Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunny May morning at Cranford Park.

The weather forecast said a sunny morning and a cloudy windy afternoon, so I was at Cranford Park at 6.30am. It was incredibly peaceful, a lot of birds were singing but not many were to be seen.
 My main interest today was to locate the Kestrels. My friend Sue also thought she may have found another Kestrel nest so I arranged to meet up with her later in the morning. Another local, Tony, also has an interest in Cranford Park and the Kestrels, so arranged to meet him as well. Three pairs of eyes are better than one.
Whilst alone, I found not one Kestrel. I even parked myself on the convenient log by the woodland nest hoping to see one of them, but nothing. I had a wander around the woods, marvelling in the carpets of bluebells. Red Campion and Ragged Robin are also coming in to flower now. The new wildlife pond outside the Information Centre is full of water now. It's going to look great when it's fully established. I also played hide and seek with a male Green Woodpecker that I found on the hollow tree where the Kestrels used to be seen regularly.
carpets of Bluebells
male Green Woodpecker
The wildlife pond
Red Campion and Bluebells in the background
Up by where the Pied Fly was seen a few weeks ago, the Whitethroats are back. At least three birds seen today. Not as many as Lake Farm, but its a different habitat at CP, so this is exactly what I would expect.
Common Whitethroat
In between the Info Centre and St Dunstans church, there's a little patch of shrubs. I could hear the Blackcaps there before I could see them. I've been getting photos of the male Blackcap everywhere I've been recently, but not the female. Luckily for me today, this female popped up in front of me.
female Blackcap
Peek-a-boo again !
By now it was time to meet Tony. We wandered over to the nest site, me moaning about how I hadn't seen any of the Kestrels all morning, when both birds circled above us, and above the tree we think they're nesting in. By the time we got to our viewing point for the tree, we lost sight of both of them. Then the female flew over us, and I grabbed the photo below. We checked the hollow tree and the surrounding trees and found not a sign of the male.
We wandered around the park after that, noting the huge number of Carrion Crows that were on the grass. There must have been fifty birds at least. Why there were all on the ground, we don't know. I wandered if they were feeding on worms as the ground was still relatively soft, but couldn't actually see any of them eating anything.
Skylarks could be heard from within the long grass, but not seen. A few Swifts went overhead, and we watched a lone House Martin flying very low over the grass catching insects.
Back at the Old Chestnut tree, we took a break. From the far right a pair of Kestrels flew up and circled, but didn't head towards the woodland, which by this time was on our left hand side Were these the River Kestrels ? We met up with Sue shortly afterwards and she took us to the copse of trees where she was sure she's seen Kestrels and a nest a couple of weeks ago. This copse is right at the back of the park, on the opposite side to the ancient woods, and backing onto Cranford Lane, with a muddy River Crane running nearby. The leaves had all come out since then so it was hard to determine exactly what tree, but as we got nearer a Kestrel took off from the copse, so we knew we were in the right place. So it is almost certain that there are two pairs on site. I always suspected this, so it was nice to be almost sure. This area is also where I've been told a Tawny roosts, and Tony has heard one from this corner of the park as well. So it looks like I'll be making a few more journeys to this part of the site in future.
Back in the ancient woodland we had a slow wander around. More Blackcaps were seen singing. A GS Woodpecker flew over, and we saw several Jays, Robins and Blackbirds. We checked the tree where the Green Woodpeckers nested last year, and found it still occupied by a Ring-Necked Marmite, just like it was when I last saw it. I had sort of hoped they would have fledged their young by now, so the Green Woodys could reclaim their old nest site, but I don't think it's going to happen.
Marmite in old Greenys nest hole.
So not a bad morning out and about.
It was nice to have company from two locals as well. Thanks Tony and Sue.
It was great to finally see the Kestrels circling above. At this time of year they will be incubating, so to see two birds probably meant there had been a food pass made. Kestrels incubate for 30 days, and we don't know when the first egg was laid. However as most of you know, I am an avid bird nest web cam watcher. The Kestrel ones that I watch from all over the UK, have all been late due to the dreadful beginnings of Spring we had. So instead of most eggs being laid in the third and fourth week of April, most were not laid until the first few days of May. So by my estimations I would expect to see more Cranford Park Kestrel activity around the 1st of June, when hopefully the first eggs will be hatching and the parents will be bringing in food. Only time will tell. 


  1. Fingers crossed for young Kestrels Wendy...

    and always amused by Marmites peeping out from holes in trees!!