Royal Paddocks Allotments website masthead
email icon

Any comments, ideas or suggestions for what you’d like to see on the website? Please email us.

It's that kestrel again! Christmas Cafe, birds, mistletoe and season's greetings

Date posted: Wednesday 18th December 2019

It's that kestrel again!  Christmas Cafe, birds, mistletoe and season's greetings

Trish and Peter took this sharp photo of ‘our’ resident kestrel, after the Christmas Café last Sunday, when we enjoyed mulled wine, mince pies and a morning of mild, warm sun, after days of rain! It’s difficult to identify the difference between male and female but the male has a grey head and there is a male and a female juvenile now appearing regularly on site, according to Jon, our Bird Walk leader.

I’m thrilled that at last the mistletoe I germinated on my apple tree is in full berry! Like the birds, I smeared berries on the branches and after 3 years or so fruit has appeared:
‘Scientific name: Viscum album, Family: Santalaceae; Origin: native; Flowering season: evergreen; Habitat: canopies of broadleaf trees, orchards.
Mistletoe is a small semi-parasitic evergreen shrub which forms large spherical balls up to 1m wide in the tops of trees. Mistletoe leaves, stems and berries are all poisonous. Leaves: oval, evergreen leaves which grow in pairs.Flowers: its small, white flowers are made up of four tiny petals and form in clusters of three to five. Mistletoe is dioecious meaning male and female flowers are produced on separate plants.
Fruit: a waxy, white berry which grows in clusters of two to six. The seeds inside are coated in a sticky substance which sticks to the beaks of birds feeding on the fruit.
They either wipe the substance off on a branch, or eat it and excrete it on trees in their droppings. The gluey pulp around the seed hardens and fastens the seed in place. As the new mistletoe plant grows, the roots penetrate the bark and start to take water and nutrients from the tree.’ (Mistletoe; Woodland Trust)

I’m now very concerned after last week’s Election, for so many of the things I cherish most: the BBC; the NHS; human rights; liberal democracy; legislative protection for the environment; care and support for the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged in this society of ours; social justice and equality. Most of all is the fear for our invaluable and threatened natural environment, biodiversity and wildlife. Let’s hope 2020 brings an enlightened and radical approach to the inter-connectivity between the natural world and us; each needs the other!
Meanwhile, have a very Happy Christmas; Happy Holidays; Season’s Greetings and a Joyful and Flourishing New Year!