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MAY 2019

Having spent nearly the whole month with no water to our house, I completely sympathise with the swallows who've flown from Africa to begin the skilful art of building their mud nests.. . . .or not.

Rainfall this month has been low which gives the Swallows a particular problem - they can't build their nests with powdery dry soil. They just won't stick together. We've been trying to help by putting wet muddy soil in an upside down bin lid and making sure it was kept in the shade. It's also been a problem for spawn laid by frogs in a nice big puddle on the old railway line near my home. The spawn is now well developed into a squirming mass of tadpoles, but the large puddle isn't large any more so they are trying desperately to stay in the silty damp mud.

I have a feeling frog numbers may be down this year as the tadpoles will be easy pickings for the heron perhaps? Let's hope the odd heavy shower may be enough to maintain their life cycle. I have been enjoying the longer evenings, taking the opportunity to sit outside and listen to our young owlets calling from the garden and woods. One large chick scrambled out quite a few weeks ago now, and calls for food from the woodland behind our house. Chick number two hasn't been so brave - he or she is still calling from the nest box in our garden. Their call is quite high-pitched and very distinctive. A tuned ear can easily hear it.

I love to listen to the young calling and both tawny owl parents responding. When ready the owlets scramble out the box and can't fly at this stage, which is known as branching. They can use their strong talons, and will climb higher and higher, before they begin to fly.

This is a crucial time for the owlets as they can easily become prey, even for cats and dogs. It's important to encourage people to keep their dogs on leads at this time of year especially when walking through wooded areas. Also be aware that if you do come across young owls, the adults will be up high watching, and will protect their young. Everywhere I look there's a fresh flourish of greens. Our big oak trees are finally bursting open and the beech hedges changing from brown to green. Summer is on its way.

Now that we are starting to feel warmer, I'm sure we are all keen to drink more water to quench our thirst. I encourage my own children to use the same bottle everyday to take to school, and refill from the tap at home. So many people buy plastic bottles of water daily. We all know we can recycle, but plastic can only be recycled a few times - so then what? Would it be better to stop the production of plastic? At the very least we should all ask ourselves what can we do - at home - in our family - in our workplace - at our school. No matter how small a difference we make in our own life, we are making a difference. If everyone did the same, in the next neighbourhood, next town , next region, this would be an EPIC response to us helping our planet. It's on the news, in the papers, on social media, radio and people are talking about plastic and the environment daily. I'm delighted to hear that supermarket giants Morrison's have started a policy of no plastic packaging on their fruit and veg, so lets encourage and support those who are making a difference. Things to look out for:

* Owlets and young birds * Listen for the cuckoo * Create a wet muddy area to help the swallows * Report any grey sightings to Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels Happy WILDLIFE watching x

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