A golden oriole was singing from the woodland (the 'black wood') next to the bridleway yesterday afternoon. Found by one of our volunteers, Russ Tofts, it was infuriatingly elusive (as golden orioles tend to be). I went to look/listen for it early this morning without any luck, although I did see fledged treecreepers (learning to creep?) with attendant parents and many blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, song thrushes, blackcaps and great spotted woodpeckers variously carrying food, singing and visiting nest sites. A typical woodland-in-mid-May scene.
On the brooks at west mead, there were still 9 lapwing chicks from 3 different broods, and a young female peregrine stooped unsuccessfully first at a crow, then at a stock dove before heading south. Little ringed plover (up to 4) and ringed plovers (up to 9), plus an avocet (or two) have been seen on the north brooks in recent days. Hobbies are still regularly hunting across the brooks, and although nightingales are slowing down a little, they can still be heard with ease around the nature trail.
Now some of you may admire my determination (others may just call me stubborn) but I tried, yet again, this morning to find and admire the spotted flycatchers which seem to be nesting above Jupp's View. Needless to say, I failed! But I found and enjoyed plenty of other wildlife in compensation...all 9 little fluffy humbugs (the shelducklings) are still doing well and were pursuing 2 ringed plovers who were competing with them for the best muddy spot on the North Brooks. In Nettley's picnic area, there was plenty of warbler action with a family of common whitethroat hopping about the bramble bushes, a garden warbler in song, and a pair of blackcaps at either end; the males happily singing away and the females with their lovely conker-brown heads searching for food. A bit of sunshine had woken up some of the insects with speckled wood butterflies, a broad bodied chaser dragonfly, and my first large skipper butterfly of the year, making the most of the early morning warmth. Back along Green Lane for a fabulous plump, pink, male bullfinch and, on the very last day of May, a nightingale still performing beautifully in Fattengates Courtyard. So, flycatchers or not, I've still got a smile on my face.
Hobbies - at least 2, possibly more, were putting on a fantastic show hunting dragonflies over the north brooks yesterday (best seen from Nettley's hide or Jupp's view). A marsh harrier was also seen hunting the brooks. Spotted flycatchers can be found nr Jupp's view and on the edge of the heath (nr the black pond). Lots of young birds are emerging from various sites around the trail - mostly blue and great tits, but there was a brood of flightless, clumsy and comical magpies nr the centre this morning. Judging by the noise coming from various nest sites, house sparrow fledglings will also be all around the visitor centre very soon. Young lapwings are present nr west mead hide and on the north brooks, and a pair of shelducks have 9 tiny ducklings in tow. A couple of male wigeon are still present. Nightingales (at least 3) were still singing well nr the visitor centre, along with garden warbler, blackcap and lesser whitethroat - I got a picture of one of the nightingales (see gallery).