At Greylake the birds still seem to be settling down after the earlier late burst of winter. Lapwing and redshank are the most visible waders from the hide. A greenshank dropped in last Saturday (21st). It is a good year for bittern with 2 boomers in the reed beds. On the 20th I watched 2 bitterns in the air, one chasing the other, regularly 'barking', for about 8 1/2 minutes. Seeing bitterns in the air (over my head) for this long is something I've never experienced before. It really was amazing. Perhaps this was a male chasing a female. Another bittern was booming in the reed bed below. Otherwise we have reed and sedge warblers in and have had occasional sightings of sand martins and swallows. I haven't heard bearded tits for several weeks now but little and great white egrets can still be seen occasionally.
There have been some really good days for butterflies with Orange-tip being my favourite. This has been accompanied by Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and most recently Green-veined White. Although I saw a Large Red damselfly at Ham Wall last week-end I haven't seen any dragonflies at Greylake yet as it's been rather cool this last week. I did see my first Grass Snake of the year here on the 19th. I also spotted this young bush-cricket nymph in the Dewlands Farm garden on one of the warmer days (22nd). I really wasn't expecting them out so soon after the cold weather.
A first instar nymph of the Dark Bush-cricket (David Miller)
Swell Wood has got the usual birds with no surprises so far. The heronry has been a great attraction with 100 or so pairs of grey heron and several pairs of little egret. It's been really nice to see male Brimstone butterflies flying along the droves below the wood. However the real spectacle at this time of year is the Spring flowers. Primroses were first out, followed by Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemone and Early Dog-violet. These are now fading as Bluebells come to their peak, so a visit to the woods this or next week-end is a must for any nature lover. Just coming up among the Bluebells are Wood Spurge, Yellow Archangel, Sweet Woodruff, Common Dog-violet and Early Purple Orchid.
Swell Wood Bluebells (David Miller)
Early Dog-violet (David Miller) - note the dark spur, bottom right of flower
Early Purple Orchid (David Miller)
Enjoy your visits, Dave
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