Whitley garden wildlife in May

By David Turner.

Lucky escape for the squirrel. Photo: David Turner

May was a very bad month for predation in my garden, with cats catching blackbirds, pigeons, starlings and squirrels. I do get annoyed, but I would never harm a cat; it’s just a natural instinct on their part, and there is very little I can do to stop it.

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Whitley garden wildlife in April

By David Turner.

A Whitley fox. Photo :David Turner

April temperatures in my Whitley garden reached as high as 30ºC and as low as -5ºC, the hottest and coldest ever recorded for that month; the average temperature for the month was 17ºC. We also experienced an afternoon hail storm at the beginning of the month that briefly covered the garden in what looked like snow.

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Winter flocks on Coley meadows

By Adrian Lawson.

A murmuration of starlings at Gretna. Photo: Walter Baxter via Wikimedia Commons

Flocks of birds are a phenomenon that have always intrigued me. Watching how different birds go about it has fascinated me all my life. There are those obscure little flocks of twittering tits that flit about the hedgerows in winter, and there are those massive and spectacular starling murmurations that fill the dusk skies with choreographed magic.

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1962 air crash wreckage found at Kennet Meadows

By Adrian Lawson.

Coley Meadows (c) Adrian Lawson

I met the owner of part of Coley meadows many years ago, and he told me a fascinating tale of two aeroplanes colliding there. He described the area where he thought they had crashed, and for many years I kept my eyes open for any sign. When the Fobney Island nature reserve was being dug I had hoped to find some evidence, but there was none. I looked it up and found a news report; the crash happened on 4 November 1962. There was no detail on the actual location, so I asked a few of the more senior residents, but strangely nobody knew much.

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Redbrick blackbird

When you hear a very loud, varied, flutey birdsong from your roof or TV aerial at sunset or sunrise in these early months of the year, then you will be most likely listening to a male blackbird. The juvenile first-year males sing in January and February and the older ones follow from around March. Quite why these sentinels of the natural world have such a boring name in English is hard to understand; there are plenty of other black-plumed avians. They are lovingly called merle in French and merl in the old Scottish dialect.

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Katesgrove’s bountiful river valley

By Adrian Lawson.

Sadly, there are few good places on Katesgrove hill to enjoy the westward view. The steep west-facing scarp of Katesgrove hill is the edge of a river valley, and at the bottom flows the river Kennet. The river carved the valley into Reading before it became a canal, and used to run riot over a vast area of low lying land between Southcote and Whitley. The valley south and west of Katesgrove is a couple of miles wide, suddenly narrowing as it passes through two hills, Katesgrove and Coley. From the top of Katesgrove hill the view over the valley should be cherished, especially when the valley is full of floodwater and the sun sets beyond.

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Marina, pub and hotel proposed near Waterloo Meadows

Reading Borough Council (RBC) have proposed to enter into a development agreement with H20 Urban and the Canal and River Trust to build a 100 berth marina, hotel and pub on the A33 side of the Kennet opposite Waterloo Meadows, according to the Katesgrove Labour group.

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