Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Diamond Tail Jubilee

Turtle Dove Spreading its 'Diamond' Tail
Wednesday was a rerun of May 15th, but the weather was a lot milder today:
The strong winds were gone, but if anything it was actually too hot, even first thing in the morning.  Before we set off we saw Whitethroat, Yellowhammer and Blue Tit.  Not long out of the car park and we had a Willow Warbler and a Tree Sparrow.  We had 4 Long-tailed Tits and another Willow Warbler just before the stud farm, and then under the trees which always used to hold a Garden Warbler I was surprised to first hear & then see a single Yellow Wagtail flew over.  Later, at lunch time the 2 Davids & Barbara had 3 Yellow Wagtails in the car park.  These are fairly unusual sightings as there is no water anywhere in the vicinity, although there is an oilseed rape field fairly nearby.  A Song Thrush, and a Chiffchaff were singing in the general area, but there wasn’t a single whimper from the Turtle Doves.  

 Long-tailed Tits
 Long-tailed Tits
When we set off again there was a different family of Long-tailed Tits and among a group of young Rabbits was a melanistic, (black) one!  At the edge of the reserve a Linnet & a Pied Wagtail flew over, and a Marsh Tit flew into the reserve.  Butterflies seen on the journey include: Speckled Wood, plenty of Orange-Tips, and a single Comma.  There were a pair of Linnets on the escarpment, and Miles found a Froghopper, which disappeared before its picture could be taken.  We were a bit luckier with Maxine’s ‘soldier beetle’.  A male Pheasant was spooked from under our feet, which then went on to spook a pair of Red-legged Partridges.
A pair of Treecreepers in the reserve were calling vociferously, but they were very difficult to spot hiding in Hawthorn bushes.  There were quite a few butterflies in the reserve including: Common Blues, Dingy Skippers, an alleged Brown Argus, and a Small Heath.  Not long after we left the reserve a Hobby flew West right through the valley.  We didn’t see a great deal on the return journey, but a pair of Blackcaps under the brick viaduct were a late highlight.  A clucking Red-legged Partridge was another new bird for this particular area. 
Speckled Wood
Soldier Beetle sp Cantharis rustica (Thanks to Barry Warrington)
 Common Blue
 Common Blue [male]
 Dingy Skipper
Record shot of Hobby (c) 2012 Tony Robinson
There are no House Martins among the car park buildings this year – too dry?, but a tree Sparrow was using a nest under the eaves in the artist’s studio.  I decided to take the afternoon session East, as the West side had been relatively disappointing.  Straight away a Green Woodpecker was sighted shortly after leaving the parking area followed by a family of Long-tailed Tits and a Willow Warbler.  When we left the trees and we could see through a gap between the Hawthorn hedge we were just able to discern a Red-legged Partridge along a fence line.  We carried on for a bit and not long after we passed a jerk who doesn’t clean up after his dog.  Soon after we arrived at Yellowhammer central, which is an escarpment open to northerly winds – today the breeze was welcome.  Suddenly some Rooks went up into the sky making a lot of noise, and we could see 2 Red Kites overhead, which eventually drifted north east.  A Red-legged Partridge flew onto the top of a distant post, but nevertheless gave decent views. 
We then entered an area with steep banks on either side, and covered with Hawthorn, Dog Rose, Wild Strawberry and various species of emerging vegetation.  We were watching a very bright male Bullfinch in the centre of the path when most of us saw a Stoat running behind the Bullfinch carrying a small Rabbit.  We were heading towards the small bridge when we heard the unmistakable purring of a Turtle Dove.  It displayed over our heads a few times, but also continued to purr from one of several Ash trees along that section of the track.  We stayed still for 10 minutes or so, but only got sight of it fanning its diamond shaped tail as it swept by us.  It was seen perched in a distant Ash, but the views weren’t terribly good.   
Turtle Dove
 Record Shot of Green Woodpecker
 Willow Warbler
 Jerk who Lets his Dog Foul a Nature reserve
 This Dog Cannot Read...
 ...This Sign
On the East side of the small bridge a Song Thrush was singing, but there were fewer birds in this area.  Another Yellowhammer, and a flying Kestrel were in the area of the final bridge.  On the return journey a large pale Buzzard looked as though it was about to land in the steep-banked area, but it saw us and veered away sharply, and then was lost to sight.  The Green Woodpecker and Willow Warblers were again near the quarry area, but this time they were also joined by a Great Spotted Woodpecker.  There were fewer butterflies in the afternoon because it had clouded up considerably and it almost seemed as though it was about to rain. There were a few drops as we reached the cars, but it was so warm we weren’t even dampened by the time we returned.  Only a couple of years ago there were 3 singing Turtle Doves either side of the car park, but today only one could be tracked down - that represents a loss of 5 singing males!  There was also less wildlife on the Westward trip, despite this being a morning trip.  On future visits we will always be heading Eastward Ho. 

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