Winter is really with us now. There are few remaining flowers on the Common and
most of the leaves have fallen. The winter thrushes, Fieldfares and Redwings, have
arrived. Waxwings have also appeared recently in Bedfordshire; they are less common
winter visitors. Look out for these spectacular birds in supermarket car parks where
they have been seen feeding on fruits of ornamental trees planted there. Some of
you may have noticed the patches of bare ground and browned grass on the east side
of the Jubilee Copse. We guess that these are due to a local infestation of a root-feeding
insect, probably leatherjackets (the grubs of ‘daddy-long-legs’) but so far we haven’t
got round to digging up the turf to confirm this. The local Rooks have been having
a feast there. The ground is riddled with holes where they have been probing (see
last month’s Nature Notes for pictures).
The local Red Kites have been out hunting in the sunshine. We have been asked to
clarify the differences between Red Kites and Buzzards. They are similar in size
but the Kite shows more orange-brown colour and the end of the Kite’s tail is forked
like an inverted ‘V’ while the Buzzard’s tail is rounded in flight. The Kite is
an agile flyer. It may soar high in the sky but is more often seen gliding at roof-top
height constantly adjusting its wings and tail to take advantage of the air currents.
Buzzards are much slower flyers, soaring high and sometimes hanging almost motionless
on the wind. Their preferred hunting tactic is to sit still on a post or tree branch
and watch for prey rather than actively searching at low level. Both species are
quite vocal uttering high-pitched mewing cries.
See November’s Nature Notes
The Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - website: