St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Wildwatch: 12th October – A late Chiffchaff

Weather: Light, continuous rain; no wind.
Observers: Kaye, Ian

Water levels in both Tang Hall and Osbaldwick Becks were very high due to the overnight (and morning!) rain. Annual plants along Osbaldwick Beck are dying back noticeably.  There are still some berries on early fruiting shrubs – elder, bramble, blackthorn.  And there’s abundant rose hips, haws,  apples and crab apples.  Alder cones are ripening and next year’s catkins are well developed.

Birds: There were almost no birds around Osbaldwick Beck, but we started to pick up more as we walked along the top path (W2, W4). One surprising find was a Chiffchaff, a summer visitor which should have flown South by now. But an increasing number are over-wintering, so maybe this one will decide to stay at St Nicks? Another surprise was a distant, singing Song Thrush; they normally don’t sing at this time of the year – and it was raining as well!

We started to count singing Robins and we heard a total of eight after we had completed our walk. Blue Tits and Great Tits were scattered around, and one feeding flock held one Great Blue and five Blue Tits. Bullfinches were recorded in three areas: W1a, W8 and W6a.


Dunnock - taken in June 2011

On the path running parallel to Tang Hall Beck (W7) we saw a juvenile Dunnock, looking a little confused and giving contact calls, which were replied to by other nearby Dunnocks. It was too wet for photography, so here’s a photo of a Dunnock at St Nicks taken earlier in the year.

Blackbird numbers seem to be increasing. In one tree we counted five. Maybe the continental visitors have started arriving? Other birds which were recorded were Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon (small flock) and Starling (a noisy, large flock on the nearby power cables). A total of 14 species.

Flowers: Indian Balsam , Hedge Bindwood (aka “Convovulus”),  Common Evening Primrose, Great Mullein, Red Clover,  Ribbed (aka “Common”) Melilot,  Tansy,  Tufted  Vetch, White Deadnettle, Yarrow

Mammals and Butterflies: None recorded

One to look out for: Jonathan reported seeing, a few days ago, a bird with a lot of yellow on it, bigger than a Blue Tit but smaller than a Blackbird. From the description, it sounds as if it could have been a Yellowhammer.

13 October 2011 | Categories: Wildwatch | Tags: Chiffchaff, Wildwatch