Friday, 21 January 2022

Nature notes

THE carnage in the garden continues with a greenfinch flying into the window; it is an instant death

THE carnage in the garden continues with a greenfinch flying into the window; it is an instant death so I lay the body on the lawn and a moment later it has gone.

Next I hear a rattling of the seed feeder as a sparrow hawk tries to drag off a greenfinch.

It spies me, gives a frantic flap and rises with the body gripped in its talons. One speciess’s loss is another’s gain.

Still family parties of tits, finches and parakeets continue to pass through on their feeding circuits.

If you are planning what to plant in the autumn, consider where a judiciously placed indigenous tree could help to form a corridor for the birds to cross more safely the open spaces between woods and gardens .

If we wander upriver from Marsh Lock, the Thames Path enters Bolney and you can turn off to the right over the railway bridge, entering a wonderful avenue of chestnut trees, except that they are all infested with caneraria ohridella, a micro moth which lays its eggs on the leaves.

The tiny caterpillar eats the inner layer, forming a mine in which it pupates, hatching in April next year to attack further trees.

Each mine is a yellow spot ringed with brown but the trees are not permanently harmed.

The moths have gradually spread east across Europe and were first seen in England in 2002.

One or two of the chestnut trees on Greys Road towards Rotherfield Greys are infected by bleeding canker disease, caused by fungal pathogens, which looks like orange blood flowing down the bark. This often proves to be fatal to the tree eventually.

Crossing the Reading road after the polo fields of Bolney, walk up to the magnificent beech woods of Harpsden and down to the little church.

A short stretch of Harpsden Road leads to Peppard Lane, a right turn after War Memorial Place, and back down to our riverside meadows, where the grass has been mown into paths from which you can admire the butterflies and hear the grasshoppers.

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