Thursday, 28 February 2008

Mum's mole mayhem!

I've just come back from two days gardening up at my Mum's place in Gloucestershire. The weather was absolutely perfect, mostly sunny with no wind. One of the jobs that needed urgent attention was the problem Mum has with moles in her lawn. They have been very busy, particularly in the orchard area in amongst the flowering Snowdrops.

Another job that needed doing was cleaning up the patio and cutting the ornamental grasses down ready for the spring spurt of growth. The daffodils have just started to flower in the containers giving a welcome splash of brightness and colour.

Apart from getting some gardening done, it was such lovely weather that I took the opportunity to go for an early morning walk on one of the days. Whenever I go for a walk up here I write down all the birds that I see and hear and then submit them online to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) for the current atlas project. This is a really fabulous way of firstly helping a great cause and also sharpening up identification skills for the eyes as well the ears!

I had 32 species in an hour and a half walk. Everything seemed to be in full song including lots of Yellowhammers and Skylarks. A real bonus was watching 5 hares all together scampering about in a stubble field. Here's a photo of a Yellowhammer and Treecreeper, both of which I took while on my walk.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Late winter tetrad at Postlebury wood

I finally got my second late winter tetrad done for the BTO atlas today. The late winter surveys have to be finished by the end of February so this week was my last chance to get this done. The weather was mild with lots of sunshine, but it was a bit windy which isn't ideal, specially for finding small birds. My birding friend Mick joined me for the two hour walk. We surveyed a mixture of pastureland and woodland.
As expected there weren't many small birds about and there seemed to be a dearth of Wood Pigeons for some reason. We did see many Redwings with a few Fieldfares mixed in and many more Carrion Crows than Rooks. We had good looks at a Treecreeper and a pair of Bulfinches and in the second hour the Buzzards had got up into the air. On the whole it was a pretty quiet affair, though it was still lovely to get out on such a lovely day.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Birding in the Forest of Dean

I took a day trip to the Forest of Dean on Sunday with some friends. It was another lovely blue sky day. We went for usual target species that can be found there at this time of year. At New Fancy View we saw a Goshawk sitting in a tree and then giving a brief flight, but no displaying. Our next place to stop didn't have a very attractive name (Boys Grave), but there we had stunning views of a Great Grey Shrike perched on top of a tree in full sunshine. These are such charismatic birds!

Our next stop was a Brierley where was watched a pair of Hawfinches again typically perched at the top of a tree. Also here we had a beautiful male Brambling, a pair of Marsh Tits and their much rarer cousin, a Willow Tit.
Our last stop was at Cannop Ponds where we had lovely close views of these Mandarin Ducks. What cracking birds!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Willow screen for Rodden Nature Reserve

Today FAWG (Frome area wildlife group) decided to erect a willow screen on the field that overlooks the Rodden Nature Reserve pool. The weather was perfect, blue sky and mild with it!
Below are a series of photographs showing the course of the mornings work ending with the finished screen. Well done to everyone who came along to help. It was a very enjoyable morning.

The Birders amongst us managed to see some good birds while we worked including Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Siskin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and this obliging Little Egret.