28/02/13 08:30 - 10:30 Sunny and cold. Overnight frost.
Several Tree Sparrows, Yellowhammers and Chaffinches around the seed hopper. The usual Green Woodpecker was heard almost throughout the walk, a few Skylarks, just 4 Fieldfare but they were accompanied by a lone Redwing which have been notably scarce or absent here this winter. 3 Moorhen at one of the ponds. 2 Mallard and 3 Hares at the meadow and a couple of Rabbits on the way. These are quite numerous in the fields but manage to avoid notice on my daytime trips. 25/02/13 11:00 - 11:15 Cold, cloudy and damp.
A quick visit to the Tree Sparrow hopper to meet with the Wildlife Trust and replenish the seed had the bonus of a Treecreeper on the nearby hawthorns.
23/02/13 09:00 - 11:00 Overcast but fairly bright and very cold with frost.
2 Buzzards 2 Kestrels 5 Bullfinches and the regular Green Woodpecker were the pick of the few birds. Mammals were 2 Hares and a Fox. 17/02/13 08:45 - 11:00 Cloudless and sunny after early ground frost. Tree Sparrows were around the hopper and in neighbouring fields, but apart from about 20 Linnets and a flyby Common Gull there was little new to report although there was a lot more song and territory establishment going on among the Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Great Tits whilst a lone Long-tailed Tit probably indicated similar activity. A single Skylark also passed through. 2 Hares were present in the usual field. 16/02/13 09:00 - 11:00 Bright and spring-like after early ground frost.
The seed hopper has been discovered. There were a variety of common birds using it and the good news is that there were several Tree Sparrows in the vicinity too and one, at least, was inspecting the nest boxes. Two Buzzards were sat on a hedge with a small flock of Fieldfare feeding in the grass beneath them. The highlight though was a small group of Lapwings flying eastwards. Sad to say, but 30 years ago they would not have got a mention (and nor would the Tree Sparrows for that matter!) 15/02/13
A male Blackcap visited my garden briefly.
14/02/13 10:00 - 12:00 Bright and milder 5°C but soggy underfoot.
After 6 days of dank cold, frost, drizzle and snow, the weather felt almost spring-like but the wildlife didn't respond and the only birds of note were 2 Bullfinches, 2 Buzzards, 20 Yellowhammers, 1 Kestrel and heard a Green Woodpecker. On the 11th, after erecting a new Barn Owl box nearby (with the Rushcliffe barn Owl project) we replenished the seed hopper along Lings Lane but only a Robin seems to have discovered it as yet. 08/02/13 07:45 - 09:45 Calm, bright, early frost.
Birds enjoy the promise of good weather just as much as we do; A singing Song Thrush was a pleasant start to the walk along Lings Lane. The Green Woodpecker and Kestrel put in appearances and a Goldcrest was an unusual visitor to the Meadow. The usual Bullfinches, Chaffinches, Blue Tits and Goldfinches were also present along with other common passerines. 06/02/13 10:45 - 12:30 Patchy cloud and eyewateringly cold northerly wind.
I wasn't expecting to see much and I was right. Just one Hare, a Moorhen and a flock of thirty Fieldfare so I took an interest in smaller things. The two commonest lichens and the commonest moss: 02/02/13 08:30 - 10:30 Cloudless sky but very cold breeze.
Two Hares and a couple of thousand Woodpigeons but none were photogenic. A Green Woodpecker a flyby Heron plus a few Long-tailed Tits along the Lane with a few Black-headed Gulls and up to about 100 Rooks Several singing and or dispaying Robins 01/02/13 11.00 - 1:30 Sunny but cool breeze. 6°C
No Hares at all when I first looked but first one and then four more lolloped across the field through disturbance by pheasant shoot and dog walkers, but they all lolloped off back again when they saw Tammy. Also 2 Buzzards, 20 Fieldfare, 20 Yellowhammers a Kestrel and 2 Mistle Thrushes. I've seen no Redwings at all in the Meadow area but about 10 stopped off in the garden Ash trees later.
Following the most recent storm, the brook sides have been scoured again and again there are signs of Water Voles - I think. On the opposite bank, I could see, with binoculars, two droppings in one location and several in another with a clearly occupied tunnel and some footprints. I just can't understand why I never actually see the voles themselves. When they were common, when I was a child, they could be easily heard "plopping" and then seen swimming off to the opposite bank.
What a difference a few days make in English winters. This is the same scene of the meadow as in the snowy scene on the 21st Feb below. Chaffinches don't normally get a mention but this is one of the few that are always present up and down the lane. 30/01/13 1:30 - 3:30 Very windy but mild with occasional sunshine. 10°C.
I've noticed that recently one or two Hares have ben faithful to an area of sugar beet field adjacent to the Meadow but they've always seen me coming. On Monday, I planned an approach that might enable a photograph at closer range and I even went and bought some camouflage for the purpose. I managed to get to the edge of the field before they noticed something but they didn't go far and I got some pleasing shots. If they stick around into March I might even get some boxing footage. Other than the Hares, there was next to nothing to be seen until a flock of passerines consisting of about 20 Yellowhammers and 10 Chaffinches along the lane. 28/01/13 8:30 - 10:30 Sunny start becoming cloudy. Cold W wind. Light frost.
Snow all gone and only one Hare seen. The smattering of common passerines were mostly elusive, but four Bullfinches were the first seen for some time. As photographic subjects, the birds were even more elusive so I resorted to fungi and Dunnocks and a Wren popped into view. 23/01/13 12:30 - 15:00 Cold, light snow falling but slow thaw.
Three Snipe flushed from Penny Pond were the best of the species but around 250 buntings, mostly Yellowhammers were perhaps more rewarding during an extended stay around the Meadow. The Snipe were clearly cold-weather refugees finding a spot of unfrozen mud. Their numbers have declined significantly on a national level but they were never (in living memory) a common species locally, though I do seem to recall disturbing them from the brook more often than now. Yellowhammers on the other hand, in common with other buntings and almost all passerines, have shrunk in numbers dramatically. Twenty or thirty years ago it was not uncommon to come across very large flocks of finches and/or buntings in the wider countryside in winter. They would be feeding on stubble, spilt grain and weedy patches but nowadays one is hard pushed to find more than a handful together. These were rather difficult to count, being fractured into differently sized groups which came together and split up all the time. They appeared to be associated with some game cover and the smaller numbers I'd been seeing in the meadow must have been a small fraction of this flock.
Two Foxes were disturbed during a commotion created by a lady rescuing her dog from broken ice on one of the ponds. She was wet and very cold but, I trust, survived the ordeal. Elsewhere, five Hares, a couple of Kestrels, scattered Fieldfares (but intriguingly no Redwings) a scatter of Greenfinches and a Green Woodpecker made up a pleasant afternoon. 21/01/13 08:30 - 10:30 Cold, light snow falling, lying snow depth 12cm.
Apart from a few Tree Sparrows in the lane, interest was slow to develop. Later on though, a Fox eluded a photo by sticking to the "wrong" side of the hedgerow so I followed it and disturbed a Green Woodpecker, flushed a Snipe from the wet, old meanders and counted at least 5 Hares, perhaps there were a few more but they were moving around quite a bit. 19/01/13 08:00 - 10:00 Cold, light rime, lying snow
As ever when there is lying snow, the Hares were obvious crouched down in their white form. Five were seen and a hunting Fox failed to notice me (or the dog) for a while. Apart from Fieldfares and other common fare, the birds were unexciting.
18/01/13 11:30 - 13:00 Cold, breezy, light snow
A Buzzard drifted low over Main Street. There were scattered Fieldfares in most hedgrerows with a loose flock of about 50 in the meadow from which, a Heron was disturbed and over which, 35 Skylarks flew northwards. Around 250 Rooks in one arable field, were outnumbered by at least 1,000 Woodpigeons in another.
Later, as the snow arrived in earnest, the garden Ash trees hosted both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker with the latter spending several minutes bashing away at an old black, bracket fungus Inonotus hispidus .
12/01/13 08:45 - 10:30 Thin cloud and cold 1°C
In the Meadow, an estimated 30 Reed Buntings and 20 Yellowhammers were accompanied by a Willow Tit and a few Bullfinches. Presumably the same Hare as on the 9th was in the same neighbouring field and along the lane there were about 60 Fieldfares accompanying 40 Starlings with a Green Woodpecker and a Kestrel in support.
9/1/13 12:30 - 14:00 Sunny and chilly 6°C
At least 15 Reed Bunting present in the meadow (including the female above) along with a few Tree Sparrows but of indeterminable numbers as they were flitting loosely and staying mostly hidden. A Hare was in the neighbouring field and there were three Mistle Thrushes along the Lane.
Have a look at the video below: You will need the latest version of your browser as it uses the HTML5 video facility. Walking south along Lings Lane against a bright low sun, in this stretch of hedge only, gossamer was illuminated by the backlight and made for a weird phenomenon that I've never come across before. It also shows the amount of silk there is trailing across the countryside unbeknown to us normally.
5/1/13 11:45 - 13:30 Sunny and mild 10°C
6 Reed Bunting in the Meadow were the highlight, but the receding brook caused me to look along the stretch where I believed I'd seen signs of Water Voles several years ago. The flows have scoured away the banks and left them fresh and clean, so brown, torpedo-shaped(tic-tac) droppings about 5-10mm long and in loose assemblies, certainly indicate that Water Voles are around. But this would astonish me as, when Water Voles were common there was no need for this level of detective work because their plops on my approach and seeing them swim across to the opposite bank was all that was needed. If these really are the signs of Water Voles (and I've recently been on "Water Vole training days!") and not Brown Rats (which I know are present because I've seen them) I'll be astonished.
I checked and cleaned out the Tree Sparrow nest boxes on the Wildlife Trust's B&B scheme; Out of the five, two had been occupied; both had Tree Sparrow nests inside and one contained the corpse of a well grown and feathered fledgling. The other contained signs of a tit having taken it over but whether this was before or after the Tree Sparrow, I couldn't tell. 4/1/13 07:15 - 08:30 Grey and mild
Christmas visitors and a sodden meadow has made the top path rather slippery and muddy, but water levels in the brook have lowered to something resembling normal winter flow. 1 Buzzard and a pair of Mallard along Lings Lane. 25 Black-headed Gulls were wheeling around and drifting over Bunny Lane. Robins in song.
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