Sunday, 18 May 2014

More partridges and a cuckoo in SP54

An early morning expedition back out to SP54 was rewarded with my first local encounter with a cuckoo this year.  It's evocative call stood out in the early morning calm, somewhere just to the east of Sulgrave.  Quite possibly this is the only male cuckoo in SP54, such has been their recent decline.   Nearby, a flock of fifty stock doves were feeding in a field of spring sown crop just starting to sprout upwards through the bare soil.  Skylark song filled the air.  Red campion flowers we're equally strident in the verges just outside the village, glowing in the bright rays of sun.  

A red-legged partridge sat almost glued to the top of a pile of plastic covered bales topped by a large tyre, allowing my close approach for a portrait.

I also had a quick look at recent work to clear scrub from Helmdon disused railway Site of Special Scientific Interest (click view citation).  This has been carried out in the past couple of years by the landowner and funded by Natural England.  It has certainly made a huge difference, but I was left wondering where the scarce plants and butterflies, for which the site is designated, might have survived under the blanket of hawthorn and other bushes - and how easily they might return.  There should be green-winged orchids and small blue butterflies here.  This SSSI is also proving something of a test case in the assessment of High Speed 2's environmental impact  see here and here.  This site will be cut in two by the new railway and a chunk of habitat will be lost forever.  Compensatory habitat is proposed to mitigate this impact but will take decades to develp a similar species rich limestone grassland character.   More on this over coming months and years.

In the evening I went out for another mini expedition and located a grey partridge near Moreton Pinkney, at the north end of the 10km square.  So they are still about, just hard to find.

No comments:

Post a Comment