The National Trust is one of the most important organisations in the UK for bluebell conservation. A quarter of the Trust’s woodland is ancient or semi-natural; the ideal habitats for bluebells. Here are six facts you may not know about them:

1. The bluebell has many names: English Bluebell, Wild Hyacinth, Wood Bell, Bell Bottle, Cuckoo’s Boots, Wood Hyacinth, Lady’s Nightcap and Witches’ Thimbles, Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta

2. It is against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy bluebells.

3. If you plant bluebells, you should make sure it’s the English bluebell, not the Spanish version. This is a more vigorous plant and could out-compete our delicate native flower.

4. Almost half the world’s bluebells are found in the UK, they’re relatively rare in the rest of the world.

5. Bluebell colonies take a long time to establish – around 5-7 years from seed to flower.

6. Bluebells can take years to recover after footfall damage. If a bluebell’s leaves are crushed, they die back from lack of food as the leaves cannot photosynthesise.

Extract taken from: The National Trust (UK).

Images by CRUSH Photography© www.crush.photography

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from The National Trust (UK)

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What do sedge warblers look like?

Sedge warblers have an olive-brown mantle and scapulars with dark brown streaks, and a cinnamon rump. On the upperwing the flight feathers are brown with pale buff edges, and the wing coverts are black with paler edges. The rounded tail is dark brown.

The belly is white, the flanks are pale rust and the rest of the underparts are cream or pale buff. On the underwing the axillaries and coverts are white with dark centres.

On the head the chin and throat are white, and the crown is dark with fine streaks. There is a conspicuous pale buff supercilium that extends from the upper base of the bill to the end of the ear coverts where it becomes broader. The lores are dark, and the cheeks and ear coverts are yellowish-brown. The bill has a dark brown upper mandible and yellow lower mandible with a pink base, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet are grey-brown. Male and female sedge warblers are similar.

Juveniles are yellower than adults but with a similar pattern on the body and slight speckles or streaks on the breast. On the head there is a buff stripe in the centre of the crown.

How do sedge warblers breed?

Sedge warblers are monogamous and breed between late April and mid-May and produce 1 or 2 broods a season. The nest in scrubby vegetation, marshes, bushes, and reedbeds near but not on water. It is usually supported on stems. The female builds the nest which is a deep cup-shaped structure made from loosely woven grass, stems, leaves, moss, and sedges, bound together with spider webs. It is lined with softer plant material, hair, and plant down.

Sedge warblers lay 5-6 smooth, glossy, pale green eggs even covered with fine olive specks and mottles, which are incubated by the female alone for 13-15 days. The male will help brood the chicks once they are hatched. Chicks leave the nest 11-12 days after hatching and fledge at 25-30 days.

What do sedge warblers eat?

Sedge warblers eat mainly insects including mayflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, moths, and beetles. They will also eat worms, slugs, snails, and spiders. In autumn and winter it will supplement its diet with plant matter such as berries, fruit, buds, and flowers.

They usually feed at dawn and dusk in low, dense vegetation.

Extract taken from ‘Bird Spot’

Images by CRUSH Photography© www.crush.photography

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from 'Bird Spot'

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Fallow Deer

The male fallow deer is known as a buck, the female is a doe, and the young a fawn. They were first brought to Britain from the western Mediterranean during the Roman period, when they were kept within enclosures known as ‘vivaria’.

Variation in Colour

Much variation occurs in the coat colour of the species, with four main variants: common, menil, melanistic, and leucistic. They prefer to graze grasses although they will take trees and dwarf shrub shoots in autumn and winter.

All Images by CRUSH Photography©

Only bucks have antlers, which are broad and shovel-shaped (palmate) from three years. In the first two years, the antler is a single spike. Groups of adult males and females, usually with young, remain apart for most of the year in large woodlands, only coming together to breed.

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Acknowledgements: Extracts from The British Deer Societ more...

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  1. Swallows belong to the family Hirundininae which also includes martins. There are 84 recognised species worldwide.
  2. They are not even distantly related to swifts.
  3. Our familiar swallow, Hirundo rustica, is generally known as the barn swallow. It breeds throughout the Northern Hemisphere including every European country except Iceland.
  4. The barn swallow is the world’s most widespread swallow but several similar species breed in Africa. Australia’s welcome swallow is also closely related.
  5. In Norway and Finland swallows nest well north of the Arctic Circle.
  6. European swallows mostly winter in Africa south of the Sahara. Curiously, populations from the British Isles and northern Europe winter farther south than those from central and southern Europe, flying all the way to Botswana and South Africa.
  7. A few regularly spend the winter in southern Spain.
  1. They like to nest in open-fronted buildings such as barns, stables and cowsheds.
  2. It takes a pair of swallows up to 1,200 journeys to build a nest. Only the female lines the nest.
  3. Swallows like to nest close to large domestic animals like cattle or horses. The decline in dairy farming in the UK and the resulting increase in arable farming has not suited the species.
  4. Most British swallows try to rear two broods each summer and some succeed in raising three.
  5. Europe’s population is thought to number about 15 million individuals, with the biggest numbers in Poland and Bulgaria. Britain’s 1 million ranks us in eleventh place.
  6. Red-rumped swallows are spreading steadily north from the Mediterranean and small numbers of over shooting birds occur here every spring.
  7. Swallows were likely to have been much rarer before man started practising agriculture and animal husbandry.
  1. While Mediterranean swallows often fledge their first broods in April, birds that breed in northern Scandinavia seldom arrive before the third week of May.
  2. The male swallow invariably arrives back first from migration, singing over his territory in the hope of attracting a mate. Females generally appear a week to a fortnight later.
  3. Male and female swallows are virtually identical in appearance.
  4. They will readily adopt artificial nests that resemble their own mud-built constructions.
  5. Much folklore surrounds the swallow. To see the first swallow of the year is regarded as a good omen. In Russia songs were written to celebrate their return after the long, cold winter.
  6. Before the mysteries of migration were understood, it was thought that swallows spent the winter buried in the mud of ponds and lakes.
  7. Swallows always drink on the wing, flying low to sip the water.

All Images by CRUSH Photography©

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from 'Living with Birds'

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