Sunday, 27 March 2011

Garden Images

Some images of garden plants today.

Summer Time

Just got past the 'first day of Spring' courtesy of the equinox and we changed the clocks to British Summer Time today. Not acclimatised-the body clock is a bit screwed.
Most of March has been pretty dry, and the pond level had dropped considerably. Ever since I re-profiled it about six years back, and extended the liner slightly I have suspected a leak, as the level has always seemed rather lower than intended. Decided to do something about it and a few evenings back removed the large iris clump, Purple Loosestrife and the Marsh marigolds, along with most of the pebbles. Bailed more of the water out and stored it in the wheely bin and surveyed the liner. Seems as if some of the plant roots have got under the extension, so used butyl tape to repair it.
Also used the tape to stick some of the larger pebbles back-no more sliding into the water hopefully. Replanted Friday, and finally finished things off this morning by topping up the water. Noticed that some of the tadpoles have hatched within the last week and that the Pond Skaters are back.

Working in the garden has produced a few surprises. We definitely have a Robin's nest in the ivy-until recently my garden was between two territories so this is new. Also there is a good chance the ivy has a Wren nesting as one or two birds are almost permanently in the garden. A pair of Great Tits visit frequently-I suspect they have a nest in the Oak in the front. Not sure where the Blackbird pair have their nest, but the Bay is a possibility.

After last weeks warm weather, the weekend has been quite a bit cooler. Yesterday was a bit of a shock to the system when I went to Amwell-cold ad misty first thing and it never really warmed up as it remained cloudy.
Singing Chiffchaffs everywhere but nothing else in the way of spring birds-unless you count the pair of Oystercatchers back again for the summer. Most of the winter ducks have gone-only a few Teal left now. Hardly any gulls either, though it looks like a few Black heads are taking an interest in the tern rafts. Had hoped to pick up the Kingfisher now that they have returned, and had a stroll with Colin round to Hollycross but were were not successful, but we did come across the Marsh Tit and a few Cetti's Warblers.
The low misty cloud also meant that there was little chance of seeing any Sand Martins, or even an early Swallow, and to some extent it was a bit of a disappointing visit.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

First Garden Butterfly

Just finished a spell of gardening, and found a mating pair of Commas warming themselves on some dark coloured washing that was still hanging up on the line.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Hoopoe and Eagle

With the fine weather and the prospect of early migrants we had pretty much decided on Friday that Sunday would be spent at Portland-we had had a good time last March so figured it would be worth the drive. Knowing a Hoopoe was present made it definite.
The dull drizzle as we drove past Southampton was a bit worrying but we hit sunshine soon after and the weather turned out really well for us.
We arrived at the Bill just after nine and bumped into some birders I knew and was told that the Hoopoe was some way along the cliffs east of the light. Bit of a walk out past the beach huts but we eventually found it. It proved very flighty but by waiting by the coast path i eventually got a few good images.

I was on the lookout for migrants while we were searching, particularly as there were a lot of alba Wagtails reported-strange that my first was a Grey Wagtail flying in off the sea. Found plenty of Pied, but failed to locate any White. Also present of course were Rock and Meadow Pipits. The open areas held a large number of Wheatears as well.
Searching the quarry south of the Lower Admiralty failed to locate any of the Black Redstarts so we went to the cliffs to look at the sea birds. A few Gannets went past, as well as numerous Fulmar and Kittiwakes. Auks were abundant, flying out from the cliffs, and Colin eventually found a Puffin among them. I had to wait a while but eventually one flew out and sat on the sea-the greyish head and dull bill was a bit disappointing as mine had yet to acquire full breeding plumage.
 Despite being very busy at the Bill we eventually found a small flock of Turnstone and Purple Sandpipers on the rocks.

 A quick stop at the Fleet produced a single Mediterranean Gull before we called in at Radipole. The sleeping Hooded Merganser was seen from the bridge and I spent some time getting images of the ducks, grebes and flying gulls while Colin photographed it. The walk around the reserve did not produce much apart from a Small Tortoiseshell.
 We had planned on visiting the New Forest but decided to go to Old Basing and see if the White Tailed Eagle would show and we arrived mid afternoon. The small crowd informed us that we had just missed it some way away. A couple of rather pale Buzzards proved interesting while we waited, but after about an hour I noticed a commotion above the distant trees and realised that corvids were mobbing something big. Even at nearly a mile it was clearly the White Tailed. It gradually drifted closer, but as it did so it got higher, and was continually harassed by the Buzzards-very spectacular and from time to time the corvids also joined in.
Eventually the camera was able to get a decent focus lock, despite the great hight and I got a few poor images.

 Unfortunately i then decided to head back down towards the distant woods where we eventually lost it.
Still, it more than made up for the frustrating day down at Hordle.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

First Butterfly

Did not know where to go this morning-the warm southerlies have been producing the first migrant Wheatears and Sand Martins, and it was about time to listen out for Chiffchaffs. In the end I went to Amwell and did not see any of these.
The warm sunshine was tempered by a  southerly which at times seemed a bit chilly. I had missed a Green Sandpiper, but the first of the sites Redshank had appeared and was very mobile-it had been here for a couple of days but had yet to settle. One Little Egret was present, and the Cormorants and Herons seemed busy in the nesting trees.
Lots of raptors today-several Sparrowhawk and Kestrel with at least 8 Buzzards in the air at one point. A nice bonus while counting them was seeing the two local Ravens-they are usually only seen very early and very late in the day.
Other bonus birds were my first Grey Wagtail and Treecreeper for the year.
On the way back to the car I encountered my first Brimstone butterfly.