Yellowhammer - refusing to come completely into the open
Yesterday saw the only classes this half-term week, as the Tuesday 'pupils' tried to catch up on a rained-off session. The star birds were likened to the colour of traffic lights. Although these pictures show the red & green 'lights', there was also an 'amber' bird, but no photos exist.
The morning sessions started very quietly indeed, but a Goldcrest and Treecreeper enlivened the gloom. When we got to the heath area we could hear the strange noise of Crossbills flying around, but they were very hard to track down. Eventually one was heard singing. The song appeared to be coming from an area of gorse bushes, but Margaret spotted a green Crossbill singing from some power lines above our heads. Everyone got point-blank views of this particular bird, and then some distant sightings of about 6 birds in a high conifer.
Walking along a ditch & a bank to get better views of the birds once they had relocated we also saw an extremely early basking female Adder. She should be joined be several more in the coming weeks. Although the day was a lot warmer than of late, I hadn't really expected to see an Adder in February. The same individual was seen in the afternoon - identified by the proximity to the ladybird!
Marsh Tits showed for both sessions near the car park, but the Treecreeper was only seen properly in the morning. A male Kestrel also hung over the car parking area, and 3 Buzzards were seen to the east.
In the afternoon the Crossbills were spotted by one of the new Sues at the top of a Silver Birch tree just over the dragonfly pond. This must be the area where they come down to drink, so may be worth revisiting for better pictures in superior light conditions. They were only present at the pool in overcast conditions yesterday. Although the pm session missed out on the Yellowhammer, Treecreeper & Goldcrest, they did have a pair of Green Woodpeckers, which gave reasonably good fly-by views. They provided a nice fillip to the closing section of the afternoon session.
This venue is ruined by inconsiderate dog owners who refuse to poop up their mess, so an awful lot of time is wasted examining the floor when we should be searching the trees and skies for birds. Dog-walkers are notoriously badly behaved at this site, as we have seen in the past - the other summer signs were put up to ask owners to put their dogs on leads to avoid harming ground-nesting birds, but when we were there not a single dog was on a lead.
The rest of the week is my own to either write a piece for a local magazine, or try & track down some interesting late winter species
Crossbills (c) 2012 John Sparham
Female Adder (& 7-spot Ladybird)
Singing Green Crossbill
Record shot of Siskins