Friday, 30 March 2012

Friday 30th. March 2012

With 'tree laying' on the cards both days over the weekend , I thought I'd better get the bird survey at Down House done , before the weather goes downhill . Birdsong filled the air on my arrival , and the notebook was soon busier than normal . A pair of Nuthatches were very interested in an old standing trunk and Starlings were collecting nesting materials and taking it to the London Plane on the main lawn . Just two Rose-ringed Parakeets were seen today , probably because the remainder of their favourite nesting tree had been taken down , it being just a standing trunk on my last visit . Talking to the head gardener , the Ash was completely rotten , and being at the start of the Sandwalk , a path where the public can walk the path where Darwin deliberated over his Origin of Species , it had to come down on H&S grounds . I have no doubt that the RRPs will find another tree and tip the resident species out of that one . Nothing out of the expected was found , but with a better than average 24 species recorded , including possible migrants in the form of singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff , not a bad result , and it was good to see Pied Wagtail back on the cricket ground . They used to nest in the old dilapidated pavillion , but when the new one was built , they seemed to move
on . A surprise in the orchard was to find Toothwort / Lathraea squamaria in full flower . This group of the parasitic plant were on a Hazel stool , but around the Sandwalk , others were found on the
roots of a variety of host trees . An unusual plant , it has no green leaves and have been replaced by scales , and so has to gets its food materials from it's host , it's own roots becoming attached to the roots of the host . A second look in the walled vegetable garden didn't find any butterflies , but did
turn up a bee with a very ginger thorax . Looking through the book , I think it might be the Common Carder Bee / Bombus pascuorum , but as always , stand to be corrected . On the way back home , I made a quick stop at High Elms Country Park , the first of many this year I'm sure . On the road near
the car park , the Green Hellebores / Helleborus viridis , are obviously having a good year , with more of the plants that look like minature Palm trees than I have seen before on the site . Not the
most colourful of flowers , but definitely one of the earliest to come into flower . I didn't do the whole butterfly transect , just visiting Burnt Gorse and the Orchid Bank , but managed to record four species , 2 male Brimstone , 2 male Orange Tip and a single each of Comma and Peacock , the latter
posing , wings closed on a wood pile . The only other interest found was the tiny plant Moschatel /
Adoxa moschatellina , also known as 'Town Hall Clock' , with it's flower on four sides and one on top for good luck . Unfortunately the only ones in flower were right next to the 'dog bag bin' and there was no way I was getting too close to that , so will post a better shot when I find the plant in a more savoury spot . Back home for lunch on the patio , out of the breeze , almost too warm to sit . But I didn't sit long as the mewing of a Buzzard had me heading for the camera . As usual the wrong lens was attached , the 100mm macro , but with Carol shouting 'there's more' , I came running with what I had . Back on the patio , four Common Buzzard were now visible , riding the thermals , then two more came into view , and then another . 7 Common Buzzards , all in view at the same time . As
I said , they were high , and never came all together , but managed a few shots of threes . Six of them drifted off in the direction of Spring Park Pond , whilst the seventh hung around for a bit before joining them . Thinking it was all over , I put down the camera and got on with my lunch . Almost finished , a Common Buzzard came over the garage at about 50 ft. , but before I could grab the camera again , it was just tail feathers . With the others out of view , I can't be sure if it was one of them or an eighth bird , but I'm reasonably sure it was the latter . Whilst watching the birds , a hovering insect was often in line of sight , so when all the commotion finished , and as I had the right
lens on for once , I got a few shots of the Beefly / Bombylius major , in flight , against a clear blue
sky . Also in the garden , the first of Carol's Irises has just opened it's first flower . And finally ,
whilst watching the Common Buzzards it was noticeable that one was extremely large .


Warren Baker said...

That Buzzard scenario happened to me a couple of weeks back Greenie, all those Buzards must be up there so high that you cant see them. Until for some reason they all decide to come together for a low level party. :-)

Phil said...

Sitting on the patio. A warm breeze. A nice lunch. A glass of wine. Soporific atmosphere. You drift off into a deep,deep,sleep.
It's no surprise that the Buzzards start to gather is it!!

RogerW said...

What a fantastic photo!
(apropos of nothing, I was over in Surrey yesterday - Cobham - and saw a Peacock much like yours, plus a male Orange Tip)

ShySongbird said...

Always such an interesting read Greenie. I don't recall seeing Helleborus viridis here. I was also intrigued by the Town Hall Clock and suspect I have overlooked it, I found it is also known as Five-faced Bisop....both great names :-)

Common Buzzards seem to have been enjoying the recent good weather, I watched three of them a couple of days ago, a lovely sight in the blue sky. Seeing them from your own garden must have been very special.

Redgannet said...

Looks like the Heathrow Buzzard, Buteo boeing