Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Spring is hardly springing along

The Safari had a very pleasant surprise on Sunday. After a wet and miserable Saturday when we planned to go to have a look at a new car but decided not too because of the weather we had a browse on-line and found a similar one much closer to Base Camp, the original one wasn't viewable on Sunday so we nipped out for a look at the nearer one in dry bight warm and sunny conditions - a proper spring day. Long gone are our days of the fuel thirsty but fun and capable Land Rovers now we're looking at hybrid hatchbacks, they're not the same but needs must!!!
Anyway the salesman was showing us what was on offer on his forecourt when we heard a commotion of gulls above our heads - we had to ask him to hold his patter for a few minutes while we picked out a passing Osprey (138) the gulls had alerted us too. It was low overhead as it circled slowly northeastwards trying to avoid the attention of the mobbing gulls. Yer man was impressed with our find! We weren't able to have a test drive as Monty was in our motor and was a getting on for a bit too warm for leaving dogs in cars so we had to break away from the sales pitch and hit the beach.
The beach was busy and Monty had great fun trying to steal other dogs' balls - he's a nightmare every other dog's ball is better than his own - he has a classic case of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence! 
With so many people and their mutts about wildlife was non-existent until we spotted a Swallow (139) jinking towards us at about double head-height, judging by the extreme length of his tail streamers we'd hazard a guess that he was a male.
Monday was another proper spring day - tee-shirt sleeves even! We took Monty fro a morning wander round Patch 1 for the first time in ages. As we approached we could see the rough field through the still leafless hedge and it was a sodden quagmire - we daren't let him anywhere near that, we'd have to keep him in the park proper and hope he didn't do a U-ey and make bee-line for the mud.
The first thing to catch our eye in the scrubby wild area was the enormous patch of Cow Parsley growing under the trees - great to see and it be full of interesting invertebrates to get to grips with when it starts to flower.
The second thing we noticed was the grass in the 'butterfly area' has been hammered down by the weather over the winter, much more than in previous winters so that might help the wildflowers put on a better show this season which should help the butterflies and other insects. The only downer was that someone has been camping or sleeping rough and left a very bare muddy patch which could 'weed' up and there's lots of litter around, need to take a carrier bag next time we're out that way. 
The main part of the park was saddening, lots of mature trees and not so mature trees have been felled and a large portion of the previously dense shrubbery has been reduced to a few sticks poking out of a sea of woodchippings. It was noticeable that there was no bird song or calls from the likes of undergrowth-lovers like Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks. The only birds we saw were Blackbirds, Woodpigeons, Blue and Great Tits. Despite the warm and still conditions we saw no bees or butterflies at all. The Moorhens that nested in previous years have gone, the low cover around the top pond they preferred having been removed.
Fortunately no Elms seem to have been felled so the White Letter Hairstreaks should be safe...for now. 
There are a number of newish looking bird boxes up although some are very close together. We watched a Blue Tit investigating one and took up position behind a nearby tree and aimed the camera. Unfortunately it didn't come back to this box but went to another in the cluster a little further away.
Don't these  things normally have a hole?
Nope, not on this side
OK - found it now
While it was investigating the interior we took the opportunity to sneak a few trees closer for a better view.
Not bad, quite cosy
But we'll go and have a look at another one - just in case...
Another lap of the park had us looking up when we heard the usual gull commotion, not the hoped for Osprey or Red Kite but a pair of Sparrowhawks displaying way, way up in the ether this time.
On the little field on the way back to Base camp we stopped to get a pic (wrong lens really) of the Meadow Foxtail grass we'd seen on Monty's early morning walk. No sign of any Sweet Vernal Grass coming in to flower yet, which is the next one in the succession but there were a few Daisies and Dandelions out in flower - no doubt the mowing men will appear imminently to do these in, can't allow pollinator attracting wildflowers ruining our sterile green desert can we!!!
Back at Base camp we did a day of household chores and a bit of gardening while keeping an ear out for the gulls. They did go potty a  couple of times and on only one of those did we find the culprit or culprits as it was - a pair of circling Buzzards heading towards CR's airspace.
Today we're sat here tip-tapping away at the keyboard while outside the rain batters down - back to a typical 2018 spring day then, cold wet n windy!

Where to next? Family business on the Southside tomorrow but there may be the opportunity to have a quick look at some wildlife somewhere and we have a little plan...if we have time.  

In the meantime let us know who's peering through the holes in your outback.

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