Monday, 11 March 2013

Snow flurrys at Lake Farm, and webcam watching

I'm not lying when I say it was absolutely freezing at Lake Farm this morning. Unlike Cranford Park, Lake Farm has very very little shelter and is very exposed. The wind was incredibly cold and strong. Snow fell several times but didn't settle, to be honest it couldn't really as the wind was whipping the flurries around so much. Not one sign of any birds attempting to nest within the proposed school building site, not even the reliable pair of Dunnocks were around. Had it been a proper spring day with blue skies and that yellow orb, then I would have expected to see much more activity.

The Reed Buntings were hunkered deep into the hedgerow, exactly where I thought they would be. The local House Sparrows were in there too, so trying to get a decent count of either proved difficult today. I estimate at least 15 of each, which is what I would expect considering the recent count levels Ive had at LF.

Not one Stonechat to be seen, but they dislike this weather as well, so still no reason why they're not present, they could be just not visible.

The gulls were all down low in the 'gull field'. Good numbers of both Common and Black-headed again, with the odd juvenile Herring.

Heard very distant drumming from a GS Woodpecker, but in the wind, it was very hard to locate. I'm guessing it was coming from one of the old trees alongside the canal.

Three Skylarks came up and tried that beautiful sky-dance that only they can do, but which today, looked almost comical in the strong wind. But their song carries, especially in this weather, so twice I was looking for them in completely the wrong direction.

No photos at all today. And I was home by 2pm after a particularly heavy snow flurry made me yearn for the warmth of my onesie and a large glass of wine or three, and to check which bird nest box web cams were operational.

This time of year means Barn owls are starting to settle in for a bit of loving and nesting. I followed a few web cam sites last year, and am happy to report they are all up and running again now. Around April the Barn owls will start laying eggs, with hatching due late May and with the youngsters eventually fledging in late July or early August.

One of the best ones, is the Heligan web cams. At the moment they have two cams operationally. The Barns, and a new one, Mouse Cam. Ive just checked on them now, and Mouse Cam is empty (though it wasn't earlier with at least two little rodents inside the stump), and the Barns are peacefully sleeping.

link to Heligan web cams

The Dorset Wildlife Trust also have a great web cam. They had a resident pair of owls, Bob and Brenda but Brenda disappeared. From what I can remember Bob was left to rear the owlets himself. This year however, just a few days ago, Bob was sighted in the box with a new female. So well done Bob on your new lady friend ! I watched them earlier doing some mutual grooming and soft calling. Bless them. I almost felt like an intruder watching their love story unfold !

Dorset Wildlife Trust web cam....Bob and his new girlfriend

The last Barn owl web cam link is quite new to me. Its from a secret location in Cheshire where they have cameras in three nest boxes. None of the boxes have ever been used before by owls, but Stock Doves have nested in them in previous years. Maybe one to keep an eye on this spring.

Cheshire web cams - three boxes

Both the Heligan and Dorset Wildlife Trust also have web cams in other owls and raptors nest boxes. The Heligan Little Owl web cam was very popular with me last year, it was very hard to work and watch them at the same time ! The new web cams will be added on to each site as the birds settle in and start to lay.

Other web cams of interest are the ones the RSPB put up every year. Last years New Forest Goshawk cam was fantastic, and the famous Loch Garten Ospreys was even better. I was addicted to the Arne Kestrels, so much so that my boss actually caught me watching it as I was so engrossed I hadn't heard him come in the office. The RSPB also do feeder cams, so well worth exploring their web cam page for some gems.

RSPB web cams

Last, but by no means least, is my favourite web cam of all, the Fulham and Barnes Peregrines. Last year was the first for the web cam, but I know from talking to my fellow birder friends, that it was definitely one of the most popular web cams. Charlie and Tom, the famous peregrines, have been mating regularly on their ledge for a few weeks now. The first egg to be laid is imminent this week, even Simon King is placing guesses on what date the first egg will be laid. The web cams on this site are situated both looking at the ledge, and inside the nest box, so you are guaranteed some extraordinary close up views. Today Charlie spent some time inside the nest box, so egg laying is definitely due soon.

Charlie and Toms web cam

So that's me sorted for today then. Going to clean my camera and all my lenses, have a couple of glasses of wine, and watch Barn owls sleeping and snoring. Back to work tomorrow for four days, then I have a packed weekend planned.

So cheers and bottoms up Bloggy friends :)

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