After nearly a month of not having the energy, will or inclination to head out onto the patch (Tendonitis in my shoulder and neck is causing me to not want to carry gear around), I finally decided that I would make the effort and venture out once more. Spring is most definitely in the air. Blossom is appearing on the trees. And the migrants have already started to make an appearance at Manor Farm. Well according to emails anyway.
Manor Farm 20-03-2015
I must admit to a little cheating today. After getting a lift to drop my daughter at school, I was dropped off myself by the Galleon Pub, rather than walking all the way. So my day started out along the canal. I was tooled up with my macro set up ready (although the large lens was in the bag) with the assumption that I would be photographing spring flowers and early bees and butterflies. I quickly discovered that there was not much of either around today. Spring seems to have not yet hit vast areas of my patch.
I was soon at the lakes and the eerie light being cast by the days major event, a solar eclipse, gave the area a very odd feeling. And it seemed to be affecting the Lapwing who were in a state of constant alert; taking to the skies with their electronic, almost computer game sounding cries. It would turn out that the day would be owned by waders.
Manor Farm In Eclipse
As i began my first scans, in the other worldly light, it soon became apparent that the spring weather had brought with it plenty of waders. At least 4 Redshank (there may have been more but they didn’t stay still for long) were moving around the area; one couple in particular being rather amorous. But they were not alone. I quickly found 2 Ringed Plover; and a Green Sandpiper; a second Green sand was later also found. There were 5 Common Snipe feeding along the far shore, their enormous bills probing the soft mud for tasty morsels. And then I spotted a lone Little Ringed Plover, a sure sign summer is just around the corner.
Eventually having had my fill, I headed off around the lake and it was then I realised just how many Chiffchaffs had recently turned up, I counted a total of 12, most of these singing but a couple not (so there is likely to have been more).
Bend in the River
Leaving the main manor farm section behind I rounded the bend in the river and was greeted by a Pair of Oystercatchers one clearly hunkered down on I would assume eggs, I say this as at the time not one but two Common Buzzard circled over head putting up most of the birds except this one wader. A third more distant buzzard could also be seen. also on this second pit I found a further 2 Little Ringed Plover.
My walk continued around the north side of the complex but alas there was little of note around here, Broken Wing the Greylag Goose has been joined by a second of his type (so there is hope for the old fella yet), a few Reed Buntings put in an appearance (a lovely male posing for me) and a few more Chiffchaff, but it was not until I was opposite the camp site fully that things picked up again.
With all the summer arrivals you would be forgiven for thinking that winter was long gone. However 4 Goosander were still to be seen (actually seen earlier from the other side); and I stumbled into a small mixed thrush flock, containing both Redwing and Fieldfare still. The last remnants of the cold hanging around to enjoy a little of the warmth of spring.
As I approached the viaduct, (well while crossing the board-walk in that direction) I spotted not one but two Treecreepers not creeping trees but actually perched on small fence posts, they soon disappeared up into the canopy though as I approached. And it wasn’t long before I disturbed another bird, this time a stunning Grey Wagtail at the rivers edge, only realising my presence as I went to slowly lift my camera.
A fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher and I was through the cattle creep.
The air was alive with the sound of Chiffchaff and Green Woodpecker both clearly enjoying the warmer side of the canal. And here the trees had begun to blossom. A few early Dumbledore (an old name for bumble bees) could be seen in the highest reaches of blossom. While the lower flowers fed increasing numbers of Honey Bee. Alas very little at a height I could photograph.
Continuing my, by now lovely sun drenched, walk up through the old lock area I disturbed a small mustelid of some kind. I could not see detail just its small, sleek frame as it bounded away through the dark under-brush.
A party of Bullfinch made me pause as I reached the hedge separating the lock area and the old church fields, and while watching the bright pink males and listening to their metallic contact calls I spotted my first butterflies of the year. A few Small Tortoiseshells were sucking up nectar from the flowers of the blackthorn.
More small Tortoiseshells would spiral out of my path as I walked the steep, but short, hill up to the church yard.
Exiting the churchyard, after pausing briefly to photograph a few spring blooms, I headed home. Glad I had once again made the effort. And, revived from my revery, determined to head out again at the next available moment.
Manor Farm Full Species List
|Goosander||4||2 male 2 female (1 of each flew through while pair remained sat on mud)|
|Great Crested Grebe||7|
|Common Buzzard||3||Circling together|
|Eurasian Oystercatcher||2||1 clearly sat on nest|
|Common Ringed Plover||2||Both adults|
|Little Ringed Plover||3||Pair in North East islands|
|Common Redshank||4||May have been more but at least 4|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull||1|
|Eurasian Green Woodpecker||2|
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