On a mild weekend in mid March, there were definite signs that life is stirring from its Winter slumbers. Unfortunately, we chose to go on Saturday, the cloudier of the two days, as Sunday was reserved for the last practical session at Hanson Environmental Study Centre before the bird breeding season begins. But not to worry...
|Not too dissimilar to the January view. Still dry.
Towards the centre of the wood, a new glade had been created by some hard-working volunteers from the local wildlife trust. I have since learnt that the coppicing is left deliberately high, so that the new growth emerges above the browse line of the Muntjac Deer that inhabit the wood.
Walking west from the wood, along the hedgerow that follows the top of the ridge, we were heartened to hear the soft "chirrup" of a few Tree Sparrows, Passer montanus. It's good to know that they've survived the Winter, as we only ever see them in this hedge, and never more than half a mile from the wood. If I was of a more belligerent bent, the survival of this species is the one I would champion in the fight against development.
By the old ruined barn on the hill top, we could see a few other birds flitting about. Whilst not able to get too close, we could see that they were Yellowhammers, Emberiza citrinella. It appeared that we were watching two males displaying in a territorial dispute. They would swoop at each other, chase around for a bit and often perform some sort of aerial act of derring-do. This was difficult to capture on camera, but I rattled off a few record shots because it was such an odd behaviour.
|In pre-swoop mode
|Rubbish shot of a more sedate individual
If you ever want to learn more about these fascinating birds, I can heartily recommend Mark Cocker's "Crow Country", possibly the most beautiful book I have ever read.