Wildlife and Natural History Articles 2022

March 2022 – Getting Ready For Swans Nesting on Tresillian River

Dan and Linda adding turf to raft.

Spring is just around the corner and the Tresillian swans are starting to construct their nest. When the residents noticed the activity we sprung in action keen to make sure their nest and precious eggs have the best chance of survival.

Dan, Marcy, Linda and Philip.

Wading into the river, trying to avoid sinking in the mud we took over a fresh bale of hay to their nesting island. Years ago a nesting site had been constructed for the swans consisting of a large insulated palette which is tethered to four posts. This nesting site has the advantage of floating so in the very high Spring tides the nest and the swans eggs are safe from being washed away.

Dan, Marcy, Linda and Donna.

After checking the ropes were free from weed and the palette able to lift we added a layer of straw and retreated to observe from a distance. It wasn’t long before they were in action and busy housekeeping their new pad!

Dan retreating back home leaving the raft for the swans to make it their home.

Photo’s and copy courtesy of : Philip, Linda, Donna, Dan, Marcy and Elodie

February 2022 – Great Spotted Woodpecker

Photo: © Keith Littlejohns

The Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major. The rhythmic knocking of a great spotted woodpecker’s beak on a tree trunk is a familiar sound in woodlands, parks and gardens.

This photo is of an adult male, which is identifiable by the red patch on the nape whereas young males have a red crown, females do not have any red colouring on their head. It is estimated that there are roughly 35,000 to 40,000 pairs nesting in Britain.

Length: 21-23cm; Wingspan: 36cm; Weight: 85g.
Average lifespan: 2 years. Can be seen all year round.

Woodpeckers nest by crafting a chamber in a tree trunk by chiselling with its beak to make a suitably large enough void to raise young. They often choose an already established depression or shallow hole to start the process of deepening it.

Breeding typically begins around mid-April, and the incubation period runs between 10 to 16 days, during which time both male and females contribute.

Feeding woodpeckers prefer to visit a tree with some dead wood so that they can find colonies of grubs and insects in the decaying bark or wood to eat. They have a long sticky probing tongue to grab the small creatures. However, during autumn and winter they generally eat berries and nuts, including peanuts from garden bird feeders.

Woodpeckers are relatively common in most areas of the UK, except for northerly regions of Scotland and are almost totally absent from the island of Ireland apart from a few recent colonies in the far eastern side.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker is on the Green List, the least critical group.