Sunday, 13 March 2016

A Long Weekend

Three days into a four day weekend, using up some spare time and holidays.
Spent Friday and Saturday working in the garden-I couldn't go out as we were waiting for a couple of deliveries. Its nice in the warm spring sunshine, but it got rather too warm as I spent the time digging up a couple of shrubs that were well past their best, and though moving some perennials and transplanting seedling foxgloves wasn't too bad. The local Buzzards are enjoying the warm sunshine too-it doesn't seem all that long ago that Colin and I twitched our first Hertfordshire Buzzard and now I have them displaying over the garden in the middle of Stevenage.
Birds visiting the garden haven't changed a great deal. Still getting the same two Collared Doves, three Goldfinches, two Dunnocks, two Robins, and Wood Pigeons, Blue Tits and Blackbirds. Have not seen the Wren recently but it is still around and I guess is going to nest nearby. Also, we have had the Long Tailed Tits coming in, and today they were collecting pigeon feathers so there is obviously going to be a nest nearby soon. Just hope the cats don't find it.
As Colin is busy this weekend I was planned to go for a walk around Aston End this morning, but woke up to thick fog. This was rather slow to lift but by 0930 the Sun was breaking through so I headed off. It was rather chilly at first but soon warmed up, though there was a cool northerly breeze now and then. News of a Sand Martin at Wilstone and a few Wheatears on the south coast was encouraging but the best I could hope for was a singing Chiffchaff.
Heading through the plantation and into Long Lane, Coal and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Goldcrests were singing and the first of three Great Spotted Woodpeckers was drumming. Also one Mistle Thrush and several Blackbirds were singing. Walking into Aston End, several Greenfinches were singing, a Green Woodpecker called and a couple of Skylarks flew over.
More Skylarks in the fields south of Aston End down towards the ford, with a few Yellowhammers in the hedgerows. A couple of the fields are rather bare, having either been recently ploughed or planted,  so it was worth scanning them just in case an early Wheatear had dropped in-just larks and Wood Pigeons.
Walking along the Walkern road did not get me much, one Buzzard and one Red Kite. Would have expected to have heard Bullfinch or Nuthatch, but I did hear two Tawny Owls calling from High Wood. By the time I got down to the river Beane I was encountering thrushes, a few Redwing and Blackbird but predominantly Fieldfare. Numbers were as usual difficult to estimate with small parties everywhere and moving around constantly. Rather more unusual was a flyover Stock Dove-not even annual around here.
Blackthorn was in bud by the paddocks and a few of the cherries were flowering, and the willow catkins were out in force.. Although warm and sheltered here, I did not see any butterflies, but the bees were enjoying the pollen. talking of which, one of the weekend deliveries was the new Bee field guide by Falk and Lewington. Talk about overwhelming. I struggle with moths but they look easy by comparison. I have a sneaking suspicion that the garden (bumble) bee list that I compiled many years ago based on an old insect guide is no more than 10% accurate and only fit for the bin.

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