31/03/2014 10:30 - 11:30. Misty - growing warm.
Tadpoles have emerged from the frogspawn (but they aren't very photogenic) and Common Frogs
were nearby. Once again, there were no migrants on Fox Hill, but two Green Woodpeckers
added colour and a Wren
30/03/2014 5°C at dawn.
29 moths and 10 species is a new garden record for March on both counts. They were: 1 Double-striped Pug
, 4 Clouded Drab
, 1 Early Grey
, 2 Early Thorn
, 4 Small Quaker
, 3 Common Quaker
, 11 Hebrew Character
, 1 Angleshades
, 1 Diurnia fagella
and 1 Agonopterix alstromeriana
that began building in the garden on March 3rd now have at least one (perhaps two?) babies and an egg ready to hatch. Blue
and Great Tits
have only just begun to investigate the nest boxes.
A single violet plant introduced next to my greenhouse a few years ago has now become a multitude. I worked these out to be Early Dog Violet (Viola reichenbachiana)
though the ones in flower in the Meadow at the moment are Sweet Violets (Viola odorata)
29/03/2014 07:30-08:30. A misty, moisty morning.
A quick visit to look for migrants found none but there were 300 Fieldfares
on Fox Hill, a Heron
flew by, a Little Owl
was back at the entrance to the Barn Owl box and a Song Thrush
was in good voice at its usual tree in the lane.
Earlier, there was a good selection of early season moths in the garden trap with from left to right (below) Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character
and Clouded Drab
24/03/2014 Sunny and pleasant after an overnight frost.
No Wheatears this morning, but plenty of Magpies
and a pair of copulating Buzzards
. Tim was kind enough to remind me of his sheep's breed as he cleaned up the rear end of the one below, which is a "mule" being a cross between a Leicester (for their bulk) and a Swaledale (for their hardiness). Another ewe is a mule crossed with a Charolais. Despite the earlier frost and a cold breeze, the sun was strong enough for five Small Tortoiseshells
to be sunbathing in the wildflower meadow. The Lings Lane seed hopper was refilled; the Tree Sparrows and others have consumed 25kg of mixed seed since 6th February but they now have another 25kg to go at - courtesy of Notts Widlife Trust.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse but I thought we might be happier about it with a reminder of March 23rd 2013.
22/03/2014 09:15-10:00. Very cold westerly wind.
were, I hope, the first of many at last year's favoured staging post on Fox Hill where numbers peaked at 34 on April 21st which is a record assemblage for Nottinghamshire; the previous peak count being "at least 30" at Netherfield on April 23rd 2006. (Reece 2009). A Grey Heron
flew west and Tim's ewes have started production.
19/03/2014 09:00-11:00. Cool becoming warm.
(last year it was 6th April). 300 Fieldfares
in a newly tilled field were accompanied by just 2 Redwings. Bullfinches
were present in the meadow where they have been few and far between this winter. One Buzzard
, a flyover Cormorant
and a couple of circuits by a handful of motley Greylag Geese
14/03/2014 09:00-10:45. Light fog burning off before 11:00 into a sunny warm day.
No migrants as yet despite a search of Fox Hill. The new pond is very dense with algae and blanketweed and I suppose it will be so annually until we can get it to hold water throughout the year. No sign of any frogspawn either as yet despite the early spring, though there were at least 16 Smooth Newts
in my garden pond last night. There was a Red Campion
in flower and Reed Buntings
in territory along the lane, and perhaps a dozen Tree Sparrows
around the feeder along with Blue
and Great Tits
whilst a Greenfinch
was a rather scarce bonus. Buzzard
and Great Spotted Woodpecker
were distant vocalists. A Small Tortoiseshell
was an early riser, on the wing before the fog had melted away.
09/03/2014 Sunny, becoming warm; 16°C by 10:30am.
A Song Thrush
in good voice at the top of the lane was followed by a Buzzard
enjoying the vista from a hedge on Fox Hill, but no migrants there yet. A small party of Skylarks
and loose assemblages of Redwings
. Two Mallard
were visiting ponds as they do at this time of year. There were two Common Quakers
in the garden moth trap.
I recorded 9th March last year as "foggy 2°C"! Quite a contrast and I'm expecting a Brimstone later.
Late Morning Update
: Just seen Brimstone
A considerable amount of time this week has been spent trying to identify landmarks visible from the wildflower meadow (we should give it a name) in preparing an information panel. I eventually established the most distant feature on the horizon as Crich Stand at 37km. It is very distinctive and it should have occurred to me as a possibility much sooner. One of Ilkeston's Churches is visible on a similar bearing, as is West Bridgford RC Church. Perhaps more distant than Crich is the view up the Trent valley, but there don't seem to be any features distinguishable among the plethora of pylons, at least not with the less than perfect visibility that has prevailed over the past few days. Other outdoor time has been spent gardening and making nest boxes.
03/03/2014 Sunny and spring-like.
50 Black-headed Gulls
, A Buzzard
or two, Green Woodpecker
all around Fox Hill where I just enjoyed the morning.
28/02/2014 Cool, milky sunshine.
Nothing of note on an afternoon visit apart perhaps from some Red Dead-nettle
in flower. Several Goldfinches visited the garden later where they preferred the remains of last summer's Borage to the niger in the feeder.
The White Willow
on the edge of the new pond, half of which blew into the pond several weeks ago, has now been rendered asunder and the other half of the old stool has fallen in the opposite direction.
Although it is has been largely dry now for a couple of weeks, there is still plenty of water about.
25/02/2014 Breezy but sunny and dry
a Green Woodpecker
around 1,000 Rooks
in two flocks and about half that number of mixed Fieldfares
scattered about and making them impossible to count. Their scattering was further assisted by a marauding Sparrowhawk
, which was the first for some time as were the 2 Bullfinches
. A Skylark
was singing. A search under likely looking reptile refugia suggests there are a lot of Field Voles
around - good news for our struggling Barn Owls.
19/02/2014 Quite mild and calm.
The replenished seed hopper has been discovered by 2 Tree Sparrows
, and several Blue
and Great Tits, Chaffinches
. A Buzzard
, 5 Hares
, a Brown Rat
in the brook, 100 Fieldfares
and about 30 Skylarks
followed roughly in order of appearance.
It was nice to see a party of pond dippers discovering the wildlife in the brook - I hope they were suitably clued up on Weil's disease.
16/02/2014 Sunny with a cold light westerly.
A stroll around Holme Pierrepont meant a change in avifauna and included a selection of ducks but only one wader species, though the Lapwings
were more numerous than any recent counts from the Keyworth area with about 40 in flight together at one time.
06/02/2014 Quite mild but dull.
After meeting up with the Wildlife Trust to erect a couple more Tree Sparrow nest boxes and fill up the seed hopper on Lings Lane, I continued around the Meadow but once again, wildlife was scarce. There was a flock of about thirty passerines which seemed to be mixed Chaffinches
and there were a couple of hundred corvids - mostly Rooks
by appearance but clearly accompanied by a lot of Jackdaws
judging by the calls that predominated. "Highlight" was a very tatty used breeding nest of a Harvest Mouse
that was somehow still suspended from grasses in the verge along Lings Lane despite the battering from recent tempests.
02/02/2014 Bright and breezy.
The flow in the brook was surprisingly average for mid-winter, given the storm that passed through yesterday. 7 Pied Wagtails
had found one particular patch of field to their liking and there was a hint of spring with Great Tits
in song, but otherwise it was normal winter fare in the form of Fieldfares
with a scattered flock of the latter numbering around 60.
31/01/2014 Cold, dank and dreary.
54 Black-headed Gulls
with 5 Common Gulls
mingling in the pastures and a large assemblage of Skylarks
numbering around 40 in the big arable field. A Kestrel
was sat in a tree and is only worth a mention because it's the first I've seen down there this year. At least the forecast heavy rain held off.
27/01/2014 Breezy and a cold sleety shower.
Everywhere is very wet (you will not be surprised to hear) with the meadow as saturated as I've ever seen it. The area continues to be rather dull from a naturalist's viewpoint with a loose flock of Redwings
, numbering around 50, saving the day. Otherwise there were just 5 Hares
worth a mention.
The willow tree adjacent to Willow Pond has split and blown down into the new pond. It may have to stay like that until they are all pollarded in the autumn or until the pond dries up.
26/01/2014 Very wet and very windy.
Perfect conditions for sitting indoors with a cup of tea and doing the RSPB Garden Birdwatch. Though it seems the birds were snugly tucked away too and in the hour from 11 till noon, I managed just two Blackbirds
, two Robins
, two Dunnocks
and a Woodpigeon
! Although that is untypical, there really has been a dearth of garden birds this winter and a Coal Tit
and a Chaffinch
are the only non regular species that I can think of. The perception is that the mild weather is keeping the birds out in the wider countryside but my visits to the meadow have not supported this theory.
Willow Tits disappeared from southern England some years ago but they were still to be found around the meadow last winter. However that may prove to be the last as they are believed to have gone from Nottinghamshire now too. (As I write, 20 Greylag Geese
have just flown over the house). I wonder if there will be any Cuckoos or Turtle Doves this summer.
Late to be added to the site because of FTP problems but little to report anyway, with the highlight being 21 Skylarks
. Otherwise a few Fieldfares
would be taking the top spot.
02/01/2014 Cool, sunny and calm.
A little more interest today with 80 Black-headed Gulls
drifting through and the Fieldfares
out in the open and able to be counted; around 140 accompanied 60 or so Starlings
in a field of winter wheat. As last winter, there were no Redwings with the Fieldfares, both of which used to forage the hedgerows in the first part of the winter, but, because these are flailed so severely, there are next to no berries left for them. 10 Hares
were counted and there were a few Yellowhammers