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April notes from a dog-walker

9th May 2023 – by Henbury Webteam
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red admiralpear blossom

April 2023

A grey start to the month – but no showers (yet). Then a few sunny days

The tips of the first white flowers peeped out of the buds on our damson tree – hopefully lots of fruit to come in six months’ time or so and the buds on the pear tree began to break.

The partridges became regular visitors and were equally regularly chased off by a furious Dot the Dog.

The full flowers finally came on the damson – and the pear blossom wasn’t far behind.

A sunny trip to the Millennium Green – to stake out the margin of the wild flower area so that it would not be mowed with the rest of the Green. Three clumps of wood anemones in flower by the main road, a cowslip on the slope above and the first few orchids coming up.

The sunshine and breeze started to dry up the field-floods – almost gone within a few days. Dot the Dog came home with clean paws. No need for a “bucket bath”. Sunny days brought out our first queen wasp looking for a home (rapidly expelled from the kitchen). Time to put up our dummy wasps’ nests. The mason bees in our bee tubes seemed to have continued to hatch and bumble bees hummed around.

The field opposite Mount Farm was harrowed and perhaps drilled with seed – of what? DtD and I shall report further!

It seemed unusual for long-tailed tits to visit the bird feeders – they usually only come in mid-winter. We wondered if they were nesting hereabouts and perhaps feeding chicks.

First tadpoles were seen – only a few millimetres long but already with distinct bodies and tails. The trees greened up almost overnight and the earliest blossom brightened up the grey days with our pear tree catching up fast.

The tail end of Storm Noah arrived one mid-month night with howling wind and torrential rain. There appeared surprisingly little storm damage however as DtD and I did our morning round. The odd fence panel was down around the village and some twigs and small branches here and there scattered along the lanes and over the fields. Even so the almost dry field-floods had replenished almost fully overnight and Dot the Dog was most put out when she was again deemed by S to need a bucket bath when we returned from her morning fun in the fields after several days without the indignity.

Penultimate week of the month showed how things had moved on. Butterflies came – S spotted a red admiral in the garden and a day or two later a small white appeared. Soon after a small tortoiseshell flew in the “dog fields”. Orange tips and brimstones are usually about by now but we haven’t seen either yet. As I opened the curtains one morning a housemartin flew across. (Reminiscence – when we came to Henbury 45 years ago long before one of the houses over the road had been remodelled, there was a row of housemartin nests under its eaves, revisited year by year. Gone now!)

The chiff-chaff shouted loudly – irritatingly early in the morning as the dawn came earlier. It has a very penetrating two-note call that can drown out the radio alarm clock.

Ladies’ smock in the fields – only one or two, but more to come. A good show on the Millennium Green near the main road.

Almost the month’s end and in the gloaming as we looked through the back windows with lights off the bats were once again wheeling and swooping over the garden – our first sighting this year. We have had a bat box on the wall for years, but I don’t think it has ever been used – I suspect St Tom’s spire is the favoured roost. A young bee appeared in a back bedroom so presumably the mason bee nests are beginning to hatch.

As ever

Horrid of Henbury

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