Monday, 26 March 2012

25th March - And the Songbirds Are Singing

Once again the weather was clear, fine and sunny, but as this was the first day of British Summer Time, it felt much fresher outside in the morning.  I took a slow walk with my father up Brislands and across the field into Old Down Wood.  Surprisingly the woods were quiet, with the dominant song coming once again from the wrens.  With the different angle of the sun the Larch trees instantly became noticeable, and it is amazing how the leaves have developed so quickly over the last week, the lime green sprouts showing well against the dark brown of the branches.

We checked on the Tawny Owl, and for the first time it was unsettled by our presence and flew off from the tree.  As it did the bird song changed almost instantly to alarm call.  It flew silently around the trees and up into a much higher pine.

The water in the frog spawn pool is getting even lower, but the tadpoles are now free of the jelly and just wriggling on the surface.  There will need to be rain soon to top the pool up if they are to survive.

We walked slowly back through the wood towards Brislands.  Buzzards circled overhead with a maximum of 3 at one time, their arrival was signalled by their characteristic mewing call.  Alarm calls from the songbirds signalled another raptor, this time a Sparrowhawk displaying above the tree tops.  When the raptors had moved on the song continued.  You could still hear Siskins and Redpoll in the top of the larches, and lower down Chiffcahffs, Robins and Wrens sang as we walked out of the wood.

Today was much clearer from an air quality perspective, and you could see very clearly down across the downs towards the west.  It being the weekend the Watercress line was running.  We had been hearing the train's whistles all morning but as we walked into the Manor Farm field by the footpath we managed to see one in full steam.

With weather such as we are currently experiencing, it is expected that the migrant birds will roll in.  Unfortunately it would appear it is exactly the opposite.  Reports from the observatories on the south coast, and other migration viewpoints show that there is very little movement.  The high pressure that is sitting over the UK and responsible for the wonderful fine weather is actually acting as a blocker for migration with little wind at all.  What movement there is seems to be in a trickle along the south coast.  Undaunted though I sat in the back garden scanning the sky for anything unusual, and was rewarded with a distant view of a Red Kite at 13:15, probably in the area of Old Down Wood.  It never came any closer, but was the lone highlight of the afternoon, and was probably one of the local birds.

The good weather though has encouraged the local birds to start declaring territory, and there is no bird more persistent that our resident Chaffinch male.  Last year this bird sang constantly from morning to night from April until July.  He has two main songs identifiable by their endings, they either go "doritto" or "pretty".  It is lovely to have him back, but I am sure that by May when he starts up at 5.00am we will have had more than enough.

The moon is currently in a a slim crescent phase, and is lit with "earthshine".  In the early evening light it was providing a nice end to the day.  Unfortunately I was not able to capture the moon last month when Jupiter and Venus were close, but I did take the chance this evening to at least get it with Jupiter.

Above them shining very brightly was Venus, this is the brightest light in the evening sky and after Venus comes Jupiter.  If you can observe Jupiter with a telescope or steady binoculars it is also possible to see the Galilean moons.  Unfortunately my camera lens is just not that good.  Othe planets viewable looking to the south but much later in the evening are Mars to the east, and Saturn to the south east

The moon also provides a lovely view in this phase, and if you look you can see how the cartoon moons get their human faces with the shadows forming a nose and mouth.


  1. Some wonderful pictures as always Chris. Perticularly like the Steam train,chaffinch singing,battling pheasants,wren and the night sky. The wren I have heard all around lately which always fills me with joy..but 34 males, thats just darn greedy!:) I had a day off on Friday last to see a gig in Poole,so I thought I might visit Arne on Friday and Blashford Lakes on Saturday as I was staying over. Weather perfect but a little quieter than of late due to winter migrants that had left and not much in the way of summer ones due to the weather further south as you well know. still some wonderful sights..peacock,brimstone,comma,small copper,chiffchaff,goosander,firecrest,goldcrest,pike..sunbathing! A fabulous weekend plus a second reed bunting turning up on my semi urban birdfeeders on Sunday...The BTO has recently recorded more sightings in gardens to reassure my disbelief! Keep up the good work
    All the best

  2. Thanks again Ian, I really like Blashford but haven't spent as much time there as I would like. Reed Bunting would be a mega tick for me this year!


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