Vibrant Easter

Surrey Comet: Vibrant Easter

9:08am Monday 14th April 2014

Easter.A symbol of renewal,regrowth and rebirth,not forgetting hot cross buns and chocolate eggs! Birdsong is reaching a crescendo as migrants fly in,territories are defended,nests are built,eggs laid and early fledglings fed.

Richmond Park in springtime

Surrey Comet: One or two stags retain last autumn's antlers but most now sprout short velvet covered stumps of new growth

8:19am Monday 7th April 2014

The sun shines warmly out of a cloudless pale blue sky on 1st April,almost fooling me into believing that summer has arrived.

Nature Notes: Hide and Seek

Surrey Comet: The common snipe

9:37am Monday 31st March 2014

The plumage of birds comes in a variety of colours and tones, from exotic rain forest species to our rather plain dunnock.

Nature Notes: Morley Park

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Morley Park

10:00am Monday 24th March 2014

A few years ago I stood on the site just vacated by the Atkinson Morley hospital in Merton.

Nature Notes: A rising tide of insects

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: A rising tide of insects

9:08am Monday 17th March 2014

In March, the tide of insect life begins to rise. As daylight hours lengthen and temperatures rise, more and more species become active.

Nature Notes: Springtime sights and sounds

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Springtime sights and sounds

1:21pm Monday 10th March 2014

Nature Notes: With spring officially underway, is it my imagination or are wild flowers and blossom even more vibrant than usual? Perhaps they seem so to us after enduring a long, colourless, wet wild windy winter.

Nature Notes: To the Atlantic and Back

Surrey Comet: A truly remarkable sequence of six stages in the life-cycles of truly iconic and aptly named kings and queens of fish.

8:53am Monday 3rd March 2014

Nature Notes: A truly remarkable sequence of six stages in the life-cycles of truly iconic and aptly named kings and queens of fish.

Bye Bye Birdies

Surrey Comet: Indeed there are increases in populations including great crested and little grebe, mallard, wren, goldcrest, goldfinch, great spotted and green woodpecker and chaffinch.

8:26am Monday 24th February 2014

Nature Notes: Recent reports from conservation bodies reveal that Britain has lost about forty million birds of various species since the nineteen nineties.

Rookery Crookery

Surrey Comet: In the countryside, rooks are now busy, noisily repairing nests ripped apart by successive winter storms.

10:59am Monday 17th February 2014

Nature Notes: In the countryside, rooks are now busy, noisily repairing nests ripped apart by successive winter storms.

Nature Notes: Over the rainbows

Surrey Comet: The phrase 'lovely weather for ducks' comes to mind

11:53am Monday 10th February 2014

Nature Notes: When the waters finally recede, fish, which may have ventured out over the flooded fields could well become stranded.

Signs of spring

Surrey Comet: Rare sight: A red admiral butterfly venturing briefly out of hibernation nectaring on a snowdrop

9:27am Monday 3rd February 2014

Nature Notes: Despite January being the wettest for over a century, this winter has so far been exceptionally mild with minimal frost and ice and signs of spring are everywhere.

Raging River

Surrey Comet: Raging River

12:33pm Monday 27th January 2014

Nature Notes: The Thames at Kingston plays host to a healthy number of fish species.

The Redwing tree

Surrey Comet: Redwings utter a thin 'seep-seep' call.

11:30am Monday 20th January 2014

Nature Notes: Redwings utter a thin 'seep-seep'call, seemingly the limit of their vocabulary unlike their cousin the songthrush.

Nature Notes: Early Birds

Surrey Comet: Leafless trees etched against the background brightness

9:40am Monday 13th January 2014

On an exceptionally mild, still mid-December morning back in the calm before the Christmas and New Year storms, a distant songthrush heralded the dawning of another day.

Nature Notes: Snow white elegance

Surrey Comet: Morden Hall Park's marshy area occasionally plays host to egrets in winter.

8:07am Tuesday 7th January 2014

Nature Notes: Like the heron, egrets nest in trees and tall bushes, usually in colonies.

Nature Notes: Christmas traditions

Surrey Comet: Have a merry berry Christmas!

8:57am Tuesday 17th December 2013

Nature Notes: There are countless folklore traditions associated with Christmas, many involving our flora.

Nature Notes: Thoughts of spring

Surrey Comet: Songthrush

12:01pm Monday 9th December 2013

Venturing out of hibernation, a red admiral butterfly soaked up the weak sunshine in my garden on November 4. It had replenished energy reserves by imbibing nectar from ivy flowers draping my fence.

Nature Notes: Charming

Surrey Comet: Goldfinches are one of our most attractive colourful and exotic species

11:33am Monday 2nd December 2013

Goldfinches are one of our most attractive colourful and exotic species and in my district they have increased considerably in recent years.

A million murmurs

Surrey Comet: A million murmurs

12:08pm Monday 25th November 2013

Nature Notes: The synchronised manoeuvering of a huge flock of starlings at dusk, known as a murmuration, is one of the greatest of all wildlife spectacles.

Climate change? Not this week!

Surrey Comet: Many red admirals attempt a trip to France or beyond in autumn to escape our winter

11:25am Monday 18th November 2013

Nature Notes: "It was interesting to note while watching the service from the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday that trees lining Whitehall were still, apart from the odd falling leaf, virtually fully leaved."

Nature Notes: Leaping for Love

Surrey Comet: The lower jaws of cock salmon develop upturned hooks known as 'kypes'.

8:35am Monday 11th November 2013

Initially using the earth's magnetic field and stellar guides to locate rivers, chemical scent and taste receptors then take over allowing fish to invariably remember and detect rivers of their birth.

Nature Notes: Wetland winter wildfowl

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Wetland winter wildfowl

8:30am Monday 11th November 2013

Our bountiful crop of berries will be welcomed by blackbirds, thrushes and especially winter visiting redwings and fieldfares.

Nature Notes: Table Manners

Surrey Comet: Recently in the carpark I watched a very scruffy almost piebald juvenile jackdaw

12:19pm Monday 28th October 2013

Nature Notes: To see the huge population in Richmond park taking off en-masse and flying in noisy swirling flocks is fascinating enough but to watch their eating habits is even more absorbing and frankly amusing.

Nature Notes: Deerpark delights

Surrey Comet: Have you listened to the deer in Richmond Park?

11:19am Monday 21st October 2013

Nature Notes: The deer in Richmond Park seem to be in a rather agitated state with much chasing, challenging and seemingly, to us anyway, pointless frantic manoeuvring.

Nature Notes: Autumn arrives

Surrey Comet: Drakes sporting brilliant bottle green heads

9:34am Monday 14th October 2013

As the weather in northern Europe cools down, we can now expect to see the initial influx of redwings and fieldfares winging in from Scandinavia.

Nature Notes: House Party

Surrey Comet: The white upper rump of the house martin is diagnostic,the tail is shorter and less forked and wings are broader and less angled than those of swallows.

2:24pm Monday 7th October 2013

Nature Notes: In fact to my mind, the house martin is a most attractive little dumpling of a bird that should be with us well into October.

Nature Notes: Michaelmas magic

Surrey Comet: Michaelmas daisies

8:47am Monday 30th September 2013

The Michaelmas daisy is a nectar and pollen-rich plant so welcome in autumn when most other flowers have faded.

Nature Notes: So galling

Surrey Comet: Knopper galls attack developing acorns, smothering and retarding growth and eventually killing them

11:56am Monday 23rd September 2013

There is one insidious gall named knopper that only arrived in Britain forty years ago.

Nature Notes: Beachcombers

Surrey Comet: Turnstones keep together in sizeable tight flocks

8:43am Monday 16th September 2013

Nature Notes: This bird does exactly what it says in the title.

Nature Notes: Kiss-me-quick

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Kiss-me-quick

8:10am Monday 9th September 2013

I offer no excuses for returning so soon but for a final time this year to one of my favourite topics, namely the Kingston Thames-side swallows.

Nature Notes: Lavender Blue

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Lavendar Blue

9:38am Monday 2nd September 2013

For me, and indeed for many people, the scent of lavendar has few equals, so much so that over centuries, a huge industry has evolved.

Nature Notes: X-factor winners

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: X-factor winners

10:33am Tuesday 27th August 2013

The Kingston riverside swallows, my avian X-factor winners enjoyed an excellent nesting season this summer.

Nature Notes: Sounds Familiar

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Sounds Familiar

9:45am Monday 19th August 2013

On sunny summer mornings I take breakfast into the garden and enjoy listening to the soft cooing warble of a woodpigeon just above.

Nature Notes: Welcome Whites

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Welcome Whites

9:24am Monday 12th August 2013

As we celebrated Olympic success in the summer of 2012, our butterflies were experiencing their worst season on record.

Nature Notes: Swiftly flies the summer

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Swiftly flies the summer

9:21am Monday 5th August 2013

The July heatwave provided what I call a 'swift summer'. The long,hot still conditions enabled swifts (pictured) to mop up a bonanza of aerial plankton at a crucial time with fledglings in the nest.

Nature Notes: Waspish behaviour

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Waspish behaviour

9:31am Monday 29th July 2013

Before pestering us at picnics and being a bother at barbecues in late summer, wasps act as skilled and ferocious hunters of insects with which to feed growing grubs in their nests.

Nature Notes: A multitude of moths

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: A multitude of moths

9:44am Monday 22nd July 2013

It's July, it's 8am and it's hot as I stand in a flowery meadow on a Devon cliff top...

Nature Notes: Lose some, win some

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Lose some, win some

10:00am Monday 15th July 2013

Since I began writing my weekly Nature Notes column nineteen years ago, there have been many changes in the natural world, some subtle, some dramatic, a few welcome but many of major concern.

Nature Notes: Super singalong with blackbirds

Surrey Comet: Super singalong with blackbirds

4:26pm Monday 8th July 2013

Although tailing off now that the nesting season is over, birdsong in my immediate area has been especially vibrant this spring and early summer.

Nature Notes: Simply Staggering

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Simply Staggering

9:30am Monday 1st July 2013

The aptly named stag beetle has enjoyed an excellent summer. Our largest terrestrial insect, the mighty fearsome looking but harmless beetle is listed as an endangered species.

Nature Notes: Floral beauty

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Floral beauty

9:59am Monday 24th June 2013

One of the few places remaining to see my favourite wild flower in all its glory is along motorway verges, where linear swathes of ox-eye daisies seem to glow in the sunshine.

Nature Notes: Brief lives

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Brief lives

10:33am Monday 17th June 2013

Down on the Thames at Kingston, large mayflies, are known at this stage as sub-adults or duns, lift off the water with weak fluttering flight. Their aim is to reach bank-size vegetation where they can shed their skins for a final time to become perfect adult insects called ‘spinners’.

Nature Notes: Dragons and Damsels

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Dragons and Damsels

9:40am Monday 10th June 2013

Dragonflies first appeared on earth almost four hundred million years ago. Evolving before dinosaurs they are of course still with us today, almost uuchanged except for the fact that all those years ago their wingspans measured nearly two feet!

Nature Notes: Doorstep Delights

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Doorstep Delights

10:08am Monday 3rd June 2013

Whilst of course it is exciting to travel on safari to see exotic creatures, there is so much to enjoy just outside our windows.

Nature Notes: Cloud over cuckoo land

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Cloud over cuckoo land

10:07am Tuesday 28th May 2013

To hear the evocative springtime call of the cuckoo these days is a comparative rarity as the bird has, in common with many other species been in steep decline for decades.

Nature Notes: Lady of the Woods

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Lady of the Woods

9:27am Monday 20th May 2013

Five of our butterflies, namely small tortoiseshell, peacock, red admiral, comma and brimstone hibernate. There used to be a sixth but the large tortoiseshell is now virtually extinct in Britain.

Nature Notes: Habitat destruction

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Habitat destruction

10:10am Tuesday 14th May 2013

Since the second world war, hundreds of miles of hedgerows have been grubbed up to increase areas available for growing food crops. Woodlands have been damaged and farm ponds filled in.

Nature Notes: Bloomin' marvellous

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Bloomin' marvellous

10:41am Tuesday 7th May 2013

Perhaps as a result of the late spring delaying their appearance, it seems to me that wild flowers have benefitted somewhat?

Nature Notes: Swift return

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Swift Return

9:25am Monday 29th April 2013

Come 1st May I scan the skies for telltale glimpse of sickle wings, those joyful screaming cries; glad to welcome them once more to England green and dear, for summer never can begin for me until they're here.

Nature Notes: Spring all around

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Spring all around

9:26am Monday 22nd April 2013

For frogspawn to be laid in mid-April is most unusual but that is what occurred in my pond and elsewhere.






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