Well, we've made it through another week of lockdown. I hope everybody is keeping safe and well and that you have been able to enjoy wildlife in some form whether that is through social media, TV or up close and personal in your gardens or whilst taking your permitted daily exercise close to home.
We may feel a bit restricted at the moment, but it's focusing a lot of us on what wildlife is on our own doorsteps and how we can help it thrive. I must say that I haven't been taking my full quota of daily exercise as permitted but have been out 3 times this week on a local walk with my children including one this morning to help me get inspiration for the blog. It's my own choice but I'm trying hard to restrict my movements and stay at home as much as possible to keep us all safe. Whilst I have been out people have been very respectful of the social distancing advice which has been great to see.
One thing I have noticed, when I have been outside, has been the increase in butterflies in the last week or so. Plenty of brimstone and peacock as last week along with small tortoiseshell and the occasional comma. This week they have been joined by orange tips, green veined white and speckled wood with 4 of the above in my garden which was lovely to see. Volunteer Mike Pearce has this wonderful photo of a peacock taken this morning during his permitted exercise. Thanks Mike:
Also in my garden plenty of hoverflies and a buff tailed bumblebee visiting flowers. Thanks to Steve Edwards who has sent me this action shot of a hoverfly from his garden doing what it does best ......hovering
The bird song is another thing I'm sure many of you have noticed now that we have more time to stop and actually ......"listen"
I'm sure it's not just me that has had erratic sleep patterns of late. Sleeping is not normally something I struggle with but perhaps all the uncertainty of things has affected us all in different ways. On being awake very early again on Wednesday, I decided to take advantage of it. Around 5am I opened my window and took in the dawn chorus. As often is the case with the dawn chorus the usual early birds were singing. Robins and blackbirds are often the first to start and it was the same at home. The blackbirds in particular were very loud - very impressive actually. I could also hear wood pigeon and even a pheasant in the darkness.
They were eventually joined by great tit, blue tit, carrion crow, jackdaw, dunnock, goldfinch, house sparrow and chiffchaff. There are very few large trees and bushes close to my house so I thought this was pretty good. I've also been listening for tawny owls in the evenings, as I mentioned last week, and was rewarded on 3 evenings this week with their familiar calls.
Thanks to Mike Pearce for his photos of blackbird and robin belting out their songs - taken this morning at his home:
Plenty of birds singing whilst I was out undertaken my permitted exercise for the day. We are lucky enough to live in Wells, Somerset which gives us a few options of local walks and the lovely cathedral and bishops palace with its moat to include on our walk. In fact the best sighting of the walk came here with a pair of grey wagtails perching on the palace walls and chasing each other. I don't have a camera apart from on my phone so there was no chance of a decent shot of them....so a landscape instead.
View this morning at the moat: Also seen here: herring gull, moorhen, mallard, gadwall, pied wagtails, goldfinches and of course the famous Wells swans. No kingfisher today although there have been sightings recently.
Great to hear song thrush, chiffchaffs and blackcaps - no willow warblers yet but I have heard they are in the country so listen out for that descending call. The next best sighting we had today was the sound of great spotted woodpeckers drumming - at least 2 different birds. Thanks to Mike Pearce for his blackcap in song shot and to Steve Edwards for his chiffchaff shots taken close to their homes:
Thanks to all of the wider Ham Wall family who have sent me photos and updates this week from their local areas and homes. It's fantastic that we can all share our sightings and from a purely selfish point of view it makes writing the Friday blog a lot easier. I was thinking with no visits to the reserve permitted and a small garden this was going to be a struggle.
A couple of sightings that I have picked up on our Facebook page now. Runa Moon has messaged us to say there have been nightingales seen and heard in the Ashcott area and Gareth Peterson has today seen a red kite flying over Burnham on Sea close to the Tesco store. Thank you both for sharing these wonderful sightings. I haven't been able to match either of those.
I'm going to keep posting and sharing for as long as I am able and permitted to but the RSPB England Facebook and Twitter accounts will be very active over the coming weeks and sharing lots of sightings, news and ideas to keep you really connected to us (the RSPB) and nature.
One thing I was looking for especially today was my first swallow of the season. Volunteers Bob Buck (Bristol) and Bron Purkiss (Cheddar) have both seen swallows this week as has Mike Pearce who took this shot this morning. Thanks Mike....I'm still waiting by the way.
Bron has also reported: a noticeable change over time of birds visiting his feeders. His sparrowhawk has not been seen for 2 or 3 weeks now - perhaps now breeding in the wider countryside. Greenfinches have been enjoying the sunflower hearts he provides and he's been hearing plenty of chiffchaffs, blackcaps and song thrushes and sometimes the cronking of ravens.
During his walk along the River Axe near his home volunteer Pete Wood has seen: Mute Swan, buzzard, blue tit, great tit, chiffchaff, chaffinch, song thrush, goldfinch, dunnock and blackbird along with brimstone butterflies, peacock, small tortoiseshell and even a painted lady and on closer inspection otter footprints - a reminder to look down as well as up sometimes - thanks Pete.
On my own feeders I have managed to expand from my house sparrows of last week with jackdaw, blue tit and long tailed tit all making brief appearances. The wood pigeons nearby look like they are still nest building - perhaps the quieter road will bring them success this year for the first time. The house sparrows must be nest building somewhere near me too - perhaps in the neighbour's roof spaces - just not mine.
This sparrow is also building over near Mike Pearce's house as he shows here. Thanks Mike:
While with Steve Edwards these jackdaws are also busy in a local roof space carry material under the tiles. Thanks for sharing Steve:
Let us know what birds are nesting near you or using your feeders. Seen any interesting wildlife you'd like to share during your exercise time? You can share it on our Facebook Page or with RSPB England.
I'll leave it there for now. I hope you've enjoyed reading. Have a lovely Easter weekend. Please follow all the guidelines and stay safe and enjoy the sunshine and wildlife in your gardens
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