Thursday, 31 March 2016

A Cacophony of Oystercatchers

I've been out on my first longish bike ride for a while today, and by heavens my legs are really feeling it. I've ridden about 28km today, and inevitably my destination was RSPB Langford Lowfields for my first visit of the year.

It's been a lovely day, although there's still a marked chill when the sun disappears behind a cloud. It didn't stop there being a lot of butterflies about, mainly small tortoiseshell, although I did see a comma flee from my bicycle as I scooted through Stapleford Wood on the way.

I didn't see any sand martins while I was there, although they have been reported and there were plenty of midges and other irritants in the air for them to eat. The most notable sights I saw were;

1) A lapwing on Phase 2 enganging in a tumbling courtship flight.

2) A very angry mute swan engaging in an endless pursuit of a canada goose across the water on Phase 2. I have no idea what this goose had done to bring about this water rage, but even when the goose took to the air to get away, the swan followed it. They are probably still at it now, five hours later, in the dark.

3) A trio of oystercatcher that took to the air with a supersonic blast of furious piping, circling the Phase 1 reed bed like it was an aerial Indianapolis 500 for waterfowl. They are very striking flyers even without the noise; their sharp black and white markings really stand out, and they fly very fast too.

All in all, it was a lovely ride. It's a pity the warm weather is going to arrive when I'm at work.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.03.16

First cowslips in bloom for me

One legged goose

Oystercatcher island

Looking for food

To the water's edge

Feeding together

In hot pursuit


Redshank and passing mallard

Chest puffed out

Over the reeds

Female reed bunting

Look over there!



The lovely beach hut

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The First Chiff Chaffs are Singing

I was in the Sconce Old wood today, and while looking around amongst the treetops for anything interesting, heard the most distinctive songbird call of them all.

"Dwoop-dweep dwoop-dweep dwoop-dweep".

The song of the tiny little chiff chaff, the warbler who's call is a true herald of spring. It wasn't just one either, there were at least two in there, and as I scanned the trees looking for them without any expectation of seeing them - they are expert seemingly at throwing their voices - I found myself seeing not one, but two!

They were fighting as well, two males spiralling out of the trees almost to ground level.

When the apparent victor came back for another sing-song, I managed to get a not terribly good shot of him. Still, it's my first ever shot of a chiff chaff.

The remarkable thing, is that according to my twitter feed, today was the day all over the country when they decided to start singing.

It was a bounteous sunny, if chilly day, for suddenly all manner of insects took to the air. Sadly, still a bit too cold for this queen buff-tailed bumble.

Moving round to the library, and hairy footed flower bees were busy in the gardens, albeit too fast to photograph. But this hover fly was rather more amenable to a macro shot.

Then, atop one of those strange yellow shrubs I can never remember the name of, I saw this insect. I have no idea what it is, other than it may be a species of solitary bee. Any ideas anyone?

Bonus time! I looked down and a bee fly was feeding off nettle with its wonderful long proboscis. Not the best shot, sadly.

Finally, in a hedgerow surrounding a flower bed, there were more 7-spot ladybirds to be seen than I saw in the whole of last year. Glad they are having a good start to the spring.

A really productive day of photography, as I hope you can see and there's more to come. I may not have seen a brimstone yet, but I think the chiff chaffs have decided that today was, genuinely, the first day of spring.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.03.16

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Sweetly Sings the Robin

Came across this little fellow singing away in a low bush by the Devon Pastures boardwalk in Sconce Park. Every so often he would chirp up, and then wait to hear a responding call from another bird somewhere perhaps 20-30 metres away on the left of these shots.

This bird was quite happy to sit and pose for shots for minutes, unlike the long tailed tits flitting around the willow trees being chased around by dunnocks. Only got the one shot of these tricksy little blighters!

All in all I've had a good day, small tortoiseshell butterflies have been up and about, and I've had a 7km walk, and a 12km run on a day where stinging rainstorms alternated with bright sunshine in twenty minute cycles until late afternoon.

I've been looking for the swallows and sand martins that have been reported as having arrived in the area, but there were no fancy visitors sitting on the telegraph wires I kept scanning. I'm sure they will be around when I head out to North Muskham Lake in the next couple of days, that's where I first saw one about 25th March last year.

Three more days to have springtime adventures in!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.03.16

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Dreams of the Crocus Spider

I slept more last night than I did the previous 4 nights combined, and ended up dreaming the day away. Which was sad, as the day has been bright. However, my walk revealed a cold wind that kept the butterflies in bed, so perhaps I didn't miss a stellar wildlife day.

It certainly wasn't as stellar as my dream, in which my regular route along the cycle path along the railway line was thickly lined with blue flowers. Bluebells yes, but also a curious variety of foxglove who's azure flowers were larger than my hand and weighed as much as a bell.

I know this because I examined one. And in the course of examining the flower, I was bitten by the dangerous crocus spider, a previously unknown species of British spider the size and appearance of a small tarantula that a David Attenborough voice in my head told me was the the only British spider species to have a significantly venomous bite.

The bite certainly hurt, but how dangerous it was I was not to find out, because I awoke before I could do anything like undergo collapse of the central nervous system.

Sadly the flowers on the reality of my walk were nowhere near as vivid, but still attractive. The Blue Lake was choppy, and the forthcoming storm had driven some herring gulls on to its surface, which as an unusual sight here. I've had an Easter Egg, but sleeping so much always makes me think I've wasted the day.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.03.16

Like a mini conker candle

First world war memorial

Fungus colony

In close up

Primrose graves

They are at their peak at the moment

Choppy lake

Gorgeous red catkin

Celandine carpet

Lovely yellow flowers

Polish war memorial

A little information

Friday, 25 March 2016

Sex Goose

Normally I don't pay a lot of attention to the canada and greylag geese to be found at the Balderton Blue Lake; they are such common birds and not really terribly attractive either. And the mess they leave, sheesh.

However, this extremely virile specimen caught my eye as I made my way round the lake. It wasn't his endless "look at me and my lady" honking, although that was deafening enough, but rather the enormous, python like neck the greylag had. It pulsed, and swelled, and the feathers rose up like hackles forming long lines along his gorge.

This was the most powerful looking goose I'd ever seen. It was also the largest, much larger than the canadas around the lake, and also than the other greylags; it may have had a genetic dose of a large domestic goose.

Certainly his ladyfriend was a snow white domestic goose, and very protective of her he was as well, he always kept himself between she and I - such a chivalrous bird! Eventually they took to the water, where presumably he could find some swans to honk at and show off to.

Or maybe challenge to a wing wrestle.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.03.16