Thursday, 29 April 2010

Springtime in my garden continued!

I took a few photo's of some of the Spring flowers in my garden this morning whilst the sun was still shining as rain was forecast for later. The rain arrived and hasn't stopped!

The blue Forget Me Not's make a welcome contrast to the predominantly yellow colour of the main spring flowers in my garden.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Springtime in my garden.

At long last Spring has arrived and brought with it beautiful fresh, sharp colours making the cold Winter that we endured seem a long time ago! The Tulips, Daffodils, Forget-me-knots, Primulas and Cowslips are all in flower and looking a picture! Birds are gathering nesting material and I feel sure that Robins are feeding chicks as they are busily flying to and fro the feeders throughout the day. A female Blackbird has been very busy gathering nesting material today and taking it in to the conifer hedge while the male perched in several places around the garden like a sentry, lazy wotsit why don't they help the female!!!! Coal Tits have been frequent visitors to the feeders also this week so perhaps they are feeding chicks. A pair of Blue Tits have taken up residence in a House Sparrow terrace nest box, I can watch them from a kitchen window which the nest box is above, they are very busy especially first thing in the mornings! The nest boxes in trees are not to my knowledge being used, they have been inspected by Blue & Great Tits but as far as I can tell they are empty of birds! Still time for them to be used though! The trees and shrubs are leafing and budding up well now, lovely to see the freshness of the leaves when they unfurl. Plenty of insects around especially Bumble bees but I have only had a few sightings of butterflies and they are too quick for me to ID, I would guess at them being Peacocks though! The sunset this evening was a beauty, the best I have seen for a long time with such striking colours!

I cannot end my Springtime writing without a few photo's and a poem that is the epitome of Spring thoughts.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
a poem by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hurcott Pools & Wood Nature Reserve.... 18/04/10

About time I played catch up on my blog!

Hurcott Pools & Wood Nature Reserve is roughly a ten minute drive from my home. It is an area that I really should visit more often as the Woodland birds found on this walk were a joy to see and hear. It was a lovely warm sunny day, perfect for a pasture land and woodland walk.
Highlight birds on the pasture walk were Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Kestrel, along with Chiffchaff and Blackcap heard only.

The Pool was very quiet with just a single Great Crested Grebe, Canada Goose and Heron, Coot x4, Moorhen x3, Mallards and a couple of Swallows that skimmed the water for a drink late in the afternoon. It will be interesting to see if numbers on the pool increase as the seasons change. A Bittern was seen at these pools last winter so hopefully it may return but I do not want to think of Autumn/Winter just yet after such a bitterly cold Winter...let's have Spring and a hot Summer!

The woods were alive with pairs of Nuthatch and Blackcap, great views were had of each species. Other birds seen were Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Wren, Coal, Blue & Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Magpie. No doubt that since my walk the Bluebells are in full bloom now, there were just the odd one's starting to open when I visited.

A funny sight was the Owl perched in a tree! From a distance it looked real...well I thought it did!!

Monday, 19 April 2010

My Saturday solitude morning!....17/04/2010

Driving to the Fisheries in glorious sunshine a Song Thrush was seen as it flew in to a hedgerow and a couple of Swallows were seen around the paddocks. Two Chiffchaffs were continually singing, no doubt after a mate or being territorial, for whichever reason neither bird seemed to want to stop singing or give in to the Their song rang out the whole time I was on my walk. A Blackcap and Chaffinch were also in full song other than these birds the area was quiet. I did spot a Green Woodpecker as it flew the length of a field to a tree. The usual suspects Woodpigeon, Magpie, Blackbird and Blue & Great Tits were seen regularly. As I made for home I spotted a Skylark fly down in to a field so I parked along the track and tried for a photo! Well I tried very hard, not easy in a large field and managed a couple of ropey photo's so I am adding them to my blog, my first of the year Skylark pics and I tried too hard for them not to add!! Lesser Celandine, Horsetail and Dandelion were growing well, also the Brambles now have fresh green shoots and the trees are leafing up well in this relatively mild weather. Good to see some colour coming back to the countryside!

Moon, Star and Sunset!....16/04/2010

The waxing crescent moon looked a treat as the sky was darkening and the sunset was fading, also clearly visible was a star directly below the moon, I believe it to be Mercury but I am not 100% sure on that. Out came the camera and tripod, I do not find taking moon pics very easy and after numerous attempts I was fairly pleased with the results. The photo's of the star with the red centre and green outer colours is the star below the moon. The star with the green centre and red outer colours is a star that was to the left of the moon and probably thousands or more miles away from the moon, I believe it may be Venus. I am not hot on Astronomy as is quiet!!

Friday, 16 April 2010

A melodious Willow Warble!....11/04/2010

After my early morning walk and a refreshing cuppa it was time to set off for Upton Warren. The Moors Pools was to be the first destination. Surprisingly only a handful of cars on the car park, I thought it would have been chocca! Walking down the lane that leads to a hide the unmistakable song of a Willow Warbler was heard from a wooded area. No sight of the bird just sound, so this would be the area to walk around after the Pools had been viewed. On the water were Coot, Moorhen, G C & L Grebe, Common Snipe, Shoveler, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Teal, Lapwing, Cormorant, Heron and a super flypast over the water by a Kingfisher. A good selection of birds to have a relaxing viewing of and the sun shone faintly so visibilty was fairly good. Walking to and from the hide birds seen were Blue & Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming. Once in the wooded area the Willow Warbler was soon found, high on the top of a tree, delightfully warbling away! A Treecreeper was also spotted on a tree close by. This area leads on to a few small pools and whilst walking by them a Grass Snake was spotted, coiled up and taking in the warm sunshine. It soon realised that it was not alone and slid of in to the vegetation! This was my first ever sighting of a Grass Snake, I was chuffed to bits! It looked to me very similiar to a Slow worm that I had seen last year at Knapp & Papermill WWT Reserve. Of course the Grass Snake was much bigger but I did think there were similarities. After all this excitement it was time for a rest and lunch!

On and around the Flashes were Avocet (11) and very flighty they were to today, they looked a treat as they chased and then had tussles as they landed on the water. Spring is definately in the air! Other highlights were L R P.s, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing and a lone Swallow!

A long day but a great birding day today.

ps: Just thought I had better mention that I haven't missed an r out of my title! ;-D

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A couple of Swallows and songsters!....10th & 11th/04/2010

A gloriously sunny and warm morning saw me off early to the Fisheries for my Saturday and for the first time Sunday solitude! As I drove down the lane to the Fisheries (Sat) I spotted a Swallow on a telephone wire, I couldn't stop as there was a car not far behind me!! This was my first of the year in this area. "Oh well" I thought, there are plenty of weeks ahead to stop at this site and hopefully get a photo. Skylarks were again singing over the fields which now were showing green shoots of the crop sown, the fields looked a treat. Something pleasing seeing neat rows of vivid green shoots in such an expanse of ground!

My highlight today was the male Blackcap and Chiffchaff that were singing for all they were worth! I was especially pleased to see the Blackcap, my first of the year, excluding the Blackcap in my garden who sadly has now departed after being a joy to see in my garden over the long, long winter. The usual species were around and about, Robin, Dunnock etc. Plenty of Bumblebees were buzzing low on the ground and settling in amongst leaf mould and low vegetation. I found my first Coltsfoot of the season and noticed the nettles were starting to show signs of growth. Surprisingly I saw only one Peacock butterfly around the brambles and hedgerows. As I drove down the track towards the road a male Yellowhammer suddenly flew out of the hedgerow and perched on the wire fencing! What a treat, it was only a few feet away from me, I cautiously managed a couple of photo's and then just viewed this beautiful, colourful bird!

On my way home I made a point of driving slowly as I neared the paddocks were the Swallow was seen, I parked up in the entrance to the paddock on seeing that there were two on the wire! I managed a couple of photo's before they flew off, they were most confiding! They were a pleasure to see on such a lovely morning, well a pleasure on any!!

Sunday morning and a much colder start to the day, noticeably cooler than the previous day. Highlights today a Wren, Buzzard (which I did not see or hear on Saturday, most unusual), Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Jays (x5) in an adjoining field and a lone Swallow flew over the fishing pools.

A pleasing two mornings spent ambling in solitude!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Owls and Bats on a perfect Spring evening....9/04/2010

A warm and sunny day turned into a warm and calm evening! So, a visit to the Flashes, Upton Warren was the perfect way to end a lovely Spring day. Walking alongside the sailing pool to the Flashes a Little Owl was spotted in a distant field as it flew to perch on an old tree trunk. Great views were had of it through the scope and a little later another Little Owl flew in to perch as the first Owl flew away! On the sailing pool, which was like a millpond this evening, were Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, B H Gull, Greylag and a few noisy Canada Geese flew in! On the Flashes the highlights were Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Heron, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Avocet, Teal, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Tufted Duck. I spotted a Fox in one of the fields who was having a good scratch and groom, oblivious seemingly of the Canada Geese close!! Reed Bunting, Blue & Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Mistle thrush and a Robin were also seen at the feeding station and along the pathway. A Chiffchaff was in full voice on the return walk and a Cetti's was heard but not seen...little monkeys that they! The light was now fading fast on returning to the car park and a surprise awaited, a very welcome surprise at that, the bats were out in force, Noctule and Pipistrelle! A lovely sight to end the evening as they swooped after the midges and then out of sight as quickly as they appeared! A Sparrowhawk was another surprise as it suddenly flew down to the grassy bank and away again without prey, it did this a couple more times before seemingly going to roost. What a treat with three great species to end a perfect Spring day.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Easter Weekend....4th&5th/04/2010

Easter weekend was in the main a 'get in the garden at last' weekend! After the lengthy wintry weather it was good to be out in the garden, in at times pleasant sunshine and tidying up the damage done by the cold frosty weather. However a birding walk was still planned albeit late in the afternoon. The Moors Pools at Upton Warren was chosen as it is a short (ish) walk to the hides, after the gardening a long trek was not inviting! In and around the water the highlights were Swan, Cormorant, Tufted Duck, G C Grebes (not displaying, perhaps too late in the, Coot, Moorhen, Shoveler, Lapwing, Mallard, Oystercatcher, Canada and Greylag Geese and B H Gull. Reed Buntings were on the seed heads of the Bullrushes in front of the hide giving great views of them with some of the down off the rushes sticking to their heads and faces, quite comical, I bet it tickled!! On a short walk down the lane to the farm a Green Woodpecker was heard yaffling and then it flew in to a paddock but did not stay for long. A Chiffchaff was also seen and heard. An Oystercatcher, Jackdaw and Magpie were in the paddock feeding close by each other, I thought it was an unusual scene seeing these three species as close together as they were. A Wagtail had been seen for a few minutes on the Pools and I had thought it looked a little different from the Pied Wagtail and wondered if it were a White Wagtail. Unfortunately an inconclusive result on this one, only having very distant and cropped photo's.

Easter Monday was to be a short visit to the area in my 'Circular Walk' post, taking the latter part of the walk as it was so productive on my last visit. A good choice as a flock of c30 Linnets were seen and heard lifting from the fields along with a few Fieldfare and Starlings!! Yellowhammers, Green, Gold and Chaffinch were also in good numbers, especially the Goldfinch. A pleasing walk after another day spent tidying the garden! The sun shone on occasions and it made me think that in the coming months the fields will turn from stubble fields into 'fields of gold' and look delightful!