28 Sept 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Shopping around for nature

Wild About Wildlife: Shopping around for nature

Plenty of cotoneaster berries: The fact there is still good crop of these berries around is a sign of a mild winter - birds will only eat these as a last resort Picture: Pixabay

WE had just finished loading the shopping into the car, when we remember we needed a few tins of cat food for the outdoor cats.

I have a few feral cats around my house and they do a great job of keeping the rodent population down. My daughter volunteered to go back in and she is at the age where she is keen to be given more responsibility. Free for a while - myself and Harry went on a short nature walk.

There is a surprising good selection of trees and plants species around the Roxboro Shopping Centre. Out by the busy road there are several weeping silver birches. The branches of these trees hang down towards the path. Birches supports lots of insects and trees in cities and help filter pollution from the air. Birches are a tough tree and can survive in this challenging environment.

We saw three jackdaws and these are highly adaptable birds. Their natural nesting spots are in holes in trees and chimney pots make an ideal substitute. They feed on a wide range of scraps from sandwiches to chips, discarded as part of daily diet of an urban population.

A Cotoneaster still had a good crop of red berries. This is a reflection of the mild winter as the birds will only eat these berries as a last resort. Cotoneaster is far better for pollinators and bees love its small but pollen and nectar packed flowers.

Sycamores can spring up any place, as its winged seeds are carried by the wind. One was growing out of a gap in the bordering fence. They are usually cut back hard once they reach a certain size, but these trees bounced back by sending up multiple stems.

A Lime tree was also growing in a corner and we identified this tree by its plump red buds and ivy was continuing its expansion along a bare wall. This climber supports dozens of moth species and their caterpillars are eaten by birds.

The bare ground around the trees had been colonised by nature’s wildflowers like Rosettes of leaves of the creeping thistle, dandelion, black medic and euphorbia, with its milky white sap.

Common field speedwell straggled along the ground and it has pretty dark blue flowers. On a few of the sow thistle leaves we found the tunnels of leaf miners. I have sent of a few photos for identification and “never” is a never ending book.

The first few whitish flowers of the cherry blossoms were out and this is one of the first trees to really welcome the spring. Soon the whole tree will be coated in blooms but this fragile beauty lasts only a days.

Behind the bottle bank viburnum was in flower and there were just a few berries left on the pyracantha. Buddleia had planted itself between these two exotics and in summer it flowers will feed butterflies, day flying moths and bees.

Birds were scarce and we were briefly joined by a curious robin. He hooped down onto the top of the bottle bank, but we could not entice him down even with the offer of food.

Collared doves were busy displaying around the car park and they have the most monotonous cooing calls.

At the top of a tall Lawson cypress tree we saw three starlings. These were busy singing and their rendition was interrupted by the return of Lucy with cat food.

Discovering nature is often about taken a quick opportunity when it arises it our busy lives.

For More or 089 4230502. Albert is also available to do walk/talks with schools, tidy towns, youth and community groups

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