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from our Nature and Wildlife Correspondent, Sally Worby

Aerial Feeders – Blowing On The Wind!

Storms and heavy rain wreak havoc and increasing frequency warns of worrying climate change. A silver-lining is recent southerlies may have helped some migrant birds return.

Swallows are usually first, often feeding on larger insects such as dung flies. House martins, and rare sand martins, arrive next and may gather over waterways where they recover from their 4000km migration, catching newly emerged aquatic insects then returning to nesting sites where mud mixed with saliva is used to create their little cup nests.

Swifts are our last harbingers of summer (also the first to depart), as specialist high-flyers they feed on huge numbers of tiny invertebrates such as aphids.

No-Mow May helps these and other insectivorous birds by allowing insects to complete their life-cycles on the uncut wildflowers, boosting the food web for all.

Small but Vital!

Ongoing loss of green space under building, coupled with the drive for increasing efficiency among pressured farmers, has meant worrying countywide habitat loss, but we can make a difference!

Our gardens are insignificant on their own but with the 124,000+ in Somerset they cover a significant area: mini wildflower meadows, patches of uncut hedge, elderly trees, log piles and ponds, dead seed-heads left after flowering and being free from pesticides in all forms -- slug pellets, aphid killers, moss killers and herbicides -- will make a difference!

Buzzing in the Undergrowth

As the weather warms, listen for songs in the hedgerows as returning migrant birds declare territories, look for bumblebees carrying pollen to their nests in old mouse holes and solitary bees, such as the tiny ashy mining bee, digging little nest tunnels in bare open sunny spots; the industrious females carrying pollen of willow and blackthorn back to their offspring.

Many of us struggle with the overwhelming negativity of 'The News' at the moment!

Reports of environmental damage and loss can make us believe, nothing I can do will make a difference. I disagree! Giving nature room in our gardens or land will help maintain the vital diversity of species, building resilience for the future.

Human-made climate change is happening and has terrifying potential to cause catastrophe, yet even here we have influence – the power of purchase!

Much of what we buy has come huge distances by container ship and too much of it ends up in land-fill. Wiser shopping; reading labels for country of origin and other clues to sustainability gives our choices power to influence the mighty supermarkets and mass distribution stores.

Whatever efforts you choose to make to look after our environment, don't forget the most important thing – Enjoy it!

Sally operates the Graceful Badger Forest School in Drayton Woods with Wilderwoods and Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partnership. For more information contact

Ed says – swallows typically come back to the UK when the insects return, the earliest migrants therefore usually arrive in late March with peak numbers appearing in late April. Has anybody seen them yet?

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