Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Lockdown Patch watching

So here we are. For the next three months weeks at least, its the patch for me, for us all. Not that today this is a problem. Sun shining, spring clicking into gear, this could be interesting.

Lockdown day #1, and an opportunity to get round the patch on my government-mandated daily walk. Chiffchaff silently flitting through the trees a nice start, although there's been a few for a week or so now. A Muntjac deer giving me a long stare (aren't you supposed to be indoors?), a Grey Wagtail over, inexplicably my first on the patch this year, then woah! what's this? Picking round the edge of the now overgrown pond just over the river, tail up in the air, bright red beak, yes its a Water Rail! I guess they live here, but I've not seen one for two years on the patch, so its a nice opportunity to spend some time looking at this shy swamp-dweller at a reasonable range. Patch watching at its best.

A little further on and there's a quiet chuntering from the middle of a bush. A familiar summer sound. eventually, the chunterer pops out, and as expected it is the patch's first Blackcap of the year. A stop to look up to the park over the horse field; Buzzard in a tree, distant Sparrowhawk and Red Kite. A little further on and there's the sound of some chattering from a small hedgerow. Starling-like. I look through the bushes and cannot see anything there.

Up through the loop field, a Meadow Pipit through from the south, unclear if its a migrant or not. Then I see Starlings up from that hedgerow. I count 120. Amazing. Not seen anything like this many for a while, so I assume these are migrants.

Over the railway line and up the other side. Quieter here, but there are a few Fieldfares in the long hedge here, new arrivals. Some Yellowhammers and Linnets, back down past the pond, Green Woodpecker in a tree, and there's a Red Kite in the field having a good hunt. Something small starts flying around. A hirundine? No its a Pipistrelle Bat, possibly disturbed by the Kite.

Spring starting to appear all over. Bee Fly, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, and Peacock Butterfly all seen today.

The patch, truth be told, has been quite good recently. Firstly Mike came over (when such trips were legal) and on a long bash through we had two Mandarin fly in and Mike picked up a Peregrine going through, as well as some deer tracks. A later visit saw few birds but did see five Fallow Deer running off including two full-antlered stags. Even my dog walk in the park has been productive, with a gull going over showing pure white underwings. As it turned and revealed those translucent primaries this was clearly an adult Mediterranean Gull, the first for a while.

Suddenly I'm quite looking forward to this regular walk.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...