What an amazing start to the spring I’ve had with butterfly sightings to the fore. First a small tortoishell in the garden, then a single peacock on the Legion Meadow followed by three male brimstones on different days at different sites. I’ve seen and recorded a male and female at another spot.
A high tide on the River Dee at The Old Baths at Parkgate, brought 12 great white egrets 5 little egrets and a male marsh harrier to the marsh, alongside 500+ Icelandic pink footed geese, and a multitude of small waders, including displaying lapwing. I was also delighted to hear a number of skylarks, with lots of meadow pipits and stonechats flying around. On a walk on another day in the same area in thick drizzle, I was delighted to pick up the territories and to hear and see eight greenfinches, a rare sight these days.
Christleton had its excitement too, with five male tufted duck on the Pit. The following day a walk along the footpath to Stamford Heath brought a flock of at least 100 linnets and chaffinches, and to my great surprise a pair of mandarin ducks flew from a nest hole in a tree overlooking a marl pit. There were 5 pairs of lapwing appearing to be displaying on a recently ploughed field, and several buzzard flew over my head. Again I heard at least two skylarks as I walked along the path to Stamford Lane.
A recent visit to Northamptonshire allowed Beryl and I to see our first swallows and sand martins of the spring, together with two sprightly common terns. There are good numbers of great white and little egrets everywhere these days, often in the company of a grey heron. Summer Leys Meadow was no exception, with lots of red shank, lapwing, teal and shoveler. Not to be outdone, warblers were having their say, and we heard several chiff chaff, willow and garden warblers, with just one cettis heard on that occasion. We also had good views of a hunting kestrel, and we saw it take prey from about 20 metres. We also watched as a pied wagtail appeared to be feeding from cowslips, and another displayed in a supermarket car park, a familiar place to see lots of pied wagtails these days. A bonus at dusk was to watch two beautiful barn owls hunting over the fields.
On a visit to Evenly Wood Garden near Brackley, we again heard chiff chaff, willow and garden warblers as well as two vociferous male black caps proclaiming their territories. This area has lots of red kites, and there were five in the air as we watched from the car park. There were lots of beautiful wild flowers on this sloping woodland site, including carpets of blue bells, primroses, cowslips, daffodils, fritillaria, wood anemone, celendines, Lady smock and stitchwort. A number of magnolia and Rhododendron trees were in flower together with azaleas and camellias. Evenly Wood is a delightful place to visit if you happen to be in that area.
Finally if you are in London, especially with young children, do book to see the amazing BBC Earth Experience at Earls Court. This brings together lots of strands from the David Attenborough films, from his Life on Earth series in what can only be described as an extravaganza of sights and sounds, displayed all around you on giant screens. This is a kaleidoscope of colour, using brilliant filming techniques, in the sea, on land and in the sky, from sites across the globe. This display is highly recommended by our family.
IF YOU LIKE YOU CAN LISTEN TO RYAN READING THE ARTICLE