Saturday dawned - the new month of May. I didn't expect to be scraping thick ice from my car windscreen in May but that's exactly what I had to do at 6am before heading Druridge for my fourth territory mapping visit.
As well as the cold start, a wintery shower passed through as I arrived, I sat in the car and let it pass. Once cleared, the sun came out and it was quite pleasant but there were dark clouds on the horizon.
The cold weather has blocked a few arrivals I think, other than Reed Warblers, of which there a few singing away in the small patch of Phragmites in the corner of the big pool, warbler numbers are pretty-much what they were seven days ago with the addition of an extra Grasshopper Warbler maybe.
There are three scarce breeding species at Druridge already this year:
I've already mentioned the Long-tailed Tits, they are now feeding young. One of the adults is ringed, almost certainly by us last Autumn. I can't remember the last breeding Lottis at Druridge.
There is also a male Song Thrush that has been singing his heart out for at least four weeks. I'm assuming that if he hadn't attracted a mate by now, he would've been off and that she is sitting on eggs somewhere. Again, I can't recall Song Thrush breeding at Druridge.
And thirdly, a new find. A pair of Great Tits gathering nesting material. Great Tit isn't an uncommon species on the patch, but not as a breeder. They are hole-nesters and the trees and bushes aren't really old enough to have developed holes yet. They have bred in boxes around the farm and in the buildings at High Chibburn before.
I think this shows that the narrow belt of scrub is maturing and attracting different species. Lesser-Whitethroat and Bullfinch both bred last year.
I managed to dodge the showers. The only new bird for the year was a single House Martin.
|Male Reed Bunting - common in the dunes|
|A white hen Pheasant - she's been around a while and is nesting in the middle of the grass field north of the big pool - I assume she thinks she is camouflaged?|
My second survey was the Breeding Waders of Wet Meadows Survey for BTO. It is all a bit odd, as the big pools is mapped as suitable (!!), but the field to the north, which is a wet(ish) meadow isn't. And then, most of East Chevington Reserve is included, again with no wet meadows.
|Female Stonechat along the Coal Road|
|Still about 20 Twite about in the dunes, with pink rumps on show!|
|A migrant - White Wagtail|
Anyhoo, I did what I could and found a my first Lapwing chicks of the year. As I write this, the rain is lashing down, it's blowing a gale and it's freezing. I wish them well!
Finally, this weekend is the City Nature Challenge. ERIC the local records centre is coordinating CNC for the North East of England again. I really enjoyed last years event and got stuck in, submitting lots of records (including my first ashy mining bees and the northernmost in England at the time). This year, a combination of chores and shocking weather has meant less records submitted from me. Others have done well though.