Sunday, 21 March 2010

Equinox - a horse-powered nuclear reactor

The fresh air of a fortnight ago seems but a distant memory, as since then I've been AWOB (absent without blog) with a viral infection. I struggled back to work a couple of days ago but the season appears to have stolen a... er... March on me? Friends and acquaintances have reported lots of Springy action, newts, chiffchaffs etc, so today I had a short wander out to sample the sights and sounds of a pleasantly warm, equinoctial morning.Certainly, the bees were a-buzzing around our winter-flowering honeysuckle, making the most of the available pollen, as I set off for Linford Lakes. 

On leaving the car, the first sensory experience was the sheer amount of birdsong from the, mainly, resident congregation. It was all rather splendid, with the added bonus and singular charm of a Goldfinch leisurely running through his repertoire. Glorious sight, wonderful sound. Chiffchaffs were indeed "chiff, chaff"-ing, and from one of the hides I observed a Grey Heron collecting twigs for its nest.
Out on the lake, several male Goldeneyes were visible, resting up on their journeys northwards to their breeding grounds in Scotland and beyond. This didn't stop them reacting to the seasonal hormones coursing through their veins, and partaking of a spot of displaying.
I find this a most amusing sight. There is much foot splashing and then the head is thrown back, accompanied by a comedy duck quack. Priceless. I must admit that this shot was a complete fluke, it wasn't doing that when I pressed the button! To prove it, when I did try to capture the moment, I failed miserably. 

Great Crested Grebes were being rather amorous too, though well out of camera range, so at least I was saved from having to make the decision of whether to photograph them mating or not. I believe that this photographic behaviour is referred to as pornithology. 

Whilst walking back to the car, I spotted a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly and, upon arriving home, there was a Brimstone in our neighbour's garden. Late in the afternoon, while I cooked dinner, our lass went for a walk with the Admiral, to ease the stress of her working day. Along the canal, they spotted Pike spawning in the shallows, and, in a nearby pond, there were about twenty frogs a-courting. Yep, Nature is definitely stirring.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A march in March

The good news is that we've all been reprieved from a Tense Towers rant due to a fortuitous set of circumstances.

What could possibly be upsetting our scribe this fine March day? Oh, you had to ask.

The latest Waxwing news is that they're no longer there. How am I so sure? Well, for one, the tree they were sitting in has gone, mistletoe and all, to that great arboretum in the sky. During the last few weeks, contractors have been busy felling alternate trees along the main street through our estate. By chance, possibly the toss of a coin, the fate of Waxwing tree was sealed long before our colourful, crested visitors arrived. One tree either way and we would still have a wonderful clump of mistletoe to marvel, the only one in the area. Fan-flipping-tastic.

But you're right, dear long-suffering reader, it is a bright, clear March day. The sort of day that says "Stuff the housework, let's get out there and have some fresh air". Miraculously, I managed to persuade younger daughter to forego the comfort of her duvet and accompany me. So off we set for Little Linford Wood with high hopes of some early morning wildlife (early for Ruth, that is).

After trudging over the fields in a biting wind, we entered the shelter of the wood and followed the main ride northwards, passing an Ash tree on the edge of the path that is a good spot for Pine Ladybird during the warmer part of the year. Well, used to be a good spot, it's now three feet high and not nearly so impressive. There was a nice log pile beside it, which will be habitat for many an invertebrate, I'm sure, but any upwardly-mobile Pine Ladybird is going to be a bit disappointed come Spring.

Now, I do like a mad axeman as much as the next guy, but I'd prefer it if he was Michael Schenker or Eddie Van Halen, rather than some chainsaw-toting habitat mismanagement vandal. Sorry, I wasn't going to rant...

Continuing out of the wood, we circled west to cross the valley twice, finding Tree Sparrow and Skylark on the way. Then, heading back towards the wood, and perhaps more importantly into the wind, we had a huge slice of luck. With lashings of fortune custard.

In the fields, we happened upon several hares. They were more concerned with each other than us, so we were able to approach quite closely. Whilst we didn't witness any "boxing", there was sufficient activity to confirm that the wheel of the year is turning to favour the goddess Eastre and life is once more springing from the Earth. [Contented scribbly sigh]