Reg Snook's "park jottings" have been a special feature of the friends' noticeboard since early in 2010. He publishes a new one each fortnight, providing a naturalist's insights into the lives of the birds and animals of our park.

Jottings –  1 May 2018 – This Green and Pleasant Land…Reg Snook

hawthorn.pngHave you noticed how the countryside has become green and white save for the numerous fields of bright yellow oil seed rape?   Now the primroses, cowslips, daffodils and bluebells have almost gone.  Most trees and bushes are now green and isn't the hawthorn wonderful?  We call the hawthorn blossom 'may' and it is obvious why; the lanes and roads are green and white, the verges lined with cow parsley.  However, as I wend my way I come across a delicious clump of red campions, one of my favourite flowers.

The FoCP Dawn Chorus walk on the 5 May was a success – 25 people set their alarm clocks and by all accounts everyone enjoyed a glorious morning walk through our Park seeing or hearing 23 species of birds. Of course the walk could not fail as it was led by our own Philip Murphy.  The fact that 25 people turned up at this early hour shows just what high regard he is held in.  Many other ornithologists in Suffolk are often photographed or have articles in local newspapers and magazines but can they compare with our Philip. I doubt it.    Have you heard him imitate a stock dove?  Our butterfly expert, Richard Stewart, also on the walk, pointed out a green veined white 'mud-puddling' alongside the Wet Meadow.  There are now another 25 people who know more about butterflies than I.

Yesterday on my bike I was overtaken by a brimstone butterfly.  I was on two wheels – it had four wings.  I know that brimstones are fast flyers but that was ridiculous.  It was very pretty though.  The swifts have returned to Stoney Road, Grundisburgh so far not as many as last year but they usually do not arrive back at the same time.  The Suffolk Ornithologist Group is doing a great job with “Save our Swifts” appeal.  For more information, please log on to www.sogonline.org.uk.  Swifts are in decline as are…….

My friend, Don, who lives in the countryside just outside Ipswich, has a large pond.  In winter over 100 mallard and 40 mandarins gather there to be fed by Don.  So tame have become the mandarins that they stand on his boots when he is distributing wheat.  Don likes nettles!  Some of our most exotic butterflies use the nettles in which to lay their eggs.  Several mallard also lay eggs in the cover of nettle leaves.  Now and again a fox will steal an egg, take it away and return for another.  Not so Don's badgers.  Not only do they strip his ripe sweetcorn plants but their table manners regarding the mallard nests are disgusting.  Don tells me that they flatten all the nettles, smash the eggs and eat them leaving in their wake total devastation.

Once more there has been much correspondence in both local and national newspapers about dog walkers and their owners in parks with the few letting the majority down.  This discussion will run on as more and more people seem to be owning dogs.  It must be grand to walk through our Park especially at this time of the year when it is at its best meeting fellow dog walkers.  At this time of year dawn breaks at about 4.15 am and some dogs arrive in the Park long before the official opening time of 7.00 am.  I wish all dog owners respected this beautiful landscape and cleared up after their dogs but it is not so.  The same goes for the countryside footpaths.  Where the owner does clear up after his dog he may well leave the plastic bag and its contents hanging on a bush.  By the way, farmer Keith has a dog.  It brings him great pleasure and forces him to go 'walkies'.  Generally, the dog is well-behaved.  However, he is a strange animal.  He can hear my bike when I am 300 yards away and then he barks.  Is that a welcome?  He walks 'sideways on' which makes him look a bit ridiculous, the dog that is, not Keith!