An update with a new bird for the Dove Stone reserve 2013 bird list. Walking through the woods yesterday I flushed a Woodcock, which brings our total for this year to 71. We have records of Woodcock prior to this, but this is our first record for the year. Woodcock are extrememly well camouflaged birds that aren't active during the day, unless flushed. These are birds that are crepuscular - active at dusk and dawn, with dusk being when they can be seen during the summer months 'roding' - the male performing the courtship display flight. They'll also feed nocturnally, foraging for worms and insects in meadows or pastures that are in the vicinity of woodland.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone yesterday there was lots of activity up at Binn Green from some large groups - a charm - of Goldfinches as well as good views of Great Spotted Woodpecker on the peanut feeders. I only recently found out that like Sapsuckers, which are North American woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers also feed on sap. Also around the feeeding arera at Binn Green and in the larches are good numbers of Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Greenfinch, lots of Chaffinches - but no Brambling to be seen amongst them - the beeches around the Life-for-a Life woodland is still the place to look out for Brambling.
Moving on. In the woods below Binn Green there were good numbers of Goldfinch that looked like they were feeding on Alder cones as well as, again, plenty of Chaffinches in this area and a single female Bullfinch. I love that quiet, low-single note piping call of Bullfinches. Goldfinches are fantasically colourful birds but I do think that Bullfinches are something else.
Other recent sightings from yesterday include the regular Grey Heron at the foot of Chew Brook and a Nuthatch. Final sighting from yesterday was of a squirrel in freefall, followed by a classic cartoon 'thud' sound effect - it must have fallen a good 20 feet, probably more like 30, from a tree before climbing up the next tree with seemingly no problem at all...
More soon with an update soon on the wetlands bird survey and other recent sightings...
A few recent sightings from around the main trail. Starting up at Binn Green around the feeding area there are good numbers of Goldfinches and Greenfinches, a couple of Brambling and good numbers of Coal, Great and Blue Tit. Also look out for Wren, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Last week it looked like the numbers of Siskin were building, however, this weekend there were very few to be seen. Watch this space for updates on this; last year the numbers and the noise from the amount of Siskins at Binn Green was quite something.
Looking over to Alderman's Brow the Ravens are being seen regularly, as well as being seen from around the main trail displaying and cronking. There was also a Kestrel over Aldermans at the weekend. Around the reservoirs there were two Dippers flying down the Ashway Gap spillway and over the res.
From Ashway Gap there have been views throughout the weekend of the Peregrines. If you’re at Ashway Gap you might also notice that we’ve put in a brand new piece of habitat in the form of a mixed hedgerow of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Crab Apple, Hazel and Field Maple. We’ve planted about 500 trees here altogether. The stats are that since the second world war we’ve lost over 50% of hedgerows in England so it's good to do something that contribues to reversing this decline.
So why are hedgerows so important ? A mature hedgerow really supports a diversity of wildlife. Birds such as Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Blackbird and Robins will of course use hedgerows for nesting. Hedgerows also support birds that like scrub and open woodland such as Dunnock and Whitethroat, as well as providing habitat for ground-nesting species such as Grey Partridge. Our hedge, once established, will be a good food source of haws, sloes and crab apples.
And it’s not just birds that benefit from hedgerows. They're good for bats too as they'll use hedgerows to forage for insects. Bats also follow tree lines and hedgerows when moving between feeding areas and roosts. Our hedge will also provide habitat for small mammals, which in turn will provide food for Kestrels, the decline of which has been linked to the loss of hedgerows. Simply put, a hedgerow is a fantastic habitat for wildlife.
Back to what’s about at Dove Stone. Moving on to around Chew Brook a Grey Heron is regularly at the foot of the brook where it meets the main res. Best sighting by far though is the large group of Brambling that are still around, moving between Chew Piece and the memorial woodland Life-for-a-Life area. Last count there were approximately sixty Brambling in a mixed flock of Chaffinches. This particular part of Dove Stone has some lovely, old mature Beeches and it's the beech masts, of course, that the Brambling will be feeding from. As the photo below shows, they've such a lovely colour. Top bird !
An update with recent sightings from around the main trail.
Starting at the main car park with an increase in numbers of Black Headed Gulls with around a 100 in number some times. Worth checking for perhaps the odd Common Gull or Lesser Black Backed amongst them. Pied Wagtails on the main reservoir dam wall and a regular Grey Heron on the res shoreline where it meets Chew Brook. On the feeders at the main car park we've had a good number of Greenfinches and Goldfinches. Worth looking out for Nuthatch here too.
Moving on in the direction of Chew Brook the flock of around 30 Brambling is still around moving between Chew Piece and the Life for a Life woodland next to the sailing club boatyard. They're showing really well and it's not everyday you get to see such a number. Mixed in with them are of course Chaffinches and also a few Reed Buntings.
Round at Ashway Gap one of the Peregrines was showing well at the weekend. The Ravens have also been seen around Dove Stone rocks and there's been some interaction between the Peregrines and the Ravens. The Ravens are also being seen over Aldermans Brow, heard cronking. Last week there were three Peregrines seen over Aldermans also. At least one was a juvenile, maybe this years young ? Back to Ashway Gap. A female Stonechat was seen during the week and also a Dipper flying down the spillway to the main res.
Up at Binn Green there's plenty to see with increasing numbers of Siskin as well as good numbers of Goldfinches. Also around at Binn Green yesterday and mid-week were sightings of a Sparrowhawk, Jay, a male Bullfinch, Brambling, Coal, Blue and Great Tit, Wren, Goldcrests, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker - male and female - and a Treecreeper.