I have been out birding quite a few times in the last 3 weeks or so and have noticed other bird activity whilst just pottering around; spring is properly here and birds are the most obvious vessels of the new season. As I keep a nature diary I am always on the look out for interesting behaviour or great wildlife moments to write down at the end of the day, writing sightings up helps them stick in my memory and in this post I have a few of these to share with you.
- 2nd April – Chiffchaff singing in a local park in the sun, spotted a Brimstone (2nd of the year) in my garden, there are a pair of Blue Tits popping in and out of one of my bird boxes with nest material; sometimes too large to get through the entrance hole! I visited Warnham nature reserve and saw my first Swallows of the year – 2 over the mill pond. Also a Mute Swan on its nest, 5 or 6 Herons on their nests too, a brief Kingfisher and a singing Redpoll.
- 3rd – Saw a Swallow fly past out of my bedroom window, also a female Sparrowhawk circling and a pair of very active Coal Tits which must be nesting nearby.
- 5th – Visited Gratton’s park where I unexpectedly stumbled upon a pair of Kingfishers loitering along the river, I managed to spot a fresh hole in the bank in which they must be nesting, great to see. In another nearby park with a pond I saw my first Willow warbler and Blackcap (female) of the year as well as noting that the Great-crested Grebe pair have fledged 3 young, all hitching a ride on their parent’s back.
- 7th – Spent the day down at Pulborough Brooks rspb reserve, 56 species in four rather chilly and wet hours. Pleased to see a Red Kite and my first Sand Martins of the year swooping over the brooks with a group of Swallows. Several hundred Shoveler hanging around and displaying, along with Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon and a pair of Pintail. All these duck were being eyed up by a perched Peregrine Falcon which I picked out in the branches of a large poplar.
- 10th – Headed down to Pagham Harbour in the afternoon with John, very strong easterly wind and a high tide weren’t helpful. However we did see a large flock of Grey Plover (one in breeding plumage, phwooaar!) alongside a few Dunlin and large numbers of Curlew. Was fantastic to see a huddled flock of some 50-odd Black-tailed Godwits; many of which were in breeding finery and positively glowing orange – a gorgeous sight that makes one think of their far-off breeding grounds in Scandinavia and Siberia. On one muddy pool we had smashing views of 6 Avocet and a moulting Spotted Redshank – all blotchy black and silver. We once again failed miserably at sea-watching with nothing on the turbulent sea but a few Great-crested Grebes.
- 12th – Saw my 1st Peacock butterfly of the year sunning itself on someones dried-up bird bath near my house, a real pleasure to see something so colourful. Highlight of the day was easily sitting in a secluded park for half an hour, in the bright and very warm sunshine, watching a group of around 7 Willow Warblers (probably migrating as none of them sung) flit and flutter in and out of a large blossoming willow tree, utter bliss. It occurred to me as I sat there that the fluffy pollen-rich catkins of the willow were almost exactly the same colour as the pale yellowy plumage of the warblers.
Painting by C.F.Tunnicliffe