30th April 2013
Had a really enjoyable morning on the reserve, my first in quite a while and what a superb day. Willow warblers were everywhere, good numbers of whitethroat, a few sedge and reed warblers singing and 5 blackcaps at the feeders – 3 males and 2 females. A chiffchaff was singing at the north end of the long pool and Lew said he had seen a lesser whitethroat on the fence by the fishing pool.
There seem to be a pair of dabchick nesting on the fishing pool. I watched one bird carrying weed and a second bird calling to it as it approached. The swan was on her nest close by with the male patrolling. A common sandpiper flew across the pool and I saw two more on the south end of the long pool, plus a drake merganser.
So much to see today: reed buntings back singing on the tops of bushes, meadow pipits displaying, skylarks singing above and linnets flitting amongst the scented gorse. It really seems as if spring is on its way at last.
Still very few flowers for the end of April: found a few wild pansies on the dunes and the tiny rue-leaved saxifrage on the dispersal pads.
It has been a really nice day, just little cool breeze. This morning the birds were out in full song, snapped a Dunnock on the way to the feeders, there appears to be plenty about this year, counted 7 under the feeders.
Managed to catch a quick shot of a Common Sandpiper on the fishing pond, it’s been there a couple of days now.
In the afternoon had a stroll around Gillies, quite a few Small Tortoiseshell about, first this year, the one in the photo looks a bit worn, must have over wintered.
At Gillies pond there were a few Willow Warblers flitting in and out of the Willows over the pond to catch flies.
Also the local Moorhen has hatched a couple of young, photo of one being fed.
All the Warblers are returning, Reed, Willow, Grasshopper, both yesterday and today there were flocks of Willow Warblers passing through, not heard a Sedge yet.
No sign of any Natterjack Spawn, this cold weather must have set them back, normally the first strings would have been early April.
The Willow has been in blossom and the heads are starting to drop but no great numbers of honey bees, just the odd one or two. This time last year the place was buzzing with hundreds.
The slight increase in temperature brought out the insects which attracted lots of Swallows over the ponds.
Today we had a rare sight of six Blackcaps, three female and three male, on the feeders, they were enjoying some scraps of lamb. Bob noticed one with a yellow around it’s beak and wondered if it was pollen, the enlargement of the photo clearly shows it was.Yesterday I came across a male Blackcap about half a mile farther up the channel.
Found a Canada Goose and a Mallard Egg empty shells, looks like both consumed by Carrion Crow.
Bri and I have decided to ease back topping up the feeders soon; as many of the birds are now busy nesting etc.
The bullfinches were at the feeders today after an absence of a couple of weeks. Bri saw a male blackcap a few days ago whilst I was away and today there was a female blackcap in attendance. We have had a pair of long tailed tits feeding on a regular basis for a few weeks also. A few shelduck have been looking for nesting burrows on the heather moor as well. A very cold wind today…when is it going to get warmer ?
This morning I was watching what appeared to be two Swallows feeding over the fishing pond, took some shots and when down loaded they turned out to be one Swallow and one Sand Martin. Shots are not perfect but the bird species can clearly be seen.
At the feeders this morning a Chiffchaff crossed through the willow trees, they have been reported but it was the first I have seen.
The other day I mentioned about the Seed feeder with unknown hair, the next day it had been pulled off the tree and a couple of large lumps had been removed, it was refitted to the tree and this morning it had been completely stripped, see photo. Possible animal to reach the position would be a squirrel, will have to keep our eyes open.
I have been checking on the progress of the frog spawn and some has developed into tadpoles but was very surprised to find other deposits completely empty, only the jelly left on investigation found many leeches attached, see photo. It’s a sitting duck for these creatures and they are being found in all the ponds,
A while since I’ve blogged; Brian does an excellent job of keeping us informed and entertained with his words and pics but felt the need today.
The last week has seen a shift in temperatures and the appearance of old friends; wheatears are back in abundance (last to leave us and first to come back) chiffchaffs, blackcaps and redpolls and my first swallow today.
Female common toads and their hitch hikers (male toads) are off to the ponds in their hundreds and the mute swan is sitting hard in the reeds on the fishing pond.
How great is nature!.
Old friend died last week, far too early. Pay our last respects tomorrow.
Treasure what you have, wildlife/family /friends, they are not there forever.
Spring must have sprung, saw my first Swallow yesterday, flew over the fishing pond a couple of times before continuing it’s journey north.
The Common toads are out in force along the main path, picked up a bucket load before Bri drives along in his wagon. The Carrion Crows are having a feast the place is littered with half eaten carcasses.
The vandals were on site again and ripped off part of a gate and fence, see photo, only reason I can think why, is to allow the dogs free access when hunting.
As mentioned in yesterdays blog, the rain did fetch out the Common Toads, they are scattered all down the paths and the Long pond is full, so it looks like another bumper year for them.
Lew told me today he had seen a Blackcap at the feeders and as he was watching a Water Rail came out to feed off the grain. This afternoon I returned and both the Blackcap and Water Rail were still there see photos, we have often heard the Water Rail and Bob found one dead a couple of years ago, but this is a first for me, they are normally very shy.
Another unusual find today were a couple of Fieldfare, I had spotted one this morning but was not sure and then this afternoon found a pair searching for food, don’t often find them this time of year.
On the south feeders there is a long 40mm diam tube made of seed, it is hung about five foot off the ground and today there were quite a few white hairs about 50mm long, stuck onto the seed. What are they from, any ideas??
Finally found the Swans nest on the fishing pond, the cygnets should be due about the 15th May.
I saw my first Common Toad of 2013 this morning and with this drop of rain this afternoon no doubt will entice a few more tomorrow.
Also one of Brian’s first lambs was out and about, they are normally born later than most in the area, but this year the cold weather has lasted much longer than usual, so lets hope it starts to warm up.
Past one of his Highland cows have a good rub on one of the marker posts, see the photo she is really enjoying it.
The mornings are still extremely cold for this time of year but a few birds are starting to drift in. On the fence running up to the tip were three Wheatears,, it’s the first i have seen this year. The colours are vibrant and the white rump is very distinctive when they fly.
Further along the Airfield fence was a small flock of Meadow Pipits, one shot shows the very long back claw.
The male swan has been on the fishing pond on his own for a couple of days now, so the female may be sitting, will have to have a good search.
Oystercatchers are pairing up, one pair have put a claim on one of the small islands, another couple were flying around making a lot of noise.
The Natterjacks normally start laying about now but with the very cold nights I think they may be late this year.