Then April Arrived...

 

Then April arrived. 

With an overwhelming amount of news bulletins, statistics, frightening information and continuing to adjust to the new ‘normal’, my local patch wander has given something of a respite, reset and refresh – Nature really has become, for certain health aspects, the best medicine… There is something very comforting in watching a familiar clock ticking away the seasons with all the players, whether flora or fauna making their expected timed entrances and simply getting on with it… 

 
Green shoots began to burst their buds,

With more Wood Anemones appearing, now joined by the brilliant yellow of Lesser Celandine

And Greater Stitchwort putting in an appearance.

The Bluebell buds swelled, in preparation for a grand display,

Whilst the Blackthorn came into bloom and provided food for Peacocks

and Small Tortoiseshells as well as numerous Bees, hoverflies and other minibeasts.

Here and there hints of brilliant pink appeared as Scarlet Campion came into flower.

The woods, by now were full of birdsong with Song Thrush, Wrens, Blackbirds, Robins and Chiff Chaffs all competing –

 There was one particular song I was listening for – the Blackcap – another returning warbler.  Sure enough on 6 April, one was heard and then after some patient waiting (not too onerous a wait, given that I was listening to the most beautiful birdsong) seen. 

These too had returned to familiar territories and I heard several more along that day’s walk.

That more folk were out and about on my local patch was becoming evident, with well trodden paths appearing and also myself having to be aware of keeping my distance from other walkers and cyclists. One notable downside though are the quantities of dog poo plastic bags which have been thrown into trees and bushes and then just left dangling, worse still is feeling an unmistakeable ‘squelch’ as…

 Back to the wildlife… On one walk, a somewhat cross looking Robin surveyed me curiously, wandering at the increase of ‘umanbeans,

whilst I was also glared at by a grumpy Blue Tit as it was foraging for food!

Along one path, a vocal Wren drilled then sang at me as I passed to distract me from a probable nest, whilst further into the woods another spent time declaring and having a ‘discussion’ with a rival whilst availing itself of various perches around me.

As I watched the Wrens, a flutter of brown and gold caught my eye – a box fresh Speckled Wood butterfly.

Momentarily it took a break, before sensing a possible rival or incomer to it’s space and taking flight again.

Further along the path, I watched the Nuthatches tend to a nest hole – possibly taking shifts to sit on eggs.

At the far end of the woods the Bluebells were putting out a gorgeous perfume as well as a lovely display.

I paused to inhale and admire before continuing onwards to the meadow, where blue stars of tiny Germander Speedwell and the occasional tall Buttercup lit up the grass.

Out in the meadow I usually wander along by the brook, pausing at certain spots to listen for or watch certain ‘residents’.  The Chiff chaffs were still in fine voice

As were a number of Great Tits, although some of these also appeared to be foraging for food.

I peered carefully in one area in the hope of seeing some characters I’d not seen since last autumn – it was warm enough and there were two brave Common lizards basking!

I later checked a second known colony, however on that day it was a no show. 

At the far end of the meadow, it turns to woodland again, a mix of venerable Oak trees, Hawthorn and Blackthorn within and along the margins.  Coming from a large Blackthorn, which was in full bloom, was a much loved song – a Blackcap in full voice! 

I just stood for ages with a very silly smile as I listened!  Overhead and throughout that walk I also watched up to seven Buzzards floating around on thermals as they discussed who was to partner with whom in a somewhat leisurely fashion. 

Another week passes and I have another encounter with the Male Kestrel – this time though he has been sent out on a mission – no social distancing compliant supermarket queue for him – instead a successful hunt and a flight home with talons full of food for hungry youngsters.

Horse Chestnuts are coming into bloom and I note several descendants of a tree that was felled a few years ago (it was rotten and unsafe, but I was no less sad to see it’s demise despite the reasons) have begun to mature beautifully and also blossom as well. 

Wild Garlic Mustad and Cow Parsley are also beginning to bloom – which insects are taking advantage of,

This male Orange Tip Butterfly making good use of the Garlic Mustard. 

Within the woods, whilst waiting to see how the Nuthatches are doing, I get to enjoy a personal oratorio from a Blackcap

 Before watching he and a female begin to get acquainted. 

Elsewhere in the woods, there is the occasional song from the Song Thrushes, however, judging by this one, there are also hungry mouths being fed!

 The Nuthatches by now are feeding youngsters – bringing back all manner of insects in turn

 or doing a ‘shift change’ when one has been inside awhile sorting out the youngsters!

Outside the woods, another pause and peer at the second Lizard colony yields a silly grin as I spot three of them basking – this one looking rather chilled, whilst onother was just about the grumpiest Lizard I think I’ve seen!

In the far section of the woods, things are no less quiet, with birds in full voice as they forage for food for youngsters or continue to try and attract a mate.  Closeby on one walk, I watch and listen to a Wren

Whilst on another occasion a movement in the shade catches my eye – a Treecreeper flitting as it collects bugs. 


Keep your eyes and ears open – you never know what you may see or hear!

 

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