News - Page 6

The Yellowhammer


Jean Powley

Photo by Jill Pakenham / BTO

The Yellowhammer or Yellow Bunting, as it is known in some areas, is a sparrow-sized bird. Another old country name for this bird is the ‘scribbler’ or ‘scribble lark’, because its eggs have the appearance of scribbled lines on them. The word ‘hammer‘ is thought to come from ‘ammer’ a German word for bunting.

It is a bird of arable farmland and open countryside, and you will quite often see it perched on the top of hedgerows. The male has a bright yellow head and underparts, and the back is brown with black streaks. It also has a chestnut rump. The female is similar but is duller in appearance.  Its song is quite distinct and sounds like “a little bit of bread and no cheese”.  Occasionally, this species visits gardens but mainly during the winter when food in the countryside is scarce.

The Yellowhammer belongs to the Bunting family which is closely related to the Finch family. However, buntings tend to be more ground-dwelling than finches. The Yellowhammer is a sparrow-sized bird and is principally a seedeater but it will also eat invertebrates. Because of the modern farming practice of sowing crops in autumn, there is no winter stubble for these birds to feed upon and as a consequence, numbers have taken a downhill tumble. In the last twenty five years, the species has declined by fifty percent and it is now on the Red List of the Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC).

The poet, John Clare was inspired to write two poems about this golden bird of the countryside and both Beethoven and Messiaen had the idea of using the song of the bird in certain works of music. What fitting tributes to this rather small but beautiful bird which is currently struggling in numbers.

Jean is a voluntary Ambassador for the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch scheme in Nottinghamshire. If you enjoy watching birds and other wildlife which visit your garden, Garden BirdWatch may be perfect for you. If you would like a free information pack about the scheme, contact Jean at or visit

Salmon & Trout Conservation UK & Colwick Fly Fishing Club

Game Anglers for Fish People and the Environment

Junior Trout Fishing for Boys & Girls Aged 9 - 18 years,
Sat May 27th and Sat June 24th
9-30am - 4-30 pm


Learn to cast a fly rod, tie a fly & hopefully catch a trout. Professional tuition from Mick Huffs NAC quatified instructor in fly casting and fly tying.
Cost £10 per person each day - Includes barbecue lunch, all drinks, also junior membership to Colwick Fly Fishing CIub until May 2018.

Mollie Smith 0115 9528072
Rosemary Gunn 07702 313213

St. Swithun’s Church Bell Ringers

Last month we hoped to start ringing for services in time for Easter Sunday, and we made it! On Palm Sunday, our more advanced learner joined the three regulars and did us proud. No real sign of first “public performance” nerves and we enjoyed a happy ring of call changes on four bells.

Easter Sunday turned out to be something more than expected. I received a telephone call from a previous regular who had moved from Woodborough some years ago and was visiting her family for Easter. Could she come and ring? The answer was of course “Yes please”. So, we set out with five bells before the service. Within minutes, I heard a voice from the stairs saying “Can I make it six?” Well of course she could, and we enjoyed even more the glorious sound of all our bells on the most important day of the year. Thank you to Sarah and Emma for joining us.

The following Sunday there was no service; but it was St. George’s Day. So, we rang to mark the day: as did quite a number of other bell ringers around the country.

On Palm Sunday, and again on Easter Sunday, several parishioners came up to me and thanked us all for ringing the bells. Clearly it is a village activity that is appreciated by many, and especially when we get all the bells ringing together.

You know what’s next. I need a few more ringers. Not a lot more: just a few more volunteers to come and ring with us. We practice now regularly on Thursday evenings starting at 7.15pm for about 90 minutes. Our good friends from Oxton come over to support us by providing the best learning experience. My contact details are below. Please get in touch if you would like to join us. We need you.

Stephen Smith, Tower Captain.

0115 9654426 or 07817 979390