Sunday, April 06, 2008

A wintry weekend

Where is Spring? The hedge is growing again, the dutch bluebells have come out under the lime trees, birds are flying hither and tither with nesting material, but it's raining, sleeting and then snowing again!

Saturday we (Helen, one of her sisters and I) decided upon a walk around the nature reserve at Pitsford, as it has hides (for dodging showers) and the chance of some spring migrants. On the way round we saw a good number of Barn Swallows, some 20 - 30, we heard and then saw a singing Blackcap. A couple of ladies had spotted an Osprey which had flown over our heads, but we had missed it, thankfully it re-appeared a few minutes later over the water, albeit briefly.

The number of Chiffchaffs continue to rise, including this chap singing ahead of us above the path (you may need to scroll the picture down):
















About halfway around the promised showers arrived - in fact a near unbroken three hour rain 'shower' which kept the birds very quiet and led to a trudge around the second half of the reserve then home to plant out some more plants into the garden.

Sunday we headed to Wakerley Great Wood, which is an unusual woodland in that the trees appear to be planted in clusters, of say Silver Birch or Larch, etc. However none of the clusters appear sufficient to provide a habitat for their associated cohabitants, therefore the wood is much quieter than you might expect, in fact the best spot tends to be around the car park as it is less 'managed' and therefore more suitable for wildlife and bird life in particular. We did spot a number of spring flowers though, including Primrose:















From Wakerley we headed to Fineshade Wood and toward the facilities there (including an excellent lunch, in terms of both value and content). Over the fields flew a couple of Red Kites, including this one:














Then it was time to head for home. Around the walks and the weather the garden is very busy. We still have between 10 and 20 individual Siskins visiting the garden every day (when do they go North to breed?), including this chap:















The female Siskin is watching the descent of sunflower seed she has just dropped:



















Over winter we saw very few Reed Buntings, now we have six in every day, three pairs, including this well marked female:

















The local squirrel is getting bolder. He's in attack mode here, though I have no idea what he's seen or reacting to:














Finally the cutest sight thus far this spring, these two very juvenile wild Rabbits emerging from a hole underneath our Buddlea. The adult bunnies appear to have driven off the group of Brown Rats that had moved in, which is a result, however the local cats have in the last week killed at least one rabbit and an adult Starling, so we have to keep an eye out whenever we can to chase them off. Still it is really good to see this very clear sign of Spring, and they are SO cute :)

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