Sunday, 27 March 2011

A longing for colour and form

THE long, dark winter heightens our awareness of colour and new life in spring.  As a result of this, many blogs right now relate to the excitement of finding the first butterfly, spotting a summer bird or a flower.  And so here are some of my examples, first colt's-foot and pussy willow:


Violets, blackthorn blossom and early rockrose flowers:

A coot making waves:

Scenic ducks...

And finally little grebe chasing its shaddow...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The early dawn chorus

IF you wake up at 05:10 (as I did this morning) then, even though it is still dark, the birds have already started to sing their dawn chorus.  Well, I say birds, but in fact only the blackbirds were proclaiming their territories today.

The blackbird's song is one of the finest that we can hear in this country, with its clear, strident notes tailing off at the end of each phrase.  I tried to listen to see if phrases were repeated, but sleep got the better of me.

To hear the song go to: RSPB's blackbird song

At this time of year only our resident birds are singing in the countryside and gardens, so now is a good time to start to learn to distinguish one from another if you are new to this game.

I was at home today and was surprised to notice a female blackbird collecting grubs in the neighbours garden - this means that there must be nestlings already.  At the top of this page is a photo I took last summer of a male with insects ready to feed to his nestlings.

For a little bit more about birdsong visit:

The cherry blossom in our garden is wonderful - there is an amazing buzz and hum as honeybees enjoy this early source of nectar.  With the flowers and insects come the birds, looking for food - such as this blue tit:

P.S. You can also hear blackbirds sing in the evening!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Prima rosa

In an undisturbed pasture, under the shelter of a thick hedge, the first primroses have appeared...


The name primrose comes from the latin prima rosa - meaning "the first rose"; the latin name for this species is Primula veris.  Either way it is surely the most charming of the spring flowers.

 Spring sunshine

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Delight in the common

Inspite of years of wildlife watching, I still get enormous pleasure from seeing common species, especially when it is possible to get up close to them.

Today (Saturday 5th March) I decided to make my first ever visit to the RSPB's Swell Wood, an ancient woodland overlooking West Sedgemoor on the Somerset Levels.

View from Swell Wood over West Sedgemoor

The woodland runs along a steep escarpment and is home to a large heronry.  There were quite a few adult birds on nests, often with the partner bird standing nearby.

Herons at their nest in an oak tree

At the moment it is relatively quiet, as the chicks are yet to hatch - good thing too 'cos it was bitterly cold.

There was a very good summary of nest activity at the site, so I have plagiarised it:

In the car park there are a number of feeders and I sat in my car for ages using it as a hide...I was able to get quite close...


Coal tit

Blue tit

Dunnock and coal tit


Great tit

Blue tits

Coal tits



Great tit

Great spotted woodpecker

Marsh tit

Coal and great tit



Great spotted woodpecker 

Great tit and female chaffinch

Pair of nuthatches 

Nuthatch and Great tit

Great spotted woodpecker

On the way home, I stopped off at Greylake RSPB reserve - these wigeon took flight. The mass flocks of lapwing and ducks seen a few weeks ago have now gone.

During the afternoon I was also lucky enough to see 6+ of the released cranes in a very far off field.  They were being radio tracked and were kindly pointed out to me by the people recording their movements...otherwise I would never have spotted them.

There is an interesting map at Slimbridge WWT (as noted in a recent BBC article on their website) showing towns and villages that have crane association.  It goes to show how common they must have been, so its exciting to think that one day they may be thriving like little egrets are now.

 Places with Crane (or a derivation of crane) in their name

Burrow Mump, Somerset

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Must see web site...

I feel like a real cheat - I'm recommending a website (rather than blogging about my own experiences) AND its not even a British wildlife related site!  Ho hum...maybe you'll forgive me when you see it.  Why have rules when you can't break them...