Monday, 17 April 2017

Banburyshire and beyond: spring in full swing

April is a great month to be out in the field, which can make it even harder to keep up with the blogging!  Our resident birds are busy nesting, and some are already raising young.  And our migrants are arriving in ever greater numbers, returning to their favoured haunts to breed or just passing through on their journey north.  Many flowers and trees are looking their best too - meadows full of fritillaries and cowslips, copses and hedgerows bursting with cherry and crab apple blossom.  I've been able to spend a good amount of time out and about, mostly in the local area but with a few trips just beyond,  here are some of my highlights .....

male Little Ringed Plover, Grimsbury Reservoir, 5 April
Female Little Ringed Plover, Grimsbury Reservoir, 5 April
Chiffchaff, Tadmarton Heath BOS nature reserve, 7 April
Snakeshead Fritillaries, Clattinger Farm Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Cotswold Water Park, 8 April
one of the fritillaries, 8 April
Red-necked Grebe, Daventry Country Park, 9 April
pair of Red-necked Grebes and single Great Crested Grebe, Daventry Country Park, 9 April
Red-necked Grebe, Daventry Country Park, 9 April
Eurasian White-fronted Goose, Daventry Country Park, 9 April

Song Thrush with ornamental cherry blossom, Grimsbury Reservoir, 10 April
Long-tailed Tit gathering spiders webs, Grimsbury Reservoir, 10 April
collected and ready to use!
Woodpigeons, Grimsbury Reservoir, 11 April
female Mallard on her nest at Grimsbury Reservoir , 13 April
male Blackcap in Ash tree, Tadmarton Heath BOS nature reserve, 16 April
Mistle Thrush, Tadmarton Heath Golf Course driving range, 16 April
Mistle Thrush, Tadmarton Heath Golf Course driving range, 16 April
Horsetails emerging, Tad
male Grey Partridge (female nearby), Upper Wardington - on strip of bare tilled ground that has attracted up to 7 passage Northern Wheatears in the past week.
Sand Martins at Farmoor Reservoir near Oxford, 17 April - where there were also my first Swifts and House Martin of the year (but no Bonaparte's Gull, I think I was about an hour too late!)
and finally....
male Great Bustards, Salisbury Plain (Great Bustard Project tour), 8 April
male Great Bustard, Salisbury Plain, 8 April

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Edge Hill Wood: Wood Anemones

Great to be out in the field today, calm conditions and increasingly sunny with really beautiful light in the evening.  Spring flowers are starting to look their best, especially Primroses and Wood Anemones.  I stumbled across a wonderful display of anemones whilst exploring the strip of ancient woodland that covers the scarp slope of  Edge Hill overlooking Radway, in south Warwickshire. 
Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are numerous here, as are Nuthatches and Goldcrests, you can also find Marsh Tits, whilst often overhead are Buzzards, Ravens and Red Kites.  There are plenty of big old trees with lots of dead wood, which is great to see as it is so important for wildlife, yet is often quite a rare sight in our local woodlands (all too often it is tidied away).

Wood Anemone
Wood Anemones by the thousand....
Obelisk, with The Grange in the background

Slightly surprisingly, Marsh Marigolds are at home in the woodland too

Two Tree Sparrows, back garden feeders, Upper Wardington
Male House Sparrow (left) and Tree Sparrow
The sparrow shots I took using my ipad to remotely trigger the shutter, enabling some better close-ups that I would otherwise be able to get.
I also called in to Balscote Quarry BOS nature reserve briefly, where a pair of Lapwings are nesting already, and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers are behaving territorially.  In a neighbouring arable field, a flock of Golden Plovers are still present, having spent the winter in the area.  Their numbers seem to be dwindling rapidly though, as they start to head back north (most likely Scandinavia) - I counted 360 last weekend and only 75 today.  Some are coming into breeding plumage and looking very smart indeed.