Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Home to Roost

A belated write-up of the weekend on the patch... I  find myself busy just as Spring takes hold; the good weather brings out the beer-garden game, quoits, among other activities that vie for my time in the clement weather.

The weekend started very positively; my first swift this year was not seen whizzing high in the sky or heard screeching between the houses, instead it was knocking at the eaves of the cottage, testing for somewhere to get in. I like to believe it was one of the two birds that bred here last year, or maybe one of the three fledglings they produced. Regardless, it roosted in our roof on both Friday and Saturday night and has not been seen since.

The chill never really lifted on Saturday, it hung in the air like a sea fret, held there by the cold North wind. Everything was quiet and I resorted to checking in with the regular cast. The sand martin colony was very busy as usual, with most nest holes appearing suitably excavated for their residents. I counted the nest holes and was pleased that there were a precise 100.

I counted the warblers on a circular walk via the oxbow lake; there were more than 30 whitethroat and 20 blackcap; a staggering number, really. I was unable to differentiate clearly between common and lesser whitethroat as while I stood in the big field, I was audio-jammed by two sparring skylarks. Another yellow wagtail was found; the furthest from the river I've encountered one. At the lake, the tufted duck population has grown to seven birds, predominantly drakes. Grasshopper warbler was heard again briefly and distantly; probably the same bird I found during the week.

Roe deer, wet from the dew-soaked wheat shoots:

The dunnock, a plumage underdog and a bird deserving of greater attention:

On the lake itself, I've begun hearing plops as I walk around the reed bed. To date, I've been unable to identify what's making the noise. Romantically, I'm hoping there are water voles or water shrews, but I expect they'll turn out to be frogs or rats.

Sunday morning began as Saturday ended; cold and damp. A walk around the Eastern boundary of the village searching for sedge warblers turned up a garden warbler in the grounds of the gasworks; the first I've seen for two weeks and hopefully the first of many more.

When the fret cleared and the sun came out, I headed for the woods. The browns and greys of winter are now a distant memory and the paths have been narrowed by the verdant growth.

Bluebells have pushed through where the canopy has thinned and are out in number. The odd red campion breaks through the purple understory and stands proudly in contrast.

I was buzzed by the first brimstone of the year and (I think) my first record in Thrintoft while I checked my nest-boxes for activity. Disappointingly, I've not seen any birds entering or leaving the boxes, though there is evidence some are being used (twigs, droppings, etc in the nest-holes). That said, whenever I approach box seven a pair of marsh tits angrily announce their feelings toward my presence, so I suspect they've taken residence.

Further through the wood I stopped to watch two fly-fisherman. I was not the only spectator either; a pair of racing pigeons had stopped in the wood and were taking great interest in the men. Though strictly not a wild-bird, I was very impressed with this handsome chap.

Finally on the way back home, a blue falcon-like bird shot across the path in front of me. I was sure it was a male cuckoo so hung around for a while, hoping for a better view. The mystery bird made no second appearance, but while I sat this brown hare came very close, completely at ease in my company.


  1. I agree re the Dunnock, lovely little birds and their song is a delight :) I'll keep my fingers crossed for something less rat like in the reed beds!

    1. Thanks Pam. I try and create a mnemonic for each bird I hear. There are lots of goldcrest singing at the moment. In my head, they sing "over and over and over and over AGAIN". But Dunnocks are a difficult one... The best I've heard is from Melissa Harrison who suggests they say "Lots of things I need to say very quickly!"

    2. I like that one, very clever!