This week saw undeniable signs of spring as both chiffchaff and blackcap started singing in the centre of the village, with many garden birds prospecting nest sites if they are not already nesting. The garden birds nemesis the sparrow hawk has also been in evidence as this normally hidden bird takes to the sky as part of its breeding display over the village.
As the sun warmed up, people’s twitter accounts came alive with sightings of summer visitors returning to the uk and of bees butterflies and other winter sleepers waking and making themselves seen. I was inspired to get out and make the most of the Easter break and see what arrivals had turned up on my WEBS sites. Gone were the winter ducks leaving some mallard and few tufted ducks for company. A pair of great crested grebes made the rest look average by putting on their spectacular dance routine.
Once the grebes had danced out of sight and the spell was broken I had a scan about for any seasonal specials but could find none so headed back through the oak woods for home. I was serenaded by a singing Spring marsh tit whilst watching a squeaking treecreeper foraging on the trunks and boughs of the trees. I then went to a small area or reeds tentatively hoping for the first sedge warbler of the year but no sign of them so I stopped to watch a pair of nesting mute swans from a healthy distance. I was quietly minding my own business when I was interrupted by the unmistakable explosive song of a Cettis Warbler.
The cettis warbler is another colonist and undeniable proof of a warming planet they first bred in the Uk in 1972 and has taken few decades to make it to my local patch so I look forward to his explosive song keeping me company on future trips. Today whilst thinking partly about how to get a photo of the Cetti’s and also how to entertain some young exploring assistants I opted for the Easter nature trail at the nearest RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen. My young assistants were over the moon before we arrived at the reserve, with a field full of egyptian geese and brown hares and a couple of pheasants thrown in for good measure.
Once the appropriate nature trail kit had been acquired from the visitors center my young assistants were off scouting with barely a moment to stop and checkout the quartering marsh harriers and smart pochard in front of the hide although they were transfixed momentarily by a nesting moorhen. My assistants were very mud and log focussed turning up a variety of minibeasts and some surprised young amphibians.
Whilst my adventurers adventured and picnicked I was treated to the full medley of birdsong that I had picked upon my own patch including the ever elusive cetti’s warblers and we were also entertained by some brimstone butterflies and an early redadmiral. The Easter trail is on at Strumpshaw for only one more day and if you are unable to make it there is, as with all RSPB reserves, a packed year of events worth getting involved with whatever your age.
Video post this time is from my local barn-cam set up to hopefully capture the waited return of the village barn owls. Unfortunately the only hunting winged creatures were not the owls but some local bats now out from winter slumbers. I believe they are the common village pipistrelles but will let the bat experts put me right if not.