Saturday, 18 April 2015

17th April - We'll Teach Him What We've Learned

Its still dry and sunny but the temperature has dropped courtesy of a brisk north-easterly wind.  There was also a bit more cloud about, and when I set off in the afternoon the sunshine was rather watery.

When I reached the horse paddock opposite the recreation ground I scanned through the field.  As I did so I could sense something by my side and as I looked round I disturbed a Treecreeper from the base of the oak tree.  It flew around the trunk but eventually came back around giving me some excellent views

It was investigating some of the cracks in the bark which may be suitable for a nest.  There was a Nuthatch in the tree as well, calling from the top, but impossible to see.

I walked on, a pair of Bullfinch flew out of the hedge at the junction with Gradwell, there usual spot, the piping call giving them away, and then the quick burst across the road.

I turned into Gradwell and a Great tit was really giving it something from the upright branches.  So intense was it in singing, it allowed me to get quite close.

There was no sign of the Swallow around the stables, but as I crossed the field I could see it flying low over the ground.  I watched it for a while to see if it was still on its own, and it was, I couldn't see any other swallows.  That now makes 9 days a Lonely Boy.

Walking into Old Down, a Wren burst into song and a Chiffchaff sang above me.  As I approached the Great Tit tree, I noticed a Grey Squirrel on the ground and it was being mobbed by a Great Tit.  The squirrel made its way off, and I wondered if they were still building.  Then in the Holly bush I saw a Great Tit with a large mouthful of moss.  I watched and waited, soon it appeared close to the hole.

But it seemed unsure where to go.

It then decided to go higher, and seemed to be interested in an opening higher up.

But still did not seem sure enough to go in.

Finally it did

Just the tail left.

I then walked around to the owl tree.  At first I panicked because I couldn't see the tree, then realised I was in the wrong place, I then found him, and he watched me.

I walked on, and made my way to the pond.  I wanted to get there while there was still some warmth in the sunshine, so the sheltered spots might turn something up.  When I arrived the drake Mallard was sunning himself on the jetty.  He was on his own, so the female must be on eggs, soon we will have the patter of tiny ducklings, and the drake will move on as he plays no part in the upkeep.

A Moorhen walked gently through the cuckoo flower at the far side of the pond.

I then flushed another Moorhen from the reeds, and I suspected she must have a nest, I looked and sure enough there was a nest with six eggs.  The nest was made of dead reeds, and the eggs were the same colour with brown spots, perfectly camouflaged.

I left the pond and went back into the wood.  I took the perimeter path through the hazel and Bluebells.  With all the fallen trees and broken branches it is proving ideal for Wrens.  They seem to be everywhere, their song ringing out, and the whirr of brown as they fly low and then dive into cover.  This one was feeding along the branches and amongst the Bluebells.

As I came to the end of the perimeter path and made it onto the main footpath I could hear the calls of Kestrels.  Looked ahead and there was a pair mating.  I couldn't believe it, Saturday was the first time I had seen this, and here it was again.  This time though it was all over before I could get the camera ready.  The male flew off leaving the female to adjust her feathers

I turned back onto the main path, and then took the diagonal towards Brislands.  In the open beech area sheltered clumps of Bluebells were beginning to show the carpet.  So here we go the first bluebell pictures of 2015.

Another area of broken and fallen trees provides plenty of cover and warmth.  As I walked through I could see a Robin begging and calling, to its side I could see another, and I knew what was coming.  This was a female begging to be fed.

She flapped her wings and begged with her mouth open.

And the male duly arrived with her present.

Then tenderly gave it to her.

She then ate it.

This ritual doubles up as a display of bonding and practical way of feeding the female so she can develop a good number of eggs.

I came out of the wood and walked along Brislands.  A Yellowhammer sang from the oak tree, and a little further along I saw a Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush feeding close together.  A chance for comparisons, but it was not to be, the Song Thrush spooking first.

The Ash trees along Brislands are flowering and beginning to develop leaves. 

The Oak next to it though is a long way behind, the buds only showing the slightest bit of green emerging.

This is the first time since I have been keeping the blog that this has happened.  There is an old folk lore that says "Oak before Ash we are in for a splash, Ash before Oak we are in for a soak"  I looked into this a little more deeply, and it seems that in the last 44 years Ash has only leafed 4 times before the Oak.  What the folk lore means is that if this happens it will be a wet summer. I can tell you that in 2012, the Oak leafed first and it was horrendous summer, so lets not hold much sway to this.  The science is, that the Oak leaf development is dependent on temperature, while the Ash is dependent on the amount of daylight.  The end of March, early April was cold, but we have had a lot of sunshine, so this is probably the reason.  I hope!

I made my way home after a short, but interesting walk.

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