Earlier this week when I was walking around the Lodge reserve a bumblebee flew straight into me, bounced off and carried on across the ridge, my first of the year, I hope it was able to find a few flowers to feed on! It has been noticeably milder this week and this change in temperature seems to have spurred many creatures into life. On looking at some Birdtrack records it appears that some swallows have been seen already in Cornwall and Essex, (possibly migrants or were they over wintering?) have you spotted any migrants yet? I would expect sand martins and wheatears to be popping up very soon so keep a look out!
As for the gardens and woodlands, listen out for woodpeckers drumming, great tits, chaffinches and wrens in full song and keep an eye out for woodland flowers bursting into life. The daffodils here are nearly ready to flower and the bluebell foliage is starting to show through the leaf litter! we'd love to see your pictures of spring in bloom.
Other creatures emerging from a winter slumber include amphibians, the frogs in the pond that I dug a couple of years ago have this week croaked into action, i'm hoping for frogspawn in the next few weeks! How are your ponds doing, any signs of life yet?
I've just returned from Newcastle where we delivered some training to our colleagues in the regional office, great city and people, we even got a chance to do a bit of birding along the Tyne with curlew, teal, redshank, shelduck and a sparrowhawk being the highlights!
We've been inundated with reports of unusual garden visitors since the snow arrived. The ice, snow and general wintry weather that has finally arrived has covered much of the countryside making many natural food resources such as worms and seed on the ground impossible to reach. So what is a hungry bird to do when this happens? Well they either sit it out and make do with what they can access or they move. Many of the birds that have been reported from gardens are those that can make use the plants that we use, the most common reports we are getting are of redwings and fieldfares descending on berry trees or where wind fall apples are still on the ground.
The list of berry and fruiting trees, shrubs and climbers that can be planted to attract them is long but some of the best include ivy, hawthorn, pyracantha, cotoneaster, crab apple, pear and holly. Ivy is one of the latest plants to produce ripe berries so it is a really important food source for many birds during periods of harsh weather in late winter as many of the other berries are long gone. What berries are they eating in your garden?
Some of the more unusual winter visitors to have turned up in gardens include woodcocks, kingfishers, bramblings, grey herons and even a couple of bitterns! We urge anyone with an interesting sighting of an unusual garden visitor to report it via Birdtrack.
Whilst all of this winter weather is going on, some species like the collared dove, robin and blackbirds have already raised young this year. The rooks, grey herons and mallards that usually start nesting early will have a tough start to their breeding season.