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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Spring is stopped in its tracks!

After a few days of sunshine, spring seems to have been put on hold with fog, snow flurries and a biting wind, described by Monty Don the gardener, as being as sharp as a stiletto!
Redwing and Fieldfare have put in an appearance this week, demonstrating the fact that it really is still winter.

Fieldfare and Redwing

These birds were about earlier in the winter but have reduced in number till this week, when flocks of 100+ have been seen feeding in the local fields. I noticed they particularly like the fields which, until recently, have had grazing sheep. I suppose the insects from the dung are providing much needed sustenance.

The birds appear more colourful than they did earlier in the season as they are gradually changing into their breeding plumage. They won't be breeding here though, moving back to their Scandinavian summer homes as the days lengthen.
Still they brighten up the cold grey days until the spring gets going again!

Signs of Spring?

As February rolls on, signs of Spring are certainly about, with Daffodils appearing in SSW in the first week of the month and more Snowdrops spreading along the banks.
Daffodils in SSW 4th February

Snowdrops along the churchyard banks

Cyclamen in the churchyard

Hazel catkins are also sprouting in the hedgerows and a few days of sunshine in the third week of the month even encouraged the spring cyclamen to flower in the churchyard by the South porch.

Hazel catkins  in lane near Woolhayes
On Monday 18th February the sun shone and I saw and heard my first Chiff Chaff of the year at the Combe sewage works. It is possible it was an over wintering bird but the warmer day must have encouraged it to start singing!
Another bird I saw enjoying the sunshine that day was a beautiful male Bullfinch near Clayhanger. I heard it first calling its rather boring single whistle but what it lacks in voice it makes up for in colour!
It was rather distant but even so the colours are very distinctive in the brown undergrowth.
Hopefully there will be more sunshine to come!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Big garden birdwatch

The weekend of 26/27th January was the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, when everyone is encouraged to sit down for an hour and count the birds in their garden. Although the snow lingered, it was not quite as cold as the week before and there weren't so many birds about. I counted 14 species- including a small group of

Long-tailed tits and a pair of Robins, all of which came to the various feeders dotted around the garden. The information that the RSPB collects from this exercise is very helpful in providing trends on what is happening to various species.
Long-tailed tits