Thursday, 7 April 2011

Swallows Return to Patch

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

A small group of a much larger area of Coltsfoot

7th April. A warm sunny day, almost like summer. I walked much of the patch, so walked several miles today. I was determined to find Swallows!

It wasn’t long before I had found three Peacock Butterflies, in total I found six today, and also my first Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly of the year. Hibernation had not acted positively upon its appearance. The Peacock Butterfly would sit on the path in the sun and then lift when approached by what I assume was the male, and then take part in what I seemed to be courtship flight. I’ve noticed time and time again that the Peacock Butterflies will approach me to suss me out, before sunbathing again nearby. Later in the day I had a brief sighting of a white species butterfly. I know fight timings are not written in stone, but this seems early, and I wondered if it may a been a female Orange Tip, as I have seen males in that particular area before.

Incidentally the nice little patch of scrub and tree which was recently flattened already has the walls of a house built upon it!

I was soon watching my first Swallows of 2011. Two appeared above the farm buildings as I joined the wagon-way. I’m guessing that they will return to a nesting site in the farm buildings. My first sighting of the year was a day later than last year when I had seen two Swallows flying over Killingworth lake. I watched today’s birds for sometime as the songs of Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin, Song Thrush, Greenfinch and Chaffinch were in the air around me.

Despite not seeing very much I enjoyed the rest of the walk along to the flash near Holystone. There had been plenty of bird song with Chiffchaff accompanying me throughout much of the walk. One Chiffchaff flew from the tree and landed within feet of me and just carried on calling. I discovered a pathway through a stand of trees which I’d never walked through. It looked an ideal patch for warblers although all I saw today was a Coal Tit. Linnets lifted from the field to the right of me and I counted eleven birds and later saw a trio of them which could well have been that small flock broken up. At the flash there was a pair of Mallard and two Moorhen, along with a number of Jackdaws. It was here that I got my eye on another two Swallows catching insects over the flash. The stables are nearby and may be providing a nesting area. On my return walk two more Swallows swooped low above my head and another single bird was seen flying over the fields. The female Kestrel flew onto the pylon and rested for a few minutes before flying off to hover over the field. A Yellowhammer’s song was heard but I couldn’t pick the bird out in the hedge. Skylarks were singing.

Almost home, I decided to extend the walk and carry on down to the small lake where I’d looked yesterday and found no Swallows, so I wondered if they might be there now. Once there I watched the Great Crested Grebes and the usual inhabitants. I was thinking that no Swallows were about and decided to move off and just as I did I caught sight of two more Swallows flying high above the school which is nearby the lake. No sign of Sand Martins though. In Total I had found nine Swallows today. I can’t of course be definitely sure that I hadn’t seen at least one of them twice. What ever it was good to get them on my list. I arrived home tired.

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