Spring is in the air !! The whole of the front of Lake Farm, where the toddlers playground and Skylark statue are situated, is smothered in purple and yellow crocuses. These were planted by the local primary school back in 2000. They also planted daffodils to spell out 2000 but it will another month or so before I can see that again. The crocuses have naturalised really well. Ironically these bulbs are in part of the proposed new school building area !
It was a pleasant and quiet day at Lake Farm for the end of month bird count. It wasn't as cold as it had been recently, but there was still a bit of a chilly breeze, and the sun tried very hard to break through the clouds.
As always I separated the site into four, and worked each quarter, adding tallys to my little book.
The Reed Buntings were, as usual, in the hedgerow running alongside Botwell Common Road. They were more active than when I last saw them eight days ago. A lot of the males were chasing each other around. I also flushed quite a few from low down in the long grasses, so there may have been more than I actually added to my total tally today. I'm not sure why they are hankering down in the long grasses, the breeze wasn't that strong, and it was fairly mild weather. But the ones I did see were vocal, and I got a total of nine birds today. The males definitely out numbered the females.
The Skylarks were even more vocal. And trying to photograph them is like trying to photograph Lord Lucan !! Impossible. Every time I heard one calling its raspy song, I tried to locate it without fail. Three birds seen in the air but I reckon I heard at least another five or six birds on the ground. Last year, as the weather got warmer, the Skylarks became more and more visible until I had my crowning moment in July when I managed to photograph a juvenile perched on a post. Fingers and talons crossed that I get the same this year.
Not one Stonechat could I find ! Such a comparison to January when I had guaranteed sightings of at least four every time I went to LF. There were also no Redwings or Fieldfares, and the Meadow Pipit that hung around for three or four days early on in February, has also gone.
The gull field had good numbers. Counted 49 birds, took photos and done my identifications from them. At least 12 Black-headed gulls, 34 Common gulls and 3 suspect Herring gulls of various juvenile plumage stages. I immediately thought of my friend Sue Barry, who came to LF with me on 20th Feb to see the gull field, and not one gull was there !! (but she did go away happy with sightings of Reedys and Skylark)
Other good numbers on site were the House Sparrows, at least 28 were in the scrubby hedgerow, Woodpigs, over 25 scattered over the site and singing Blue Tits, at least 13 were seen today, most of them in pairs. Magpies are also doing well, over 20 today, mainly in small groups but at least two pairs seen gathering twigs.
As well as the Reedys, Skylarks and Blue Tits singing, there were three Robins singing from various corners of the site. I'm surprised how low that number is. Lake Farm is almost 60 acres so I would have expected more numbers of Robins.
No Mistle Thrushes today and just one solo Song Thrush. Again, not quite the numbers I would expect to see at this time of year.
After doing my bird count I trotted off back to the front of the site to have a look at the resident feral pigeons. The numbers here exceed 50-60 some days, but some of the colours and plumage's are quite interesting. One bird stood out from all the others. It was pure white with dyed purple tail feathers and purple markings around its eyes. It has one blue plastic leg ring. Its fairly tame, and you can get quite close to it, but not close enough to pick it up. The ferals seem to have accepted it as one of their own. I emailed Sean Huggins, my LNHS point of contact, and he thinks its escaped from a private collection. Its not a racing pigeon, and as the ring is un-marked, its going to be very hard to locate its owner. I'm going to email the photos to a contact I have at the local paper. Maybe I can track down its owner, and hopefully ask why the bird is dyed and ringed.
|female Reed Bunting|
|plaque from the above monument|
So there ends my blog for today. A good bird count, a dyed purple dove and a call out for a historian. I'm off work tomorrow and hoping to get to another site in Kent, so having a couple of glasses of well deserved Echo Falls before an early night.