Friday, 4 May 2012

April Bird Survey

We had a rain-free but quiet morning (30 April) for our monthly bird survey, rather like last month. Most of the usual birds were seen or heard but in fewer numbers. We heard the Great Spotted Woodpecker only once, heard only one Blackcap (we had seen Blackcaps on separate occasions earlier in the month in the wood/Eastern Rd area) and saw only one Goldfinch. We also had the feeling that we were constantly just missing birds, that they had been there behind our backs but flown just before we turned around! Of course the fact that the trees and bushes are now in full bloom provides them with much more cover. It is notable also that far fewer Great Tits were heard, whereas since the New Year their calls have been coming at us in quadrophonic sound. The highest number of birds seen in one place was a flock of nine starlings, but this is well down on the numbers that we were seeing in the main winter months.

Great Tits - the male has a broader black stripe down the breast

All this can be put down mainly to the ongoing breeding season and indeed we saw both a Starling and a Blue Tit carrying insects in their bills presumably to feed the fledglings in their nests. On the plus side, quite a few Blue Tits were seen and heard in different places as we walked around and a fair number of Wrens were heard with their piercing song. It was nice also to see a Long-tailed Tit in the garden next to the Bothy - an unmistakable bird simply because its tail is indeed long in relation to its body size. On the other side of the Bothy, we witnessed a fierce skirmish between a very dark brown female blackbird and a male. Needless to say, the female won the day - they are aggressive defenders of territory, especially at this time of year. The female always provides a visual reminder that Blackbirds belong to the Thrush family, although their speckled breasts don't stand out as strongly as the Song or Mistle Thrush.

In lulls between bird sightings, we did see an Orange Tip butterfly and a probable Holly Blue, though it was fluttering so fast we can't be sure. But enough of biodiversity. We demand better weather and more birds!

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