Paul Smith's Bugs 'n' Bees-2004
Updated in November 2016

The Winsham Parish Web Site was launched in 2004, and Paul Smith was an enthusiastic supporter from the very beginning. He contributed a 'nature diary', titled 'Bugs 'n' Bees' from its earliest days. The reason why the illustrations are relatively small is that in the days before broadband , the standard internet speed was 64bits per second, which meant that pictures sizes were reduced before loading them onto the internet, to avoid long delays in uploading onto a PC could take ages to load-so the smaller the better! To further reduce delays in downloading, thumbnail pictures were used which had to be clicked upon to enable the larger pictures you see here to be loaded.(Editor)

January -While the end of December, with Christmas and the New Year, is probably the greatest time for human activity, for Nature, with the shortest days and cool temperatures, it used to be, the time of its lowest ebb.... but not this year. Vixen & Cub 

January 2004-The swarm of honeybees that had their Christmas dinner on a flowering Mahonia bush has been traced to a nearby house roof.  Bugs Christmas Dinner
January 2004- 'Prickles', our rescued baby Hedgehog -has gained over twenty grams each week and shows no signs of wishing to stop eating and hibernate.
An adult fox with 6 baby cubs (probably two litters) was disturbed feeding at a sheep carcass before it could be collected just before Christmas day.

A villager with a wildflower bank to her garden collected six different wild flowers on Boxing Day and 2 horse mushrooms were found down Court Street. The 'mixed finch' nock from the Nursery now numbers over sixty birds and recently contained a Brambling. The two family parties of Long-tailed Tits met over the holiday at a bird feeding station and fifteen tailed were counted

 
 
 
February 2004-This 'modern' winter consisted of little more than a five minute snow storm on 28th of January and a short flash flood on 1st of February. At least our birds think so . Several have started singing - including a thrush and the robins. The siskins - on the nuts -that arrived with the colder winds , are now in full breeding plumage and the cockbirds will even drive off the Greenfinches twice their size. The Pheasants have started fighting and 'Charles', the local champion for two years, has already had several contests. There are five local hen birds . A pair of Gold crests and a Tree creeper have been closely  observed. angry pheasant
An angry Pheasant

 

February 2004-A Lesser Celandine is in flower in Court Street. Prickles ' the baby Hedgehog rescued when he weighed 550 grams was 975 grams on 1st February and growls when approached. He has not been tamed as he - and his box - will be returned to the wild part of the garden when his mates will have woken up later in the spring. He still eats heartily and will then be over 1 ,000 grams.
Celandine

 

March 2004-There are 88 species on my Winsham Parish bird list as seen since about 1935. Several species are peculiar to Britain, having slightly altered since arriving -after the last Ice Age - up from the Continent. The Fire crest - the Continental version of our Gold crest has now been identified in Winsham. Likewise the Yellow Wagtail -with its yellow and not grey back - had been identified. This brings our list to 90.

 

May 2004-Prickles' - our rescued baby hedgehog - now weighs 2 lbs 5 ozs. and is double his original weight. He will be given an RSPB approved hedgehog lodge for his life in the wild when Spring is arrives. Charles' - the boss Pheasant - has now gathered, at great difficulty, five pale hens for his harem. A black hen has been seen with them one early morning. The gentle rain showers around the 18April saw the trees beginning to burst into leaf. Our 'winter' was over . Baby robins were already out of the nest. The large flock of mixed finches - up to 200 birds - had already dwindled . The cockbirds had donned their breeding colours . The bramblings and siskins had gone north and chiffchaffs and willow warblers were singing from the hedges .Charlie, our boss pheasant for the last two years, was seen alone with a broken wing feather . His place, with three hen birds , has been taken by a new even more magnificent male ... .who crows from before light (6.00am) each morning.
'Prickles'

 

May 2004-The local buzzards have given some wonderful flying displays this season. There is one very large pale hen bird that was seen - back in March - on a grass road verge perched on top of a deceased cock pheasant plucking out the feathers.
The wild spring flowers are very good this year . Especially the wood anemones. Those straying to the Headstock Road (Thorncombe) will have noticed the lovely blue flowers of the grass vetchling . The butterbur was reported to be flowering beyond Ammerham. Like the coltsfoot the flowers are nearly over by the time the leaves show above ground.
Prickles, weighing in at nearly two and a half pounds , decided to break out of his winter pen and is no doubt already searching for a mate and doing battle with other male hedgehogs that stand in his path. He has been back only once for food.
Buzzard
Buzzard

 

June 2004-In this vintage year for Wild life Winsham's wild flowers have rarely been better. The Bluebells have been glorious in size with their brilliant blue . Now the Pink Campion, Stitchwort and Beaked parley have taken over . The Hawthorn bushes are heavy with dazzling white flowers . Special mention must go to distinctive bright blue patches of the Germander Speedwell that dot the hedge banks along our lanes. The first prize for birdsong this year must go to a Garden Warbler - a truly exceptional songster - that took up station around the Field Maple at the top of Wynyards lane. Next door was a very mediocre Blackcap and a chorus of Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Robins, a Song thrush, Hedge sparrows and a rather persistent Wren. On the lawn below was the occasional explosive crowing of a magnificent Cock pheasant who had won battles with several potential suitors .

 

July 2004-Our wildlife watchers this month came up with;
-A Hobby seen chasing swallows, most afternoons, over the Village.
-The Kestrel that hovers south of Weste
rn Way is thought to have a nest down by the River.
- A large (male) Weasel was killed by a cat in a Court Street garde
n
, with one bite to the back of the neck.
- Two Slow worms have been seen dead on the roads at  either end of the Village.
A Hedgehog mum and four babies are in the Davies Close area.

 

July 2004-A few Glow-worms usually appear down Wynyards Lane each year. This week a female was picked up in the road and taken still lit up - to a local garden in the hope she will start a colony.

 

August 2004-At this time of year Nature has 'exploded'. The plant seeds are ripening. The baby -animals -foxes, badgers, deer and the rest, at their most numerous. Young birds have lost their baby fluff and are getting their winter colours .The parent birds are moulting into their winter coats and our glorious cock pheasants, in particular, look very sad.

 

October 2004-Where are our Blackbirds? After a good breeding season only occasional birds are now seen. 16 Canada Geese recently flew over and 2 Tawny Owls hoot locally most nights. A person with a garden that has baby newts has asked if they could possibly be baby lizards. Although easy to tell apart as adult - one is a reptile, one an amphibian - newts spend time in water as tadpoles. Baby lizards are dry and tiny with scaly skin. Crab Spiders have been seen hiding under wild plant flowers this season. They use their big front legs to catch insects. Although they have been seen on St. John's Wort, they don't seen to have quite mastered the colour ... just a few reddish marks.
Common Newt

 

Paul Smith has been unwell over the last few weeks, necessitating a period in hospital. He is now recovering well, and we are grateful for his continuing support of this feature. 

 

November 2004-With more than ample rain, the lush growth of summer has filled the area with masses of seeds and fruits. Our birds, including a lovely flock of 15 long-tailed tits that constantly tour the Village, are mostly hidden in the greenery. The 'mixed' finch flock (mostly chaffinches and greenfinches) join the house and hedge sparrows that feed on the lawns. A short spell of afternoon sun brought out many bees and even wasps and also a fine Brimstone butterfly. Several different species of 'mushroom' are growing down Court Street.

The garden pheasants are now in full winter plumage and a fine cock chose to start crowing form his perch high up in an oak tree at 3.30am on one dark night recently. Although they often crow at dawn, could it be that flashing car lights deceive the birds into thinking that the sun is rising?

 

 

December 2004-The cool northerly winds of recent days have brought out swarms of the winter non-biting midges in the lanes and gardens, (a great hazard to cyclists not wearing goggles!). During a short sunny spell on an afternoon in mid- October,
a large Dragonfly was seen circling shrubs in a garden presumably feeding on the midges. Large numbers of dragonflies and an otter have been reported as seen further down the River Axe recently.
 

Some late news A pair of Red Kites and two Ravens are reported as being seen from the top gate of Colham lane.

Click HERE to return to index

Click HERE to return to NATURAL WINSHAM Index