Sunday, 26 April 2009

Spring's over - summer's here. It's official.

Bit of recent birding - went down to Cornwall over the Easter weekend (I know, a long time back, but I've been nose-to-the-grindstone ever since). Ringed at a friend's site, catching a good number of these:


and these:

Willow Warbler

as well as a few Blackcaps and standard local bits & bobs. Nice way to spend Easter, though perhaps camping wasn't the best idea in the world - a sharp frost on Easter morning left us feeling a wee bit sleep-deprived. C'est la vie. Afternoons were spent wandering the clifftops in glorious sunshine, on one occasion being surrounded by a crowd of curious locals:

Miniature highland cattle, no less, looking as if they're about to release a new album (moosic! Ha! couldn't resist that - sorry...)

Anyway, the weather and the views were fantastic - this is Cape Cornwall from Kenidjack valley:

This a more zoomed-out view of the same bit. The perceptive amongst you will have noticed the air ambulance lurking at the bottom of the cliffs, where they carefully dropped in to rescue a rather luckless woman who appeared to have broken her leg. Was a very impressive bit of helicoptering to get in and out again safely.

Back to the scenery - this is Land's End from the cliffs at Porthgwarra, looking absolutely stunning. The gorse seemed overloaded with flower this year, which made the air seem sticky with the scent of coconut when we were traipsing past banks of the stuff in the valleys.

Since then, I've been out on breeding bird atlas duty, finding a rather satisfying 47 species on the one square, including a couple of Woodlark, Little Owl and Bullfinch doing some rather intimate courtship, as well as a singing Redwing - assume that's a bird that can't be arsed going back north yet. Never know though - I'll be keeping an eye on that one!

Yesterday was a breeding wader survey on my standard Somerset site, producing the trad. pair of Lapwing, a couple of Snipe and a small pack of Whimbrel feeding up on their way to the tundra. I also had a couple of singing Lesser Whitethroat, with several fields liberally spattered with Yellow Wagtails. Always amazes me how they glow when they are in fresh spring plumage - something like the way adult Gannets always appear to have just come out of a washing-powder advert, they're so crisp and clean-looking. Anyway... The first Swift of the year was a welcome sight as well.

Today was a chance to spend some time birding for the sake of it again, so headed up to Yarner with a friend to scout out some migrants. We did nicely in the end, with Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all singing their heads off (messy), a Garden Warbler providing a bit of cool melody, Wood Warblers spinning coins incessantly in the trees, a handful of Pied Flycatchers, a cuckooing Cuckoo, Swallows, House Martins and the odd Tree Pipit here and there. Birds of the day (for one of us, anyhow!) were probably a trio of Mandarin that hurtled north over us at the Trendlebeare carpark, shortly followed by a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker headed in the other direction! Again, a single Swift rounded the day off quite pleasurably... That's two, so summer's official now (sorry Mark!)

Anyway, the final bit of news for the time being is that the spring weather at Easter quite turned my head, to the point of offering to make an honest woman of the mysterious 'N', who was daft enough to accept my offer. Not sure if it's yet sunk in, but I'm quite looking forward to a new chapter in life now...

Finally, before I forget, my friend Nik's off to 'work' in Australia for a year: apparently no shackles are involved, so this seems like a good place to wish you the best of luck whilst you're out there... Will keep you posted here on Devon happenings. Occasionally.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Spring rolls on - boaring.

A neat blog posting, emphasising the risks of either releasing non-native species, or perhaps taking things too literally (check the date):

Dartmoor National Park ranger blog

Recent events haven't been kept up to date, but the first swallows arrived back at the neighbouring farm on Sunday 30th March, and were hotly pursued by the first House Martin of the year, yesterday. Spring is building nicely into summer, with our recent ringing in the garden showing the local Blackbirds, Dunnocks and Long-tailed Tits are there or thereabouts, with Blue and Great Tit not far behind. All looking rather pleasant, really...