One minute I am told that NCC is shutting all the parks in the county, and 24hrs later I hear the PM say ‘Parks will remain open…’. I can assure you that Mill Park Reserve and Cotton End Park will remain open. Please include these parks as you take your daily exercise, and perhaps re-connect with our countryside and what’s left of the wildlife there. When this is over there will definitely need to be a new normal.
30th March, a beautiful Snakes-head Fritillary flowers at Cotton End Park.
26th March, Mike and Beth see an early Holly Blue Butterfly off Lakeside, and Diana sends me a photo’ of King Alfred’s Cakes.
25th March, I venture down the footpath past Evans’ Pond and see 1 Mute Swan on the water. I hear a slight whistling and look up to see 4 more Swans going over. They circle round and 1 of them leaves the group and lands next to the Swan on the pond. Within minutes they are going through a courtship display, each bird copying the moves of the other, until they face each other and their necks and head form a ‘love heart’. CEP has 1 Greenfinch, 2 Chaffinch, 4 Linnet and a ‘yaffling’ Green Wood’.
24th March, many villagers are enjoying the spring sunshine and report the following Butterflies. Mike 2 male Brimstone, Norman a Peacock, Diana 2 Red Admiral, and I see a Comma. Nicole sends me a photo’ of a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee, and Sue, a Dark-edged Bee-fly. The first of the incoming summer migrant birds appear with a Chiffchaff in song at Stenhouse Close, and a Blackcap at Armley Close. A degree or two of warmth wakes up the Bats, and during the evening Jennifer and David report one or two small, probably Pipistrelle Bats, from Foxhill Road and Ashmore respectively. Sara manages to see, and amazingly get a ‘phone photo’ of a Stoat, and Angela reports a Hare.
23rd March, Sunny, working off Bakers Lane and two Little Owls start calling at each other. The sun brings out a male Brimstone, within another spotted off The Banks. P.M. sees me on a dog-walk leading to Evans’ Ponds. I see a small bird a few inches from the surface of the water, in the pallid Reed stumps. It ignores me and straight away I know it’s not a standard Chiffchaff. It has contrasting pale underparts and grey upperparts, a slight green tone to the wing edges, a thin buff eye-stripe, pale burnt sienna ear coverts and sharp, black bill and legs. It lacks the olive and warmer tones of our Chiffchaffs, one of which it singing behind me in the hedge. I watch both birds, for a while confirming the differences, willing the new bird to call but it stays silent. It looks very much like the Siberian Chiffchaff I have been seeing over the last few springs.
22nd march, David’s super eyesight spots 2 raptors very high over CEP. Both very Peregrine like.
20th March, clear and cold. Tom and I see a Stoat cross the road, late afternoon.
19th March, back to light rain and dullness, but before work I go for a quick wonder along Lodge Lane. A Jay, Green Woodpecker, 40 Fieldfare, 3 Yellowhammer, 2 Chaffinch, and a Goldcrest are noted. CEP has 8 Redwing and many singing, Dunnock, Robin, Wren and Blackbird. Bridge House Farm Lake has a pretty pair of Gadwall.
16th March, sunny! A Skylark is singing way off, but the song washes over the village with the breeze. I’m working at Stenhouse Close and a Chiffchaff briefly sings. That’s the first summer migrant, and about on time. Back at Armley unloading the van and a Siskin goes over, calling. Mike and Nicole send me a photo’ of a Buff-tailed Bumblebee.
15th March, rain, wind, fog or low cloud, anyway Adam and I get a soaking whilst trans-planting trees at CEP, but the fog has grounded north-bond migrants in the form of 20 Meadow Pipits that feed amongst the rough grass and sheep dung in the meadow.
13th March, Alan sees a perched Barn Owl and Grey Wagtail at The Wharf, Sue has a Treecreeper in her garden, and I hear a Marsh Tit on Harbidges Lane.
11th March, a few queen Bumblebees and 3 Small Tortoiseshells are seen. The Mute Swans are still at Oak Tree Farm Lake. A Swallow and a Sand Martin come in off the sea in Dorset.
8th March, Sue sees a Blackcap in her garden on Lakeside. Adam, a Barn Owl at the A5, and Angela, another on the A428 junction. CEP has 3 Snipe, a Reed Bunting, Kestrel, Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 8 Fieldfare, and singing Blue Tit. A Seven-spotted Ladybird is noted, and a Small Tortoiseshell is caught in a web.
5th March, some late invoicing in the office and I hear the now uncommon ‘wheezing’ song of a Greenfinch. I nip out and see it at the top if a Birch tree at the end of Holyoake.
1st March, St David’s day is fine and sunny. The ornamental Cherry trees throughout the village are already dropping petals, but the Daffs, Celandines, and Aconites are loving the sun. A Robin is building a nest in my garden, there are Great Tit’s prospecting in one of the nest boxes, and Blue Tit’s in another. Jackdaw and Buzzard are both displaying in the sky, and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker is drumming away on a dead branch somewhere.