Sunday, 30 March 2014

Singing Blackcaps and a brief glimpse of a Merlin at Cranford Park

I was sitting by the Kestrel nest site at 7.30am this morning. The park is so beautifully quiet at that time of day, with it being too early for any loud traffic noises all you can hear are the birds singing.
I also really wanted to check on the Green Woodpecker nest site, especially after yesterday when there was no sign of them and a Marmite Parakeet was investigating the hole. Settling myself down on the log it took just minutes to spot the male Green Woodpecker further down the tree. He soon moved up and continued to excavate. Great news.

After this I met up with Tony by the Kestrels nest site. Just above the nest itself, the male Kestrel was perched. No sign of the female (and we know she's not on the nest yet as we later watched a very cheeky Woodpigeon go in it)
Later on in the morning Sue and Jasper the bird-dog joined us. We had some more views of the male Kestrel perched in the copse by the river, but still no sign of the female.
The first high-light of my day was the wonderful showy male Blackcap singing away. I nearly walked straight past it, but Tonys ears picked up its song and we stopped to get these wonderful views. Perfect. We also heard and saw four more around the park.
Both Tony and Sue now know where the Wren nest is (no sign of Mr Wren today but the nest is intact) and the Green Woodpecker nest hole is. Between the three of us, we should be able to monitor them plus the Kestrels.
Almost on the edge of the woods we found this stunning Stock Dove investigating a hole in the hollow. Could this be another potential nest site to watch ? There are also a pair of Stock Doves showing great interest in the broken off top of the Green Woodpecker nest tree, and several Jackdaws making nests in the same area.
Plenty of activity with the Great Spotted Woodpeckers this morning. A lot were flying overhead calling and we heard more drumming. I've yet to locate a GSW nest hole yet, none of the previous two years sites have shown any sign of being re-used.
As the sun made its way through the cloud, so the butterflies appeared. More Commas and Peacocks, Sue got a stunning photo of a Holly Blue, and the elusive Brimstone was even more elusive by continuously failing to stop for a photo.
For the last hour of this mornings outing, we waited around the Kestrel nest site. We got brief views of two very distant Kestrels (don't think they were our birds), plus a Red Kite soared over, followed shortly by a Buzzard, then three Buzzards soared above together.
Then my second high-light of  the day, a small bird of prey appeared over the trees. I was too busy watching it to lift my camera, so a completely missed photo opportunity. Within seconds it had disappeared over the other side, and Sue and I both said 'Merlin' at the same time. The bent wings and size of the bird really indicated this and as soon as I got home I compared b.o.p silhouettes, and it definitely was a Merlin. I know they have been seen over this area before as an injured one was found in the woods several years ago and successfully released after treatment. We waited patiently for it to re-appear but it didn't and its flight course suggested it had gone through without stopping.
Buzzard silhouette
 There were several Chiffchaffs singing, but apart from brief glimpses, no photos today of the noisy little warblers. Tony and I also saw one of the Kingfishers on the river, but again no photos of the shy little blue bird.
 I'm starting to get that inner feeling that the Kestrels have fooled me again. No sign at all of the female today, and they didn't mate. As mentioned above, we know she's not on the nest as we watched a Woodpigeon go in there. Plus four Buzzards and a Red Kite went over, and the male Kestrel didn't react at all. Just a couple of days ago both the female and male Kes would have mobbed the larger raptors. Plus we found the male by the river earlier yet recently he's been only seen around the nest tree.
I'm back at work tomorrow, and wont be able to visit again until Friday. It's going to be a long four days.
So a very interesting and lovely walk around the park with Tony and Sue. Lots to see and listen to. The weather was just right, not cold and not too warm.
Last, but not least, a photo of Jasper the bird-dog.

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