Monday 7 May 2012

May in Little Linford Wood

Waking early on a work day is such a chore, but on a day off it can be a real treat. So it proved this morning. I rose from my slumbers at 6am and chanced a peek through the curtains. Not raining, hey, result!

In fact, there were a few breaks in the cloud letting the odd shaft of sunlight through, which was invitation enough to scramble into some clothes and gather together my optics for May's trip to Little Linford Wood.

As I drove through Newport Pagnell, there was an occasional patch of frost on car or shed roofs and the road in the river valley was still half-covered in flood water. Fancying a longer walk than normal, rather than use the usual car park, I stopped in the corner of a field, just off the tarmac road, and set off on foot along a broad path towards the wood.

In the distance, mist was blanketing the southern edge of the trees and, as I worked my way along a hedgerow, there was the welcome song of a Whitethroat, Sylvia communis. Another Summer migrant arrives! Nearing the wood, the weak sun had burnt off the mist and all was clear and crisp once more. It felt like the landscape had been freshly unwrapped and spread out in the warming light. The lush green growth of the leaves and the swathe of colour from innumerable Bluebells were still glistening in the early morning dew.

Arriving at the car park on foot, I startled a Buzzard, Buteo buteo, that was roosting in an Oak tree in the clearing. There always seems to be a pair of these raptors around the wood and they certainly have plenty of choice for a nest site.

Following the recent rain, I was pleased to find that the ephemeral pond by the car park was holding water again. Who knows, if we have a wet summer, this could once more prove to be a good spot for dragonflies.

On through the woodland paths and there were more signs of Spring. Greater Stitchwort is now in flower and there were a few specimens of Wild Strawberry (though as I didn't take a photo, I'm unable to say which species, sorry).

Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea
The results of the wild weather of the past few weeks can still be seen. Here an old Oak tree has fallen across the main ride. No longer standing dead wood.

On the path to the west of the wood, I was fortunate to see a Hare across the field. It was sat in a furrow made by a tractor wheel, which at least rendered it visible, as the crop is now too high otherwise. As the ground was very wet with dew, I couldn't disagree with its reasoning. I had been employing much the same tactic, walking wherever the grass was shortest! The Hare was busy grooming (or just drying itself, I guess) and then with a final flourish, it sat up and boxed the air, before loping off along the furrow.

Up by the old barn, the songs of Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs, Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, and Lesser Whitethroat, Sylvia curruca(another arrival) could be heard. As I was trying to photograph a few of the sparrows, another pair of birds flew into the hedge and perched in my viewfinder. Linnets! (Carduelis cannabina!)

The skies were growing darker by this point, heralding a return to the prevailing dreary drizzle, but before that, I was allowed one more ray of sunshine in the form of a sumptuous Yellowhammer, Emberiza citrinella.

Here's hoping for some warm sunny days in June and the promise of insects on the wing.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

Ah, bluebells! What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing your excursion.

Imperfect and Tense said...

You're welcome, Katie. This weather seems to suit them!

Martin said...

Mmmm, I wish I had been with you. That sounds like a stunning walk. While some species have suffered in the damp April, it looks to have prolongued Spring for many of the flowers. I wonder if this will result in more individuals or it'll be balanced by a lack of polinators.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Fellow bloggers have commented on the lack of pollinators during April. You would imagine that there would be an impact on plants flowering during that time. To the Phenology Mobile!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

That's a good question about the timing of the pollinators and the impact. It's been amazing to read through blogs how different the weather patterns have been at various places around the world. Here in CA, we've had very little rain this season. Our local project is called CPP, but it doesn't look like it includes pollinators. Do you have a phenology project in your neck of the woods?

It's funny how birds fly to where they like the conditions; it's not too dissimilar to some folks I knew in Ohio who relocated to Florida every winter. So, do you consider it spring or summer, now?

Imperfect and Tense said...

In TenseWorld, it's still Spring (March - May), with May being the month when everything really starts motoring. I am not aware of any official local phenology projects (which is a different affair from saying that there actually isn't one), though I'm sure the county Biological Records Centre would beg to differ. There are often some interesting articles in the British Wildlife journal on this subject. Had a bit of an odofest at lunchtime, see the FoHESC blog for details.

Spadger said...

Some great bird shots! Fantastic to see the tree sparrows still about - stunning birds.

Imperfect and Tense said...

And definitely Tree Sparrows, tell your colleague! :o)