I'm on a long weekend off work now, so popped down to Cranford Park this afternoon to check on the progress of the Kestrels, Green Woodpecker and Wren nest sites.
My visit started off quite worryingly though. I witnessed a dog walker give some money to the tramp who sleeps in the doorway of the stable block, and was completely taken back when he threw the lot back at her. She walked away visibly upset and shaken. Then as I walked past him he spat at me.
So not a pleasant start to my visit. Only last week I mentioned him on my blog, praising him as he was so carefully tidy. Now I'm not so sure about him.
Anyway back to more nicer things. Cranford Woods seems to have changed over the last four days. Some of the Bluebells are now blooming, so over the next few weeks the woods should be carpeted in them.
I checked on the Green Woodpecker tree first and was pleased to see the male still excavating the nest hole. I couldn't get a photo today as some cyclists came down the nearest path and the Woodpecker flew off to another tree. I waited for a while to see if he would come back, but he didn't. On the way to see the Wrens, I checked on an old Green Woodpecker nest site and was delighted to find another male on the same tree. A Jackdaw was also checking out this hole, so Mr Woody might have a bit of competition. Woodpeckers last used this hole two years ago, and I managed to photograph the youngsters fledging. Last year Marmite Parakeets nested in the hole. My photo below is a bit dark, but you can see the male Woodpecker on the left and the hole on the top right.
This nest hole is very near to the Wren nest site, and as I was perched on one of the logs, I watched the Woodpecker fly down and settle on a small tree literally just behind me. It's a good job I have patience as he went around the back of the tree first. By quietly and patiently waiting, and keeping very very still, I was rewarded with a fantastic view of him as he came around the tree at just five feet from ground level, and about ten feet away from where I was sat.
I also had some more great views of a male Blackcap. I must have counted ten individual males today, but am still waiting to see my first female.
So back to the Wrens. I heard the male before I saw him. For such a small bird, their song is incredibly loud and rich. He was sitting just to the right of the nest.
He soon flew off, and I began my usual waiting game to see if he, or maybe even a female, would go to the nest. I'm going to have to start bringing a cushion with me in the future as sitting on a lumpy log for 40 minutes can be a little uncomfortable, but again my patience paid off and was worth the numb bum. A Wren perched just below the nest, and then started investigating it. As it is practically impossible to tell the difference between a male and female, I cannot be 100% sure this isn't the male just admiring his own handiwork, but wouldn't it be great if it's a female ? It certainly spent quite a while looking inside and around the nest, well it was actually only seven minutes, but in bird terms that must seem like a long time. Just to recap from my previous blog posts, male Wrens build several nests and the female choses which one she wants to lay eggs in.
Four days ago I blogged how I feared the Kestrels had decided to nest in a different tree to the one I'd been observing over the last few weeks. Today I THINK I found the correct nest site.
Whilst I was waiting to see if the Wren came back, I heard the Kestrels calling to each other, and located the sound to a nearby tree. I could see the male very clearly, and he was just as interested in me for a while before he decided to have a preen.
But I couldn't see the female. However just two trees away there is another old crows nest. It's been there for years, but I'm now wondering if the female is nesting in it. At this time of year the female Kestrel should have already laid her eggs by now, and she will incubate them while the male brings her food. When I heard them calling to each other, that could have been a food pass.
I'm meeting with Tony and Sue tomorrow and we'll see if we can spot anything that will confirm my suspicion.
On the River Crane I didn't see either of the Kingfishers, but I did see my first five Mallard ducklings of the year. They are so small I reckon they're only a day old. It's not a very good photo as I was standing on the iron bridge looking down on them.
So a very pleasant few hours at the park. Lets hope Jenny Wren accepts her nest, and we find the Kestrels new one.
A few blogs back (March 28th visit to Pulborough with Susan) I mentioned that Susan had managed to photograph a Weasel running across the path, and here is her great picture.