Nature Blog Network

Early birds

Couldn’t take part in the BTO early bird survey because it was on a working day, but the idea was to get up before dawn (not difficult in January!) and count the time taken for the first 10 species to appear either before or after daybreak. Nationally the winners were blackbird, robin and blue tit with an average appearance 11 min, 16 min and 21 min after daybreak respectively. Tawny owls on average were around 11 min before daybreak. See here for the BTO results.

Our daily experience is a bit different. We regularly leave the house before daybreak but the owls have gone to bed and the blackbird, great tit and robin are singing away. Nationally the great tit was the ninth to appear, having lay in for a good 28 minutes after dawn.

Big Garden Bird Watch

No snow this year unlike last, but we managed 14 species in the hour. Unfortunately neither the jay nor the woodpecker paid us a visit but we did see a wren, the first one on the lane for ages.

For the record, with last year’s in brackets:

house sparrow 6 (6)
goldfinch 6 (4)
greenfinch 5 (5)
common gulls 4
blackbird 3 (3)
wood pigeon 3 (2)
great tit 2 (3)
magpie 2 (1)
robin 1 (1)
starling 1 (7)
carrion crow 1 (4)
blue tit 1 (1)
dunnock 1 (3)
wren 1

and the wretched grey squirrel on the feeder most of the time...

Last year’s visitors missing this year:
meadow pipit 1
coal tit 1
chaffinch 4
siskin 2
jackdaw 2

So last year was 54 birds and 18 species, this year was 38 birds and 14 species. We have been doing BGBW as a family for over 10 years now - the first year we did it there were 75 starlings and this year only one...

warm winter

This winter has been much warmer than last, with the temperatures barely falling below zero and no snow to speak of. This has been seen in the wildlife of the lane, with blackbirds singing in late December (29th), great tits on the first week of January (6th) and the pussy willow in flower by Jan10th. The velvet shank is back too.

The mild weather has been stormy however with some pretty stiff winds. One of these brought down the ash tree in the centre of the field sometime this week. Interestingly it looks to have snapped rather than have been uprooted so it may have been a bit dodgy anyway. The field will look different without it and I’m glad now that I took the photos late last year. This isn’t the first time that a set of photos were taken, only for the landscape to change within weeks.

fallen ash 3-3 thumbnail

There was a female blackcap in the lime tree on the lane last week, a first. Its a pity the BTO winter blackcap survey was last year... There was also a flock of Canada geese flying over this morning and a raven over Marl Pits - not strictly on the lane so not counted on the species list but pretty close.