Tuesday, 19 May 2020

To the Woods and Beyond!

Lockdown rules have been relaxed slightly and we can now take 'unlimited' exercise - not quite sure about this as people still struggle with the social distancing part! Anyway myself and my daughter were up early on Sunday morning to walk down to the woods, it's a 6 mile round trip, it was warm but a little cloudy so just right for the walk. Going so early would hopefully mean it should still be quiet as some of the paths are a bit narrow and lots of local people have discovered the woods during the lockdown and it has been busy.

As it happened it was fairly quiet, just a handful of dog walkers, all cheery and happy to keep their distance, phew!

It's a lot greener since I was last there, you can barely see out of the tree canopies at times and that was wonderful!

There is Wild Garlic and Cow Parsley everywhere, there are Bluebells though I think we just missed them at their best.

We saw a few bees going in and out of this tree

A Wren was singing right by our heads at one point and a pair of Blackcaps were flying around the trees. I have noticed the Nuthatches seem to have disappeared, I haven't seen one at all in the woods this year. 

Distant Blackcaps

The entrance to the next part of the woods had been yarn bombed with rainbows and flowers. We saw a young Woodpigeon by the bird feeders and on the dipping pond a female Mallard, I know a pair have been seen on the pond during lockdown but I don't think they've nested. Long-tailed Tits were in the trees and just behind a Whitethroat was singing. There is already talk of closing the dipping pond due to the lack of rain, things are starting to dry up somewhat, we haven't had any decent rain in weeks.


Long-tailed Tits


We walked down the Pit Hill fields for a little way, a singing Dunnock was at the start of the path. We counted 4 separate Chiffchaff calling, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Chaffinch amongst others. The Hawthorn along the field is in full bloom and quite beautiful.




Song Thrush

Under the motorway to have a walk along the fields - off the official patch for the patchwork challenge but that doesn't really count at the moment. The Lapwings are in their usual spot and Skylarks were singing high over the fields, what a joy this was, I was beginning to wonder if i'd hear them at all this year. We saw more Greenfinch, a House Sparrow with white wing feathers, there is a Sparrow that visits my garden that has white tail feathers, it's odd to see the white flashes when they fly. 



House Sparrow

I saw Swallows, House Martins and Swifts, a Cormorant, a hovering Kestrel and back at the top part of the woods on another small pond a pair of Mallards.

It was a much needed walk and I was so pleased to be back in the woods again!

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Bits and Pieces

Birding is still mostly in the garden with the lockdown extended, luckily the birds are being outstanding and entertaining. Plus on a weekend we've walked a little further than the park behind the house, I don't have much time to walk before work - I can't manage to get myself up and out earlier to have anything more than half an hour! The park hasn't had the grass cut in weeks now and it's full of Dandelions and Daisies, it looks wonderful and i've seen quite a few butterflies out on the flowers.

We're still getting out early on a weekend too so it's nice and quiet walking to Dartmouth Park. Actually to be fair it's always quiet early morning on all of my walks so far! I spotted my first fledgling birds there - two Mistle (I think) Thrushes in the trees. Our gutter Starlings now have several noisy birds in the nest, I saw them taking food to the nest but it took a couple of days before they were chirping loud enough so I could hear them.

The Sparrows are going a little mad in the back garden, usually they tend to stick to the front and the window feeders but I think with the immense amount of Aphids on the plants at the moment they're making the most of the feast, there's rarely a minute in the day where there isn't at least one picking at something! There's been a fair bit of Tit activity too, the Aphids are proving popular! Plus we've had the odd visit from both a male and female Blackcap but not on the same days.


Blue Tit

House Sparrow

Long-tailed Tit

We've had quite a bit of warm weather over April and i've noticed Bees filling holes in the wall and Bee hotel, last years haven't hatched yet but I keep checking.

My daughter spotted this Caterpillar on some nettles behind our house

I keep checking the skies for House Martins, Swallows and perhaps a Swift but not a single one yet. We usually have House Martins that nest locally and we see them over the houses through the summer. Swallows are a bit hit and miss near the house but are probably back on the farm near work, they usually are the last week in April. It may be that I see Swifts before the others this year. I have seen a few Gulls, Red Kite and Buzzards but really the skies are pretty empty.

I've been taking photos of all the flowers I see on my walks to try and have a go at iding them for the 20 in 2020 challenge I set myself here. Here's what I have so far and hopefully i've got them right -

2. Red Valerian - this is everywhere at the moment, in my garden, down the back streets and car park near my house, I love the colour, it's quite a striking flower and good for the bees and butterflies. I looked it up and discovered this plant originally comes from the Mediterranean and has been in the UK since at least the 1500s

3. Cuckoo flower or Lady's Smock. There was just a single plant near the road side.

4. Hairy Bittercress - I found a few of these on waste ground on one of our walks

5. Black Medick - I think i've got this one correct, I did think Lesser Trefoil at first? I've only noticed one patch of this whilst i've been out.

6.Groundsel - Lots of this all over, mostly on the edge of paths

7. Herb Robert - this is poking out of walls all over the streets.

Ok so i'm adding these but I know what they are, I haven't been able to see all the Bluebells in Churwell Woods but noticed some in the grass by the entrance to the park. Plus the ones in my garden are about to flower.
Cow Parsley


Hopefully next time I post we'll have some Starling fledglings in the garden and the sky will be full of Swifts!