The day started with another visit from the pair of Redpolls , not to feed with the other Finches , but just for a quick drink from the birdbath , and away . The only other visitor of note was the female Brambling , and I finally managed a shot , albeit of poor quality , as she decided to feed in one of Carol's flower containers in the shade on the patio .
I decided on a trip to Fackenden Down , to see if the good weather of the past week had brought more Adders and other reptiles out of hibernation . The short answew was , not many . Although the sun was warm , a stiff cool breeze was blowing over the site , and one field still had two horses grazing it , and from their droppings , often frequented the areas where reptiles are normally found . I hope they will be taken off site shortly . Just one Adder was found under a tin , which isn't unusual , as they tend to use the refugia later in the season . It was a good sized male , and duly posed in the sunshine . Three other males were found in the open , all close together . Two I think were the pair found last week , and this one which was mostly hidden by grass , at the bottom of a Dog Rose stem . The only other reptiles found were four Slow Worms , a count well down on last week , once again probably due to the cool breeze . Overhead , several Skylarks were in full song , and a mobile flock of about 15 Golfinches noisily charged around the site . Even the butterflies numbers were well down , with just 1 Comma , 2 Brimstone and a single Peacock being found . Along the bottom track , amongst many Blackthorn bushes , just one small spindly bush had burst into flower .
On the way home , I stopped off at High Elms Country Park , to see if the Green Hellebores were showing . The flower I posted from the Greensand Ridge was past it's best , and I was pleased to find them in good numbers and very fresh and vibrant , even though they are all green . Whilst there , I also went looking to see if another not rare , but unusual plant was showing yet . Looking like some sort of alien , I found it just bursting out of the ground . It is Butterbur- Petasites hybridus , a member of the Daisy family , and unusual as the flower head comes out of the ground , the flowers open , and then the plant is raised on a long stalk with strap-like bracts . When all this has happened , the leaves , which can reach up to 1mtr. across , appear . The flower head pictured is about 5 cm. across . This plant is very closly related to Winter Heliotrope , which I posted as one on the first flowers of the year , sometimes flowering before Christmas .
A stop at the farm lake was quiet . A Grey Heron lifted off on my arrival , and the call of Little Grebe confirmed that there is a pair again on the lake , and later I saw both . The Coots have already built their nest and the Moorhens are at about the same number . Three male and two female Mallard were on the water , with two of the drakes doing their 'dunk the female under the water' routine . The amount of Frogspawn around the margins was phenominal . In some areas , square metres of spawn could be measured , but quite a lot seems to have been caught by the early morning frosts of late , and probably will not hatch out . Birdwise , it was quiet , but just before leaving , a Common Buzzard appeared from over the woods , soared over the fields , and headed further up the valley . A distant silhouette was all that I could manage .
After lunch , I headed up on the Common , but I will post that tonight , if the Broadband connection holds up .
The answer to the white egg question was Barn Owl . Well done Warren , right family . It was laid on the ground in the aviary , by one of the Barn Owls that my friend rescued when a West Country Zoo was close down by the authorities . She just ignored the egg , same as Canaries and Budgerigars sometimes do in cages . Interestingly , had she sat on and hatched the egg , my friend tells me that the paperwork for breeding Barn Owls in captivity is unbelievable , much worse than all he had to fill out just to rescue them from being put down .