Weather: overcast with showers, cool at first, light breeze.
Observers: Linda, Kaye
What a contrast with the weekend’s mini heatwave! But the showers were a welcome refreshment for yet more leaves and flowers, and the birds seemed to like it – at any rate they were much more in evidence than last week.
The new leaves include Oak, so here’s your official Wildwatch long-range weather forecast based on the old rhyme. If it means bud-burst, the Ash flowers have been out for weeks so it’s going to be a wet summer. If it means specifically leaves, the Ash has only just got started, whereas this Oak’s in full if very delicate leaf, so it’s going to be dry. Watch the skies and see how we compare with the Met Office!
Birds: For whatever reason, the birds were singing and showing again. Rarely have we seen and heard Song Thrushes so often in one session. Even allowing for seeing the same bird more than once, there must be at least five territories. Blackbirds were in full song for most of the morning, and one female was carrying nesting material near the Centre. Robins, Great Tits and Blue Tits popped up regularly all over the reserve, and we watched one Great Tit bring a fecal sac out of its nest then go back to get another. We had fewer and briefer sightings of Wrens, Bullfinches and two Goldfinches. A highlight was a Sparrowhawk flying directly overhead near the meadow. There are still two Coal Tits hanging around Osbaldwick Beck. Two Long-tailed Tits in the same location may or may not have been the birds we saw earlier at the opposite side. We could do with a Blackcap survey: there appear to be singing males in at least four locations, though we only saw two females. Chiffchaffs likewise can be heard throughout the wooded areas. Two Mallards on Osbaldwick Beck, flyover Carrion Crows and Herring Gulls, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Collared Doves and of course Magpies and Wood Pigeons gave us a much more respectable list of 21 species.
Amphibians: the Smooth Newts continue to give good views in the pond, but any surviving Tadpoles have gone under cover.
Invertebrates: one Seven-Spot Ladybird, the occasional Common Carder Bumblebee and a small bee that we haven’t yet identified, made up our entire insect quota.
The cooler and damper conditions seemed to have brought out a range of likewise unidentified Snails in the pathside vegetation. We look forward to the mollusc survey planned as part of the Nature Counts event next week!
Plants: the late-flowering Willows are producing catkins, the Oaks are at last in leaf, and Bird Cherry and Apple are in full blossom. Recorded for the first time this year are Cuckoo-flower and Broom in the Gorse patch, Green Alkanet near the compost heaps, and Bluebells (unfortunately only the Spanish variety) in several woodland spots. Red Campions are out near Osbaldwick Beck. The Prunus flowering season is just about over, but a few Lesser Celandines, Coltsfoots, Daffodils and one or two Fritillaries have survived the sunshine. The Cowslip patch is still going strong, and now has a number of variant forms ranging from almost red to pale orange. White Dead-nettles, Cow Parsley, Garlic Mustard and spectacular Dandelions are easy to find in most locations with wide path verges. Red Dead-nettle is a bit more selective, and along with Ivy-leaved Speedwell is probably best identified along the West boundary path. All sorts of other things are in bud and queuing up to be included in the next blog.