29th April, still cold but a single Swift drifts over the village reminds me… Where are the House Martins, and will any more Swallows arrive?
23rd April, a cold snap brings a halt to proceedings. Richard sees a male Whinchat at Cold Ashby Golf Course. I can’t find any passage migrants. I think there is a growing colony of nesting Linnets at CEP, as I see them most times I visit and number have increased with 12 plus noted on the Dandelion heads in the newly extended wildlife area.
21st April, Billy sees Red Admiral, Peacock and Large White. 3 juvenile Blackbirds are reported by Richard from Pytchley Drive. At Hanglands we find a dead Grass Snake. It is intact other than damage to the head, but looks like it may have been attacked whilst in moult. A green, teneral Large Red Damselfly is the first odonata of the year, and a Ladies Smock is just in flower. Red Kite is now almost a daily sight. Later I check out the ‘chat’ fence off Foxhill Road but nothing doing. Reward for stopping comes in the form of a fly-over Yellow Wagtail and Skylark. Lots of Butterfly records coming in.
20th April, at the horse-sick fields behind Lime Avenue a single Redwing is sitting high in an Ash, calling. Numbers of Butterflies are being seen with Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and Orange-tip reported. I am walking down The Banks and a movement on the path turns out to be a Bank Vole. It runs from doorstep to doorstep before realising the grassy bank is a better place to be. Swallows are reported from converted farm buildings on the Brington Road, Grange Farm, Foxhill Farm, and Buckby Folly.
19th April, at CEP a defiant Canada Goose and his mate are churning up the pond, and annoyingly they send off the Snipe and a Moorhen. There are several birds singing including Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Reed Bunting, and the first Willow Warbler and Whitethroat of the year. Bold Red Kites over the village. Alan is having regular Hedgehog sightings at The Wharf and has got nest boxes in place just in case. He also has nesting Robin and noted Coal Tit on the feeder.
18th April, warmth brings Orange-tip and Brimstone into the garden. Mr Evans sees 3 Swallows. There are 2 Linnets at Grange Farm, and House Sparrows in the nest boxes. Cath reports 4 Tit species visiting including Coal Tit, and nesting Dunnock from her garden in Cox’s Close. She also reports Swallows, Blackcap and Linnets.
14th April, a couple of Meadow Pipits go over North, as do Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There are Linnets and Greenfinches singing at CEP. Steve sends a photo of a big hedgehog from Wright Road. David sees Swallows off Brington Road.
12th April, a frosty start and in the clear sky above East Street a huge Raven is being harried by a pair of Jackdaws. At CEP as I retrieve litter from the pond I suddenly have two birds get up in front of me, fly away and vanish within a split second. I stepped forward and nearly onto a Jack Snipe, and twenty yards away a Common snipe also reacts. Both do what it says in the Book, the Jack just silently arches away for a few yards then goes back down into the Sedge. The Common flies up, zig-zags, calls, and flies away. 3 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff and a Reed Bunting sing. I see David on Market Place and during our discussion I hear Fieldfare calling. David looks up to see 2 go over.
11th April, a Chiffchaff is singing from a tree in my garden and then moves to four other trees around the close before coming back to mine. Another lone Swallow over, and the Blackbirds’ bills are full of Moss as they disappear into the Holly.
10th April, sunny and cold for Tony’s funeral. A lone Swallow over Mill Park brings a smile. Drifts of Blackthorn blossom adorn what’s left of the unmolested hedges. And out there somewhere a Skylark is giving its all.
6th April, a maintenance trip to the rarely disturbed Hanglands NR provides singing Chiffchaff, and a Muntjac. Dave sees Great Tit, Yellowhammer, and hears a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker at Cotton End Park. I visit later and hear a Blackcap singing.
5th April, a female Stonechat is risking it by fly-catching from the road-side at Surney. Alan has 2 Little Egrets flying together parallel to the motorway at the Wharf. Later I see 2 white birds in a field near Willow Mill. I reverse the van and find they are Little Egrets.
2nd April, at 0730 I am watching a Blue Tit from the bedroom window as it checks out one of Billy’s nest boxes. In the tree next to it a male Blackcap appears. Jim reports 2 Hedgehogs in Armley Close. Bill sees Goldcrest at Grove Farm Close.
1st April, for quite a few years now we have been battling with the Moles at CEP. They create excellent ’trip hazards’ on the paths and Adam has been regularly flattening the soil hills whenever they occur. It looks like this morning the Moles have really got their own back!