A quick update with news that Common Sandpipers were heard at Dove Stone on Sunday - quite often they'll give a three-note call as they fly. They've also been seen earlier this week, with the most recent sightings being on Friday around Yeoman Hey and Greenfield reservoirs. Common Sandpipers are summer visitors to Dove Stone. They'll be here to around July and August with any young birds staying a bit later, leaving around September. Look out for these birds flying low over the reservoirs and alongside areas such as Greenfield brook. You might see them 'teetering': bobbing up and down, and they have quite a distinctive flight with stiff, bowed wings with white on the wings. Also around and about on the reservoirs there have been Cormorant and Oystercatcher with Dippers on the watercourses around Greenfield res and Chew Brook. There's also been sightings of a Snipe at the water's edge down from Ashway Gap.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone there's Siskins showing well up at Binn Green along with lots of Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Lesser Redpoll, plus plenty of our regular Blue, Great and Coal Tits and Chaffinches of course. There was also a male Bullfinch on the feeders at Binn Green yesterday - listen out for the low piping call - as well as a Jay. I also saw a Brambling in the feeding area at Binn Green yesterday.
Further around at Dove Stone there's Meadow Pipits, Peregrine, Willow Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallows, Wheatears and Red Grouse on the moor tops. More soon with hopefully news of Blackcaps and Cuckoos...
If you're thinking coming to Dove Stone anytime soon here's what's been seen recently. Wheatears have now returned - have a look for them around hillsides up from Chew Brook onwards. In the same area look out for Stonechat and Reed Buntings. Along the way there's lots of Willow Warblers to be heard. I was watching a Willow Warbler yesterday and the light was catching it in such a way that it appeared quite a bright colour for a bird that has quite pale colouring really.
Walking alongside the Life-for-a-Life woods look out for regulars such as Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Wrens, Mistle Thrush, Coal, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits of course as well as Goldfinch and Greenfinch and Siskins. No signs of Blackcap or Whitethroat yet - will update when we have news. Around some of Dove Stone's other woodlands look out for Treecreepers too. Out on the reservoirs Oystercatchers can be seen as well as Cormorant and plenty of Black Headed Gulls. Currently we're on the look out for the return of Common Sandpiper. Around the water channels alongside the reservoirs look out for Grey Wagtail and Dipper, also to be seen around Chew Brook.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone there's Curlew around as well as recent sightings of Crossbill. Red Grouse are showing well up on the moor tops. Watch out for the males with their fantastic red eye brows. Plenty of Meadow Pippits around too. Ravens are also to be seen and Peregrines are around as well.
Spring is a great time of year. Lots of lambs out at Dove Stone so a quick mention that if you are out and about at Dove Stone with your dog please give a thought to Dove Stone's tenant farmers and keep your dog on a lead at all times around the estate's livestock - particularly around pregnant ewes and those with lambs.
A quick post on what's about at Dove Stone. Thursday saw our first Swallows returning to Dove Stone seen flying in the field next to the main carpark and along the main reservoir bank on Friday. Willow warblers and Chiffchaff are also around the estate, arriving a couple of weeks ago. Up at Binn Green there have been recent sightings of Brambling and Lesser Redpoll as well as plenty of Siskins, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and our usual Coal, Great and Blue tits and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Down in the woods around Binn Green there have been recent reports of Woodcock. No reports of any Crossbills of late. On the main reservoir there have been sightings of Oystercatchers and Cormorant. Elsewhere around Dove Stone there have been sightings of Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Curlew, Raven, Peregrine and Treecreeper. Good views of Mountain Hare too early on Sunday morning including a small group moving across the hillside above Chew Brook.
Long Tailed Tits. They're not really a true tit - although closely related to the tit family ( paridae) they actually belong to a different family order (aegithalidae). Down in the Life-for-a-Life memorial woodlands we found two Long Tailed Tit nests on the ground. Long Tailed Tits can start building their nest around the end of February. It takes them about three weeks and the main body of the nest is made of moss with , spider silk, sheeps wool and feathers and covered in lichen. The feathers provide an insulating lining and the whole construction is given an elasticity provided by the spider silk. There has been research that shows that the spider silk comes from spider egg cocoons and that the moss selected is the type with small leaves and that these get entangled with each other which gives the effect of hooks and loops and that this works like a natural form of velcro.
Check out this link to this really interesting article on nestbuilding: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/building-castles-in-the-air-6149979.html
So what happened with these nests ? They looked pretty complete so the birds hadn't abandoned mid-construction. Long Tailed Tits do build more than the one nest that they'll actually use. And although they can at times chose nest sites that are open ( although they also choose gorse for nest sites ) it's unlikely that these nests would have been blown out by the wind. Predated ? There's no signs of this and even If this was the case then the nests would still have probably remained in the shrub or trees. Perhaps, sadly, it was human interference. A Long Tailed Tit nest is a truly amazing thing to be lucky enough to look at close-up. Perhaps for some realising that same sense of awe, really, isn't as easy a thing to experience from a distance.
Here's a link to a video of a Long Tailed Tit in the process of lining its nest from the RSPB down at Pulborough Brooks: