A couple of years ago, those of us who saw ‘Springwatch’ from RSPB Minsmere observed a badger swim, yes swim, across the scrape and gobble up large numbers of avocet eggs. Now I have been presented with another extraordinary example of a badger’s achievement. I am fortunate to regularly receive the Waldringfield Wildlife Group’s “What’s about”, a quarterly publication of reported wildlife activity in the Waldringfield area skilfully produced by Peter Maddison. Many locals send him their observations some with photographs. In the Spring edition it was reported that a badger had been seen swimming across the River Deven (at high tide) from the Sutton side to Waldringfield. This took place when lots of people were on both the water and the shore. Clive Quantrill took a photo of this animal, from his boat, coming ashore amongst the moored boats. The Deben is a tidal river, wide at this point, and extremely fast flowing. Congratulations to Mr Quantrill and to ‘Brock’.
I suppose we all love butterflies especially the pretty ones – you know Red Admirals, Peacocks etc. One of the most beautiful of our butterflies, in my opinion, is the Painted Lady. This jewel is a migrant insect, a great traveller from Africa. Some years, we have a massive influx. I am not an expert on butterflies (or much else) but I do love Painted Lady butterflies. Two weeks ago, I saw a few on the edge of Tangham Forest near Butley and there were more at Titchwell on the North Norfolk coast. We can become very blasé about nature. Having seen some unusual or rare bird, butterfly or animal, we become accustomed to it and just accept that it is just there. But I think a beautiful butterfly is worth a second glance (or a dozen glances). I hope that the few Painted Ladies that I saw are only the beginning of a deluge of orange, white and black. A lady in Grundisburgh showed me photos that she took of a four spot chaser dragonfly emerging on a reed-stem on her garden pond. She said that the dragonfly was motionless on this reed for two days before flying away. Isn’t it wonderful that now and again just a little bit of nature thrills someone so much. Mind you, another resident in this village reckons that he has fairies at the bottom of his garden but so far has taken no photos to prove his theory.
My French ornithologist friend, Pierre, who monitors ospreys nesting in his patch of the Loire valley, keeps me up to date with their breeding success, or otherwise. I am always amazed at the large size of fish an osprey can carry. One nest with young is regularly visited by the parent birds with fish (I assume from the River Loire). However, towards the bottom of this huge timber nest, a pair of pied wagtails are raising young. Normally, this species of wagtail would nest in buildings not too high off the ground, certainly not way up in a Scots Pine tree.
Late June is a really splendid time in Christchurch Park. After the recent rains the grassy areas have as yet no brown patches nor has it been used by heavy fairground equipment. All is very green including the ring-necked parakeets. It is difficult to see all of the Wilderness Pond because of the undergrowth but it seems that the latest clutch of coots have gone the same way as the mallards and mandarin ducklings. Once again, the large gulls are thought to be responsible. These scavenging monsters are gradually spreading their wings with nests now being discovered far from the town centre. We have no nuthatches but we do have treecreepers. I have received reports that several treecreeper nests have been raided by great spotted woodpeckers. It seems that the black and white menace, ie the large gulls, can equally apply to our woodpeckers.