Early morning seems to be a great time to watch wildlife before the site gets busy with people or vehicles. Many birds are now searching non-stop for caterpillars, spiders and all sorts of insects to feed their chicks. All of our nest boxes are full and you can hear the chicks chirping inside calling for more food. Many have fledged now and you can hear them in the trees still calling for food. When all of the boxes are taken, Blue tits look for other crevices to find a suitable nest site. In my last report I mentioned that I bought a nest box for the Robins that nest in our outdoor stores. To my delight they have used the box and successfully had two broods. I walked into the stores the other day and a Robin fledgling flew out and hopped around for a bit before going out into the big wide world.

Our resident pair of swans has been around for quite a while now, but has not nested. They spend a lot of time on the bank resting or in the water preening.

I haven't heard much from the Kingfishers this year, but they are about. One flew past me the other week going towards the water behind the Press House.

I have let some areas grow wild to see what wild flowers develop. The ox-Eye daisies have gone mad, looks very pretty with so many. Lots of insects are visiting them too including the Common Blue butterfly. I have been keeping an eye out for Bee Orchids, but can't find any. Last year I found a Pyramid Orchid and have just noticed one starting to flower... only one again, but it's better than none.

I have been kept entertained recently by a family of young squirrels. I saw two racing around the base of a big tree and then one chasing a Blackbird like it was having some fun. The Blackbird didn't seem too bothered. Whilst watching these two baby squirrels play I suddenly saw a third head pop up. When it ventured out of the long grass I could see that it had quite a bit of fur missing, but other than that it seemed to be in quite good health. You can see the difference in the photo.

I've been up to New Hill a couple of times recently looking around the water's edge and lifting up boards and logs to see what's about. I saw two adult toads together and lots of tiny toadlets hopping all around them. I have noticed an increase in toads these last couple of years which is good news.

The deer are looking very smart with their shiny summer coats and their antlers are just starting to re-grow. This time of year they are quite relaxed and in the heat of the sun seek some shelter under the trees. The does will be having their fawns this month which means some of last year’s young males will be joining the older group of males. The young males seem unsure of our activity at first but soon get used to people being nearby.

I'll be keeping my eyes open for more photo opportunities to share with you, the best photos are always the ones that I don't get because I haven't got my camera at hand!

Julie Matthews
Mills Nature Conservationist