Sunday, 21 April 2013

Kempston Mill - 21/04/2013

I was out early again this morning for a walk along the Great Ouse at Kempston Mill. It was another cracking morning, if a little cool early on. I must have been the first down there as I came across this Fox sleeping behind a tree next to the river. Unfortunately the shutter noise woke it up. Is it just me or does it have big fang?
It's been a while since I saw the Otter, Easter Monday to be exact, and this morning was another blank on that front. I wonder if she is working the section north of the island at Biddenham Loop CP at the moment. Hopefully she'll switch back to the section south of the island soon.

Noticeably more Blackcaps about this morning, Sedge Warbler was new in at Biddenham Loop as was a Whitethroat. Chiffchaffs were either quiet or some have moved on. Also less Willow Warblers than earlier in the week, having said that previous years I've been lucky to find one so having a handful singing is fantastic.

I came across this singing Song Thrush along the side of the golf course and for once it stayed long enough for a photo.

Song Thrush
Further along on the footpath, between the new builds, I came across this male Linnet. I first thought it was a female as the red markings are subtle, but you can see the red flecks in the breast and similar in the crown. A lovely bird, if not as well marked as some males.
I got home fairly early so I decided to pay a visit to Putnoe Wood to see if I could get some more photo's of the Nuthatches. I didn't as they stayed too high up in the trees but I'm now certain there are at least 2 pairs, both favouring the south side of the wood, one at the east end and one at the west. I saw the east end pair mating today so we can expect at least one fresh batch of Nuthatches this year. Might make for some better photo opportunities too. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Box End Park WeBS: 14/04/2013

It didn't take long to notice the Common Terns were back at the park, just one at first, rising to 7 and back down to 3 by the time I left. Seems most were moving through. Swallows were also on the move with two seen separately, one heading west and the other north west. New arrivals were Blackcap and Willow Warbler, just one of each on site. A couple of Chiffchaffs were also around but they have been in for a couple of weeks now.

Full WeBS counts as follows:

Canada Goose 5  
Common Tern 7
Cormorant 5  
Egyptian Goose 1  
Gadwall 2  
Great Crested Grebe 2  
Grey Heron 1  
Kestrel 2  
Kingfisher 1  
Mallard 9  
Moorhen 1  
Mute Swan 5
Oystercatcher 2  
Pied Wagtail 1
Skylark 3  
Total number of species: 15 Individuals: 47
There were signs that at Mute Swan had been taken by a Fox. There was a trail of feathers from the south end of the lake to the stream on the southern boundary of the park. No sign of significant parts other than a bit of a wing, so no rings to be found.

Great to see the arrival of the Spring migrants, they have been a long time coming! A bit disappointing that there were no more waders, was hoping for Common Sandpiper and/or Redshank, maybe next time.

Putnoe Wood Survey - Sunday 14th April

Completed my monthly bird survey at Putnoe Wood today and can officially announce that Spring is here with the arrival of the Chiffchaffs. It was a bit disappointing that there were no Blackcaps but I'm sure they will be arriving any time now as there are plenty of reports around the county.

The wood was alive with bird song and the Green Woodpeckers were particularly active. 

Green Woodpecker (Female)
Carrion Crows and Jackdaws were seen with nest material. The female Sparrowhawk may be on territory as she was seeing off all comers, I'll have to keep an eye on that.

The full species list follows:

Species Count
Blackbird 4
Blue Tit 11
Carrion Crow 5
Chaffinch 5
Chiffchaff 4
Coal Tit 1
Collared Dove 1
Dunnock 2
Goldfinch 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Great Tit 14
Green Woodpecker 4
Greenfinch 1
Jackdaw 6
Magpie 1
Nuthatch 2
Redwing 9
Robin 10
Sparrowhawk 1
Stock Dove 3
Treecreeper 1
Woodpigeon 22
Wren 5

A pair of Nuthatches were also very active and vocal allowing some scope for photography, although they stayed a bit high in the trees.

These are both big crops of the originals but I think there may be potential at this site over the next few weeks so hopefully I'll find some time to get back there again, time and patience will be the key.

Also saw a Brimstone Butterfly just as I was leaving.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Easter Monday @ Kempston Mill

Took a walk along the river at Kempston Mill with JA this morning. The weather was a little disappointing after the lovely start the previous morning, this time it was overcast with a cold easterly wind.

Redwings were still showing in reasonable numbers as I headed down the concrete steps to the river and when I met up with JA a little further up stream a couple of Green Woodpeckers were calling back and forth.

We crossed the river at the Mill and continued up stream noting a Little Grebe about half way between the Mill bridge and the weir. We checked around the weir for Otter sign but there is nothing doing, it looks like they aren't coming down this far at the moment. The concrete outflow further up at the bypass is also clean of spraint so, despite my sighting just upstream from there recently, they obviously aren't using the area like they were last year.

We continued upstream stopping opposite Box End Park to scan the lake. A pair of Oystercatchers were displaying to each other on the Spit and a third was trying to keep out of the way. Having finished their ground based display the pair took to the air, noisily circling the the park together, great to see.

We continued up stream, checking various mud banks for tracks which were invariably dog or Mink, no Otter! Reaching the south end of Biddenham Loop CP we continued up stream, planning to take the southern exit from the park. A quick check past the first group of trees, where we could see up stream a good distance and there was an Otter working its way along the far side of the river. A quick revision to the plan and were were following the Otter up stream, trying to get ahead of it if possible. This proved more difficult than you might imagine as the Otter was moving quite quickly up stream. It looked like it was in get home mode rather than actively feeding. We finally caught up with it but it surfaced at just the wrong moment and spotted us. It lay on the surface for a moment looking at us before diving and disappearing. We stayed in the area for another 15 minutes but were unable to find the animal again.

Heading back we cut across the field between Great Denham and the Mill, where building works are well underway now with a new road in place. Skylarks still sing hopefully overhead but with the building work they are restricted to smaller and smaller areas for nesting. It's doubtful that the Lapwings will nest in the area either this year but you never know.

Back at the Mill we spotted a pair of Stock Doves in display flight together, seems spring is in the air despite the temperature!