/ Spring sightings

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Alyson 16 Mar 2020

I'm not sure I really needed much extra encouragement to get outdoors and keep away from people but as we're all getting it anyway, here is a thread to celebrate the return of spring.

I saw my first bumblebee on 2nd march. A queen buff-tailed bee, striped and fat like a well-fed cat. It's been cold, wet and windy ever since so I hope she's doing ok

Then on Saturday I heard my first chiffchaff calling hesitantly from the glorious woods of RSPB Coombes Valley, its song occasionally punctuated by the yaffling of a green woodpecker. 

How is spring where you are? Any swallows yet?

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girlymonkey 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

We have an abundance of daffodils and crocuses, currently got a loud Twitter of birds going on outside and my new bird feeders are being well frequented. 

I'm off for a wee run up a local hill in the sun with barely any wind! 😊

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Wilderbeest 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Blackbird in the garden just now with a beak-full of nesting material ....

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MG 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

A cuckoo bumblebee on bleaklow yesterday. Unfortunately dead - no nectar for miles...

More positively, a dipper with moss nest building.

Post edited at 07:15
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Dan Arkle 16 Mar 2020
In reply to MG:

Toads and newts are very active in the Peak 

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robert-hutton 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Dan Arkle:

 Frogspawn on top of Win Hill yesterday.

Post edited at 07:50
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In reply to robert-hutton:

> Frog Sporn on top of Win Hill yesterday.

Frogspawn?

or frogs’ porn? Would that be a soggy copy of ‘Playnewt’ hidden in some water lilies? Very active, indeed...

;-)

a dead bumblebee is the only sign round here - still very cold yesterday 

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Martin W 16 Mar 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

No frogspawn in my Edinburgh garden pond yet, but yesterday for the first time this year I spotted half a dozen or so hunkered down at the bottom of the pond looking like they were hoping to start getting jiggy quite soon.  Quite relieved actually, I was starting to fear that they'd been wiped out over the winter by some horrible froggy disease (or the local cats).  Would have been a blow after last year when they returned in droves to the pond despite it having been dug out and enlarged only a month or two earlier.

Blackbirds are starting to sing in the evenings from the local rooftops, which is nice.

The dipper on the Braid Burn in the Hermitage is in full voice at the moment.  While by no means in the same league as the wrens for sheer volume, it is rather pretty and noticing it above the splashing of the burn and the wind in the trees always feels a bit special.  He's pretty used to the people wandering up and down the path by the burn so you can often stop to watch him dipping up and down on a mid-stream rock, and see his throat moving as he regales you with his subtle chorus.

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mick taylor 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

First chiffchaff 30 minutes ago, and was about to brag about my early sighting until I read this !

Blackbird taking worms to a nest, lots of pairs of goldfinch, two tawny owls sat near nest (which implies no eggs which I’m surprised at).

Oh, butterfly on Saturday, think small tortoiseshell but not 100%

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galpinos 16 Mar 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> or frogs’ porn?

There's been a fair bit of that in my garden recently that I've stumbled upon whilst doing the bins.

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mrphilipoldham 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Had a small flock of goldfinch in the back garden this morning, which made for pleasant watching for 5 minutes!

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wercat 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Wilderbeest:

Our resident male is blackbird is being duffed up at the moment by one of his sons from last year over territory.  They have a hard enough life without nonsense like that.

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dread-i 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Gold and bull finches, wag tails, a jay, wrens in the garden. Along with the usual gang of sparrows and the odd robin. When the kids don't eat their butties, I thrown them on the grass each morning. I've noticed the crows gather in the trees waiting for the feast, some time before I go out. They tend to let pigeons and magpies go first, I guess to check if the cat is out.

I stopped on my run over the moors on Sunday to listen to a thrush, that seemed happy about something. Not seen any rabbits, even in areas where there are established warrens.

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wercat 16 Mar 2020
In reply to dread-i:

we've had a lot of thrush activity so far this year, very good to see.  Smart little gents

I'd love to see another snail eating lesson given by a parent to the new brood - one of the best things I've ever seen.

Post edited at 10:06
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Yanis Nayu 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Nice thread. Not sure that it’s relevant to spring, but just seen a couple of peregrine falcons for the first time! 

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David Riley 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Frog day participants dispersing.  A newt occupying the vacated space.

A couple of sheep staged a daring raid on my garden plants, following a most unlikely route, and managed to remember and retrace it when challenged.  I was impressed.

Skylarks warbling loudly above the garden yesterday.

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coldfell 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

First primrose seen down Borrowdale and first frog spawn in an unfortunately temporary puddle - I did wonder whether to move it to nearby bog? Also noticeable warmth in the all too rare glimpses of the sun and a corresponding increase in bird song.

Dorine

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DerwentDiluted 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

I got really excited, I thought I spotted some Cushelle in our local woods but it was just a Koala bear.

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Agar Jelly 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

I'm an urban ignoramus but have noticed a couple of the plants (don't ask what species) in my yard are showing signs of growth and the sky is cobalt blue. Uplifting.

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keith-ratcliffe 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

In tough times a small event can give great pleasure - today I watched a Siskin on our bird feeder right by the window. It really lifted my spirits. We also have a great display of Primulas.

Post edited at 10:42
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Pefa 16 Mar 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> We have an abundance of daffodils and crocuses, currently got a loud Twitter of birds going on outside and my new bird feeders are being well frequented. 

Yea my local municipal Park is covered in crocuses and daffodils to which is lovely. 

> I'm off for a wee run up a local hill in the sun with barely any wind! 😊

That will be because you have a good diet. 

.

🙂

I live in a city flat so nothing to report wildlife wise although I wouldn't know the sound of a chiff chaff(what a cute name) from a speug anyway. All I know is the sound of a doo or a gull. Although for the first time this year I did hear a bird song in the dark from the cycle path as I walked past it on my way home from a nightshift last week and it was strangely haunting in the dark, dreich and silence to hear this lone lovely little song. 

Post edited at 11:26
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nikoid 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson

Had to rescue a bumble bee from the greenhouse yesterday and just seen a brimstone butterfly. I'm going to put some peanuts out tonight in case the hedgehogs start rumbling about, it feels quite warm today.

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dread-i 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

>I live in a city flat so nothing to report wildlife wise...

You'd be surprised. When I lived in Manchester, we had all sorts come over for the food we put out. From woodpeckers to parrots. We even had a hark eating a pigeon in the garden.

>...and it was strangely haunting in the dark, dreich and silence to hear this lone lovely little song. 

Did it sound like this chap?

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/blackbird/

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MeMeMe 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

The hops in our garden have started sprouting already, our duck has started laying, the crows are collecting nesting material, I think spring is here.

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The Wild Scallion 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

> How is spring where you are? 

I saw plenty of cockwombles (male and female) roaming the shops and buying everything in sight , does that count ?

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Alyson 16 Mar 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> We have an abundance of daffodils and crocuses, currently got a loud Twitter of birds going on outside

One of my favourite things about the chorus of spring birdsong is the mimicry of the starlings. There's one which sits on my roof every morning and emits a perfect car alarm noise! So cheeky. And I've heard them do beautiful impressions of other birds, like the starling at my in-laws' which copies perfectly the rising burble of a curlew.

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Toerag 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Sloe bushes are blossoming here, daffodils are on their way out again, and the sycamore suckers outside my bedroom window have buds on them.

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Pefa 16 Mar 2020
In reply to dread-i:

Parrots! Lol.

> Did it sound like this chap?

I don't have an ear for remembering bird songs I'm afraid so I can't tell but that is a good link to learn them from so thanks. 

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cb294 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

White storks in the next village carrying twigs to their nests, Black Redstarts are back, last years mason's bees hatched this weekend and are buzzing all across our terrace. Seems like spring has arrived, if for only one week if forecasts are correct!

CB

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girlymonkey 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

I also just saw a bird gathering some of my dog's hair that we dump in the garden after we brush him. Nest building is starting

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LeeWood 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

About 3wks ago I was witness to a one time avian spectacle here in the french Pyrenees. I was at Pène Haute with my lad - where we noted several bearded vultures (aka lammergeier - largest vulture in europe) in flight. Rarely seen doing anything but 'straight and level' - they present as slow and serious.  

But as we climbed I was distracted by an unfamiliar noise - imagine a book getting thrown off a cliff - the pages flipping and clapping in the air currents. When the noise recommenced I was lucky to not be climbing - turned to see two lammergeiers with their talons locked, in spiralling descent like sycamore keys. The show lasted about 30s until the birds went down below tree level - but on the flanks of steep forested hill; I presume they disengaged before the trees came up!

Later confirmed as courtship behaviour or aggression between males - either way a sign of spring.

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ring ouzel 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Thank you Alyson for starting this.

On the Black Isle I've heard mistle thrush and song thrush. Spring flowers are coming through and my daughter found a dead bumblebee on the pavement this morning. 

I'm doing a lot more natural history for myself this year (as opposed to species surveys for work) and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the Coleoptera and maybe even Diptera.

Hope you have a cracking Spring.

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Wiley Coyote2 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

The curlews are  back in the field behind the house and a few new lambs too

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pasbury 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

A heartfelt thanks for thinking of this topic in these dour times.

The sun is warm out, primroses, celandines and wood anenemes are in bloom in the woods. The first flush of green in the hedgerows is apparent as the hawthorns come into leaf.

As one gets older the anticipation and appreciation of spring gets more intense every year.

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BnB 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Nice thread. The woods behind our garden are glowing green with wild garlic.

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Mal Grey 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Nice thread!

In Surrey;

Plenty of bumblebees over the last few days.

A pair of nuthatch checking out a hole in a tree.

4 Greater Spotted Woodies squabbling

A peacock & a brimstone butterfly

Primroses on the canal banks

Lots of insects appearing

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Paul Sagar 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Just went to Homebase pre-anticipated tightening of controls on people being allowed out and about, and stocked up on a ton of bird food. Just moved to a new house and I have a small shared garden for the first time since moving to London. This morning I noticed one of the flats a few meters down had set up a large feeding station - so I already spotted a wren, pair of chaffinches, and the usual gamut of robins and tits. We back on to the Walthamstow Wetlands so I'm really hoping to get some good sightings from my window when the lockdown comes!

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Michael Hood 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Was up near Appleby for the weekend, plenty of curlew and peewits on the moor.

Not really a springtime thing but the real  bonus was a significant starling murmuration (many 000's) on Saturday dusktime directly over (and in) the caravan site we'd got a cheap weekend at 😁

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mondite 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Parrots! Lol.

Most likely Parakeets.

Round here during the winter my house lies between one of their nest sites and main feeding grounds so have them passing over at dawn and dusk. Damn noisy. Although they have mostly disappeared now so just left with the rooks returning home.

Looking out the window have a red kite circling medium range and I think  buzzard beyond that. Blackbirds are reclaiming their terrorities.

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The Lemming 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

> How is spring where you are? Any swallows yet?

I managed to capture some Nuthatches. Its a big thing for me as I have only ever seen a couple, so I shot them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHW6gXbLsOs&t=2s

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Pedro50 16 Mar 2020
In reply to The Lemming:

> I managed to capture some Nuthatches. Its a big thing for me as I have only ever seen a couple, so I shot them.

Are you going to stuff them?

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Alyson 16 Mar 2020
In reply to ring ouzel: Hi! Lovely to hear from you, and I hope life is treating you well up there.

You'll be pleased to know that my youngest (aged 2 y 4months) announced yesterday "I can hear a wood pigeon outside" and she was RIGHT! Yay!

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The Lemming 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Pedro50:

> Are you going to stuff them?


Roast nuthatch?

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Darron 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alysonhttps:

https://www.xeno-canto.org/

For those that wish to delve a little deeper into bird call/song the above website is excellent.

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ring ouzel 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

She clearly has a good teacher!

Are you ever going to grace our neck of the woods again? Toby is doing nature walks from his house, well worth going on one of those.

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Alyson 16 Mar 2020
In reply to ring ouzel:

I'm having 2 weeks in southern Scotland in July - 1 in Dumfries and Galloway, and 1 on Arran - but no plans to get further than that this year I'm afraid! Would be lovely to see you guys again. Rest assured that as soon as I am up that way I'll be getting in touch

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Deleted bagger 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Saw a flock of Golden Plovers on a run over Black Hill in the Peak at the weekend. Also Curlews in the top fields and Woodpeckers drumming in the wood behind our house.

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coinneach 16 Mar 2020
In reply to Deleted bagger:

Whaups, Peewits and Oystercatchers starting to arrive in the North Pennines. Howlets too but no Bubblyjocks.

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mick taylor 16 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

> we've had a lot of thrush activity so far this year, very good to see.

Same, most song thrushes I’ve seen in years.

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Paul Sagar 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Great Spotted Woodpecker on the neighbours’ feeder, visible from our window! 

This self isolation thing has its upsides!

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cb294 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

At out feeder the woodpeckes take turns with the squirrels chasing everybody else away.

In the few minutes when the feeders are free, we have coal, great, blue, willow, crested, and long tailed tits, nuthatches, firecrest, robins, wren, and since last week a flock of Russian bullfinches.

Blackbird and trushes are rare. Last year we had a big wave of usutu virus, hope they recover soon.

CB

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Paul Sagar 17 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

Russian bull-finches!

but then, you do live in Germany...

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upordown 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

First brimstone today and oxlips in flower in the local wood.

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jk25002 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Goldfinches, High Peak

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Tom V 17 Mar 2020
In reply to upordown:

Flowering currant, a wonderfully evocative smell taking me back years to my aunty's shabby little home-built bungalow down the lane.

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McHeath 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

I heard the first Chiffchaff here (Berlin) yesterday; the birds are incredibly vocal at the moment, so I was able to find Crested Tits, Hawfinches and a beautiful Song Thrush. Also a few Fieldfares raiding the berries; they are mostly passers-through here, and last year we had hundreds of them together with Redwings in the park for three days before they moved on.

The Brimstone butterflies are out in force too! 

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Paul Sagar 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Bloody squirrel found the feeders...hmmm, new plan required. 

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cb294 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

We get a few flocks of the nominate subspecies pyrrhula (rathet than our local europaea) every winter. Easily recognized by their rather ugly call resembling a children's bike horn instead of the beautiful flute- like call of europea.

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Rog Wilko 17 Mar 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> Frogspawn?

> or frogs’ porn? Would that be a soggy copy of ‘Playnewt’ hidden in some water lilies? Very active, indeed...

I'd wager you're a cryptic cruciverbalist.

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Rog Wilko 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Bucket loads of frogspawn in our pond. Two large goldfish are licking their lips in anticipation.

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pasbury 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Bump for positivity.

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David Riley 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Last year had bucket loads of frogspawn on top of the heron net.  This year I took it off for a few days and I think some fish got eaten.  Better prospects for the tadpoles though.

Post edited at 19:48
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Eric9Points 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

I saw a Bull Finch in the back garden yesterday, in Edinburgh. The blue tits haven't done well over the winter, I think we've lost maybe five of the eight or so we had last year so it's nice to see something colourful in addition to the useful visitors.

The snowdrops were really late this year, only flowering at the end of January. Sometimes I've seen them flowering at the end of December.

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Rog Wilko 19 Mar 2020
In reply to David Riley:

I'm interested in your reference to a heron net. Not sure Mrs Wilko would accept anything so unsightly. We have had visits from herons but not for about 5 years. Someone told us to erect a wire around the perimeter at about a foot off the ground because herons don't land in water but walk in from the edge. Two large goldfish suggest this has worked, or have we/they just been lucky? 

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robert-hutton 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Alyson:

Lambs are out in the fields near us, what a sight flocking lambs are such a joy to watch.

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Tom V 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Watched a squirrel digging  in my lawn yesterday. When I went to investigate some of the holes were quite substantial. First time I've ever seen that. 

As I'm typing this a dunnock is peeping in at my front bay window and occasionally tapping on the glass. This is the third spring it's happened and I'm wondering if it can actually be the same bird.

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cb294 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

Your dunnock is probably attacking its reflection. Even more common with bramblings and especially wagtails (they are utter psychopaths and often used to kill themselves attacking their reflections on polished hubcaps back when these still existed).

I was woken up on my first day of corona shutdown by a very unusual, quiet, melodious, warbling song outside my bedroom window. Turned out to be a group of four singing (!) jays. Very surprising, as it completely different from their usual noisy calls.

CB

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Tom V 19 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

I've read some very unpleasant stuff about dunnocks regarding their mating behaviour.

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cb294 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

Yes, even though they are not the "worst" (if it made sense to apply human moral judgements to animal behaviour), that would likely be mallards: Having a penis makes rape a viable mating strategy...

Quite a bit of what we know about dunnocks actually comes from the detailed studies on the population in Cambridge University botanical garden.

CB

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pasbury 15:19 Wed
In reply to Alyson:

Bump for the first Milkmaids or Cuckoo Flowers or Ladies Smock or whatever you call them.

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Harry Jarvis 15:26 Wed
In reply to Alyson:

The first osprey is back at the Loch of the Lowes reserve. Not seen it in the flesh yet, but the webcam is most helpful. 

And I heard my first skylark of the year at the weekend. I would normally say that this is a sign that all is right with the world, but I'm not sure that is quite the case this year. 

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David Riley 15:39 Wed
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> I'm interested in your reference to a heron net. Not sure Mrs Wilko would accept anything so unsightly. We have had visits from herons but not for about 5 years. Someone told us to erect a wire around the perimeter at about a foot off the ground because herons don't land in water but walk in from the edge. Two large goldfish suggest this has worked, or have we/they just been lucky? 

Didn't see your post before.

I'm loath to accept anything so unsightly.  Really annoying.  But I've found it's the only way to keep fish.  I have a pir water sprayer, my neighbour had a plastic heron, no good. The herons have been huge and would just step over a 1ft fence. There is no other water except garden ponds for a mile and herons are almost never seen.  But they seem to spot the net off within 3 days every time.  My fish have big cuts and missing fins.  Perhaps they do a high altitude tour at dawn ? 

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cb294 15:41 Wed
In reply to David Riley:

Big cuts and missing fins very much sounds like cats, not herons.

CB

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David Riley 15:45 Wed
In reply to cb294:

Certainly herons.  I've got pictures.

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