31 March 2021

2021 / 22

06:45 – 09:15

Clear sky overnight, but not too cold at 8*C. Patchy cloud.
To the east, the rising sun is a half disc of neon pink on the purple grey horizon.

The gate is wide open this morning, padlock lying in the middle of the turning area?
No sign of any vehicles, but there are significantly more MotoX bike tracks everywhere today. They really are a nuisance – especially now they have found their way down the clearfell, and into Velmore. The new fencing at the entrance does not seemed to be a very effective deterrent – the bikes can be slid underneath easily enough…

Three Chiffchaffs at the east end. Goldcrests too. Song Thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker among the chorus. An increase in Blackcaps. I think seven in all today – two here first thing on either side of The Broad. I think perhaps less Chiffchaffs today too – only confirmed 9 individual birds. There are still two Lesser Redpolls hanging on, just to remind us that it is after all still March.
I am intent on checking the farmland today in a purposeful event to see one of the Wheatears that seem to be passing through everywhere else. Probably my Number One Most Wanted bird here, along with Redstart.

Of course, there aren’t any.

I have scanned every fencepost
I have walked farm and field
I have counted Skylarks and Pipits
But I still haven't found Wheatear I'm looking for..

Seven deer in the Skylark Field though, until a gunshot rings out from the Wood. Last day of the season today. I will keep out of the way…
At least four Song Thrushes on the patch of exposed soil up by the pylon, along with a half dozen Blackbirds and a Pheasant. two more of these out in the field, where there are a scattering of Rooks, Jackdaws and Woodpigeons. A Buzzard on sentry duty along the stream, and two Herring Gulls circling around. I have found a few small birds though at some distance? Skylarks, at least four of them. One rises up to sing.

But no Wheatear. One day, I will get lucky with this.

The Fieldfares are a big surprise though. Half way back along the bridleway and there’s that instantly recognisable call: “chack-chakchak”. I know it is perfectly possible to see both Fieldfares and Redwings well into April, but not around here. In fact, these 12 birds, passing west in a ragged group, are the first I have seen this year. I never generally record them until the second half of October, and only then when the weather is cold. So, a good record. 58 for the year too. Which starts me thinking I could, perhaps, get 60 on the site before the end of March. Wheatear, possibly Willow Warbler? I’ve had Common Gull before, in colder conditions. It is not going to happen this year, but might be fun to have a look into my counts and see how many I have recorded in each quarter over five years.

Back at the footpath, and the sunlight falls on three birds in the top of an oak nearby to the right. Greenfinches. Simple birds that are all too often overlooked. They seem to be on a good recovery at the moment, form the population being decimated by disease in recent years. I think there are at least four singing males in the Wood now, possibly six. And three here together, looking fabulous in the morning light.

Lots of fresh digging and scraping along the footpath. The Badgers too are having a good year. I just need to see one…

Interesting to see that along the bridleway, where the three muddiest puddles are, someone has placed decking planks across to provide safe passage. A good idea maybe, and it does show that some considerable effort has been made. They would have to be carried a quarter mile from the nearest road.?

On the track, by the birchline, I come across this:

The ragged remains of a rabbit pelt.
No bones, and very little skin – just a mat of fur. I have never seen Rabbits in the Wood.

Presumably poached…?

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