Latest articles from Tony Drakeford

Nature Notes: The 'magical' foxglove loved by bees

BUMBLE bees love foxgloves and indeed they are the plant's main pollinator. Looking out into my garden I can see three different shades of flowers and although several bees are foraging on all of them, they seem to have a preference for white.

Nature Notes: Admiring the aerobatics of swallows

FOR the past 30 summers, I have enjoyed watching swallows as they nest beneath Turks pier alongside the river Thames at Kingston. This year there are three nests and I'm here on a sunny afternoon in late May watching three sets of parents hunting in pairs as they speed up and down the river, scooping up mayflies emerging from the surface then at full speed, zooming up into the nests under the boardwalk to be greeted by a loud chorus of twittering youngsters eager to be fed. A truly magical displ

Nature Notes: I miss the call of the cuckoo

IN these troubled times it is somewhat reassuring to know that at least the natural world appears to be functioning relatively normally. With spring in full swing, birdsong is increasing in volume and it is now time for our summer visiting birds to begin to arrive.

Nature Notes: a close call for grebes

IN the avian world, one of the most elaborate courtship displays is performed by a pair of great crested grebes. At this time of year these elegant birds can be seen indulging in these displays along the river Thames and on any reasonably large lakes.

Nature Notes: Creatures of habit

RATHER like us, the heron is very much a creature of habit, having two or three favoured fishing spots which he faithfully adheres to.

Nature Notes: Storm kept birds quiet

COURTESY of a wayward jetstream, on February 18, Storm Eunice roared in from the Atlantic and proved to be the most damaging and disruptive for more than thirty years. In fact, we endured three damaging named storms in just a week. Rather like buses, we wait for ages then three come along at once!

Melody or cacophony?

VERY late during a blustery afternoon on February 8, I heard my first song thrush of the year, perched at the summit of a lofty oak. He was not yet in full voice, just warming up so early in the year but it was so good to hear him.

What will February's weather bring?

JANUARY was unusually dry, so will February live up to its old reputation whereby farmers used to call the second month 'February-fill-dyke' alluding to the fact that the month was often very wet.