Monday, 21 April 2014

My first Whitethroat and juvenile Marmite of the year, at Cranford Park

It was a beautiful morning at Cranford Park. Barely a cloud in the sky. First port of call after having my morning coffee at the outdoor classroom, was the Great Spotted Woodpeckers nest tree.
 Last week I witnessed them mating, so I was half hopeful the female would be inside the nest hole now. And she may well be. The first thing I saw was a GSW peering out of the hole. I took a couple of photos and then made the mistake of looking away. When I looked back a few seconds later, the male was on the outside of the trunk looking into the hole. Was my first photo also of the male ? Had he popped out while I looked away ? Or did I get a photo of the female first, and the male landed just after ? I will never know. The first photo isn't clear enough to see the back of the head.
I checked the Kestrels nest site, but saw no sign of either the male nor the female, though I did see the male a few hours later. More about his escapades further down the blog.
I also checked the Wrens nest site, but despite hanging around for nearly an hour, there was no sign of any Wrens. I checked the nest hole from a different angle with my binoculars, and I can see the nest has been lined with moss, but I cannot see any sign of a bird. I'll keep checking this nest though.
At the Green Woodpecker nest site, it looks as if The Battle Of The Green Birds is on-going. From the log watchpoint I could see the male on one side of the trunk, and a marmite Parakeet on the other.
There's also another watchpoint for the Green Woodpeckers, and that's from Chestnut Avenue. From there you can clearly see the nest hole. Several times during the morning I observed the male guarding the hole. As like last week, the air was full of Green Woodpeckers calling. The shot below is of the male caught in mid-call. Notice his posture. They extend their necks out when calling.
While I was watching Mr Green, I noticed these two marmite Parakeets. Originally I thought it was just another loved up pair, then I noticed the extremely short tail on the bird on the left. A juvenile. And while I watched the parent leaned over to feed it.

The wood land is looking so fresh and colourful at the moment, that I had to take a few photos. The one below is the corner of Cranford Woods just by the Headland area. 
And below is of the Green Woodpeckers original watchpoint, a rather comfortable log surrounded by bluebells.
Another favourite spot is from the Headland looking on to the outskirts of Cranford Wood.
It was whilst I was lingering around the Headland area, that I heard a distinctive scratchy song. Common Whitethroat. My first of the year. I could hear at least three birds, but trying to get a photo was near on impossible......
until one popped up in front of me....
I was snapping away when I heard a Buzzard 'mew', swiftly followed by a Kestrel calling. Looking up I saw the Buzzard first then our resident male Kestrel launched himself from the woods very near to the nest site and started mobbing the Buzzard. Another three Buzzards also came over soaring on the thermals, but Mr Kes was intent on mobbing the first bird only, and I'm guessing it was because the first Buzzard had soared right over the Kestrels nest site, where as the other three Buzzards came from a slightly different direction.
After quite a while I lost sight of all the birds as they got higher and higher, but I was glad that I'd finally gotten to see Mr Kes. And you can tell he's our resident Kestrel due to the outer tail feather damage he has.
Back in the woods a Robin was sitting on my log.
I wandered down to one of the nettle patches to see if there were any critters around.
Nursery Web spider
14 Spot Ladybird (propylea 14punctata)
an Ichneumon wasp - jury is still out on the variety.
Thanks as always to the members of the Facebook group 'Insects of Britain and Northern Europe' for the identifications.
Green-veined White
a very tatty Peacock
So not a bad few hours out and about. The weather forecast was for heavy showers this afternoon, and just as I was leaving the heavens opened, but I was pleased to see my first Whitethroat of the year. 

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