Friday, April 08, 2011

Blue Tits Are Moving In!

I've been keeping an eye on the blue tits this week.  A few weeks back they were taking an interest in one of my nest boxes.  It's happened before - they pop in and out a couple of times early in the year and then never come back.

Blue titImage via WikipediaThis year the honeysuckle and quince have grown up around it, so the box itself isn't quite as exposed.  I did cut back a sprig of honeysuckle that was almost covering the front of the box as blue tits prefer a clear flight path in.

Over the last couple of weeks they've been visiting and pecking at the hole on a regular basis - enlarging it slightly, probably smoothing off the edges.  This week they've been bring nest material.  I'm so excited!  It's only been there 4-5 years - waiting to be occupied.

I moved the bird feeders to the other side of the garden and went out earlier and raked up some moss - lets face it, there's enough of it in the lawn - also sprinkled a few feathers out to make their job easier.  It took them (or is it just one bird building the nest?) a while to twig but now it's flying down and picking up clumps of moss practically as big as itself and stuffing them into the nest.

There's a lot of hopping about from branch to branch before it finally enters and plenty of calling too.  I was out in the garden enjoying the sunshine earlier and although there were plenty of alarm calls, it didn't put them off, which is just as well, as I'm likely to be out there a lot as the weather improves and I get the veg 'patch' planted up.
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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Wonderful Wyevale Waxwings

A lovely warm Spring day and definitely one for a visit to Pulborough.  Plenty of the woodland birds out and about and singing - chiffchaff, blackcap, willow warbler.  Slowly starting to recognise the blackcap song more easily.

I spotted a male bullfinch on the path between West Mead and Winpenny and a small adder out in the brief moments of sunshine in Adder Alley.  A dabchick was feeding in the pool below Little Hanger with the mallard.

WaxwingsImage by Moonrhino via Flickr
While sitting in the picnic area - news arrived of the waxwings up at the Pulborough garden centre.  Now, despite the frequent sightings of waxwings all over the county this winter, I've not seen any.  In fact I've never seen a waxwing, so it was definitely worth driving the short distance to see them, especially as these are likely to be the last of the year - grabbing the obligatory bread pudding on the way.

I arrived and thought I'd missed them - it took a few minutes to spot two of them up in the tree-top and then another eight in the trees across the road.  A little more patience and more of them appeared - moving to the trees right at the entrance of the garden centre and feeding on the berries on a large cotoneaster shrub opposite - 22 waxwings in total.  A few more people turned up as word had got out and as I had my scope, we got really good views of them.  They really are lovely birds and such a treat to have seen them.

Breeding-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa ...Image via WikipediaBack to Pulborough and down to Jupps View.  There's plenty of water on the Brooks - not too much but the pools are definitely more full then they have been in past years.  They've done a lot of work with sluices to enable them to be able to control the water levels better and it's working - although there weren't many waders around.

I missed the green sandpiper but did see a lovely black-tailed godwit in it's summer plumage and a dunlin.  A few duck still around - shoveler, wigeon and teal, several little egret and shelduck.  Nuthatch and green and greater spotted woodpecker heard around the reserve.

Also spotted two small tortoiseshell butterflies in flight, which caused great excitement as very few had been seen so far this year.  Meanwhile back at Winpenny and brief glimpses of the white-fronted goose out in the distance with the canada geese.

I'm sure the deer are getting lighter.  Whereas a few years ago they were all dark, there seem to be more of the lighter fallow deer in the herds now.  Still masses of them all over the reserve and out on the Brooks.

Just before I left I popped into the heathland area in the faint hope of seeing the little spotted woodpecker.  I did see a woodpecker but it turned out to be a greater spotted playing hide and seek in the tree tops before coming out for better views.

No birds of prey today, which is unusual for Pulborough - although I did see a couple of kestrels on the drive there and back.
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Friday, April 01, 2011

South Downs National Park Authority Takes Over

View of the South Downs in Sussex, EnglandImage via WikipediaToday the South Downs officially becomes a National Park under the newly formed South Downs National Park Authority.  Bells will ring out along the 100+ mile stretch of the South Downs in celebration.

It's taken a good few years, if not decades to get to this stage.  It was first suggested in the 40's when the first National Parks were designated, consultation started on the proposed park in 1999 and finally agreed in 2009 with the National Park being designated in 2010 and now handed over to the South Downs NPA.

Some of the hard working volunteers were featured today on local news programmes, out working near Lewes.  Hundreds of volunteers help to shape and maintain the Downs and that work will continue.  If you'd like to get involved there are plenty of volunteering groups now listed on the South Downs National Park website, including my own local group - Friends of Telscombe Tye.
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