Springing Along Nicely!

 

There are green fuses and lines of golden catkins, beams of sunlight and blue sky…

And throughout the woods the birds are in full voice.  Pichu! Pichu!  Twirling about my head in the branches, a very smart Coal Tit is calling for a Lady


 
And nearby, Blue Tits are chattering and chasing through the elder bushes and the trees as they decide whom is going to pair with whom;

 

from various clumps of Brambles or low branches, Wrens pop up and declare briefly in between scurrying around foraging or scouting for choice nesting spots – the fellas usually build several nests to tempt the ladies with, the Lady having the final say on which nest is used. 

All around the woods and margins, the air is full of birdsong - after the ‘Fool’s Spring’ of unseasonably warm weather in February, spring proper has now commenced on my Local patch, proceeding at a somewhat more sedate pace than last year, when there was definite air of ‘catching up’ after a very cold winter.

This year, spring began with the Frog Ball in the little pond just inside the woods a month or so earlier than last year (24 February vs 25 March last year).  The number of Frogs seen were down, even on last year’s count – with it having been so dry, the pond has become very shallow, however by the end of the ball, there was quite a bit of frogspawn in the deeper areas and we have since had some rain so the water level has improved – hopefully, with kinder weather, the frogspawn will survive and develop.

 

From various perches around the woods, Robins have been declaring their territories with song,

 

however these small feisty birds do not welcome interlopers on ‘their’ patch and one afternoon I watched and listened to two having a fairly serious debate, after a while, with no feathers ruffled, the trespasser moved on. 

Higher up in the tree canopy I have been regularly hearing the Great Spotted Woodpeckers chattering to each other as well as giggles from the Green Woodpeckers.  Brief glimpses have been had, although I have not yet heard any drumming.

In addition to the woodpeckers, I have also been hearing and have had the pleasure of watching a Nuthatch both calling, patrolling and foraging amongst a select few trees.  

I know that there were little Nuthatches last year, so am hopeful again for this!

 Very often when I have been in the woods, I have heard the mewing of the local Common Buzzards and watched them as they soar overhead. 

When I am out in the meadow, better views are had, as I watch first one calling and looking, then to be joined by (so far) up to four others.  They then circle and gain height, eventually discussing partners, with aerobatics occurring between suitors, all the while circling and soaring, until they depart in singles or pairs in different directions. 

Within the woods, Wood Anemones have begun to flower,


 
And the Bluebells are just starting to come into bloom.
 

The woodland floor is also covered in ground ivy, stinging nettles and wild garlic mustard and little swirls of Campion leaves.

Outside around the woodland and meadow margins, the birds have been no less vocal. Here and there Dunnocks have been perching up in full voice.


 
Whilst from deep within the bramble banks the clicking and purring of Long Tailed Tit pairs can be heard as they collect materials for nest building.
 

I stood one afternoon (from a respectful distance I might add) and watched a pair busy at work.


Their nests are constructed from moss, lichen and spiders’ web, all woven securely around strong stems forming a cosy weatherproof ball.  I have my fingers crossed for them, as in previous years, the nests I have seen have all been predated.

A Magpies nest, however, is not so picturesque!  Along the tree line the far side of the brook, I noticed an apparent ‘tangle’ in the trees.  There are a lot of Magpies in the area as well as other Corvids and I had heard a fair amount of corvid bickering going on. 


 
Whilst not as pretty as the Long Tailed Tits, it is certainly functional – even having a roof on top!

One mild afternoon mid March, I stopped by the two Common Lizard colonies to see if anyone was awake.  I was not disappointed, watching several Lizards basking at both colonies, with a range of shapes, sizes and colours! 

I suspect on the milder days, they have been out and about, I also glimpsed one that had recently lost it’s tail, now wondering which of the local predators would be fast enough! 

The trees along the brook are all in bud, or are blooming, in readiness for new arrivals! This year the Chiff Chaffs have arrived back a few weeks earlier than last. 

They have been calling well and at the weekend I counted five, some of whom appeared to be investigating ‘traditional’ nest sites. 

The warmer temperatures have also encouraged a few butterflies to emerge; I have recently seen Brimstones patrolling furiously along the bank of the brook as well as a lone Small Tortoiseshell.  One afternoon though I had to watch where I was treading as there were quite a few Peacocks basking before taking to the air as I passed.


 
These, as well as a number of Comma’s were busy, when in flight they would be tumbling through the air as they searched for a partner or retired back to the ground to bask in the sunshine.
 

Stinging Nettles grow along the stretch of bank where they have been flying, so I am hopeful of seeing Caterpillars again some weeks from now.

Many of the trees are now coming into blossom, with Blackthorn, Hawthorn, wild Cherries and Apple blooming in readiness tor the Bees to get busy.

I also have seen quite a few huge Bumble bees about and have also been watching the tiny (Tawny I think) Miner Bees emerging in the woodland

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I simply love this time of year, when we get to see everything gradually waking up and arriving back from warmer climes - now I'll be on the lookout (or listen!) for Blackcaps and Whitethroats, as well as the Swifts...

 

 

 

 

 

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