Saturday, 18 April 2015

Byway birds

I have been out and about on the patch today, mostly for necessity, but with time to dawdle for a moment or two, or take the option of the longer route to make the most of the sunshine. The day started well, with a real surprise. At the corner of a path I was stopped in my tracks by a loud, persistent bird call, a high pitched trill that I was sure I recognised but couldn't quite place. I peered upwards into the ivy clad tree, and spotted a movement between the shining triangular leaves. A firecrest, strikingly marked, very mobile and visible, and singing his little heart out! I have spotted one or two firecrests on the patch in the cold winter months, feeding in the hedgerows, but not in the spring and not singing with such gusto. 

All along Jubilee Path, around South Pond, and indeed throughout the patch, spring greening is well underway, and now it has started seems determined to make up for any lost time. Lady's smock lightens the shade with pale pink flowers, signalling the arrival of the orange tip butterfly. These tiny, but bright, white and orange butterflies* dash past with such a cheerful and excited demeanour that they never fail to speed the heart rate up a little. Look out for them along road-sides and sunny path ways at this time of year, as they rush to complete their business before summer truly arrives. 

*These are the male orange tips which are the most obvious, the females lack the orange wing tips and tend to be less conspicuous, intent on feeding and egg laying rather than patrolling and showing off like the males.

The Community Orchard is bursting into life, after long months of twiggy bareness through the winter, blossom adorns many of the small trees and there is more than a hint of green around the buds. A commotion of birds made me look up just in time to watch a large female sparrowhawk drift overhead. Extracting herself from the the mobbing crowd of small birds and corvids, she climbed high into the sky, disappearing against the glare of the sun. 

The willows by the pond are a cascade of green, long leaves and long yellow-tinted catkins. A Grey wagtail has been using the posts around the new planting areas (part of the South Pond Restoration Project) as fly-catching perches, flitting out to plucking insects from the warm air above the slow water and returning to bob and wag its tail on the top of its favoured post.

For once today I was following my own advice - never get parted from your binoculars! I presumed the large bird of prey that was drifting south on the strong wind above the highstreet, whilst I was sat eating my lunch on the squat bridge along the causeway, was a buzzard. My binoculars revealed the truth; a red kite! This is the first time I have seen one at this end of the patch, and this close into town. A few minutes after I lost sight of it, it was later picked up by a family member at home who reported that it was last seen heading towards Pitsham and Bepton, it's more usual territory. 

For some birds it seems spring has already made progress, in the church yard, where holly blue butterflies flittered around the tops of the evergreens, a coal tit was busily attending to the demands of a family of hungry fledglings. 
Amongst the primroses and herb robert, long legged bee-flies hovered like insect-hummingbirds.

Byway birds; seen alongside public byways and on a day when one is busy doing other things and comments about birds tend to start with, "oh and by the way..."

1 comment:

  1. I don't need to look at the photos on your blog because your writing paints pictures in my head. Having said that, your photo of the beefly is much better than the one I sent you. I have seen several in my garden since then and while out and about.


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Hello! Thank you for viewing my blogs and profile. I am passionate about the countryside and british wildlife and I hope that this comes through in my blog. I am a nature writer and have been pursuing photography since early teenage years, whilst building a career in conservation. Helping people to reconnect with the natural world is very important to me, whether through direct hands on interaction, education or literature. Please also visit my website, for more information, my current CV, and further examples of writing and photography. You can contact me or keep up to date with new blog posts via Twitter @SophiEcoWild and/or Feedback, comments and audience participation are always welcome! Sophie May Lewis