Observations from around the town

Margaret’s Mistle Thrush Nest failure

At the end of February 2020 my husband and I noticed a pair of mistle thrushes in our garden, they began to build a nest in the tree in the street in front of our house. Soon, one of them started to sit regularly on the nest. Even though it was close to our house, it was difficult to see the bird and impossible to see what was in the nest. After about two weeks we saw a rook in the tree and one of the pair of mistle thrushes trying to scare the rook away by dive bombing it.

My mistle thrushes have now disappeared, we haven’t seen them for two or three days and suspect that the rook came back, and then we found a smashed egg in the front garden. It looks like a mistle thrush egg according to the internet. Hopefully they will try again, this time far enough away from the rooks.

Mistle Thrush Egg Casualty

LBB (or LBJ)

Many folks are unsure of that Little Brown Bird (or Little Brown Job) that they see in their gardens or out and about. That even happens amongst our experienced volunteers. So, Phil has provided some pictures to show the differences between House Sparrows and Dunnocks.

Male House Sparrow
Female House Sparrow
Male Dunnock
Female Dunnock

One of the most obvious differences is the beak. The Dunnock’s is slender, to mostly feed on insects from the ground. The House Sparrow has a much chunkier and stout bill, best suited to breaking open the seeds that form that vast majority of its diet.

Phil has had the regular pleasure of a male dunnock on his kitchen windowsill. Seems to pose their for the ladies and occasionally checks out his appearance!

Male Dunnock checking his appearance before trying to impress the ladies!

Close to Home

Steve has shared some pictures from his back garden. They show that having some suitable wildflower, shelter from the breeze and warmth from the sun brings the nature close to you.

Green Veined White Butterfly
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly

Here is another example of a LBB. In this case it is a female Blackcap. The female’s cap is brown, but the distinctive shape of the cap helps with identification.

Blackcap (Female)

Ashlawn, on the once daily exercise opportunity

Pete has been riding or walking through the cutting on his allowed “once daily” outdoor exercise during the Coronavirus lockdown. Here are a few pictures. Some might be a bit blurry due to his desire to not being seen standing still.

Cowslips on the Ashlawn Zigzag path

The primroses along the Station Bank are clearly enjoying the extra light now that the invasive Laurel has been cut back. Hopefully, primrose seed will spread onto the bare ground to produce a better show for 2021.

Station Bank – Primroses in full bloom

Before the Coronavirus lockdown, our volunteers had planted around 200 small tree whips, mostly deployed in creating new hedgerows or reinforcing existing ones. The picture below shows the welcome appearance of expanding buds on a Rowan.

Newly planted Rowan with buds now opening

Pussy Willow – a sure sign of Easter approaching.

Pussy Willow