• The Farmer

Mid Summer Silence

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Merely weeks after the dawn chorus would loudly cheer on the start of a new day for hours and hours, a midsummer silence has fallen upon the countryside. Most birds have raised young, and both adults and chicks are roaming around quietly. Others are rearing second or even third broods – again, this is done with little noise, and only a few species are heard during the long summer days.

One of these is Skylark, a species that will often attempt several nesting attempts, thus meaning males sing late into the summer. One bird has taken up residence in the large meadow opposite Gate Street and can be heard delivering his ‘silver chain of sound’, as George Meredith famously put it in his 1909 poem The Lark Ascending. It remains to be seen whether this bird will pair up and nest, but with the grass kept long and the forecast dry, the outlook is positive.

Owls are particularly active at this time of year. The resident Little Owl pair have been seen with frequency around the buildings at Gate Street, doubtless with some youngsters tucked away in a tree crevice nearby, waiting to be fed. Plenty of Tawny Owls are vocal at night, too, often noisy youngsters. Recently, a Barn Owl was heard nearby as well.

There are plenty of butterflies on the wing during July. A few weeks ago, a small invasion of Painted Ladies occurred, during which time pretty much every butterfly seen during a walk of the area was one. This remarkable insect migrates all the way from Africa, and such influxes take place once a decade at best.

The three skipper species are on the wing at the moment, too, as well as excellent numbers of Gatekeeper and Marbled White – the latter is particularly distinctive. A few wildflowers currently in bloom are also easy on the eye. In the shadier, damper parts of the nearby woods and copses, the delicate Enchanter’s Nightshade can be found in small numbers.

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