Thursday, 19 March 2009

Spring (it's all about sex, innit?)

Here we are again. Well. The Willow Tit survey is proving to be quite interesting: three positives so far from the 5 woodlands surveyed, with another two sets of woods to be searched this weekend: seems like the elusive little blighters aren't yet gone from the moors (OK, with perhaps the honourable exception of the Fernworthy birds). Good stuff.

Started surveys for woodlands for Devon's contribution to the national Bechstein's Bat survey as well - my two 10km squares being up near Crediton (they'm funny up there) and proving to have little in the way of woodland, let alone interesting old woodland with water, old oak/ash canopy and abundant ground flora with plenty of hazel in it. Oh well. Did what I could, and we'll just have to see what happens come the actual nights out!

So, on to the sex... We managed to have a bit of a wander up at Steps Bridge recently, to see the wild daffodils in their glory: they were looking pretty dashing, I have to say. The wild daffs are able to reproduce by seed, so have to pimp themselves to bees and flies, whilst the average garden gank doesn't (I assume the ability has been bred out of them). So, what with the abundance of daffs and other wild flowers out there at the weekend and the longer days stimulating the local birds into some sort of sexual frenzy, the woods were a bit of a seething mass of reproduction...

Daffodils pimping themselves in the woods: always looking for a passing bee...

Na, ignoring the tide of floral filth swamping the woods

Our geeky challenge of identifying every plant we possibly can has become more rewarding, as the annuals come out to play again. We're going to have to get serious at identifying grasses, ferns and mosses this year though. That'll be a bit more of a challenge!

Other signs of spring that we've seen: Ravens carrying food to nests, Blackbirds ditto; the local Peregrines are on eggs too, by the look of it. More sex. Stacks of flowers out there now, from Lesser Celandine and Annual Dog's-mercury through to Climbing Corydalis and even the first Bluebell at Slapton a couple of weekends back! Everywhere you look... Mary Whitehouse, eat your heart out.

Cosmic snot is out and about: always nice to see...

In case you don't know, it's also relevant: this is (I'm reliably informed) actually unfertilised frogspawn, presumably dumped by a female frog who couldn't hold it.

We also managed a walk along the less fashionable end of Lustleigh Cleave, where again, the woods were a bit steamy. I couldn't be bothered taking any more pics beyond what you can see below though.

The river Bovey tripping through the booulders near the head of the woods. No, I don't know what the moss is (but there's loads of Rhytidiadelphus on the woodland floor nearby - try that name with your teeth out!)

Best thing since sliced bread, apparently. Surely there's a better thing than sliced bread as a baseline?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Beat those winter blues

OK, I know it's a bit late, but in our trip planning, we've come across the following webcam, which will only be of use to us in the evenings, our time. Dream away, drift away...

On an entirely different note, a new Black-headed Gull ring at the Quay today. This is a quick summary of how it looks this spring:

10th Feb: 1 Swedish metal ring
18th Feb: same Swedish bird
20th Feb: 1 Latvian metal ring (seen earlier in the winter by Nik W.)
23rd Feb: 2 Swedish metal rings (one the same as on 10th and 18th)
24th Feb: 1 Danish colour-ringed (metal also read), long-staying Swede
25th Feb: Dutch metal ring
4th March: Finnish metal ring...

What next??!