Charging Into Summer!


I was only away from my Local patch for a month, but what a change!!  The first weekend in May I went a-wandering; where the birds had previously been in courting mode, now they were out foraging for little hungry mouths. My first encounter was with a Great Tit who had a beakfull of bugs

He was waiting to go back to the nest - as he flew off, a nearby movement caught my eye, shimmying up a nearby tree trunk was a Treecreeper, also with a beak-full.

He (or she) continued to forage for a moment before flitting off and I spotted a second Treecreeper in forage mode as well.

I watched from a respectful distance as the pair of them went to and fro for a while, although they were quite fast when heading back to wherever the nest was – I didn’t investigate closely for fear of disturbance.

The woodland floor has now turned green with wild garlic mustard shoots, stinging nettles and splashes of colour from Red Campion.

The Elderflower bushes are full of sweet smelling blossom and every bough has new fresh green shoots unfurling.

Continuing along I could hear one of the Nuthatches calling; I headed towards where they nested last year and watched her taking beakfulls of wriggly green caterpillars into the nesthole. 

Whilst I waited I was being serenaded by a couple of Blackcaps which like that corner of the woods and I watched one for a while as he followed a female around. 

 Somewhere hidden nearby a Chiff Chaff was calling and from various bramble patches Wrens were also declaring.

Out in the meadow the dead stems of winter were being consumed by fresh lush grasses, whorls of thistle leaves, common hogweed leaves and the lacy foliage of Cow Parsley – which in some places was already in bloom.

In amongst this were little stars of Stitchwort

and sapphire blue patches of Germander Speedwell. 

Here and there I could also see black spotted leaves as the Meadow Orchids were beginning to wake up again and along the brook bees were taking advantage of the Dead Nettle flowers

And a few of the Common Lizards had ventured out to bask,

as well as a fresh looking Red Admiral.

Across the bank and around the edges of the woods were clouds of white Hawthorn blossom. 

The Long Tailed Tits’ nest I had previously watched was whole but empty, so I am guessing that they had all successfully fledged – previous years I have seen the nests built and then seemingly predated.  In the trees behind the brook I stood listening to and watching a lone Chiff Chaff calling

as well as one of the local Buzzards in soaring mode.

A week or so later and I had heard ‘kick’ from the part of the woods closest to home, as well as having had a few visits to the garden – the Great Spotted Woodpeckers had a nest!

I watched briefly as both parents made repeated visits, the chicks at this stage were not peeping out of the nest.

Further along the edge of the woods, while I was again watching the Nuthatch, I could hear the Green Woodpeckers yaffling and chattering; I never did see either, however given some years back I watched Great Spotted Woodpeckers whilst standing near to a Green Woodpecker nest without realising until I saw them fly onto the tree, they are masters of secrecy!

There were still no youngsters showing at the Nuthatch nest hole, however the adult was being kept busy – taking food in and taking poo out!

Out in the meadow it was warm, however the butterflies were enjoying the weather – Orange Tip males were flying furiously along the line of the brook, occasionally duelling and occasionally finding a female.

Here and there Brimstones were also on patrol or taking a break

And there was plenty of other insect life emerging like these Shield bugs.

With Chiff Chaffs and Blackcaps already having returned, I was waiting for the third of the regular warblers to appear and at almost the same time as previous years, I heard a familiar song and Brrrp from the two areas I usually see them – the Whitethroats were back!

Another week on and throughout the woods there were wafts of Wild Garlic and across the woodland floor beautiful swathes of delicate white flowers and rich green leaves.

The Great Spotted Woodpeckers were by now trying to coax the youngsters to leave the nest, perching nearby with tasty morsels

Resisting temptation, the reluctant chicks were staying put though!

Judging by the chattering I heard from home, then the occasional calls from further away in the woods, I believe they fledged the final week of May.

I saw no more of the Treecreepers, however, whilst the Nuthatch hole was devoid of activity, I recalled seeing an Adult and youngster in my garden, so spent a while just watching and listening in the woods.  I was not disappointed as for a brief while I got to watch Mum feeding a youngster before they moved tree!

I also watched a rather harassed looking Blue Tit leaving a nearby tree on poo removal duties.

Out in the meadow, where patches of the growing grasses were now sprinkled with gold, 

Blackcaps were in full voice – one morning I stood watching a singing tree for quite some while, I was finally rewarded with a glimpse of the singer  -

The Whitethroats were also still declaring on both territories, although they were also regularly returning to spots deep in the undergrowth.

All the while, from deep within stands of Blackthorn and Birch, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins and Chiff Chaffs could be heard singing.  From time to time I would hear the clicking and bubbling of Long Tailed Tits and one afternoon I was lucky enough to watch a sizeable family outing of youngsters and adults as they gradually moved along the treeline.These two youngsters made use of the powerline to perch and figure where the rest of the family were

And this youngster perched momentarily in a big salix right next to me.. 

Encounters which added to the smile from that stroll which had included watching two Broad Bodied Chasers on patrol and at rest.

Suddenly, May had gone and June had arrived…  A wander to see what was new and what had passed was in order.  The Great Spotted Woodpeckers had fledged, but another first for the year was found in the woods, Speckled Wood Butterflies basking or tumbling around each other in the dappled green light. 

These appear to be early for my patch as usually they are one of the later butterflies that I see.  Out in the meadow, a few further ‘firsts of the year’ awaited me, a hint of pink in the grasses and I spied one of the Meadow Orchids just coming into bloom.

The vegetation in the meadow is getting quite tall and there are plenty of Shield bugs, Soldier and Cardinal beetles all starting to get busy, but as yet I hadn’t seen butterflies other than Orange Tips, Brimstones and the occasional Red Admiral or Peacock. There were plenty of zooming flying creatures just above the grasses, but suddenly there was a small fluttering – my first Brown Argus of the year!

I watched this one for some time as it flew, patrolled and perched.  Nearby and refusing to settle I spotted a Small Copper, which was rapidly joined in flight by a second for a tumbling traverse of the grasses, as I watched, another less fiery orange caught my eye, a Small Heath Butterfly.

This one patrolled and perched and seemed quite relaxed until another appeared, when another aerial chase ensued. As I wandered around I also watched a Lattice Heath having a spot of bother with a midgie

and a Mother Shipton also taking a quick rest.  

 I had again heard the Whitethroats and on the first territory I had watched the male both declaring and gathering bugs. 

The second territory, which includes a traditionally favoured area of salix, also had two foraging and declaring… 

The next thing I know I will be looking for juvenile Whitethroats as the rest of the Butterflies begin to arrive! 




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