Thursday, 24 May 2012

Late springing

It's been a funny old patch here in Devon lately. The weather's oscillated between spells of glorious spring sunshine, when the butterflies and bees crowd the flowers and the birds frantically get on with either breeding or migrating, and patches of foul, blattering, cold rain where everything seems to batten down the hatches and take cover for the duration.

Because the weather's been so inconsistent - and I've discovered it's not as easy to be spontaneous with a small baby in the house - we've not been out ringing at all in April, so Sunday was a great opportunity to get out for the morning. Opening the car door, I was greeted by the sound of a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away steadily in the adjacent Rhos pasture like this (click the arrows to hear the song). I opened the nets to the sound of Blackcaps and a Garden Warbler making their presence known to their rivals, and the morning was spent ringing to the accompaniment of Willow Warblers (perhaps the sweetest of all the UK's summer sounds), a Redstart and a couple of Cuckoos. Being mid-spring, there wasn't much to ring, but a healthy number of Willow Warblers included at least two ringed as adults this time last year.

Bird of the day was, however, not even a bird, but a particularly fine female Adder, basking complacently on a Molinia tussock: she waited patiently until I'd taken a number of photos, then resumed her interrupted relaxation without batting an eyelid. Not that she could bat an eyelid, but I speak figuratively...

American Skunk-cabbage - a colourful addition to the local streams and as yet apparently without the drawbacks of things like Himalayan Balsam or Japanese Knotweed. It does, however, as the name suggests, smell quite rank.

A fully-open flower, wafting a gentle stench on the breeze

And this one's done the business. It's no coincidence that it seems to be pollinated by flies...

Garden Warbler

The star of the show!

A very good-looking snake indeed...