Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Venus, Jupiter and the Moon....26/03/2012.

Along with the warm sunny weather lately we have had clear skies at night enabling stunning views of the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter and now there is an added bonus of the waxing crescent Moon. I have been watching Venus and Jupiter throughout this month but this evenings offering was a sheer delight to see. I have added a few images, not brilliant images but good enough for my own records. I could not get Jupiter into any shots with the Moon and Venus but I was particularly pleased with the shots taken of Venus. A couple of interesting links: Illustrated guide to Venus and Jupiter conjunction in March 2012 Spectacle in the sky as Venus and Jupiter put on a show either side of the Atlantic ....

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Little Drummer Boy....24/03/2012

It was just misty as I left home early this morning and headed for Bunkers Hill Wood but as I reached Whittington Hall Lane the mist had turned to patchy fog, so light's on and a careful drive down the lane. The wood looked very atmospheric shrouded in fog though in places it was just misty and spooky looking! Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming and birdsong filled the air! I watched a pair of Blue Tits going in and out of a nest hole in a Silver Birch tree but strangely they didn't seem to be taking anything in or out of the nest as far as I could tell, lovely to see their activity though and I shall hopefully be able to keep a check on them during the next few weeks. A Song Thrush was in full voice atop of a Pine tree and a Treecreeper was a delight to see as it busily flew from tree to tree after searching each trunk. Blackbird, Robin, Great Tit and Blue Tit were the other species seen in the section of wood that I walked in. A Yellowhammer was in it's usual area as I walked down the bridlepath but no puddles for it to bathe in now. This spell of warm, dry and suny weather is a real treat at this time of the year but we really do need some rain!! A Buzzard circled overhead as I ambled down the path. The small wood at the end of the bridleway was alive with birds! Blackbird, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush, Wren, Chaffinch, Blackcap (m), Coal Tit and my first Marsh Tit in these woods!! A Great Spotted Woodpecker was very obliging, I heard it drumming close by me but as soon as I spotted it (no pun intended) off it flew but did return a few minutes later, it didn't spot me as I was hugging a tree, well close up to the tree trunk so as to blend in (I must get some camo gear.lol)....I managed a short video after studying the bird at fairly close range! Green Woodpecker, Skylark and Chiffchaff were heard only today. I checked out the farm area for any returning Swallows but none to be seen yet. The paddocks sometimes have Red-legged Partridge in them but none today. A smart looking House Sparrow and a dapper Pied Wagtail were the last species I came across at the end of what was a really enjoyable walk in what turned out to be warm sunshine.
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Friday, 23 March 2012

Bodenham Arboretum....18/03/2012

A change of scenery today with a first visit to Bodenham Arboretum. The walks along the tree lined paths and through the woodlands were splendid and superb views were enjoyed of the surrounding countryside. Wild Cyclamen and Daffodils were in flower and a new plant for me was Yellow Skunk Cabbage , such a vivid and striking colour! Birds seen on the walks were Blue Tit, Great tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Kestrel, Raven x2, Buzzard x2 with Tawny Owl and Roe Deer heard only. It was a most enjoyable visit to the Arboretum in sunshine for the most part though a hail shower was unexpected whilst walking through the woodlands, thankfully there were plenty of Pine trees to shelter under!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Three 1st's Today!....20/03/2012

The first 1st being the first day of Spring, the second 1st being my first of the year Chiffchaff and the third 1st being my first of the year Barn Swallow! As the weather forecast was a good one I headed for Wassell Grove Pools this morning, it was a lovely morning with warm sunny spells though still rather cool in the shade. A Skylark lifted from a field and sang it's heart out as as it flew high above me, a joy to see and hear. Plenty of birdsong was heard with Robin, Blackbird and Dunnock being the main songsters. I spotted a Long-tailed Tit gathering feathers and close by was a delightful Goldcrest. I was thrilled to hear a Chiffchaff 'chiff chaffing' and eventually connecting with it, it really did make me feel that Spring had definitely arrived and to later see a Barn Swallow that was nearby on the way home was the icing on the cake! Hopefully the Swallows will also be back at Brake Mill Pools and Bunkers Hill soon. Birds also seen today were Wren, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Bullfinch (pair), Songthrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Pheasant, Heron x2 and a Buzzard, with Green Woodpecker heard only. Today's walk was a great start to Spring!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Garden Update.

The Blackcap has flown, I haven't seen her since Monday when she settled unusually on to a lawn where I had put crumbled scones and seed down for the ground feeders, she took a few bites of scone and then flew to a Willow tree. This was the first time I had seen her eat anything other than apples or pears that I spike on an apple tree. Maybe she was bulking up in readiness for her long journey back to her breeding ground. I shall miss seeing her daily in my garden as I have been doing for several weeks now. Safe journey to her and hopefully she will return next Winter. I shall cease spiking fruit on the trees now as the Blackbirds who normally enjoy the fruit have ignored two juicy pears I put out today, they have other things on their minds now and besides the ground is now soft so they should be getting a few tasty worms! A female Chaffinch has visited my garden the last two days, not often I have them visit so nice to see the female, unusually no male with her. The Dunnocks are whizzing about in the garden in 3's (as they do) and Blue Tits have been checking out a nestbox! I spotted a Blue Tit this morning gathering a few of the feathers that I had swept under a conifer hedge, they are the remains of the last pigeon to fall prey to the Sparrowhawk, good to see that they are being recycled. Robins are in and out of a nestbox that is in Ivy in my drive, fingers crossed they decide to use it! Magpies are frequently seen flying over the garden with twigs and Woodpigeons are cooing and swooping in flight. I spotted Frog Spawn in the pond but sadly I was not quick enough to retrieve it to transfer it to a small pond for safety, the fish ate it!!! So, all systems go now, an exciting and interesting time of the year.
The photo's were taken through a window in poor light...well that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.lol!

Monday, 12 March 2012

A 'Slow' End To A Sunny Sunday Walk....11/03/2012

What a gloriously sunny and fairly warm day Sunday was, "more of that please" I say! Dowles Brook was the destination today in the hope of a better view of a Dipper than the two flypasts seen on my last visit on the 26th February. Sadly no luck at all today with a Dipper or Marsh Tit (also on the 26th Feb) but Grey Wagtails were just as nice to see as they busily wagged their tails and scurried over the water and rocks feeding. Treecreeper x2 on the same tree trunk were a delight to see and Nuthatches were calling and singing seemingly everywhere, they were very active today.Other highlights were Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit (seen on the last leg of the walk by the carpark), Kingfisher (flypast), Buzzard and Raven x2 also seen on the last leg of the walk and they looked a treat with the blue clear sky as a backdrop. Butterflies were also a treat to see especially so being my firsts of the year. A Comma was the first sighted and then what looked to be a Clouded Yellow, it was distant but the size did not appear big enough to be a Brimstone, whichever it was it was still a lovely sight to see. During a walk in the heathland alongside the old railway track 4 Small Copper butterflies were spotted, I am thinking 3 or possibly 4 individual butterflies. After the butterfly sightings another treat was in store, a Slow Worm enjoying the sunshine! This was only my second sighting of a Slow Worm and a first for my Daughter so it was 'smiles all around'! After the walk a short visit was made to the Visitor Centre and to finish the 'Butterfly' day off a Red Admiral obligingly landed on the bumper of a car to soak up the suns rays. I can assure you it isn't my car in the photo, mine is cleaner..and a different colour.lol! Whilst on the bridge (by Lodge Hill Farm) we spoke to two fellow birders who unbeknowing to me until later in the evening were fellow bloggers Mark and Jason. it was good chatting to you guys and I look forward to meeting you both again sometime soon.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Woods Are Alive With The Sound Of....Bird Song!....10/03/2012

An early start to my walk at Bunkers Hill Wood this morning as the area can get quite busy with Walkers, Joggers and Horse riders. As I stepped out of my car the sound of bird song filled the air. A Song Thrush perched in a tree singing it's flute-like song was a joy to watch and listen to, a delightful start to my walk. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming and as I reached the area that they were in I spotted a Jay which looked as though it had nesting material in it's beak, as it perched I could see that it had a small rodent. I hadn't realised that Jays will eat small mammals and nestlings, so I have learnt something new today. As the Jay began to eat it's catch I managed a short video when I finally located it with my camera, not easy with so many branches and twigs between me and the Jay! Blue and Great Tits were in abundance, Coal Tit, Blackbird and Wren were also seen in the stretch of woodland I walked in. I walked the bridleway to see if I could catch up with Yellowhammers in their usual area, I could see a stunning male ahead of me that was heading towards one of the large puddles along the track, it enjoyed a good bathe and then flew to a hedgerow to preen. Birds seen in the small wood were Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin and Long-tailed Tit. On the return walk 3 Buzzards were circling high and Skylark and Green Woodpecker were heard only. An interesting and enjoyable walk, it was just a pity the sun had done a disappearing act.
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Thursday, 8 March 2012

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone....08/03/2102

Starlings...the last sighting I had of them in my garden was August 2011 so I was more than delighted to see two (hopefully a pair) on the suet feeder in my garden this morning! I am also hoping House Sparrows will at least pay a visit during Spring/Summer, another species in times gone by seen daily in my garden and now rarely visits.
Hey farmer, farmer Put away that DDT now, Give me spots on my apples But leave me the birds and the bees Please! .......... Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got 'Til its gone, They paved paradise And put up a parking lot.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A Kit of Woodpigeons....06/03/2012

A sunny day today and having an hour to spare this afternoon I had a short walk around Wassell Grove Pools. A flock of c300 Woodpigeons were feeding busily in a field when suddenly they took flight and headed my way! They were so low I could feel the downdraught from their wingbeats, fortunately nothing landed on or close by me! I know they were only Woodpigeons but it was a nice sight to see so many. Most of the Woodpigeons headed for the nearby trees, they were still perched and lapping up the warm(ish) sunshine when I returned to my car. Robin, Blue & Great Tit, Blackbird, Skylark and a Buzzard were the only other bird species seen on my short walk. Several plants of Coltsfoot now in flower were a delight to see in the sunshine.

A Storytelling of Ravens...well two to be precise....02/03/2012

With the weekend weather sounding decidedly wintery I took the chance to take a Friday afternoon walk, my intention was to walk a circular route starting from Brake lane. I had intended to do this walk on the 25th February but that did not happen as a young man walking his dog informed me that there was a large flock of Yellowhammers along the edge of a field that were looking splendid in the sunshine! A "10 minute walk along the bridleway" said the young man, so off I toddled. Well 10 minutes to a dog walker is 30 minutes plus for a lingering birdwatcher. I eventually reached the field (by County Lane) and found nothing!! Hardly surprising really as there were a few cars parked close by and children having a riding lesson in a field/paddock just along the lane. Having seen practically zilch on the way and also on the return journey all but 2 shooters in a field , which probably explains the lack of birds, I decided to forego my planned 'circular' walk and headed home for a cuppa! I am sure the Dog walker meant well but I felt it was a bit of a 'fools errand' to be honest, the walk did me good though.lol! Anyway that is by the by. As I arrived at Brake lane a Skylark was singing and after a quick scan of the sky I spotted it, amazing little birds how they hover and sing so loudly and sweetly! A couple of Yellowhammers were perched on a distant hedgerow, Blackbirds were picking over fallen leaves and a couple of Chaffinch did a flypast. One of the fields was being ploughed over so not a lot of birdlife at the start of the walk, a Mistle Thrush perched in a tree was making known it's annoyance at the disturbance as it's rattling call sounded out above me , I stood and watched it for awhile it didn't seem at all perturbed at my presence. After negotiating the slightly muddy bridlepath I was well chuffed to hear and then see a Raven as it flew over and around a paddock, further along the walk I heard it again and this time it had a mate flying just in front of it, they looked a splendid sight! I was to see and hear one of the Ravens at least three times more on my walk, the final sighting was at the end of my walk as one of the Ravens flushed a large mixed flock of c60 Fieldfare and Redwings from the tops of a row of trees, defending territory.... hopefully. A small flock of Starlings were good to see again, it seem's a good while since I have seen any in this area. The usual were on and around the Lake with the addition today of a Little Grebe and a Goosander, the Goosander being too far away for a good photo, I did try but unsuccessfully so I ended up taking a short video. Not long to wait now for the Swallows to return to this area! I lingered for a lengthy time watching an area at the end of two gardens, there are plenty of trees and vegetation here and also the stream runs through, the public footpath overlooks this area..fortunately! Great Spotted Woodpecker x2, Songthrush, Nuthatch, Blue Tits, Great Tits and a Wren were viewed here. Green Woodpecker x 2 took flight as I approached a paddock, I was later to hear them 'yaffling'. 3 Buzzards circled high above me, I could watch them all day, such stunning birds! As I neared the end of my walk I came across a Collared Dove and a male and female Greenfinch, two species I have not encountered here for a few months. It is encouraging to see blossoms opening, buds appearing and fresh new leaves sprouting on trees and shrubs. At long last we are well on the way to much longer days, shorter nights and the welcome return of our Summer migrants.