Wednesday, 24 April 2013

"When Spring comes to Garth and Field"

On Wednesday we tried out yet another brand new venue. We went into the wooded area first, where there seemed to have been an major influx of Blackcaps. We also heard Chiffchaffs in here, and both Kestrels and Sparrowhawks were heard calling distantly. There was no sound or sign of the famed Willow Tits, but I was able to show participants their first Willow Tit nest box, and explain why it was so different from what they may have expected. 2 Redpolls flew over heading west, but I didn't hear them soon enough to ensure everyone got a good view. When we emerged from the wood a male Kestrel was perched on the telegraph wires right outside, whilst a male Marsh Harrier was being mobbed by a crow over a field of flowering oilseed rape. Later, the crow turned its attention to a female Kestrel.

Chiffchaff - with wet or damaged crown feathers
 Willow Warbler
 Warbler jumping (c) 2013 Aileen Urquhart
 [Courting] Pochard
 Female Kestrel
Along the edge of the lake were more Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. I was kneeling down to take a photograph over the water, but a male Mute Swan took exception and swam up aggressively, before lunging at me with its beak. In the afternoon it made a determined effort to break my leg! There were Pochard, Tufted Ducks and some Friday Unmentionables on the water, and the always loathsome Coots. Meanwhile the chittering calls of Little Grebes could be head periodically from deep within the reeds. Later, at the opposite end of the lake a Great Crested Grebe was spotted concealed in the reeds on its nest. When we got to the seating area at the back of the pool, there was a strange sound emanating from the Willow Carr. This turned out to be some drake Pochard, which may breed here in small numbers. Walking back along an old Tarmac road a Chiffchaff gave exceptionally fine views.  On closer examination this Chiffchaff had damaged crown feathers or they may have been soiled by an oily substance and hadn't dried properly.. Looking across the fields Gina spotted a pair of Roe Deer, and a few minutes later Eric & Anthony spotted another individual slipping into an area of woodland right next to the road.
Great Crested Grebe
 Mute Swan [Aggression]
 Mute Swan - Butter Wouldn't Melt
 Peacock (c) 2013 Aileen Urquhart
 Frog & Centipede
 White Violets
 Inhabitants of the Parkland (c) 2013 Aileen Urquhart

We then walked along the main road to the parkland, where we were again regaled by singing Blackcaps. In the parkland itself we saw our first decent view of a Willow Warbler, but perhaps he was a young bird (or just exhausted) as his song wasn't up to snuff. Out of the wind there were Peacocks drinking Sallow nectar, and a Comma butterfly, but others had already spotted a Brimstone and the first Orange-tip of the year. A Great Spotted Woodpecker could be seen, but only its silhouette as it was against a bright light source. On the way back Susan noticed an adult Heron had flown in to the reedbed, and this may have been one of the birds the pm session saw right at the start, flying high over the rape field.

On the drive back before I reached the motorway I saw a slow-flying bird, and sure enough it was a Jay.  It's a shame it wasn't in the parkland when we visited.  

1 comment:

RB said...

Here's why the Chiffchaff had a dirty face:

Quite commonly seen in warblers in early Spring, sometimes carried with them from exotic flowers in the Med.