It’s amazing what half an hour out on site at Langford can produce! Today volunteers Dave Watt, Sarah Bird and myself had spent all day working in the polytunnel finishing off the reed propagation bays and building and fitting new doors, when we decided - late afternoon - that it was time for a quick look out on site.
Making our way around Phase 2, we noticed a small, slim and very fast falcon hunting over the water. There was only one thing that could be….the first Langford hobby of 2012. And what a beautiful bird it is – with it’s pristine black and white plumage and red ‘trousers’, we watched as it hunted small passerines, finally getting it’s meal and heading off into the distance.
Further round Phase 2, a brief look at a small flock of greylag geese revealed a single pink-footed goose among them. This is the first time I have seen pink-footed goose ‘on the deck’ at Langford – they are usually seen passing over in flocks on migration. This is quite a late individual, although on occasions they are seen in the county into May.
The regular flock of pied wagtails on the new landscaping once again produced some white wagtails, their continental European counterparts. The males are looking stunning at this time of year, with their sharply contrasting black and white head and light grey mantle.
On our way back to the workshop, a characteristic white rump showed itself, flying away from us and onto a nearby bund – a wheatear. We watched as a further two birds joined it and fed on the bund in front of us in the company of up to five yellow wagtails.
Not bad for a quick trip out and we even managed to avoid the rain!
What are these structures on the lateral and terminal leaf buds of pedunculate oak, Quercus robur? This is a young tree by the edge of silt lagoon 6. The structures are around 10mm in diameter, but beware - they are not usually this size! Look out for the answer next week....
Myself and volunteer Sarah Bird were out on site bright and early this morning for the weekly breeding bird survey. And what a lovely morning it was, with the sun shining, clear skies and not a breath of wind – somewhat of a nice change from the torrential rain we have been experiencing in the last couple of weeks!
April and May are my favourite months of the year, I love listening and looking out for new migrants moving in and this week has been pretty productive. Yesterday I was keen to get out and catch up with cuckoo and lesser whitethroat, which had been spotted over the weekend. And I wasn’t disappointed, as both showed well along the public footpath by the silt lagoons, present again this morning for the survey.
On the western boundary of the reserve this morning, I was then greeted with my first common whitethroats of 2012, singing characteristically from the tops of hawthorn bushes on the reserve boundary. Three singing males were accompanied by four singing sedge warblers along a stretch of scrub no more than 100m long.
And after the sedge warbler impersonating a reed warbler last week, I have now heard real reed warblers(!) singing away on silt lagoons 2, 4 and 6 this morning
Total numbers of migrant warblers counted this morning are 18 willow warblers, 6 sedge warblers, 6 blackcaps, 4 reed warblers, 3 common whitethroats, 2 lesser whitethroats and 2 chiffchaffs. Other notable records include 2 Cetti’s warblers, 1 cuckoo and a ‘yaffling’ green woodpecker in the Phase 1 scrub – a bird I haven’t seen or heard at Langford since last summer.
Insect wise, it's been pretty quiet in this bad weather lately, but when the sun does come out, look out for St. Marks flies, or Bibio marci, to give them their scientific name. They are quite a large fly at about 15-20mm long, are black in colour and fly characteristically with thier legs dangling below their bodies. They get their name from their habit of first appearing on St. Mark's Day - 25th April - however they were five days early this year, first appearing last Friday on the 20th!
Chesterfield RSPB Local Members Group made their annual spring field trip this morning and were rewarded with a bumper crop of spring migrants!
A trail had already been blazed by regulars Julie Straw, John Ellis and Graham Gamage, who informed me of sightings of lesser whitethroat, sedge warbler, reed warbler and garganey. Just as she was leaving site, Julie also picked up a cuckoo too.
The group managed to see or hear all of the above, though the garganey didn't give itself up easily!
Other birds of note included white wagtail, yellow wagtail, little ringed plover and black-tailed godwit.
What has made these marks in the wood of this tree found in our woodland this morning? You are looking at the marks in the centre of the picture, with the long horizontal one measuring about 5cm in length and the total width from top to bottom being around 6cm. I'm not going to say the species of tree, as that would give it away! Look out for the answer next week....