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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Tadmarton Heath: antidote to jetlag

It's been a while since my last posting, my excuse is that I've been down under for a couple of weeks (Queensland to be a bit more precise), enjoying some marvellous wildlife experiences as a prelude to the main event: my nephew's wedding in Noosa (on the aptly-named Sunshine Coast).

I plan to share my experiences of nature in the Cairns area later in the year, once I've had time to sort through all the images. As an appetiser here is an image of perhaps the best known Australian bird, the Kookaburra (a giant kingfisher that eats insects, small birds, chips etc).
Blue-winged Kookaburra, near Mount Molloy, Queensland

It was good to get out and about this morning in the beautiful crisp sunshine, definitely helped sooth the jet lag a bit.

I spend a good hour or so at Tadmarton Heath just as the day was starting to warm up.  A large flock of Goldfinches greeted me, close to a hundred birds, feeding on the seeds of thistles and other Compositae growing in the cultivated strip.  Most of them were juvenile birds, indicating a successful breeding season.
Goldfinches
Plenty of signs of birds migrating through our area at the moment - a flock of twenty Meadow Pipits flew up from the rough grass and headed off to the south and a single Whinchat was perched up in the same area.  Quite a few Chiffchaffs were feeding in the smaller sallow bushes, also a number of Blackcaps and Whitethroats.
Whinchat
Chiffchaff

Many Speckled Wood butterflies were on the wing, mostly high up amongst the Ash trees. A couple of very smart Red Admirals were much more approachable, basking on the Bramble leaves.
Red Admiral
Blackberries are cropping well (and quite tasty).  The management of the reserve has created some really nice scrub habitat.  Last winter a mulching machine was used to "knock back" some of the scrub and it was good to see this starting to regrow.  This type of rough grassland with scrub is quite a scarce habitat in our area and an especially valuable resource for warblers and finches.
Blackberries
"Blackberry Way"