First cuckoo of the year (plus bluebells)

April 22, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

One day before I should see my beloved swifts again over this neck of the woods (or towns more specifically with swifts) so I thought I'd give a quick update of what I've laid my eyes on this week quickly, as I am bound to miss everything for a few days as I walk around with my eyes and ears firmly trained on the sky above...

Swifts - As I've just mentioned above, they'll be here this week I think (we have a pretty rotten low pressure system over the UK at present, but at least we are dragging in westerly winds because of that, not northerlies). Two swifts have allegedly been seen hunting over a gravel pit about 18 miles from me (as I type), by one of what I call "the silver twitchers" ( long-retired gentlemen who have spent the last ten to thirty years of their lives walking around Berkshire clutching a pair of binoculars), but us "workers" will have to wait a day or so yet before the best birds in the world make themselves very obvious!

I expect they'll be back in "Swift Half" (my old house) tomorrow or the day after and I will spend this week trying to attract a pair into my newly-built "Swift palace" at our post-war house 12 miles or so from the ancient and crumbling "Swift Half". I don't give mesel much of a shot, but you never know....

Robins - We have a female robin sitting on five or six eggs in my old bird box in the garden at present. She's been sitting for seven days, so I predict another seven before the eggs hatch next Monday. Then the fun and games begin as the shouty chicks will attract the attention of our cats...

Pigeons - we also have nesting woodpigeons. Their eggs hatched this morning.

Cuckoo - I heard my first cuckoo in Binfield Heath just after dawn this morning. I'll not write to "The Times" (as is traditional here in England) as I'm sure many people must have heard one before me this year.

Bluebells - As I posted here, a couple of weeks ago, many people (myself included) were worried about the bluebells not really doing much this year because of all the heat and lack of rain. Of course, I needn't have worried. Since then we've had cool temperatures and plenty of heavy thundery showers - and finally the bluebells have arrived (bang on time to be fair I suppose). Granted, I've seen better displays - but I photographed many in my favourite bluebell wood of all this morning, in deepest darkest Oxfordshire.

Bluebells (abstract)

Butterflies - Many orange tips (a female in the garden this morning for the first time I know about), many holly blues and a few speckled woods in the garden right now - dodging showers.

Waterbirds  - I worked in Reading on Friday and after work walked up the river to get me bonce shaved. Nice to see baby coots, ducklings and goslings bobbing about on the river. Its easy to breed early if you're a waterbird (rather than rely on terrestrial sources of food for your young). All you need is the river to remain unfrozen and you're away. This is why (in general) water birds breed earlier than their more terrestrial cousins.

Deer - I've run a lot this week, mainly around Broadmoor (dodging loonies) and everywhere I run I seem to run into roe deer. They don't hang around on seeing my panting plum-coloured face though - a leap or two and they're vanished into the bracken.

Badgers - I've not had time to visit the local badger sett in months I'm afraid. If they've bred successfully (I hope so), the young will be out of the sett for the first time any day now. With the recent rain they'll have plenty of food n all (worms).


This week I'll be doing my best to kill my camera in the hail and rain as I sit on top our roof doing swift impressions (I reckon I'll make the national news by Thursday) and lie in the owl field trying to grab a photo if I'm lucky). I'll try and visit the badger sett too...

That all depends on my general health of course (still nowhere near 100%), but with a week off, I think I'll chance my luck.



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