Tuesday, 7 April 2015

April 7th Mousehold Heath

Since the weather is finally nice again, it is time for the second survey of the year at Mousehold Heath. When me and Will began the survey this morning, it wasn't warm enough to do the first butterfly survey, so we did the bird one instead. But as we made our way round the route, the sun came out from behind the clouds and it became perfect conditions for butterflies. We had a few peacocks, small tortoiseshells and the odd brimstone floating over the site.

Our bird survey was another successful one with many blue tits, great tits, wrens, robins, chaffinches, the odd blackbird, coal tit, long-tailed tit and goldcrest. The chiffchaffs have increased in number since the previous survey and there are several males singing to claim their territories. A song thrush was singing well in one corner of the woods with the site's first blackcap of the year singing nearby to it. A couple of sparrowhawks was displaying high above the areas of gorse and a male kestrel was seen at St James' Hill. I think we also heard the sound of chicks peeping from a tree that a pair of blue tits were attending.

My star bird of the day, however, goes to the treecreeper. We saw at least two of them on our route. These small brown birds can be quite hard to notice at first, before you spot movement of one creeping up a tree trunk. They are often fancied to little mice spiralling up the trees with white bellies and long stiff tails which is used as a prop to keep them steady as they seek out insects under the bark with their curved bills. They also have high pitched squeaky calls sounding mouse-like which then forms into a trilled flurry of notes.

Birds need to keep their plumage in tip top condition at this time of year and these woodpigeons had the right idea with a bath in a puddle. It seemed to be quite a social event and they were really enjoying it too!

Another Peacock Butterfly
Female Hairy-footed Flower Bee

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