/ UKC Springwatch
Peewits aplenty, Golden Plover and a few curlews who were looking a bit pissed off about all the white stuff on the fields...... If I were them I'd nip back to the Solway for a week or two. No Oystercatchers yet but they're normally last to arrive.
From Bud Neill
The snowdrap drips
The crocus croaks
And in my little windae boax
A yella daffy hings it's Heid
Oh daffy must you hing your Heid
Could you no heid your hing?
Far easier it would be to rhyme
Your heiding hing
Spring is sprung
de grass is riz...
I did start the Summer Migrants thread, but it got shelved after not many migrants turned up!
However, in Mid Wales so far....
And the First Osprey back at Glasyn!
SW France, Pyrenees:
- Collard doves have been on a nest for 2 weeks.
- Saw first barn swallows Friday. (Being reported today by a contact near Bordeaux).
- Red kites are gathering sticks and displaying to each other.
- Blackbirds, wrens & robins have started nest construction.
- Redstarts arrived en-masse last week (some overwinter here, but many go away for the winter) - So they are now busy with fantastic aerial displays as they dogfight each other for territory.
On the flower front, so far we've had:
Snowdrop - Jan
Common Dog Violet - Jan
Hepatica (liverwort) - Jan
Alpine Strawberry - Feb
Lungwort - Feb
Hellebore - Feb
Oxlip - End Feb
Lesser Celandine - End Feb
Tormentil (Creeping Cinquefoil) - March
Bitter Vetch - March
Greater Stitchwort - March
White Violet - March
Lady's Smock (Cuckoo Flower) - March
Daffodil - March
Ground Ivy - March
Bittercress - March
White Deadnettle - March
Wood Anemone - Mid March
Forsythia - Mid March
Gentiane - Mid-late March
Cherry blossoms started a fortnight ago, during a period of warm weather, and are in full swing at the moment. Hopefully the recent hail & upcoming cooler weather won't do too much damage.
Peach trees & hedgerow trees are leaf budding.
Not had any cuckoo yet, but they certainly won't be long.
Also forgot - Green woodpeckers have been calling for mates & claiming territory for about 3 weeks.
Black woodpeckers are very vocal at the moment too - calling for mates.
I've had blue tits investigating my nest box (although the 8 inches of snow this weekend seems to have driven them off) and I've seen magpies and rooks nestbuilding.
I've not spotted any summer migrants yet, we've still got the winter birds at the moment! Still a few flocks of Pink Footed and Greylag Geese hanging around (although we're getting increasing numbers of Greylag staying all year round) and there were Whooper Swans on the Spey yesterday. I managed to spot my first Crested Tit yesterday so I was reasonably happy with that :-)
> Not had any cuckoo yet, but they certainly won't be long.
> Also forgot - Green woodpeckers have been calling for mates & claiming territory for about 3 weeks.
> Black woodpeckers are very vocal at the moment too - calling for mates.
I almost forgot, I saw a Green woodpecker as well.
In our Sheffield garden yesterday, we observed a field mouse appearing out of 9" of snow at the foot of a pole that our bird feeders hang from. Several times he climbed the pole and helped himself to a peanut.
> On the flower front, so far we've had:
> Snowdrop - Jan
We have snowdrops and (oddly) primroses in full bloom until last Friday... now buried under 1 -2 metres of snow.
If I was a Chiffchaff, I wouldnt come back at all! :D
Ospreys now over Aberystwyth, and hopefully heading to the local Osprey project!
Ospreys now back in Scotland, on camera occasionally at the Loch of the Lowed.
Saw a flock of about 150 white Storks flying over the Drôme Provençal on 11 March. They were in a perfect V-formation - can this be called a skein? Coming from somewhere in Northern Africa. Where would they be going?
The pair of Egyptian Vultures (Percnopteres) arrived back at the Dentelles de Montmirail on the 21 March. These two spend winter in Mali - bet they couldn't wait to get away from there...
Wee bit later on it was quite disconcerting that in amongs the old snow patches and the ice, I could hear skylarks singing their hearts out.
Sparrowhawk just took one of the flock of long-tailed tits out of the couple of sycamore trees I stare at for many of my days.
Swish, swerve, wallop, exit. Two feathers flutter down. Tit -1.
Not particularly springlike, but noteworthy. I had to recollect myself on the 'phone.
> Sparrowhawk just took one of the flock of long-tailed tits out of the couple of sycamore trees I stare at for many of my days.
Had a Sparrowhawk take out a chaffinch from the walnut tree week before last - made me jump somewhat as I was right under the tree and it sounded like a jet fighter coming in!
Pair of long-tailed tits are now setting up nest in our pine tree.
I've never seen them in less than a group of 8, so quite noticeable when a pair are following each other around - They appear to give a slightly different call to the chatter they do when moving though a canopy as a group.
I can confirm today what I though I saw last week were in fact the returning Black Kites who have overwintered in Africa.
Didn't have my binoculars last week to see them properly - didn't need them today as two of them nearly few through my car windscreen.
> Saw a flock of about 150 white Storks flying over the Drôme Provençal on 11 March. They were in a perfect V-formation - can this be called a skein? Coming from somewhere in Northern Africa. Where would they be going?
Thats a lot of Cigognes!
We get a few pairs now nesting in the Ariege & the Haute Garonne (I think due in part to a reintroduction program - http://www.ledomainedesoiseaux.com/centre_de_reintroduction.htm ).
The nest are quite impressive, as are the birds. They are massive!
But that many birds are most likely heading towards one of the larger, more established nesting grounds. So somewhere in central Europe? Poland / Germany.
It was strange as we heard them coming quite some time before we saw them - their calls reminded me of geese, but an octave higher - then as they came overhead they seemed to lose direction and wheeled around for a bit and in doing so gained a lot of height. There were no high mountains for them to go over so I wonder why they did it, unless it was unintentional - the weather was warm but not exceptionally. Here are 115 of them, with another thirty or so off picture. http://flic.kr/p/e7cNLv
Do you know their migration route? Do they come over Spain and over you, or do you think they fly over the sea?
Storks migrate by rising on thermals and then gliding. They go very high and are often not seen as they pass so high.
There are no thermals over water, so they often go the long way round, rather than fly across long stretches of water.
If they do cross then they rise ridiculously high on a thermal overland and then glide across whilst losing height - hopefully reaching the other side before splashdown.
Did you see them close enough to definitely say white storks? No chance of them being a crane?
I was wondering about your description of the Stork calls and was thinking that I had never heard that, so i read up about it a little.
From the wiki page about White Storks:
Apart from beak clattering - ' The only vocal sound adult birds generate is a weak barely audible hiss; however, young birds can generate a harsh hiss, various cheeping sounds, and a cat-like mew they use to beg for food. Like the adults, young also clatter their beaks.'
That, your picture and your description of their strange circling have made me fairly sure you have seen Common (Eurasian) Cranes 'Grus grus'
They started going back north about a month ago (up the west coast of France).
Many have a long way to go - Siberia for example!
Here are some flying over our house last autumn.
Yes, that's them! That's the sound they were making. I'd zoomed the photo and just guessed from that. That clip of yours looked like about double the number that I saw. Thanks for that.
Cool. One of my favourite sights in the natural world.
We saw several thousand of them heading south in the autumn.
The first youtube clip I linked to was the first passing that happened in the middle of the night. I heard them when I was letting the dog out.
Cranes flap, unlike the Storks which glide wherever possible.
Both use thermals to gain height, which is probably what your cranes were doing when circling. I've also seen stragglers catch up at this point, which probably makes the difference between making the trip or not.
Ah, I'd missed the first clip. I hadn't really thought about them flying through the night. Amazing things aren't they? I'll have to look out for them going south in the autumn.
Well I have a couple of questions for you. The pair of Percnoptères that arrived last week at the Dentelles stay here until late August, then set off back to Mali. In that time they have to renovate their old nest, lay an egg, incubate it, bring up the chick... How can a young bird be ready to make that journey back to Africa in such a short time? And how come it doesn't come back with the parents the following year? Here's one of the pair taken last year - they were too far away to get a photo today. http://flic.kr/p/e7eRg4
I've just come on here to post that I spotted a pair of Egyptian Vultures / Percnoptères yesterday when walking the dog about 5 mins drive from the house. I saw them at very close range, but they didn't stay at close range for long when they saw me. I saw them twice very nearby last year, but am still not sure if we fall in the summer resident range or whether they are just resting on their migration.
Almost all birds have evolved to fledge the nest in under a year.*
It must have given competitive advantage in the past over species which took much longer to fledge - eg. The ability to migrate somewhere nicer, with more food when winter comes around.
How can the chick be ready to migrate?
Both parent feed it lots of high quality protein. They don't attempt to raise a large clutch size, generally laying no more than 2 eggs. If food is scarce then only the first chick (laid & hatched first & therefore bigger) survives and is fed.
The chick is an eating machine. It eats, sleeps & grows. Only in the latter stage of the nest does it start to exercise its muscles.
With many species the fledglings weigh more than the parents when they leave the nest - this gives them a fighting chance until they learn to feed themselves - I'm not sure if this is the case with the vultures.
The parents continue to feed the fledged vulture for up to a month after leaving the nest.
Finally, when they migrate they use thermals to gain height and glide lots - It takes a lot less energy than flapping.
Why don't they come back with their parents the next year?
They aren't sexually mature and so flying back to breed would be a waste of time and energy. Sexual maturity takes time and energy, and this couldn't wasted while the chick was in the nest - everything went into muscle, bone & those beautiful black & white feathers.
*I think the Wandering Albatross has the longest fledging period with the chick in the nest for 280 days and since the egg takes a long time to hatch the whole process can go over a year.
Cuckoo calling from the woods opposite about 2 minutes ago :)
I saw a Hoopoe today here in Provence. Never seen one before, another visitor from N Africa, I believe.
Hilary is in Switzerland at the Gemmi Pass and caught a wonderful view of the resident Gypaete/Bearded Vulture http://www.flickr.com/photos/75247957@N03/8620456262/in/photostream
> I saw a Hoopoe today here in Provence. Never seen one before, another visitor from N Africa, I believe.
Yes, Africa and some Southern Spain.
They are back. Saw one today when we were on a very cold and un-springlike walk.
We've seen them in the same area lots before, but this is the first year we've actually spotted one quite this early and before we have heard the calls.
Hoopoe's probably have one of my favourite Latin names .
They are impressive. We got 'investigated' by one on a walk last autumn, but once he had done his two flybys he decided we, and the dog, probably weren't edible and so it vanished effortlessly across the valley.
Early purple orchids are coming through down here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/waterbaby21/8624827203/in/photostream. Saw one violet in flower too:-)
Saw a long tailed tit's nest, which is a thing of beauty, and two birds flying in and out with such beakfuls of feathers it was a wonder they could see where they were going. Black headed gulls, coots and mute swans all on nests, but also saw a redwing so it's that crossover point in the season where we have summer and winter visitors together.
All in all, a lovely day!
Ring ouzel and lesser scaup for me today :)
A sparrowhawk killed itself hitting our patio doors on Friday. Beautiful creature, but I'm drawing the line at googling taxidermy
Leave them open in future.
Saw the first of the oystercatchers last night but down by the river and not up on the fells where we live.
There's a stand of forestry a mile or so up the road from us and it's been the scene of several murmerations of starlings at twilight...............Stunning!
Your post makes it sound like spring is definitely arriving in the UK :)
Was the Chiffchaff a visual or was it calling?
> Early purple orchids are coming through down here
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/waterbaby21/8624827203/in/photostream. Saw one violet in flower too:-)
Saw our first Military Orchids 2 days ago.
Bugle is also in full flower now.
> Your post makes it sound like spring is definitely arriving in the UK :)
I saw two Jacob lambs that were about half an hour old this evening. They were all wobbly and still covered in lamb-goo.
> Baws it is. It hasn't stopped snowing for the the last two days! We've had Yellowhammer and Brambling in the garden of the last couple of days.
lol. Know that feeling.
Despite all the spring sightings I've posted on this thread, in the last week we've had snow, hail & 70kph winter storms.
The Hoopoe we saw was one of the wettest, most miserable birds i've ever seen.
Oh, and a little baby wild rabbit. In the living room, yesterday morning. I put it outside and hope it hopped off to a happy life elsewhere.
And a hare, hurtling, the other day.
We seem to have had Spring flowers and returning birds at the earlier end of their average range - despite the fact I don't think the weather has been particularly great.
We have our first lambs too..........I was labelled bad dad last week for not taking in a pet lamb.
Spent part of today in the garden without a coat!
The last patches of snow only melted this morning.
Apparently the first Osprey's have arrived back on Speyside. The poor sods will most likely turn up at the Boat of Garten RSPB centre looking bedraggled and proclaiming - 'We've gone on holiday by mistake'.
Dresden, Germany while cycling to work this morning: First chiffchaff of the season, first reed buntings calling, and a beaver swimming in the Elbe (probably born last year and now displaced from the territory).
Yesterday, common cranes, green, grey, large spotted and black woodpeckers, sea eagles, willow tit, and kingfisher at the former Königsbrucker Heide artillery range just north of the city.
Couple of weeks ago I saw my first wolf just a few miles west of there, running across a snowy field towards a group of deer. Finding wolf tracks is easy, but the animals themselves are surprisingly hard to see.
Not a springwatch bird, but we had about 12 waxwings in our garden yesterday. Pretty rare for Stockport I think.
There are wheatears, ring ousels and chiffchaffs around the area, but none have ventured up to the Pass yet.
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