Paul Irving is a retired scientist and ecologist. Involved in raptors and raptor protection in Northern England for over 30 years, especially Hen Harriers and Merlins. A Bird Ringer since the early seventies, other interests include just about anything to do with wildlife, photography (of wildlife), fishing, reading and Native Americans. Worked and lived in North Yorkshire but now living near Llanidloes, Powys, Mid Wales.
In these testing times of Lockdown there are doubtless lots of frustrated naturalists and conservationists out there, obeying the rules but getting at little “Stir crazy” as a result. My year list is almost stalled, I haven’t been able to get near any Hen Harriers or Merlins for months, never mind getting to North Yorkshire nor the grand children in Cardiff. Yet we are incredibly lucky where we live in that a daily dog walk takes me to a great piece of country straight over the stile from our small holding. So I walk along a little bit of the River Severn with binoculars, occasionally camera and always a border collie. It’s almost a month since I went anywhere else.
I’ve taken a keener interest in not just the birds, I have a trail camera out there pointing at an Otter sprainting place, although at last check all that had visited was a Fox. I’m trying to get to grips with some of our local bees, bumbles are just about OK and I’ve managed to identify a nomad bee but most of the others are as yet beyond me. I’ve run both my small “ actinic” and large MV moth traps in the garden. I’ve not caught anything startling but that is hardly the point and it does provide some photographic subjects.
Soon I will have nearly 30 nest boxes on the small holding to check and hope that the as yet to arrive Pied Flycatchers occupy six as they did last year, plus a keenly anticipated Redstart pair or two with luck. So far I’ve found two Song Thrush nests in the garden. “Out there” I know of an occupied Raven nest and another of Red Kite. If I were able I would go look in the wood over the valley to find where exactly the Goshawks are nesting (yes I have the relevant licence) but that would be stretching it a little and BTO have said we should not gather such data during lockdown.
This week Willow Warbler, Swallow, Sand and House Martins have joined the already arrived Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps locally, more migrants too will follow, Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts have already been seen not far away. The butterflies will pick up in this warm weather and there’ll be more around than the Small Torts and Peacocks I’ve seen so far.
Yes there are things I’m missing, Ospreys on the Dyfi, along with my volunteer colleagues, Hen Harriers and Merlins out on the heather, getting to the coast. I’m unable to visit my usual moorland haunts in North Yorkshire and worry about what might be happening, but there is little I can do about it for now.
Yes its frustrating but we have to make the best of it in these trying times, take more note of things immediately around you, take up moth trapping or look at other insects. The more we make of this time at home the more we will appreciate both it and the wider world when it becomes available to us once again. Finally try to be kinder, the World out there is bad enough being bad tempered helps nobody, least of all ourselves.[registration_form]