Monday, 18 March 2013

Rain stops play at Lake Farm

I managed to get out for three hours to Lake Farm today, and it looks like it was the only three hours when it wasn't raining. In fact when the sun shone for about 45 minutes, I had to undo my jacket as I was so warm ! Its really starting to 'green' up at LF. Lots of shrubs have buds on, and there are bulbs coming up under the mahonia bushes.
Within the condemned proposed new school area, it was a hive of activity. Just behind the toddlers playground, in and amongst the bramble thickets and the thick hedgerow and grass clumps, I found House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Magpies, Woodpigs, Reed Buntings, Blackbirds, Great Tits and Goldfinches. I hope the council allows them one last chance to nest in this area before they tear it all up. I've yet to find a confirmed date for the building works to start. Some of the articles  I have come across have mentioned May, others have mentioned August. Either way, they definitely cannot go ahead if it means disturbing nesting birds. So come on Lake Farm birds, get nesting !!!! There's also the results of the reptile survey to go be announced. The SES (Southern Ecological Society) have to do another seven surveys between March and May before they can say the site is definitely clear of reptiles. I really hope they find some signs. Apparently Lake Farm has all the qualities some reptiles like, but sadly, there have never been any signs so far.
House Sparrows
Very obliging Goldfinch
Another very obliging Goldfinch. There were several quite large flocks all over the site today.
male Reed Bunting on one of the many grassy tussocks
male Reed Bunting
In the northern hedgerow where I normally see the House Sparrows and Reed Buntings, there was very little to see. Starlings were the most prominent bird. The majority of Sparrows and Reedys seem to have definitely drifted to within the condemned area. Does that mean they're going to nest there ? I really don't know, but if anyone with more experience than myself would like to come and join me for a few hours, I would greatly appreciate it. Likewise I'm not very good on identifying shrubs and trees, so if anyone who is, would like to join me one day, again I would really appreciate it.
Around by the swamped willow area (not within the affected condemned school site), the council have burnt off some areas of scrub. They do this every year for rejuvenation, and thankfully they only do small patches at a time, rotate the areas they do and never do it during nesting season. The birds actually seem to love the bare scorched earth. I found a Song Thrush, several Blackbirds, more Goldfinches, more Reed Buntings, Great Tits and Blue Tits all scuttling about on the floor and in the nearby brambles. What I didnt find, but really wanted to, was a Northern Wheatear. The late Peter Naylor saw several on the blackened earth back in 2011, and not just for one day, they stayed around for several months. Never mind, there is still time, it is quite early for Wheatears though one or two have been seen on the southern coast already.
 I accidentally found a Long-tailed Tits probable nest. I watched one bird go into a thicket, and went a bit closer to have a look, just as another flew up out of the same spot, swiftly followed by a second. They scolded me from a nearby tree then went off. I backed off and waited to see if they would come back, and both did, their little beaks coated with spiders webs ! I couldn't get a photo, but as I waited patiently, one popped up right under my nose, and I quickly fired off a pic before leaving them to their merry nesting. The pic is below, its only been very slightly cropped, that's how close I was.
Skylarks were in good song today. At least five individuals seen at any one time up in the air doing that fantastic sky dance and song, then diving down into a grassy tussock. Some were singing from the ground too, that lovely raspy song that reminds me of true summer. Most of them appear to be around the area that is not affected by the proposed school site, but one individual was right on the border. I was actually sitting on one of the benches within the condemned area when this one flew up from right next to the pathway, which is also the boundary of the school site. He/she sang and sky-danced, and dropped back into the same area. I grabbed a few photos, and they're dreadful, but what do you expect from a dancing singing bird in the sky !! Lol. My auto-focus isn't as good as that bird !
Yes, this is a Skylark. How do I know ? I was there !!


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