the dry and sunny weather continued through the early part of the week, although the breeze has been from the north which adds an edge to the warmth of the sun. In the garden things have definitely moved on, both pairs of Robins seem to have young in the nest, and they must be very grateful for the supply of mealworms. It is interesting to watch the interaction, the hedge Robins being the more dominant, while the fence Robins will wait their turn. The pairs themselves seem to have difficulty identifying their partners, and there will be a little squaring up before they recognise each other.
There are also now two Blackbird pairs, "Scruffy" (our Blackbird from last year that we have watched turn from a bedraggled bird back to splendid male), appears to have a brood, and is collecting mealworms too, the other pair are a little behind, as we saw them mating early in the week. Unfortunately the effort of parenthood is having the same effect on Scruffy, and there are signs of feather wear once again. I can only assume this has something to do with the nest location.
I am sure that in the next few days we will see fledgling Robins, the concern then will be about the local Sparrowhawk, twice this week we have witnessed the sight of it coming through the garden at phenomenal speed, fortunately not successful and as it disappeared the sound of the various alarm calls.
As I last reported our House martins have been seen around the old nest sites since last Thursday the 13th, 10days earlier than I have ever recorded them here. This morning they were back again.
Not only are they early coming back, but they are starting to work on the nest earlier than they they have ever returned before.
Usually what happens is the House Sparrows move in to the old nest at the end of March to early April. When the House Martins finally arrive back and look to use the nest they find it occupied, and on several occasions we have seen Sparrows holding House Martins wings as they fight them off. Once the House Sparrows have fledged the House Martions return for their first broods.
This year though while the House Sparrows were preparing the nest it fell down, and consequently the House Sparrows have moved somewhere else. As a result the House Martins are now free to rebuild, and this is what they were doing this morning.
As always there was lots of chatter as they brought in mud and started to lsy it on what little was left of the old nest.
The mud is laid in place from the bill, then pushed in with the feet to ensure it sticks.
There then ensues more chatter, calling to the mate that is flying around the house.
Then off to allow the partner to do its share, and off to collect more building materials.
I had to say goodbye to a family member this afternoon, we did not always see eye to eye, but I always admired her spirit through much adversity, may she be at peace now.
later with the sun still out I took the chance to get out and clear the air. There was still a cool breeze, but with the sun and the emerging leaves everything looked beautiful along Brislands.
Blackbirds and Song Thrushes sang as I headed down the lane, and along the verge every so often a Robin would appear, no doubt looking to feed nestlings somewhere. I turned into Gradwell, and stopped to check the stables for Swallows, but there was no sign. I took the footpath out towards Old Down, in the hedge there were a pair of Bullfinch, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew past me. At the clearing in the hedge I scanned the paddocks once again and found three Swallows flying around the old stable, and then out over the fields. Once again the Swallow challenge has started.
Walking across the field to the wood a Pheasant was slowly walking through the green shoots, at the back the Ash trees still to show any sign of leaves.
Walking into the wood I was greeted by a Wren, that was originally right next to the path, but flew off to a safer location as I passed.
In the late afternoon light the wood has different views all around. To the west the darkness and lime greens highlighted by the back light from the sun.
While to the south the silver birches and Larches with their new leaves are a cascade of greens and straight lines.
I could hear Coal Tits within the Larches and Blue Tits were singing either side of me. One stopped on a branch quite close by.
I stopped to see if the Tawny Owl was in its tree, and could just make it out while keeping my distance. There was no sign of any other owl present so hopefully they do still have young owlets.
A little further along I heard the song of a Firecrest, and found a male moving through the branches of a Hazel tree checking each leaf for possible food.
There now seems to be no rhyme or reason as to where they will turn up. On my last visit there was no sign of the birds at the pond, this location was not too far away, so it could be possible that this was one of those birds. Finally it came from behind the branches to give a better view.
It was quite mobile, and sang as it made its way through the various trees, finally moving just too far away for anymore photographs.
I left the wood and crossed the field, heading for Kitwood. The view to the north east was quite spectacular, and emphasised by the tractor ridges in the field.
I crossed the small meadow to get to the road, unfortunately it has already been cut, it would seem that this is once again not going to be a good place for butterflies if the grass continues to be cut frequently. One piece of good news, the stile to the road has been replaced with a metal gate, which I have to admit is much safer than having to jump down into the road.
I headed now for the pond, but stopped to admire the trees in blossom at the start of Lyeway Road.
Walking up to the pond, I always check the large grass area on the right as we approach. Nothing much to report here this evening on the grass, but in the inaccessible trees at the back there was a Willow Warbler singing. A quite infrequent bird around here so it was annoying I just couldn't see it.
I walked around the pond where at the edge in the shallows there were hundreds of tadpoles.
Another change was the flowering Bog Bean in amongst the horsetails and Iris shoots.
I took the chance to take some panoramic shots of the pond, at first looking from behind the jetty, unfortunately into the light.
Then from almost the opposite side with the sun behind me.
There was no sign or sound of the Firecrest, but I could hear Goldcrests, and of course a Chiffchaff. The Chiffchaff was quite close and was quite happy for me to approach closely. Clearly not too concerned as it watched me walk up.
Then just ignored me.
From the pond I walked back into Old Down past the cottage. A little further in the Bluebells were out and in the evening light were taking on an ultra violet hue.
Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps sang as I walked down the main path. At the crossroads I had a decision to make, do I walk on back along Brislands, or return the way I came and have another go for the Swallows?
Of course I went for the Swallows and headed back across the field towards the stables where I could only find one Swallow but it came quite close. I am sure there will be plenty more opportunities through the summer but for now this is the best this year!
Not a bad walk this evening, with the dry conditions in the wood it was a pleasure to walk through Old Down with all the birds in song. At this time of year, when there is sunshine and birdsong it is so uplifting.