All Change! (But Mother Nature Carries on Regardless)


Somebody slammed the brakes on…  There was me with so many plans for this year of where to go and what to watch and then suddenly (with good reason) the world closed in.  Gone was the comforting un-thought about everyday routine, suddenly the rumblings in the news had changed all our lives and a rapid adjustment to the new normal of working from home, staying in, staying safe and dodging an unseen deadly enemy was needed. 

With cancelled plans and wishes scattered around, instead of taking my little Local Patch for granted (as we often can with the nearby and convenient) it has given me a chance to watch the woodland and meadow wake up properly from the winter, noticing the little changes from week to week; so here is a slightly overdue local patch catch up for March – I have seen rather a lot, so April is covered in a separate blog!

When I last wrote, the Frog Ball had just finished and I had begun to notice the first Primroses appearing and then blooming.

Along the woodland margins and inside the woods as well, as the weather became milder, big Bumble Bees began to haphazardly fly, from time to time finding sustenance in the salix blossom or from early flowering ground ivy.

Very often I was hearing Wrens declaring from all the usual territories and one morning I watched a busy pair near the brook foraging for nesting materials whilst one frequently popped up to let all-comers know this was ‘their spot’.

From around mid- March I always start to listen for the return of the Chiff Chaffs – this year has been no different.  Last year I first heard and saw them around the 23rd March, however, this year I heard two on 13 march and then actually saw them on the 19th, listening to up to eight more in ‘traditional’ territories – something I have noticed over the years with returning Warblers is that they do have their favourite spots!

As the weather warmed, I began to see a few slightly tired Butterflies emerging – Small Tortoiseshells were one of the first, 

these were also joined by a few Peacocks and

 quite a few Commas.

Many of our butterflies from the last brood of the previous year will overwinter in a sheltered spot and begin to emerge in the spring to start the next generation.  Whilst these may have looked a little tired, once warmed up they were off and looking for partners, avidly patrolling and fiercely duelling mid-air with rivals. Occasionally a glimpse would also be had of fiercely flying Brimstones as well.

Meanwhiles, not to be outdone by the calling Chiff Chaffs, our native birds were beginning to get busy! Great Tits could be heard warming up the vocals from many perches within and without the woods,

Dunnocks could be heard in fine voice as well – these are no way as ‘dull’ as they may appear – having rather complicated love lives!

Blue Tits could be seen prospecting for suitable nest sites or chasing and tumbling around after each other in rather energetic courtship pursuits;

Robins could be heard in full song as they declared their territories

And I watched and listened to two pairs of Nuthatches as they called, courted and decided on nest sites.

with a treat one day of watching a foraging Treecreeper very close to where I was standing!

Along by the brook, as well as the Chiff Chaffs calling, there was the tinkling chatter of the charm of Goldfinches as well as the bubbles and squeaks from Long Tailed Tits. 

In other years, I have seen pairs build nests very close to the path, however these always appear to have been predated – this year I believe that nest building has taken place in more secluded spots, so I am hoping to see little family groups out and about soon.

An unexpected treat on one stroll was firstly hearing, then watching a Marsh Tit as he flew along the tree line with occasional pauses. 

I have not seen these locally for the past couple of years – there was some degree of disturbance in the woods from humans where I last knew there to be a breeding pair, so this sighting gives some hope that, however secretive, they have found somewhere quieter and favourable. 

On one of the last March wanders, as well as keeping an eye out for Buzzards, groups of whom had been watched high in the overhead as they began their courtships, a further treat was had.  I normally see several Kestrels on my drive to and from work… however as I’m now working from home, had been missing my Kestrel fix (is it just me, but when driving, does anyone else yell Morning /Evening Kes/Busby to regulars they may see on regular routes?  No?.... Just me then…?) Anyhow I digress.. Floating overhead, not hovering, but more in surveying mode and scoping out the potential prey properties of the locality, a male Kestrel made a few investigatory circuits….

Meanwhiles time ambled on, with Bluebells beginning to blue up, but not quite bloom, green buds began to swell on the trees and boughs gradually becoming full of hinted blossom, across the woodland floor, little white stars began to raise their faces to the spring sunshine (Wood Anemones.) 



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