Winter 2021-22: Wildlife in the local area – Tony Wood

The trees are turning green with some in blossom, some plants are in flower, birds are singing, and there is frogspawn in the ponds – yes, it`s spring again; but before we get too excited, how did our local wildlife fare during the past winter?

Generally, it was a mild winter with a few exceptions. The end of the year recorded the warmest New Year`s Day on record, January was the sunniest and driest for East Anglia, and during January we suffered three storms, Dudley, Eunice, and Franklin.

Once more our society members have been using our website to record their sightings and this is a summary of these records during the period October to December 2021, and January to March 2022:

Mammals – During the first three months of this year there have been records of otters at Great Linford Reserve, Stony Stratford Reserve, and the River Ouzel near Caldecotte, During December last year a water vole was seen in the Stony Stratford area and at Little Linford Wood a hare was recorded. Both myself and my neighbours have been blessed with regular nightly visits with badgers to our gardens throughout the winter, and during March two young ones were reported.

Butterflies and other insects – On the 6th October a Painted Lady was seen at Caldecotte, a species that unusually there were very few records of in 2021. The bright sunny days in February attracted a variety of butterflies starting with brimstones and during the following weeks tortoiseshell and comma.  Other unusual insect records included a Buff-tailed bumble bee in my garden as late as 30th December and a western conifer seed bug at Bradwell Common on 10th October. It would appear that this bug was first recorded in the UK in 2007.

Birds – The winter months attract numerous sightings of birds passing through the local sites particularly the lakes. There were numerous records of large white, little and even cattle egrets, pintails and goosanders. But during the last three months of 2021 the following unusual local records were submitted:
Willen Lakes – rock pipit, black redstart Siberian chiffchaff and Mediterranean gull
Floodplain Forest – 3 whooper swans, and a ruddy duck
Caldecotte -great northern diver
Furzton – Slavonian grebe
Newport Pagnell – hen harrier
Back Wood, Brickhills – 3 crossbills

During the first three months of this year the following special birds were recorded locally:
Floodplain Forest – marsh harrier, peregrine and curlew
Linford Lakes Reserve – bittern and marsh tit
Stony Stratford Reserve – oystercatcher
Walton Hall, River Ouzel – 4 Bewick swans
Willen  – avocet
Caldecotte – mandarin duck
Magna Park – Siberian chiffchaff

A fantastic selection of wildlife sightings locally during the past winter – congratulations.

With spring and summer ahead of us there will be a plethora of species to enjoy, So share your records on our Society`s website, and as usual look, learn, record – but most of all, enjoy.

Tony Wood
26 April 2022