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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

Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
Chiff Chaff
Coal Tit
Collared Dove
Great Tit
Green Woodpecker
Herring Gull
House Sparrow
Song Thrush

Sunday, April 8, 2012


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 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!