Lockdown news from Swaines Green
Primroses blooming in Lovelock's Meadow

As we all enjoy – if that’s the right word – enforced leisure time, and have the opportunity for daily walks out as opposed to a quick dash to the shops in our lunch hour, it’s not surprising that Swaines Green has been very busy with visitors. It is good to see that everyone is properly observing social distancing and being responsible about the impacts on a valuable conservation area.

So it seems an appropriate time to update everyone about what’s going on at Swaines Green at the moment.

More “what to see” checklists

With plenty of children now accompanying their parents to Swaines Green, we’ve been producing some guides to what you can find there, to give children some purpose to their walks. These are on the website as pdf documents to download to a smartphone or to print and take on your walk.

Recently added were Invertebrates and Trees. We now have the following available:

Coming shortly will be Butterflies – check our Resources page soon.

Nestbox watch

By now our nestboxes should be occupied, and tits will probably be sitting on eggs. We won’t be able to check them or ring the chicks until lockdown is finished, but we can still keep an eye on them.

Just before the lockdown started, I was alerted that one nestbox was on a tree that had come down in the winter gales. This was a small tree, and it was leaning at 45°, the nestbox just a few feet above the ground and the hole pointing downwards. When it was removed from the tree, there was a bit of moss in the bottom – surely the tits weren’t building a nest in that position? Yet there was a pair very agitated nearby when the box was being removed.

The nestbox was relocated onto an adjacent tree, and I retired to a safe distance to see what these birds would do. Gratifyingly, within a couple of minutes both birds had inspected the box and seem to have accepted its new position.

Bat boxes

Three new bat boxes have gone up over the winter, on the large willow tree overlooking the pond. With another three boxes long established on one of the old oaks along Bolt Cellar Lane, we hope that this will encourage the bats at Swaines Green.

Spring sightings

April in particular is a great month for seeing almost daily changes take place at Swaines Green. The trees are bursting into leaf, spring flowers are blossoming and summer visitors are swelling the resident bird population.

The Yellow Archangel is blooming in Forties Field – there’s a good clump near the entrance by the children’s play area – and the white stars of Stitchwort and little blue flowers of Common Dog-violet and Ground Ivy are widely on show. There are also some Primroses at the top of Lovelock’s Meadow; 19th April is Primrose Day, the anniversary of the death of Benjamin Disraeli, who loved primroses. Queen Victoria sent a wreath of primroses to his funeral.

Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs have returned to sing in our trees and bushes, and Blackbirds and Robins are in fine voice. A pair of Moorhens has produced two chicks on the pond, but I fear for them with a Crow’s nest in the top of an adjacent tree. Let’s hope they are good Moorhen parents!

Roger Emmens

Lockdown news from Swaines Green

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