Monday, 1 February 2016

February Diary 2016

29th February - Spring like morning, sun shining, temperature warming up and birds singing.  Daffodils have finally made an appearance in the woodland, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Chaffinch foraging in the leaf litter, Jackdaws in their nesting tree,  two Carrion Crows in the woodland, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long tailed tit seen in the treetops, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker heard calling but not seen,  two Treecreepers together this morning was an unusual sighting, first sighting of a Stock Dove (38) today, Wood Pigeon, Jay and eight Magpies in a single flock.

23rd February - Another fine sunny morning although there was a chill to the air, Woodland beginning to show more and more signs of spring now, leaf buds appearing, birds singing.
The private woodland next to Ashenbank, separated by a unnecessary fence, which divides the wood in two, and not the most friendly of landowners either, is now undergoing coppicing works, lots of chainsaw noise, and smoke from there fires, very annoying, I wonder if they will sell this part of the wood to the Woodland trust after they have removed their timber, time will tell.

Back to Ashenbank, a few more wild flowers starting to appear, I don't normally give this delicate little creeping plant much of a look,  unless there's an interesting Bee upon it, this caught my eye today mainly for the fact that it's the first I have noticed this year, flowering usually occurring March to June, so a week or so early.
It's not actually an Ivy it belongs strangely to the Dead-nettle family, it smells a little like Blackcurrant.
Ground Ivy
Finally found a Scarlet Elfcup today albeit not in very good condition, it was about this time last year that I first began to notice them. hopefully there will be a few more specimens to photograph over the next week or so.

Scarlet Elfcup
 The Woodland Daffodils are finally breaking out into flower now as the Snowdrops  are beginning to fade.
Female Chaffinch.

Birds noted today included a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming away at the top of the Dead Chestnut tree near the car park, a few Song Thrush and Blackbird noted  hunting around in the leaf litter. Chaffinches seemed prominent today, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin and a fine looking Nuthatch

19th February - Clear night meant heavy frost in the woodland this morning, Two ponds and Ashenbank pond frozen. but there was lots of birds on view, in particular Robins, there seemed to be a Robin every fifty yards or so, with four Robins seen together in one bush. albeit with two engaged in some aerial combat.

Lots of Jackdaws around the woodland with a few Carrion Crows, a Green Woodpecker was disturbed from a tree where Jackdaws were nest prospecting.

Distant Green Woodpecker
The two Bullfinch were seen again high in the treetops , the males Pink breast standing out like a beacon. still very flighty, still no photograph.

Two Kestrel sightings, the first was a pair flying over the glades, and then the male seen again in the woodland.
A few Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch and a Nuthatch heard calling but unseen.

17th February - Another beautiful morning with some warmish sunshine, lots of Birdsong this morning, Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming echoing around the woodland, Nuthatches calling unseen this morning, no sign of the Bullfinches unfortunately ,but plenty of other birds seen along the trails, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Jay and Magpie representing the corvids.

Carrion Crow
A lone Starling(37) flying over the woodland, strangely the first I have recorded on my mornings walk. Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Hedge Sparrow, Robin, Great Tit, BlueTit, Long Tailed Tit.
Around the glades, Wood Pigeons a plenty, two Green Woodpeckers and a single Skylark, Mistle Thrush.  female Chaffinch and to finish the day another Tree creeper seen quite high on a chestnut tree. after a long absence I seem to be encountering these more frequently now. twenty species in all today.
Treecreeper checking every crevice
Treecreeper well camouflaged

16th February - Beautiful blue skies this morning, but cold hard frost still covering the undergrowth where the sun has not reached. the usual Jackdaws Carrion crows and Wood Pigeons greeted us as we walked around the Two pond area, Six Magpies having a bit of a argument in the treetops, ( Six for gold apparently).

This little Cuckoo Flower or Ladies smock is always the first of its kind to flower, it's growing on top of an old decayed tree trunk, I have noticed its tiny flowers appearing for the last couple of years now.
Cuckooflower or Ladies smock

Back along the trails Blackbirds, Robins Blue Tits and Great Tits were all very prominent.

Once again on the edge of the Woodland, Two Bullfinch were seen high in the treetops, I could just not auto focus in the right spot to get an photograph, so with a bit of imagination and for record purposes only an impression of a Bullfinch, you can just make out the rosy pink breast,white rump, slatey grey back and black cap.

Bullfinch impression.
Very frustrating that, I have never photographed a Bullfinch before ,maybe next time, that's two occasions in the last few weeks our paths have crossed.
This was easier to photograph, a pair of Nuthatches(36) feeding around some old Hornbeam trees, first one seen this year, although I have heard them calling in the woodland. A few Wrens seen and just one Dunnock, no sign of the Little Owl.


11th February - The frost did not seem as extreme as the weather forecasters had foretold, and most had dissipated by the time I arrived at the woodland, some serious undergrowth cutting going on this morning by a huge tractor , so a lot of disturbance around the Two pond area, in fact no birds seen at all.
As  I approached the edge of the woodland a Ring necked Parakeet caught my eye, high in the tree tops.
Ring necked Parakeet.
The walk through the glades produced  four Skylarks, making a half hearted attempt at a display flight.
Robins are very common at the moment all around the woodland trails. always nice to see.
a few other birds noted Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chaffinch.

10th February - Another cold morning with much the same birds being seen, Carrion Crow but no Jackdaws seen today unusally, Wood Pigeons and a single Collared Dove(34) near the glades, no sign of any Stock Doves at the moment. Two Ring Necked Parakeets near the orchards no sign of any Fieldfare. Lots of Robin sightings this morning in the woodland, the usual Blackbirds, just one
Song Thrush this morning, a single skulking Dunnock,  small roving Tit flock with Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits moving through the trees. a female Chaffinch, three Jays in the Little Owl tree but no sign of the Owl today. Large bird flying over the woodlands turned out to be a Grey Heron (35)heading towards Henhurst lake in the park. Great Spotted Woodpecker heard drumming in the woodlands.

  9th February - Although the sun was shining there was still a chill to this mornings walk, there seemed to be more birds on show today, as I walked towards Two ponds I was greeted with a Blackbird and Song Thrush  searching through the grass alongside the trail, in fact Song Thrush song was very prominent this morning with various birds competing with various chords from there song repertoire. Robin and Wren were also quickly added to the day's tally, Jackdaws were seen exiting a hole high up in the trees, three Carrion Crow were searching intently for something in the mud, seemed reluctant to leave as I approached. a Few Wood Pigeon  perched high up in the Sweet Chestnuts along with a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on a dead branch of the same tree.
the male Kestrel was seen once again  within the wood, probably the same one seen a few days ago.

    The Little Owl was on view outside its nesting hole, not sure if this is the same one, looks a little lighter in colour possibly a female, most likely a trick of the light.

Little Owl
No sign of any Siskins near Ashenbank Ponds, a single Dunnock seen in the hedge.
As I walked back through the woodland a few Blue Tits, Great Tits were moving through the trees , a small bird caught my eye, which turned out to be a Goldcrest,(33) very hyper, moving very fast through the undergrowth.

          As I watched the Goldcrest, another bird caught my eye moving up a nearby tree trunk, a Common Treecreeper moving swiftly up the trunk and out of sight, nice bird to finish on.


     All in all an interesting morning with 15 species seen around the woodland. lots of birdsong, woodpeckers drumming, echoing around the wood, more and more Daffodils coming into flower, shouldn't be too long before the first Bee's wake from their winter hibernation.

 8th February -   Storm Imogen was still buffeting the trees this morning, once again birds were keeping there heads down, a few Jackdaws flew from their nesting tree near Two ponds, Two Carrion Crows were calling noisily close by. Blackbird and Song Thrush were seen with just one Robin sighting. The Little Owl was tucked into a small crevice in its favoured tree, and another surprise sighting today the Siskin flock were back, seen feeding in a small stand of Alders opposite Ashenbank pond, some good views,but unfortunately the wrong lens on the camera.

Siskins near Ashenbank pond.
 6th February  - Another eye-watering walk in a cold wind today with very little being seen, I did notice some willow buds bursting through on a young willow tree. Spring growth is certainly showing its face around the woodland if you look closely.

This animal trail leading from the woodland ,under a fence, and out across the fields comes from an area I believe is frequented by some of our unmentionable friends of the woodland.

Tracks & Signs
 5th February - Not much seen on today's walk, a Green Woodpecker was disturbed from the glades, a Nuthatch(32) was seen flying from a Chestnut tree, the usual Great Tit, Blue Tits, Robin, Blackbird, Jay Magpie.
Snowdrops still doing well with a few more Daffodils bursting out into flower, the same goes for Lesser Celandine.
Not much on the fungi front, I have been checking last years sites for Scarlet Elfcups but nothing showing at the moment, some examples of 'Cramp ball' fungi were seen,together with this old fungi specimen, which I wondered if it could be the Hoof or Tinder Fungus.

Possible Hoof or Tinder Fungi ?

  4th February - Another bitterly cold morning, as  I parked up in the car park I could see two Blue tits very interested in a hole in an old Ash tree, probably house hunting, once again the Song Thrushes were very vocal, Blackbirds scurrying through the undergrowth and Robins perched just above the trails watching me go by. other birds noted were Great Tit, Dunnock, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Jay.
 Great spotted Woodpecker could be heard drumming this morning, and another seen high up in the tree tops.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
   On the path to the Bronze age burial mound I bumped into a Fox coming the other way, not sure who was surprised the most, he didn't hang around, these woodland foxes seem much more wary than their urban cousins.
A high pitched call, which I can just manage to hear these days, alerted me to
 Common Treecreeper making its way up the trunk of a nearby tree, a couple of distant photographs were taken.

Common Treecreeper

3rd February - Bitterly cold wind blowing around the woodlands today, with an  occasional view of the sun, once again Song Thrushes were very prominent with lots of territorial singing going on. a few Robins seen along the trails, small flock of Tits seen, Blue, Great and a few Long Tailed.
Along the edge of the woods some Blackthorn blossom was showing.

Blackthorn blossom.
A walk down to the pond at Jeskyns end of the country park produced a single Black Headed Gull (28), a single Moorhen(29) in very bleak conditions. two Jays were in the plantation

Black Headed Gull

In the fields a few Skylark were seen.

Back in Ashenbank woods a male Kestrel (30) was seen high up in one of the Chestnut trees,strangely as I was trying to photograph the Kestrel, I could hear some mobbing action going on, A Common Buzzard(31) drifted over the trees, allowing a quick photograph before it disappeared.

Male Kestrel
Common Buzzard
2nd February -   Another cold morning with a light rain shower, a few more birds on show today, Song Thrush seemed to be more prominent than usual with at least six seen along the trails, most digging through the leaf litter on the woodland floor. The one in the photograph seemed more interested in another singing Song Thrush near by.

Song thrush
Blackbird, Robin (4) , Chaffinch, Blue Tit and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker were all seen, but the surprise sighting of the day, were two Bullfinch (27), their white rumps and slate grey back showing well as they flew away from me. I haven't seen many of those here at Ashenbank for a while.
A couple of primroses have burst into flower near Two ponds.

Primroses near two ponds

1st February - Storm Henry was still gusting through the woodlands this morning, once again the birds were keeping their  heads down. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming from somewhere deep in the woodland, the first drumming I have heard this year. A pair of Jays were chasing each other through the treetops.
Others birds noted were a few Robin, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird. 

Daffodils February 1st
Wild flowers are restricted to Snowdrops which are appearing all around the woodland, Daffodils are still mainly at the bud stage with just a few odd flowers here and there, a couple of Lesser Celandine flowers now showing and still some White dead-nettle in flower.
Some of the cut hawthorn hedges are beginning to show new leaf growth, spring is definitely
not far away.