As I type this at the end of February, it feels like spring is just around the corner. Nature has been waking up throughout this month – we can see the first signs everywhere. So far (touch wood) we have not had a very severe winter – just a dusting of snow. But there have been some amazing sunsets throughout a very dry February. Maybe climate change is having a discernible impact. Are the first signs of spring occuring ever earlier?
The end of the winter months also brings an opportunity to reflect on our entire species list for 2022. We have only had one species of bird added to the list since last October – although it is quite an exciting one (more below). The list on the right (or below – if you are on your phone) is our full list of species for 2022 – spotted within an approximate five miles of Tideswell. Many thanks for all your help in compiling this list. Keep your wildlife sightings coming in – either direct to TDEG on our email (firstname.lastname@example.org), posted on our Facebook page, or added to the Wildlife Sightings page on our our web site.
In December 2022, a Ring-necked Parakeet was seen on a garden feeder in Tideswell. These birds are not native to the UK. They became established in the wild in the 1970s after captive birds escaped or were released in the south-east. Since then they have adapted and spread very quickly, and there are known roosts in the centre of Derby and Sheffield. But this is the first time we’ve spotted them in our part of the world.
The Ring-necked Parakeet’s native range stretches from west Africa across lowland India south of the Himalayas, where it is a common bird. They feed on a wide variety of fruit, berries, nuts and grain. Some people feel these birds should be controlled in the UK – they are particularly troublesome for fruit growers. But the RSPB does not support a cull as yet. Perhaps we will see even stranger visitors as our climate changes?
At the very end of February, we had another sighting of this amazing bird, from David Horne up near the Anchor. Perhaps it was the same bird – visited Tideswell and now planning to stay?
Whilst the winter months don’t appear to have an abundance of wildlife around, we do know we have many visitors to our area from further north – coming down to overwinter here. Birds such as Redwing and Fieldfare are seen in good numbers in farmers’ fields. You might see and hear large skeins of Pink-footed Geese flying overhead. Starling murmurations used to be very common , particularly over near Cavendish Mill. But I believe the spectacle has not been that great this year. Sadly, the stark facts are that between 1995 and 2016, Britain’s breeding population of Common Starling crashed by a staggering 51 per cent (RSPB). Winter migrants from Europe are also in deceline. Will our children and grandchildren see the same amazing sights that we have seen in years gone by?
Gerard Rogers was lucky to spot a Grey Heron in Tideswell brook just up Manchester Road. And Howard and I saw our first Dippers of the year in Millers Dale early in February. Also exciting was Adam Saunders’ sightings of a Kingfisher as he walked along Tideswell Dale.
There are still wonderful sights to be seen and enjoyed all around us.
Many of our most familiar mammals hibernate during the colder months, conserving their energy until the spring. But we still had some sightings of hedgehogs from Kathleen Rigg and Phil Grainger, possibly of animals either waking briefly in slightly warmer weather or just hungry for more food before finally tucking themselves away. If you do see a hedgehog out during the winter months, please do consider providing it with food (catfood is good for hedgehogs). If it seems ill and still small, it may even need taking to one of our local vets or wildlife hospitals (Pet Samaritans near Chesterfield are very good).
Phil Grainger also had a Fox visiting his feeders early this year. And Jill Turner in Cressbrook contacted us to get advice about a Pipistrelle Bat which had blundered into her house in Cressbrook. Nicky Loveday reminded us that Badgers often have their cubs in February – so they should be left undisturbed during this time. Many of our local birds and animals are now thinking about pairing up and mating.
We’ve already seen signs of Frogs in our garden ponds, as well as Snowdrops and our native Primrose in the garden.
Hazel catkins are also looking fabulous in the February sunshine. These are the male flowers – just waiting to produce pollen. The female flowers are really tiny, like small red sea anemones – waiting for that pollen to arrive on the spring breeze.
All signs that spring is just around the corner.
Next month, our woodland and meadows will be awash in wild flowers and birds will be searching out nesting sites.
Hopefully, we’ll be sharing many more of your sightings of our wonderful wildlife in the local area in our next wildlife blog in the summer.
But we also know that nature in the UK is struggling. We know that we are one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. So what can we do to help nature thrive in this increasingly challenging world?
Members of TDEG have been working on many projects to try to help nature recover in our local area. In 2022, we planted over 600 trees, both to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and to provide habitat for wildlife. We’ve fixed nesting boxes for Swifts, Kestrels and Barn Owls, often working in partnership with local farmers and landowners. With other partners, such as Tideswell Parish Council, the Sports Association and our local scouts and cubs, we’ve improved the management of our roadside verges for wildflowers and sown Yellow Rattle to increase biodiversity in other grassland areas.
We can even make a difference for wildlife in our own gardens. You can join TDEG’s ‘Going Wild’ project here. This hopes to share information about small projects which you can easily undertake in your gardens, smallholdings, or even a window box, to benefit wildlife.
What else can we do? We would like your ideas about improving our local area for nature. What can we do as individuals, and working together as a group and with others? Get involved with the TDEG Wildlife Group and come along to our next meeting at the new Community Hall in Tideswell, on Thursday, 6 April, 8pm-9pm, to share ideas.
At our last Wildlife Group meeting, I promised to get in touch with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, to find out more about their new Wild Peak initiative. This is an exciting project working in partnership with communities, local farmers and landowners, to share knowledge and experience to help nature recover in the Peak District.
You can read more about the project here, and we will discuss ways of working more closely with the project at our meeting on 6 April.
Hope to see you at our next TDEG Wildlife Group meeting – 8pm, Thursday 6 April, at the new Community Hall, Church Lane, Tideswell.
Together we can make a difference!
2022 Full Species List
Hairless Lady’s Mantle
Hairy St. John’s-wort
Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil
Greater Burnet Saxifrage
Early Purple Orchid
Common Spotted Orchid
Marsh Fragrant Orchid
Grasses and Sedges
Sweet Vernal grass
False Oat grass
Perennial Rye grass
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
Dark Green Fritillary
Silver Washed Fritillary
White Letter Hairstreak
Double-striped Pug moth
Carrion Beetle (with orange mites)
Soprano Pippistrelle bat
Frogs (with spawn)