Sunday, 17 May 2009

A Whitethroat at Last!

Lords and Ladies
Ribwort Plantain

Hawthorn Blossom


17th May. My absence from the blog can be explained in two words gastro enteritis. Yes I have been down with some nasty bug and have had to make do with the garden birds and a garden visit by a Green Veined White Butterfly. I did manage to see a Fox as I passed Earsdon on 9th May which was the same day as I caught sight of my first of the year Common Terns over Killy Lake. I managed to explore the patch briefly last week, but today was my first real birding for some time. Two hours bought me 40 species of bird.

I took a look at the Nuthatch nest hole first of all and the male seemed to be visiting with food so a good start to my walk. It was amazing how differently the nest hole area looked now with ivy grown up and the trees in full leaf. Not far away I also found a plant I have never knowingly seen before in Lords and Ladies Arum maculatum. I walked across to the lake hoping for some butterflies on the way, but all I found today were whites. There is an amazing change in the scenery over the past two weeks with many of the trees appearing to be in full leaf and the hedges lined with Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris, and much Hawthorn in full bloom. Wild Garlic Allium ursinum was in full flower now too. Chiffchaffs, Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Wren sang in the church grounds.

On reaching the lake I found the pair of Great Crested Grebe at the nest. This year they seem to have picked a better spot away from the pathway and main road and they are in the centre of the lake. A Coot also sat on a nest and I later noticed Coot chicks were about. Swifts, Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins all hunted for food over the smaller lake and they were soon joined by noisily calling Common Terns. A Cormorant with white breeding patch clearly showing flew overhead. A Pied Wagtail was stepping across water plants as it fed. The lake was edged with Meadow Buttercups Ranunculus acris and Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis. The larger lake still held the lone female Goosander. Other birds on the water included Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Moorhen. Herring Gulls flew overhead and Black Headed Gulls were feeding. A lone Lesser Black Backed Gull flew across the lake.

Instead of walking around the lake I decided to double back and walk across the playing fields to behind the village where I hoped to find my first Whitethroat of the year. On reaching the area I heard both Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers singing. It wasn’t long before I had found a male Blackcap near its usual nesting site. Dunnocks were also nesting there and feeding young. The usual Corvids were about. I walked around the area but neither saw or heard Whitethroat.

As I walked up the road to the village I found the field to the right full of Wood Pigeons, but little else apart from the odd Jackdaw and several Pheasants, one of the attractively plumaged males calling loudly. Robins and tits seemed to be the only other birds about in this area. I took the road to the right and walked down the wagonway. I hadn’t given up hope of a Whitethroat as I know they usually nest in this area. I have just recently learnt that Whitethroats where once known as nettle creepers, reflecting their favoured nesting areas.
I hung around the area for a time and my patience was rewarded with a singing/displaying male Whitethroat which was actively moving around his territory and singing from various perches. I was happy so begun to walk home, still with the song of Chiffchaffs in my ears and the sight of Greenfinches. I was happy to clock up 40 species of bird in a couple of hours and hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.