Tuesday 2 March
What I thought was a weasel but now know was a stoat (had a black tip to tail) was scurrying and leaping about in the grassy tussocks just up the hill from the bird feeding table. Dark brown top coat and white undergarments. Was being carefully watched by a pair of magpie as well as a number of humans.
Half a dozen Reed bunting and a couple of pairs of Chaffinch at the feeder.
Female Blackcap in the tall trees the other side of the path from the shed at the Sunnyside Lane entrance to the Reserve.
A BTO factsheet on wintering Blackcaps has the following interesting information:
“A growing number of Blackcaps that breed in central Europe are coming to our shores to spend the winter instead of travelling to the Mediterranean, where they normally go. In Britain, food provided in gardens, coupled with our warming winter climate, is helping Blackcaps to survive. The reward for enduring harsher winter conditions here than in the Mediterranean is that our Blackcaps have a shorter journey back to central Europe in the spring, meaning that they can stake early claim for the best territories. Central European-breeding Blackcaps that winter with us have been found to lay more eggs and fledge more chicks than those that winter further south.”
A flock of about 30 redwings feeding in the vicinity of Alder Pond in Big Meadow this morning.
A pair of oystercatchers took off from Big Meadow near Lucy Brook as I passed, just before twilight on Sunday evening.
Monday 28 December – saw a tree sparrow at the top of the slope from the new table feeder who was happily feeding on seed heads at the field margin.
It’s impossible to predict how any one count will go: there does not seem to be any obvious pattern. This month’s December tally is on the smaller side. In fact the lowest so far this year at 32 snipe including 2 jack. 28 of them were in Big Meadow, 3 in School Pond and a solitary bird in the Hay Meadow. Whilst Upper Sowerholme was devoid of snipe, it did yield 6 fieldfare, a kestrel and 6 teal (probably the same ones spotted earlier on Willow Pond by Graham during his reserve inspection). There was a reed bunting in School Pond; a heron and curlew seen in Big Meadow.
Quite a large, fat, hoverfly with lots of short bright yellow hair.
Female migrant hawker
This lovely dragonfly was sunning itself in the hedge between Big Meadow and Grammar School Field mid afternoon today.
A flock of 30 to 40 geese enjoying the stubble in Flora Field this morning. They were either greylags of pink footed or both, sorry, can’t tell the difference form the distance I observed them.
The new bull has arrived, a fine chunky fellow. Some of the cows were showing a distinct interest this morning so no worries about further calves on the evidence so far.
Lots of butterflies out in the sun. On Tuesday we saw a gatekeeper at ‘Thistle Corner’ on the Pony Wood path, commas, a peacock, and lots of whites as we progressed round the wood; speckled woods in the Orchard; small skippers in West Field and the Hay Meadow, plus meadow browns of course. We also saw a smallish dragonfly in the woodland extension, too distant to identify, and the marmalade hoverfly photographed below. A jay was squeaking like a monkey in the wood.
Today more gatekeepers at Thistle Corner, plus the one photographed below in the hedge between Big Meadow and School Pond. A greenfinch was calling noisily near the gates between Big Meadow and Grammar School Field.