Thursday, 27 March 2014

Nest making in progress at Cranford Park

I made the most of the sunshine at Cranford Park this morning, before it became too overcast in the afternoon. Following on from my previous two visits (links to those blog posts below), I was primarily here to check on the progress of the Kestrels and Green Woodpeckers, and to hopefully spot a Kingfisher. I was successful with all three, plus found a new potential nest of a commonly known little bird. More about that later.
First port of call, as always, was to see the Kestrels. Perched on one of my logs, it took me a while to spot them. As before, it was the 'trilling' call that alerted me to their whereabouts, which was on a tree just to the left of the nest tree. They were mating. I just had time to swing my camera round but only got a record shot of the male leaving the female. I didn't even have time to adjust the focus on my camera, hence the first shot below is very blurred. But it was so nice to actually see them clearly, without being hidden by lots of branches and twigs. It is also an indication that egg laying is definitely imminent, and I'm hoping they use the old crows nest that they've been defending so much recently. 
Worst shot of the day - but a record one for me of the CP Kestrels just after mating
Clearer photo. The female is on the left, the male on the right.
I hung around for a while hoping they would mate again, but they both took off shortly and I lost sight of them over the tree tops.
The Robins in the woods, were much more obliging. They were popping up all over the place and posing for a photo.
I made my way to the Green Woodpecker nest tree, and settled myself on another of my logs. This seems to be the only good viewing point for this pair. If you walk around the path way, the male disappears around the back of the tree. If you walk around the other direction, he flies off. But if you sit on the log and patiently wait, he gets on with excavating his nest hole without a care.
The female was close by, watching the male all the time. A few times they called to each other, but the male was very intent on pecking out the nest hole.
It looks like this tree will have more than one variety of bird eventually nesting in it. The top of the tree is broken off and both Jackdaws and a pair of Stock Doves were sussing the site out.
This is the actual Green Woodpecker hole. I waited until the male was disturbed by some dog walkers, and quickly moved round to grab this shot. It's impossible at the moment to get a photo of the Green Woody at the hole (he's so nervous) from this angle, but hopefully if they do nest here, I may get some good shots of the juveniles when they start calling for food in a few months time.
My favourite part of the day was when I accidently found a new nest being made. I have another favourite log, deeper in the woods, where I often sit and watch Goldcrests. They weren't around today, but my eye was caught by a very showy Wren. It was flying down into the shrubs and emerging with a beak full of dead leaves. Following its flight, I was really surprised to see it disappear into a hole about twelve feet in front of me. A Wrens nest ! This is a first for me, and I'm really chuffed. Hopefully if the little birds do nest here, I will be able to follow their progress. Only two things concern me. The nest is only about  four feet from the ground, and about two feet away from a busy well worn path way. Only time will tell. But its great to have a viewing point that wont disturb the birds, but which allows me to get some decent photos. The Wren was very busy. Even when he was inside the nest, you could see the 'walls' of the nest moving as he was adding the dead leaves. Male Wrens build several nests and the female chooses which one she finds suitable to lay eggs in. I really hope it will be this one.
On my last visit I had heard a Skylark out on the grassy plain. I had a walk through there today and after watching one singing in the sky above me, I accidently flushed two more from one of the grassy paths. So there at least three around at the moment. No sign of any Meadow Pipits yet though.
Up by the river I checked the area where I had last seen the Weasel but to no avail. However looking from the green-black iron bridge down to the stone bridge, I caught sight of a small bird diving into the river and back up into a tree. Kingfisher ! And not one, but two. There was a lot of calling going on, but trying to get close was near on impossible. A jogger running up the path flushed one and it landed briefly just in front of me, but soon flew off. I watched a second KF further on down, dive again and land in another tree. Another dog walker spooked one of them, and again it landed briefly just in front of me, with a fish in its beak, but again flew off quickly. So only three useable photos today, and not very good ones. It seems our pair of Kingfishers are really not comfortable around human beans. Observing them though, I was able to establish they are both flying up the River Crane towards Heathrow, and not back towards Cranford. So I walked back up the bank pathway towards Cranford Lane, checking all the time for any suitable nest hole. Again I could find nothing, but its really intriguing me as to where they are coming from.
With regards to all of my nest sites, for obvious reasons I will not disclose any of their exact locations. Only my fellow Cranford Park birder friends will be privy to that information.
Also in the woods, and a tribute to the mild winter we had, I found more funky fungi.
So a fantastic five hours out and about this morning. Really pleased to see the Kestrels mating, and favouring the old nest tree. Great to see the Green Woodys at their preferred nest tree. Lovely to get some better views of the Kingfishers. But without doubt, my high-light of the day was watching the male Wren build its intricate and delicate nest. Lets hope the female choses it, as I'd really love to be able to watch a Wrens breeding progress.
Last, but not least, a young miniature Dachshund dog called Lily has been missing after running off in Cranford Park on March 12th. There is a cash reward. Please keep your eyes peeled if you do frequent the park. Any sightings call 07713 440336 or 07447 694630.

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