Sunday, 6 March 2016

March Diary !

30th March - The month is drawing to an end now, spring growth is well under way, Snowdrops and Daffodils have bloomed and mostly faded now, Lesser Celandine, a few Wood Anemones and Primroses are flowering now, a few Dog Violets are starting to flower, and on the sunnier aspects of the woodland a few Bluebells are starting to flower.


Best places to look for the Bees has been the willow catkins, being the best source of pollen and nectar in the woods at the moment.
 This morning I did catch sight of another Buff Tailed Bumblebee queen feeding on some Lesser Celandine.

Queen Buff Tailed Bumblebee

Some nice bird sightings this morning, Great Tit , Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Green Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaws Stock Dove and the Little Owl was sunning itself on the old favoured tree.

Long Tailed Tit
Stock Dove
Little Owl
29th March - Bright sunny morning but still quite cold, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch heard calling as I entered the woodland, quickly followed with the "teacher teacher" calls of the Great Tit. At Two Ponds the Jackdaws were again squabbling around the nesting holes in their favoured tree.


Blue Tits, Great Tits all along the trails, with a few Robin, a single Wren, Blackbird , Song Thrush a pair of Mistle Thrushes around the old air raid shelters. I seem to be seeing a lot of these just lately

Mistle Thrush.
Around the glades a distant Pheasant(43) could be heard calling but not seen and a fly over Common Gull (44) A single cock Yellowhammer was sitting on the shaved hedging alongside the track. Still no sign or sound of the Chiff chaffs yet, no Butterflies or Bees today.

26th March -  After the warm temperatures of yesterday it was back to the cold grey skies of our unpredictable spring weather. Not many birds on show today apart from a very good view of the Little Owl, several Nuthatches could be heard calling but not seen, Great Tits were very common all around the woodland, and I am still yet to hear the call of the Chiffchaff, I noticed that these are starting to arrive back in the country.
A few Common dog-Violets have started to flower.

Common Dog-Violets
23rd March - Fleece was back on today,  lower temperatures again,  just one Buff Tailed Bumblebee seen today. Birds seen along the Woodland trails included  Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, 2 Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, a single Goldcrest, Magpie, Jay and Carrion Crow,
Nuthatch heard calling but not seen, Great Spotted Woodpecker in flight, and the Little Owl was seen flying from its nesting burrow to a nearby tree. Two Treecreepers seen today.

Song Thrush
A walk through the glades in search of Yellowhammers (42) produced a pair,  the first sighting this year for me, three Goldfinch,  a single Chaffinch singing its heart out. a pair of Mistle Thrushes.

Mistle Thrush.
Cock Chaffinch

That's twenty two species, finally broken through the previous twenty species barrier for this site.

Just a few Wood Anemones breaking through, not a very good show at the moment. even the Lesser Celandines not that impressive this year.

Wood Anemone
Lesser Celandine
One of the many Grey Squirrels that inhabit Ashenbank woods, still finding a few sweet chestnuts from their winter stash,

Grey Squirrel 

22nd March - Spring has finally arrived, a beautiful sunny morning, fleece not required. woods were full of Birdsong and the first Buff tailed Bumblebees have finally emerged from their hibernation, a few in the woodland, most seen around the willow catkins. together with good numbers of Western Honey bees. Strangely this emergence has coincided with the first Bees being seen in the garden.

 Queen Buff tailed Bumblebee 

Western Honey Bee
These Western Honey bees seem to be gathering plenty of pollen from the willow catkins, and certainly the place to search for them.

The first Butterfly of the year was also seen today, and appropriately a Brimstone, flying too fast along the edge of the woodland for a photograph.

Bird sightings included  Skylark, Meadow Pipit (41), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Jackdaw, a small flock of Starlings, Moorhen at Henhurst pools, Dunnock .

Meadow pipit
I was pleasantly surprised seeing the Nuthatch  investigating last years nesting site, this one looks like the male with the dark rusty red under its wings, another  Nuthatch could be heard calling close by, 
21st March - Earlier than usual walk in the woods today revealed a few Rabbit sightings with one very young Rabbit on view, I only mention this because I do not see many Rabbits in the woodland normally, plenty of Grey Squirrels along the trails, bird sightings today included Chaffinch, Wren, Blue Tit, Robin, Redwing (3) Song Thrush, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, at least three, possibly four Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming, the Little Owl at its usual haunt, a brief flight view of a Treecreeper.

This little Bonnet fungi caught my eye growing through an old cow pat. not sure what it is, possibly a "Drab Bonnet".

 19th March -  Walking up from the car park this morning past the fading Snowdrops, still cloudy and cold, I disturbed a few Chaffinch, Great Tit and Blue Tit that were searching  through the leaf litter. down at Two Ponds the Jackdaws were very vocal until I pointed the camera in their direction resulting in a mass exodus from their tree.  A small flock of Redwings, no more than six or seven flew  over the treetops, I thought these should be on their way back to their breeding grounds by now.
As I approached the Little Owl tree, I did not really expect to see anything, as the Little Owl has been absent of late, but a second glance revealed the Little Owl sitting outside its nesting burrow, to which it quickly returned when it caught sight of me watching him, nice to see him back though.

Little Owl
The walk up through the glades did not reveal any Yellowhammers as yet, but in the horse paddocks at the top of the glades, a few Thrush moving around on the ground turned out to be some more Redwings, with a Green Woodpecker at the back of the paddock. four Magpie still, with lots of Wood Pigeons around.

A distant Green Woodpecker
Back in the woodland, Stock Dove numbers have increased to five now, but very flighty. a few Carrion Crows seen nearly all in pairs now. the rusty red rumps of a few fleeing Wren picked out, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin. all seen around the undergrowth.

18th March - Due to DIY commitments the dog walking duties have been left to the wife, but it was back to normal this morning, although the bright sunshine of yesterday had returned to the dull cloudy weather, and still quite cold, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming briefly this morning together with the call of the Nuthatch both remained unseen though, The Jackdaws were squabbling in their nesting tree near Two Ponds, a few sightings of Great tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock and Robin around the woodland and not much else, Chiff Chaffs should be arriving soon, (23rd March last year ) but none heard this morning, five Magpies  seen in the glades.

Magpie landing in the glades
I checked out a Goat Willow whose catkins were in full bloom in the hope of a Bumblebee sighting, still too cold I fear, none seen.

Willow Catkins 
Back in the woodland some early signs of the Wood Anemone starting to appear in the sunnier aspects of the woodland.

Not sure if this is a Lichen or fungi, it was growing on the bark of a living Ash Tree

14th March -  A cold bright morning, for today's walk, birds noted today were a pair of Mallard (40) on Two ponds, which brings this year's species list to forty. but these flew off as I approached, Jackdaws in the old dead tree next to Two ponds. Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming,with another two seen in flight, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Blackbird seen around the woodland, still plenty of Robins to be seen. Great Tit, Blue Tit in good numbers, but the hoped for Marsh Tit did not show today. a male Kestrel flying low across the glades reminiscent of a Merlin, Carrion Crows and Magpie in the fields with at least six Skylarks seen, probably more hidden in the grass, and the usual Wood Pigeons.
 Still no sign of any Bee's, not surprising with the low temperatures

11th March - Cold damp and very misty morning, conditions too damp to risk the camera, big mistake. Visibility was quite low but a view birds still on show, Jackdaws and Stock Dove in an old Sweet chestnut tree, a few Carrion Crows sitting it out high in the treetops, a distant Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming somewhere within the woodland, quite a few Song Thrushes seen this morning with a few male Blackbirds, the only birds of note around the glades were a pair of Dunnocks that allowed a very close view, a quick look for the Yellowhammers was unsuccessful
Back in the woodland I disturbed a small group of Chaffinches which flew up into a bush together with Great Tit and Blue Tit, and then something different caught my eye, a Marsh Tit (39) a very scarce bird for this woodland, its been nearly two years since I last saw a Marsh Tit here in the woodland, not only that, it appeared to circle me in the bushes giving very good views, I imagined it saying " I bet you wish you had your camera with you now " at least I know they are still around in the woodland.
phone picture - freezing mist 

8th March- A cold frosty morning, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming away around the woodland but none seen, Still good numbers of Robins and Blackbirds around the woodland, a brief view of a Stock Dove flying over the woodlands, Blue Tit and Great Tit and Chaffinch seen.
No Yellowhammers yet and no further sign of any Little Owls.

 Daffodils are mostly in full bloom now, Snowdrops have faded away and just the odd Lesser Celandine seen, no sign of any Common Violets or Wood Anemones let alone any Bee's.

3rd March - A Bright sunny morning, although the temperature was a bit on the chilly side, a quick look for the Scarlet Elfcups revealed nothing at all, I wonder whether the wood clearance carried out by the land management team in the autumn to open up the area has anything to do with their absence. A few bird species noted today included Blue Tit, Robin, Jackdaw, Jay, Blackbird, Song Thrush, a Nuthatch could be heard calling but not seen.

As I walked up through the glades a distant male Great Spotted Woodpecker  could be seen in the upper most branches of a tree, looking slightly surreal.
 And a rear view as it flew away showing the spots on its wings for which its named.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
A little further on a Green Woodpecker  also perched high in a tree, this time I was  a little slow  with the camera, it spotted me and flew off.
A single Skylark in the top meadows and a distant Buzzard circling in the sky.

Back in the woodland, the much photographed old Hornbeam in the open pasture, was breaking out into bud.

Hornbeam Buds

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