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Summer 2020

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The COVID-19 global pandemic persisted throughout the spring and even now, as I write in mid- June, we remain, for the most part, locked down in our homes. For those of us identified as less vulnerable we could go out for exercise and later spend as much time outdoors as we liked, as long as we returned home the same day. Fortunately, the weather in this part of the UK at least, was gloriously sunny throughout May; in fact, bizarrely, following the wet autumn and winter it became a drought.

The drought was broken in early June and farmers and gardeners were relieved to see some rain.

Until the first week in June, when some restrictions were lifted, my wildlife observations were restricted to walking distance from home. This proved to be a useful discipline and taught me more about local wildlife than I expected. My garden bird list for the lockdown reached 59 and my lockdown exercise list got to 91 species of bird. Having to work from home encouraged me to go out early before work and experience the best part of the day.

Brown Hare

Not just birds either but I discovered in addition to the large herds of Fallow Deer and the unwelcome daily appearance of destructive Muntjacs in our garden, increasing numbers of our native Roe Deer in the area.

Brown Hare
The Brown Hares in the fields have thrived, having been spared the illegal hare coursing due to the lockdown. Both Stoats and Weasels are more regularly encountered early mornings as are Foxes. Grey Squirrels are far too numerous and as I write a pair of Stock Doves are valiantly defending their nest in an owl box erected in our garden, from being raided by Grey Squirrels.

Orange Tip

The sunny weather in May was very good for butterflies and the best I can remember for Brimstones, Orange Tips, Holly Blues and Green-veined Whites. I also managed to photograph the much less common

Dingy Skipper

Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper in a clearing in a local wood managed by Butterfly Conservation.

Grizzled Skipper

White-letter Hairstreak

A bonus was a White-letter Hairstreak that a friend of mine reared from a caterpillar that he found on an elm seedling that he had transplanted into his tree nursery. He did not know what it was until the beautiful butterfly emerged from its chrysalis.

Turtle Dove

It seems that migrant birds returning to our shores to nest are having mixed fortunes. Swifts, Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins all seem to be fewer in numbers. Turtle Doves are in serious trouble.


Only one cock bird returned to the local site where they bred last year, but it failed to attract a mate. I am only aware of two singing Nightingales in south Lincolnshire and Spotted Flycatchers are again very thin on the ground.

Spotted Flycatcher


Lesser Whitethroat

On a more positive note Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats are all here in good numbers and both Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers sing and chatter from the banks of the dykes and drains of the Lincolnshire fens.

Sedge Warbler

Barn Owl

I have enjoyed photographing several different Barn Owls locally. The weather this spring and early summer has gone some way to make up for the hardship they suffered during the incredibly wet winter, when persistent rain prevented them from hunting. Little Owls and Tawny Owls also seem to be thriving.

Avocets with chicks

Nesting wading birds at the RSPB's Frampton Marsh reserve are benefitting from a predator proof fence erected around some of the scrapes.

Lapwing chicks

It is lovely to see Avocets, Lapwings and Redshank with thriving young. Nesting duck have also enjoyed more success with at least two broods of Shoveler being noted.

Ian Misselbrook
June 2020


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