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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Better than average...

A very nice bright day but still handicapped by an increasingly strong and chilly breeze, but all to the liking of 40+ Swifts seen from the cafe over a revitalising coffee.

After a quick catch up with Geoff and Tom and Gary, Miles, Alan and Graham, first up was the adult Tawny Owl near Westmead and, on a return pass, both its fluffy, 'branched out' youngsters in a tree on the opposite side of the path.

Further round this Orange Tip was one of two in the same location as last time plus a few Nomada bees. Nearby a Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) was out sunbathing and the first of two Large Red Damsels flew by but no Broad-bodied Chasers yet; shockingly, for a sunny day in May, just a dozen butterflies of five species!!

At the hanger a pair of Nightingales nest building at ground level with another bird singing nearby, plus earlier the Fattengates bird also hear only.

The water is pretty quiet now with just a remaining pair of Wigeon and maybe 40+ Teal but, with such high water levels, not really suitable for waders. First Hobby of the year flashed over and later it or another was visible from  the restaurant and hence made it on to Nikki's birds-from-the-buillding list.

Westmead was birdless other than the aggressive pair of Egyptian Geese with young which chased off everything including two Teal minding their own business, although I did pick up an inbound GWE well down the valley which eventually looked as if it pitched up near Winpenny. A/the pair of Avocets appeared out of thin air heading towards the north brooks. The earlier Swifts were joined by twenty or so House Martins.

On the way back the main action was at the bee/bug hotel where four and possibly more Adders were putting on the best display I've ever seen other than full on dancing, with two males intertwined with a receptive female on the top of the tiles and totally unphased by at least eight of us just a couple of feet away; being three feet off the ground made for better/easier photography with no vegetation in the way. Another female was in the nearby scrub and one male relocated to a tile on the ground as a good hot-spot.

Finally a lunchtime chat with with Geoff and Tom was followed by a brief and fruitless look at the heathland before heading home.

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