Saturday, 23 April 2016

Some further thoughts about Nuthatches and bird sounds

I posted about Nuthatches the other day having come across some in Clopton Park and being lucky enough to take some snaps. Idling away at the computer this morning I thought some might like to know of some resources that could be useful to find out more about our birdlife and can help locate them.

A good website is the British Trust for Ornithology. There are many sites providing information about birds but the BTO has 'unbiased information about birds' and undertakes research. For example, the tracking of Cuckoo Stanley has attracted nationwide interest after  it was found where cuckoos go for the winter. Stanley returned to the uk in early April from the Ivory Coast.

I went to the information about the Nuthatch and followed a link to recordings of its songs, calls, male calls, alarm calls and so on.

This was really useful to me . I hadn't really understood the range of sounds each bird makes and when I go for the walk this morning I'll be much more confident of locating the Nuthatches from their sounds.

I'm keen to get a decent picture of a Treecreeper. It's a small bird, moves quickly but has a distinctive song so I'm more confident now of finding one. That doesn't mean I will actually see one of course. Here's some not so good pictures of one I took a while ago.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

I saw a Nuthatch

Nuthatch - Clopton Park April16
Nuthatch - Clopton Park April16
Nuthatch - Clopton Park April16
One of the places I'm often drawn to when walking up the Welcombe is in Clopton Park where the two old oak trees stand down and to the seasonal pond, the magnificent hornbeams and the ash trees that seem to be all decaying.

Those ash trees in various stages of degeneration provide a great habitat for green and spotted woodpeckers, jackdaws and crows. These birds nest in the many holes the ash provides and the spotted woodpeckers can be heard tapping the branches for grubs.

Anticipating a change in the weather we decided to take our walk as usual and found our way to the swimming pool where the run off from the hills was too much for the pool and had overflowed forming mini lakes and a healthy stream across and down towards Margaret's Well, joining the ditch there.

Nuthatch - Clopton Park April16
We followed the water flow up towards the hornbeams and stopped to enjoy the lace-like veil of catkins covering them. Looking up I saw this Nuthatch on the trunk of an old ash tree. The Tree Creeper is a quite common bird here but this is the first time I've seen the Nuthatch. The Tree Creeper is smaller, brown and white and favours moving up the trunk to search for food. It is unable to go down head first so hops backwards to achieve that.  In contrast the Nuthatch has a beautiful orange-red breast, is larger and moves both up and down the trunk head first.

A good spot you'll agree and the bird kindly paused long enough for me to fumble around getting my camera out and snapping a few pics.

I saw early flowering grass - the Field Wood-rush

Field Wood-rush - Luzula campestris

As this morning's sleet/snow gives way to more rain I'm reminded that of all the months, April can be relied on for the most varied and unpredictable for weather. Looking back, I've pictures from 6th April 2008 when we had proper snow. That brought out the toboggans, skis, plastic sheets and even bathtubs (really!) as Stratford's young raided their parents' garages for something to slide on.

In our garden the blackbirds have been feeding young in their nests for quite a while now. So, even though snowfall decorates the landscape and brings great enjoyment, I can't help but feel for the birds who will have yet another problem to deal with in rearing their young.

Clopton Field April 2008

Spring is well underway and the start of many a life cycle, not just for the birds but for our plants too. One of the first grasses to flower is the Field wood-rush. It's a common enough plant but easily overlooked due to its small size. The delicate flowers are in clusters and pale yellow. My picture shows it amongst the Cowslips I wrote about last week. Like some other small plants their beauty is not easily accessible but once you 'get your eye in' as they say these can enhance the pleasures of walking in the Welcombe Hills. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Cowslips, celandines, violets as the sun sometimes shines

There's an area of the Welcombe Hills at the bottom of the opening leading down from the reservoir area toward the Welcombe Hotel. On one side is a sloping wooded area of predominantly hawthorn but with lime and two old beech trees. On the other side is Nursery Cover and between the two lies a fallen horse chestnut tree.
April 10th 2016

In the spring and summer the morning sun warms this area. Many of my butterfly and bee pictures are taken here (for example here) on the Woolly Thistles, blackberry bushes and the margins of the woods where the Lady's Smock thrive in the damp clay.

Violet in Nursery Cover April16
Nursery cover gently slopes down here. In the spring the leafless spindly Ash, crab apple and the few hawthorn allow the sunlight to penetrate to the ground layer and if anyone cares to walk this way you will find amongst the damp moss a wonderful display of bright yellow lesser celandine and violets of all shades from deep blue to white. 
Celandine, Nursery Cover April16

It seems wrong to walk over these but they do survive so I suggest a closer look. Stand still and you may hear a bumble bee queen looking for a nesting place in the ground. Follow the sound and you may see her on her quest. 
Nursery Cover, April 16

Look more carefully and you may treated by finding the  fungus I pictured below that grows here. It's not a true morel (Morchella) so don't get too excited. It won't harm you but is tasteless.
Mitrophora semilibera, April 16

Elsewhere the first Cowslips are flowering! These were catching that morning sun on a bank behind the seats at the top of Nursery Cover that look out over towards the Monument and Edge Hill beyond.
First Cowslips of the year, Welcombe Hills April 2016

Cowsliips, April 16