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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gulls on the Tower

The peace and quiet in SSW during my morning walk on Friday was disturbed by the raucous calls of a cheeky pair of Herring gulls sitting atop the church tower. It seems that we are getting increasing numbers of this quarrelsome species inland and they regularly try and nest on old buildings such as the Old Rectory and the church. Unfortunately they often harass other birds and can block up gutters with their nest material but I thought this made an amusing picture with the weathercock lording it over them!





Goldcrests Galore

In an earlier post I mentioned that there were more Jays around than usual this year due to an influx from the continent as a result of a poor season for acorns. As the season has progressed it has become apparent that other food sources are short on the continent, which means we can expect more vagrants to arrive over the next few weeks.

One species already arriving in good numbers are the tiny Goldcrests. It may seem amazing that they migrate across the North Sea to our milder shores but they do and I have been noticing them around our lanes regularly in the last few weeks. They are often heard before they are seen, with their very high pitch contact calls sounding a bit like a lisp. If you hear them, look out for a tiny bird moving almost mouse like through the trees. Perhaps because numbers are higher than usual they seem to be fighting off others to protect a food source once they find it. As a result they can often be seen chasing each other when they meet up! ( Of course they could be pairing up, but I suspect, with the cold weather approaching, they are more interested in feeding). This tiny bird has to eat its weight in food daily to survive cold periods and feeds constantly in the short winter daylight hours. The cold winters of 2009 and 2010 decimated the native population though they recovered well last spring.

This morning I saw a pair, along with a small family group of Long tailed tits, as they flew out of SSW and into a small tree in Stantway. They did not stay long enough for me to get any pictures of them, dashing off to the next feeding post up the hill.

 

Day by the sea

Had a great day on Sunday 18th November with the South Somerset RSPB group at Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve. Brilliant weather, blue skies and sun all day, no wind and good birding too!

We met at 10.30am timing our visit for high tide in the Exe estuary as the views from the hide overlooking the estuary are best for the birds which come to feed on the mud then.

We walked through the reserve through the dunes, alongside the golf course, spotting a pair of beautiful Stonechats en route to the hide. The mud was just exposed as we arrived and we were delighted to see plenty of birds busily feeding, or in some cases just hanging about resting before fore mud was exposed. This estuary is protected as a reserve by RAMSAR and is home in the winter to thousands of waders and wildfowl.

It is also a good spot for interesting vagrants from America and most of the group were very pleased to be able to see the Bonaparte's Gull which has been hanging around, using the wooden groynes to rest up. On the day we visited ther was a lot of disturbance as the weather encouraged more people than usual for the time of hear to walk on the beach. Fortunately, this who did not see it at the beginning of the morning caught up with it feeding along the shore towards Langstone Cliff later in the afternoon.

Birds seen from the hide included Oystercatchers, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstone, Little Egret,Shelduck and Red breasted Merganser. or a full list see the group website.

Unfortunately I did not take my camera along so have no bird close-ups but used my phone for some views. See below.

Exe estuary looking upstream from Dawlish Warren



Looking towards Exmouth from Dawlish Warren

Exmoor ponies used for grazing



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rainbows over Combe

The weather recently has been very varied. The autumn colours of the leaves seemed to be late in turning and I took this picture through a spider's web in late September which showed how green everythign still was.




Since then there has been plenty of the usual rain, with a little sunshne, which, when combined produced a wonderful double rainbow, like this one last week over the centre of the village.











We have also had snow this week, (but that melted too quickly to capture on film this time), very early for the season, but maybe a promise of what we have in store for the rest of the winter!

One thing to note, due to the poor summer weather this year is that the natural food for the birds is not very abundant, with few berries on the Hawthorn and few spare fruits on the crab apples and other fruit trees, which could spell a hard time for our wildlife over the winter.

Crab apple 1
Compare a picture above, of the crab apple tree in the churchyard this year (1) with the same tree below,  last year (2). The latter was bowed down with fruit but this year the few apples that are there are very poor specimens. So, a gentle reminder to keep those bird feeders topped up!

Crab apple 2



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shrews in the churchyard!

Walking through the churchyard this week I came across this poor shrew (dead) that had probably been caught and dropped by a cat. I include it in my blog because it is one clue to why we have a good population of Tawny owls locally. This is one of their favourite foods, along with voles, so a healthy shrew population is good news for the owls, which by the way, have been hooting vigorously in the last few weeks.


Winter approaches and birds are busily feeding

This week after a wet,windy spell of weather, the temperatures dropped sharply on Thursday evening, resulting in the first frost of the season.
Walking around the lanes I spotted flocks of small birds such as Blue, Great and Long tailed Tits which were busy foraging for food in the hedgerows as if they knew the colder weather was on its way. One nice sighting were a small flock of Goldcrests moving through the trees alongside the R. Isle near Pudleigh. In winter, the Goldcrest must find an insect or spider every 2.5 seconds to maintain its bodyweight so they are constantly flitting as they search for food. 

More birds have been coming to the bird table this week too, including Goldfinches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers so it is important to keep the feeders stocked up now.

Swallows depart

Getting back home from California on the 24th September it was great to see so much greenery still about. On holiday in the States it was obvious that the weather there had been much drier and everything seemed very brown.

We were delighted to see that there were still swallows about too . A dozen young birds were seen preening on the telegraph wires over the stables alongside Combe Wood Lane on the morning before a full moon on the 30th September but were gone the next day. There were however a couple still about a few days later and and they lingered on well into October.

Reports of single birds are still being recorded along the coast as they fly off to warmer climes in South Africa but sadly, "our" birds have all gone for another year now. The other sad thing is, that for the first time in some years there were no active nests in the church South porch this year. Let's hope they take up residence again in the future.

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Califonia Dreaming!

It has been a while since I last uploaded a post to this blog, partly due to having been away in California on holiday so I will add some separate posts shortly to try and catch up!

Whilst California is not eactly local, it was a wildlife trip and some of the sights are worth sharing.
For example, whilst we did not see any foxes like the one from an earlier post seen on the Blackdowns, we  did see a number of Coyotes. This one wandered into the road as we drove along and stood staring at us defiantly as we approached ever closer.
Coyote
We think it was a young one and perhaps not very road aware, we just hope she did not end up getting run over.

We were lucky enough to travel to Yosemite and see the huge Sequoia trees, many of which are over a thousand years old. Some are so huge you could drive a car through them but this is one where our group could easily fit under the trunk!
Sequoia in Yosemite
However, perhaps the most memorable sight and a very unexpected one, was that of the last flight of the space shuttle as it flew over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on its way to its last resting place, a museum in Los Angeles.

"A Very Big Bird!"

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More Butterflies and Moths

With some warmer weather towards the end of July the Gatekeeper butterflies started to appear in SSW, along with Green veined whites.

Then, on warmer days in August, day flying moths, like the Magpie moth below, started to appear.
 
Another curious moth, which I have yet to identify, flew into our porch and settled on the floor tile. 
 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Swifts departing?

At around 6pm this evening I noticed lots of Swifts flying over the village. I had thought they had already left on migration south as the last couple I saw was over a week ago. I counted 30+ all flying really high and circling. I tried to photograph them but they were flying very fast and the grey sky gave little contrast to focus on.

After about ten minutes it started to rain and as quickly as they had appeared they had all gone. Be interesting to see if they appear again tomorrow or that was their last appearance until next "summer"!



Monday, August 6, 2012

Fox on the Blackdowns

On a recent walk from Neroche, up on the Blackdowns, I spotted a movement on the edge of a field of newly cut grass  and was able to watch a young fox in broad daylight as it idly sniffed the ground and listened for possible prey that might have escaped the tractor blades.

It was completely oblivious of us, even though we had a dog with us, and it caught no scent of us as the wind was blowing towards us.
Its attention was distracted by a gull  and it watched it as it flew close to the ground before disappearing.

Finally it must have heard us as it gave us a meaningful stare before it loped across the field back in the direction from which it first came and disappeared through the hedge line.


Slow worms on the move

Twice in the last week I have seen Slow worms on the move.
The first was seen on the road in Wadeford and at first I thought it was dead as it was completely still.
It was missing the end of its tail and only when we tried to move it onto the verge did it move its head and then twirled about as we lifted it up with a stick.


Now I am very fond of most types of wildlife but I do have a phobia about snakes or snake like creatures. I know it is irrational, especially with Slow Worms as they are really legless lizards, but I think  it is the way they move that causes me to shudder. I thought I was very brave getting the close up shot!

The second encounter was even more scary (well for me at least!) I was doing some weeding of the raised bed in my front garden and felt something drop on my foot. I was wearing sandals and looking down saw a slow worm had crawled across my foot! I moved rather fast to the safety of the doorstep and watched it slither in a side way movement across the tarmac of the drive coming to rest under the car. This time my husband managed to pick it up and put it back on the grass but needless to say, that was the end of the weeding that evening!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Butterflies and Moths make an appearance in the sun

Yesterday morning actually started warm and sunny for a change and at last there were more butterflies and day flying moths in SSW than there had been for weeks. There were quite a few Meadow Browns flitting about, occasionally landing on the grass.

Meadow Brown

I also spotted this lovely creature below on a Corn Cockle flower, and my thanks to Rob Grimmond, who identified it for me as a Large Skipper, apparently the first record for the wood!
Let's hope we get some more if the weather deigns to warm up now.



Large Skipper (female?)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Robins are still feeding their young

Many birds have been having a go at second or even third broods, especially if they had to abandon earlier attempts because of the wet, cold weather this year.
Robins are certainly still doing so and a pair have been visitng my Mum's garden to collect the live meal worms she put out for them three or four times a day.
They have become quite tame and even sit on her window ledge looking into the kitchen as if to say where are our worms!
Once the worms are placed in a pot on the wall outside the kitchen, they waste no time in dashing down to see what is on offer

and choosing a tasty morsel!
Mum is now looking forward to when they bring their spotty offspring down to collect their own worms. Going by the number of worms they must have been eating (£7 worth per week) they are likely to be quite tubby!

"Ducks" on the River Isle

Today, the Duck Race took place on the stretch of the River Isle that flows beside Court Mill Lane.
The Ducks were not the usual Mallards, often to be found swimming to and fro here, but more like the ones you might float in your bath!
They were launched at 11am and accompanied on their journey by a duck herder, who was there to ensure they did not get ensnared on the lush undergrowth along the banks.
Everyone dashed down to the bridge over the river and waited in anticipation for the first Ducks to arrive.

 After some anxious minutes, the first Duck finally "swam" into sight, closely followed by the rest of the flock, and of course the duck herder!
The winning Duck in the first race was number 71 and despite appearing to arrive on its side, survived the ordeal with no lasting damage!
(Apologies to the more serious readers of this blog, but this local event deserved a mention, occuring as it does on the River Isle which rises in and flows through the parish, before wending its way to Ilminster and then on to join the River Parrett downstream before reaching the Severn Estuary at Bridgwarer Bay. As such it provides an important habitat in the parish for wildlife, so whilst today's Ducks were not real, records of Kingfisher, Dipper and even Otter have been recorded here, so it is worth keeping an eye open when passing by).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Orchids seem to like the damp weather!

Whilst many plants have not relished the damp, cool weather this year, the orchids seem to have done very well.
The ones I saw earlier in the season on my "Magical evening" have now been joined by some beautiful Common Spotted Orchids (I think?) in SSW

and a good few Pyramidal Orchids along the verges near the Humpty Dumpty fields in Combe Wood Lane. Sadly, the cattle in the field have eaten the ones that have appeared on their side of the fence!

Apologies for quality of the pictures below, taken with my phone!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sparrowhawks don't always succeed

As I walked alongside the field adjacent to the barns at Frog Lane Farm the other day there was quite a commotion as about six swallows were seen chasing a Sparrowhawk! The tiny birds were clearly acting together, diving at the much larger bird to chase it away from their nesting area and it was doing its best to dodge them. They were all  twisiting and turning in the air, just above the ground and eventually the Sparrowhawk landed on the ground in the middle of the field as if exhausted. Instead of giving up though, the Swallows continued to dive bomb it and so it had no choice but to take off again, with the Swallows still in hot pursuit. It finally landed in a small ash sapling in the hedge boundary and after circling the tree, the Swallows finally returned to catching insects in the air.
If only I had my camera with me, it was a really exciting sight and good to know the smaller birds do sometimes have the upper hand!

Bees at Barrington Court

A couple of weekends ago I spent a fascinating afternoon with an expert in bees, learning how to identify different Bumble Bees. First we had to catch some, which we did use sampling bottles and carefully approaching the bees, which were busy gathering pollen from the cat mint in the gardens.


Then we were shown how to decide if they were male or females. The latter having an obvious point at the tail end of the body. Also, only the females collect pollen, so they are the only ones with pollen baskets on their legs! When they have been busy these get very full and are quite obvious.
To decide which group of bees they belonged to you then looked at the tail colour, white, buff or orange.
We also had to decide if they were true Bumble bees or cuckoo bees. The cuckoo bees do not collect pollen and their leg is coverd in thick hair, whereas the true Bumble bee has a shiny pollen sac.
I think I still need more practice, but I was amazed at how easy it was to catch them and then apply some id steps.For more info have a look at http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/identification/top-tips-for-bee-id/

Gold on Blue

One  morning recently I saw the bright yellow flash of a Goldfinch as it flew into our garden. It alighted on the head of some blue cornflowers and on closer inspection I realised there were a "charm" of at least four all feeding on the seed heads. So much for Niger seed feeders!  The cornflowers appeared in the garden a few years ago having sown themselves, perhaps from the birdseed and gradually spread along the border adjacent to a leylandii hedge. Nothing else has grown there successfully as it is rather dry, so the splash of blue in spring and often a further flowering later in the year has meant, despite their somewhat untidy appearance I have left them to flourish.  I am pleased I did as it is lovely to see these beautiful birds in the garden!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Swan Family

Somerset Levels

On a field trip to the Ham Wall and Shapwick reserves yesterday, the weather was kind and we had great views of Bittern, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier and this delightful swan family! which was not amused as the local herd of highland cattle approached from one direction and our group came from the other. After trying unsuccessfully to head off the cattle, they walked towards us and then crossed the path and led their cygnets back to the water.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Magical evening


I took a walk on the one dry,calm evening this week and at one point I stood listening to three different Song Thrushes singing loudly from their different high spots. They seemed to be competing to see which could make the loudest and most complicated sound and it was lovely to hear.

A few Swallows swooped around me and I saw a shy deer watching me from a gateway. Something spooked it and it ran across the field and back again to disappear into the long grass. As I crossed the field I noticed a number of wild orchids.

Next I was delighted to see a Barn Owl quartering some fields and as the light dimmed I heard the sound of young Tawny Owls calling their parents with their wispy squeak. After patiently waiting I saw movement near the field boundary and as I crossed toward a stile, I saw two fluffy babies and an adult altogether in one tree.

Time to start to head for home and I entered another field and followed the footpath uphill near . Turning to look back I spotted another (or maybe the same one?) Barn Owl in the air. Amazing, I have never seen one in the parish before and now I get two sightings in one evening! Magic!

As I walked back home along the lane in the gloom Bats were swooping between the hedgerows greedily catching insects, which have been in short supply during the cold,damp weather we have been experiencing for what seems like weeks now. This is bad news for much of our wildlife as no insects mean the young birds will suffer and the bees aren't pollinating the flowers. Let's hope summer comes soon!



Saturday, June 2, 2012

House martins at last!

The arrival of the House Martins has been late this year in the village and even the Swifts beat them! This week they have been swooping over the newly mown fields, including the school sports field, and have been seen making their mud nests or taking up residence in specially erected nests on local houses. I have still not seen evidence of the Swallows returning to their nests in the church porch, although there were a pair hawking for insects over the graveyard one morning, so perhaps they will still make an attempt. I'll keep watching!

Wildflowers in SSW now include masses of Yellow Rattle, ox-eye daisies and some beautiful Foxgloves along the bank by the steps. The May blossom has been beautiful in frothy white and pink but as we enter June it will begin to fade,so here is a reminder from the edge of the "Humpty Dumpty field"!

 

Buzzard nest update

Those who came on the Combe dawn chorus in April may recall we glimpsed a Buzzard sitting on a nest near Combe Wood Lane. One morning this week I thought I would see how they were faring and at first glance with the trees now fully clothed in leaves I thought they had disappeared. However after patiently waiting for a while I heard the unmistakable "mewing" sound and then an adult flew into the tree close to where the nest was hidden. I guess it was taking in food for the young, so they must have had a successful season. With the controversy earlier in the week of DEFRA first announcing they were going to allow birds at the nest to be shot to protect pheasant poults which had been reared for shoots, then rescinding the order, it is worth noting that Buzzards feed mainly on rabbits and carrion. They will take young birds, but are not usually fast enough to take them from the air and rely instead on the element of surprise, by dropping on them on the ground from a perch or high branch. Compared with the number of Buzzards, the huge number of pheasants reared for sport far outnumber them!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Red Kites over Combe!

As my sister sat on our patio on Saturday morning waiting for me to bring out tea she heard a louder than usual noise being made by some rooks overhead. I stepped out as she shouted "Red kite" and we realised the noise was due to a Red Kite being mobbed by Rooks who were not amused as it glided through their territory. Whilst I have seen Red Kite many times before, I have only seen one in Somerset once, over Neroche, some years ago and this was the first one for my parish list! It drifted by, hardly flapping its wings and treating the rooks with some disdain before heading off westwards. Unfortunately I didn't get my camera out fast enough to get a picture but this is one that shows the view we had very well.

Baby birds everywhere!

Walking past the school sports field one morning I noticed a large number of brown birds feeding in the long grass. Whilst there were some Blackbirds also gathering worms, these were behaving differently and on closer inspection I realised that they were all young Starlings. Instead of the usual black with purple sheen of the adult birds the hound are brown and quite spotty and if you are not familiar with them you could be forgiven for wondering what they are. See a picture here: Adults of many birds such as Blue Tits, Greenfinches and Nuthatches, are busy gathering food and when the young are hungry and see their parents nearby they flutter their wings and squeak as they beg for food. Blue Tits are nesting in nest-box 4 in SSW and both parents are dashing back and forth with caterpillars and grubs for their young in an exhausting way and are beginning to look quite feather worn. As they lay 10-12 eggs, it is a lot of mouths to feed if they are all to survive to fledgling stage!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fox on the prowl

Getting up earlier than usual on Monday, I had the time for a longer walk before work and I headed off to try and find my first Whitethroat of the year. In previous years I have usually had sightings along Greenway, but despite standing and listening for their scratchy song I was not lucky. Having failed along the lane I headed across the fields between Greenway and Whiteway, colourfully covered in buttercups and clover and humming with insects. On reaching the road I headed back towards the village and glancing through a field gate I stopped to watch the sheep and lambs happily feeding in the early morning sun. It was then I noticed a dark shape crossing the field and through my binoculars, realised it was a vixen fox. It completely ignored the sheep and they barely glanced at it as it calmly walked through the middle of the flock, only pausing to sniff the ground and leave a scent mark. Perhaps it had already fed and was on the way home to its den?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tawny Owl encounter

After a week away in Portugal and then various other family and work commitments I returned on the 14th May to find the Swifts had returned to the village, albeit in small numbers as yet. A welcome sight even so as these harbingers of summer are wonderful to watch as they "scream" through the air so effortlessly.
The RSPB are asking for any sightings to be sent to them so they can build up a picture of their range and whether they are declining or not. http://www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/surveys/swifts/
The verges in the lanes around have grown very lush in all the rain we have been having and are now swathed in cow parlsey which looks just like lace and very pretty, if  a slight problem for driver,s as the view of the road is often obscured.
After being alerted by a friend to the possibility of a Tawny Owl fledgling being in the SSW I had a walk on Tuesday evening to see if I could find it. It had been on the ground and whilst it is tempting to pick them up and take them to a safe place, they should never be moved unless in obvious danger from traffic or predators. Thisn is because the young Tawny Owls will often leave the nest before they can fly and will engae in what is known as "branching" this is where they may fall to the ground unharmed, but then climb back up to the nest under the watchful eye of a parent. It is a way of exercising their wings before they take flight. The parents will watch their progeress and this will attracgt the interst of other birds who view it is a threat to their young. This is because Tawny Owls will takeother  young birds as food.
I followed my usual walk, up Stantway and into the fileds via the footpath behind CME. As I approached there were loud chinking calls which signify the alarm calls of a number of Blackbirds and sure enough, when I peered through the hedge I could see an adult Tawny Owl sitting in a low bush. It flew off as I walked on and then when as I entered SSW from the track off of Combe Wood Lane, the Blackbirds were calling again. After watching and listening I finally located  both a young fledgling and the parent bird sitting in two adjacent trees in the old rectory garden.
My photos are not very good as I could not, and indeed would not, approach too close, as I did not want to disturb them but it is great to know though that they are about!
Watchful parent Tawny Owl
Fluffy Fledgling Tawny Owl

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunshine and birdsong

After a wet few days it was a delight to go out for my usual morning walk in the sunshine. Many birds were singing from high spots on the trees and hedges, or we're busy collecting food for young and at least one Great tit in SSW was gathering feathers for nesting material. The grass in the fields alongside Park Lane,(which is the footpath that runs between Stantway and Combe Wood Lane, and so named because it used to be a deer park) have grown since the sheep were removed recently and the daisies and grasses have appeared. Today this attracted some beautiful Linnets, which flew down from the overgrown hedge (great for cover) and were taking full advantage of the grass seeds. The males with their pink ,streaky breasts and chestnut backs looked very handsome. Whilst I stood still, in the shadow of the hedge watching them, I also noted Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Great Spotted woodpecker, House Sparrows, Blue tit, Great Tit and Blackbirds. SSW was also alive with the sound of birds, a scolding Wren, Nuthatches, Jackdaws and Chiffchaff all very busy. Such a pity I have got to spend most of the rest of the day in front of a computer screen working!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April showers and more signs of spring

This week we have had true April seasonal weather of wind and heavy showers with hail and thunder and lightening thrown in for good measure! The spring migrants have continued to arrive in small numbers, including swallows appearing in ones and two, such as the one on the wires at the top of Stantway, chattering to itself on Monday morning. As yet I have not seen any House Martins in the village, but on a trip to the Levels on the 14th I saw plenty, together with swallows and sand martins and the first, early swift, hawking low over the flooded areas on Sahpwick and Ham Wall reserves. Numerous Blackcaps are now singing every morning when I walk across the fields between Stantway and Combe Wood Lane.Such a lovely fluty sound and the males look so smart with their trim black caps which give them their name,even though the females have brown caps! Goldfinches are appearing on garden feeders as well as still trying to feed on the last of the remaining ash keys in the trees in SSW. Blue tits are busy taking food into nesting boxes to feed their young and I just hope the cold weather doesn't kill off the babies. pairs of linnets are sitting atop the hedge lines , the males showing off their pink chests to the females before launching into the air with their bouncy flight. The bluebells in the SSW are now being joined by the first of the campions as they unfurl into their vivid pink blooms and in the verges, the stitch wort looks like there has been a sprinkling of snow. Buzzards are taking advantage of the thermals at every opportunity but the rooks are quick to mob them if they drift near their rookeries. I counted around 40 nests in the Combe Wood rookery and what a racket the young make as the adults return to feed them! let's hope the weather improves in the next few days for us and the wildlife.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bluebells, Cowslips and Jack by the Hedge

Despite the weather forecast for rain, the sun shone for most of the day and I had a very pleasant walk along Holland's Wash Drove, Gypsy Drove, through Combe Wood and across the fields back through SSW and home to Stantway. Bluebells are unfurling alongside Jack by the Hedge in the verges and the birds are singing loudly. The rookery in Combe Wood was very active with constant comings and goings and constant squabbles making a very noisy background soundtrack. Buzzards were soaring in the thermals and I also counted three sparrow hawks circling overhead. The first Cowslips were out in the SSW.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blackcaps singing

After the wet day yesterday, this morning's early sunshine was greeted by singing Blackcaps and song thrushes galore! Blackbirds were busily collecting grubs for their young. I watched one blue tit keep taking a feather in and then out again of one of the nest boxes in SSW as though it's partner was inside saying " No George!". It tore it up into a smaller piece and was finally satisfied,flying off to find another offering.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dawn Chorus walk

17 people turned up for the walk from Sunday School Wood, next to Combe Parish Church, at 6am this morning. After a very welcome cup of coffee,  we set off on a short walk, through SSW, along Combe Wood Lane, up the footpath towards Combe Wood and then over the fields to Broccole Lane, before heading across the footpath to New Road Farm and back to the churchyard for breakfast at about 8am.
We saw and/or heard 26 bird species in all, (listed below) which for a walk in early April, in a slight drizzle, was quite good going. We also saw roe deer and numerous rabbits, plus wildflowers such as cowslips and bluebells, so hopefully everyone who joined us felt it had been worth getting up so early for!
Thanks to Debbie and Andy for the catering, Sue for the posters, Rob for assisting with birdsong identification and the Village Shop for selling the tickets

Blackbird
Blackcap
Blue Tit
Buzzard
Carrion Crow
Chaffinch
Chiff Chaff
Coal Tit
Collared Dove
Dunnock
Goldcrest
Goldfinch
Great Tit
Green Woodpecker
Greenfinch
Herring Gull
House Sparrow
Jackdaw
Linnet
Pheasant
Robin
Rook
Song Thrush
Swallow
Woodpigeon
Wren

Sunday, April 8, 2012

skylarks

Skylarks were singing from high along Greenway in the warm sun on Easter Sunday. Buzzards were soaring in the thermals.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Early spring news 2012

The Sunday School Wood newsletter is no longer being produced monthly, so to keep everyone up to date with my wildlife records for the parish I am launching a blog! To briefly summarise,the last couple of months since the last newsletter have been quite exciting for wildlife sightings as Combe has had a rare bird, the Yellow Browed Warbler, hanging around the sewage works. So if you have been stopped in the lanes and asked for directions to the sewage works recently,now you know why. This bird had come all the way from ASIs and was joined by at least 2 Siberiean chiff chaffs, plus a number of Goldcrests. Pictures of it can be seen on the Somerset Ornithological Society website http://www.somersetbirds.net/gallery.htm Spring flowers have been early, with unseasonal high temperatures in March so Daffs were going over by the end of the month and bluebells were already coming out at the beginning of April. Cowslips are also out in SSW. Spring migrants such as Chiff Chaff have been singing and I saw my first Swallow at the top of Stantway on 29th March, though it was heading north and did not stop. There were a pair however on the wires in Scrapton today. Now looking forward to the Dawn chorus walk on Easter Monday at 6am!