 18th.Daytime temperatures for March hovered around 100C and at night time dropped below 50C with seven days of air frost. April was very warm with daytime temperatures mostly in the teens and peaking at 23.90C. The night time temperatures were still cool though, with only a few days over 50C and one air frost. The result of all this was that gardening conditions were made very difficult. The February rains flattened out the top surface of our clay rich soils and then the hot weather baked it hard and deep cracks appeared. This made for a lot of hard work in April breaking up the top layer to allow air and water to enter. Despite this spring plants have flourished and put on a magnificent display. Last time I mentioned the possibility of an otter in the village and there were reports of fish going missing. I had only just sent in my copy of the article when I had an email from Fiona Mitchell that she had taken a couple of pictures of what she thought to be of an otter . I was expecting a distant fuzzy picture but was amazed to see wonderful close ups which were obviously of an otter. The pictures were taken on the 18th January by the Old Hall and t he otter was calmly walking up the road. Something I would dearly have liked to see. To make sure I had the pictures verified by an expert who confirmed they were indeed of an otter. So the mystery is solved. The missing fish have been taken by an otter. I have had no reports of any sightings recently so I assume that, having cleared out every fish pond in Langham, it has moved on. Having been confined to barracks most of my sightings have come from the garden or through the dining room window. It is amazing how much you can see from one spot. The male pheasants have been keeping themselves busy chasing each other across the field. One occasion that made me laugh was when half way through the chase the leading pheasant dropped to the ground and laid perfectly still. You could see the chasing pheasant stop and then look around thinking " where has it gone ". It wasn't as if was well hidden in long grass. Eventually it found where it was but it only went up to it and walked round it in circles. The first one remained perfectly still. After quite a while the chasing pheasant got distracted, the hiding one made a break for it, and the chase continued across the field. The pair of crows finally saw off last year's youngster and recently only one appears at a time, presumably they are now nesting. One day I glanced out of the window and noticed two crows but something did not seem quite right. A second look revealed that it was actually a pair of rooks which I never seen that close to the house. Although rooks are slightly smaller than crows they appear larger due to their much looser feathering. The best way to identify them is by their beaks. The rook's beak is much sharper but the real give away is white patch of skin at the base of the beak. They have appeared again several times and the crows then attempt to drive them off. Muntjacs are regular visitors , occasionally as a pair, and are often heard barking at night. I managed to get a photograph, through the dining window, of one that came particularly close to the house. Also at night the tawny owls can be heard and occasionally they call during the day. I wondered why the bananas I put out for the birds were disappearing until I saw the grey squirrel with a piece in its paws. It amazes me how fast their jaws work. An amusing sight was of the squirrel playing chase me with some baby rabbits. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves taking turns to do the chasing. A woodpecker could be heard drumming but I have yet to catch sight of it. For several days there were white downy feathers everywhere. I thought at first that the sparrow hawk had made a kill but the feathers were too spread out and there were too many of them. Eventually I realised that they were the result of over amorous wood pigeons. Although smaller in numbers the jackdaws are still about and are seen filling their beaks with horse hair to line their nests. Apart from the ones mentioned earlier, and the common garden birds, I have seen a little egret, pied wagtails, mallard, black headed gulls (now in their summer plumage) and house martins. Early butterflies were on the wing from late March. First to appear, as usual, were male brimstones followed a little later by a few females. Next seen was a tortoiseshell. The first few days saw the arrival of orange tips, again the males were seen before the females. It seems to be a very good year for orange tips as they are everywhere. I managed to get a photograph of a male and female preparing to mate on an aubrietia plant . The middle of April saw the first holly blue and a cinnabar moth. Several queen wasps found their way into the house in the first week of April. Early butterflies were on the wing from late March. First to appear, as usual, were male brimstones followed a little later by a few females. Next seen was a tortoiseshell. The first few days saw the arrival of orange tips, again the males were seen before the females. It seems to be a very good year for orange tips as they are everywhere. I managed to get a photograph of a male and female preparing to mate on an aubrietia plant . The middle of April saw the first holly blue and a cinnabar moth. Several queen wasps found their way into the house in the first week of April. Following the recent sightings of the Muntjacs I put a trail camera in the small wood at the back of the house. I was please to see some good pictures of one of the deer taken during daylight hours so they are in full colour. Muntjac-1 , Muntjac-2 , Munjac-3 and Muntjac-4 One night, towards the end of June, I went to close the bedroom curtains and was surprised to see two large bats outside, just inches from the glass. There must have been a number insects there as they were around for several minutes. June has been a good time for insects with plenty of bees and butterflies. A walk along Mickley Lane and through Munday's Close saw seven species of butterfly. One exciting discovery of an uncommon moth was made by Anthony Wright who found a scarlet tiger moth Callimorpha dominula . Anthony also reported numbers of cinnabar moth. I have also seen quite a few in the garden. They may have come from the caterpillars seen on the ragwort plant I left to flower last year. I am always interested in other people’s sightings and comments so don’t forget to email me .
Notes from a Field & Garden - summer 2020
Langham in Rutland