Our summer's not yet, we hope, over. But its wonderful heralds who arrived back in May are already gathering in big clouds overhead, screaming their heads off and getting ready to set off on their 7,000 mile journey to winter in South East Africa.
Radio 4's Tweet of the Day reminded us how it was - and, God willing, how it will be again next year.
I'm happy to report having seen two little white faces looking out from the nest on my own house - but less happy to report a tragedy when an adult possibly feeding its young was brought in at midnight by my cat. What on earth it was doing sufficiently low-down at that time of night totally defeats me.
I have to take some comfort from a previous compensating deed, when a young bird one can only assume had fallen from its nest, was laid totally unharmed at my feet and after tlc at the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital, released to adult life.
Well, here we go again with something for the weekend.
Listening (do click and expand the pic and headphones may also help) I just can't get that song out of my mind, thank you Middle of the Road! And who knows, what these birds are saying may well be, 'Woke up this morning and my mamma was gone.' Or may be it's Mamma saying, 'Little baby gone.' Vintage stuff this, if not prehistoric - 1971!
Time to fly, children!
And no, I've no idea which bird this is - maybe some kind of warbler??? but it's so distinctive I'm sure one of you will, so please do say.
Some people reckon contemporary music is just loud screaming. Well, it's not just humans that do it. This bird regularly holds screaming parties while it's with us during the summer, one end of its 14,000 mile round trip to and from South West Africa every year of its life. To get the full party effect, click on the image and then go to bottom right to expand to full screen. Apologies for the noisy sparrows, pay no attention to them!
The young birds in the nest do exercises to strengthen their wings before they fledge and then spend their entire adult lives on the wing - why we're not constantly showered with their poo escapes me. But they also eat and mate on the wing and only land again in nests to breed, when they're around 3 years old.
It's an extraordinary creature and I freely admit to being obsessed with them - I have a natural nest under the eaves on my house, and put up four expensive nest boxes which have been totally ignored. I don't mind but there is a terrible shortage of nesting sites so I'm a bit puzzled. Quite hurt, in fact.
In May, Andrew Graham commented that many people had been finding the caterpillars of the Scarlet Tiger moth in their gardens and wondered how many would make it into adulthood in June and July.
Andrew adds, 'Well the answer was clearly quite a few and not just in Tisbury. Social media has had plenty of people posting pictures asking for help identifying them and I have seen them on a frequent basis in my garden fluttering around in the afternoon sunshine.
As frequent daytime fliers they can cause me confusion when I am out butterflying. I saw a few in Groveley Wood but after the initial excitement you realise that none of our butterflies have that striking bright red colour on the moth’s hindwings.
After having plenty of caterpillars on our Comfrey I found one hanging on a grass stem where it had emerged from its chrysalis, but it appeared to have failed to “inflate” its wings
Yes, it's a comet! Called Neowise after the telescope that spotted it. Visible only if the sky is clear, which it was last weekend when Tim Jones managed to get this lovely photo of the skyline above Lady Down. The sky isn't going to be clear for a good few more days, but the comet should stay around till the end of the month. Let's hope the sky does clear as Neowise won't be back for another 6,800 years!
Just last month, I posted The Guardian's piece on 'the Ferrari of the skies': well, it's arrived - and, appropriately, its key identifier is bright red!
Andrew Graham writes that there have recently been several local sightings of this exciting falcon – the Hobby - including Abby Eaton, who took this amazing shot over Lady Down and Roger Walker, who saw it near Newtown and commented, 'Fabulous bird the Hobby – made my day.'
So keep an eye out skyward not just for flying barn doors (aka White tailed eagle) but also flying Ferraris - identifiable not least by what Andrew calls its red trousers.
More on this very handsome visitor on the MoreNews page.
This one's a bit different. (To view these videos full-screen, click on the picture and then bottom right you'll find the expand button.) We don't just want you to guess or say what these are, but also to tell us if you have any anywhere near you. This is really important, because we should do a survey of the whole of Tisbury, but there just aren't enough of us to plan that. So please, look out, listen out, let us know! On Facebook or to firstname.lastname@example.org (apology for previous typo).
They're one of three breeds that come thousands of miles to breed here, and then go thousands of miles back to southern Africa to feed during our winter. Of course others do this, but these three seem particularly to be the sound of our summer.
At this time of year, just like a school-leaving prom, they're trying out their wings and building up strength for life as adults.
This is them in their nests -
- but it's not just the parents who have to squeeze in, it's up to four babies-kids-teenagers!!
It's not surprising that all through the night you can hear one of the most beautiful sounds in nature - a little constant cheep-burble, I guess saying 'shove over a bit, your claw's in my ear' or something like that.
It's not just the pretty-pretty stuff that fascinates - insects are I think the largest class of animal life on earth, and we have about 20,000 species in Britain. The closer you get, the more amazing they are. Here are some of what we've managed to photograph in and around Tisbury over the past week or so.
Of Andrew Carter's photo of the hoverfly on hawkweed, Peter Shallcross (our resident insects guru), said there's an interesting way of telling the sexes apart. 'In common with many other species of hoverfly, males have the eyes meeting on the top of the head, whilst females have their eyes widely separated. Adults are very similar in appearance to Syrphus vitripennis and Syrphus torvus.'
Of the rather gruesome photo (middle, lower row), Peter said, 'Crab spiders are voracious: I watched one overpower an oil beetle larva much larger than itself on Swallowcliffe down in early May.'
Just great to learn something new.
Abby Eaton shows us what we might find if we're lucky in Garston Wood, the RSPB reserve near Sixpenny Handley and Martin Down just back up the A354 towards Salisbury. (Even I might like a large white if I saw it in such a dramatic shot as Abby's!)
Along with the wonderful butterflies, Garston Wood also has a hill-fort somewhat concealed - look out for big ditches on the left as you go into the wood.
Martin Down is famous for having a good stretch of the massive Bokerley Ditch or Dyke - no one really knows why it was built, though there's some idea it might later have been an attempt to keep the Saxons out. But there is (or was) also a population of turtle doves - in a copse reached most easily from the car park in Martin village itself, rather than the one on the A354.
And of course the A354 is mostly on or near the Ackling Dyke, the Roman road that runs from Old Sarum to Badbury Rings near Wimborne.
I just love the atmosphere round here! All those ancients ... and all that wildlife!
Just in case you wondered what a barn door would look like (re Peter Shallcross's story about seeing a white tailed eagle flying over Wardour), happily Abby Eaton obliges with this photo, taken above Kildalton Cross, Kintour on Islay in June 2019. I think a barn door would be a lot less alarming!
It's the July photo in Abby's 2020 calendar. I'm looking forward to the 2021 edition.
The new page banner pic is of course Abby Eaton's of the Hobby - seems appropriate for what's supposed to be fast news!
If it's not me, Elizabeth Forbes, website editor (keen but ignorant), I'll say so.