A few recent observations

April 28, 2021  •  2 Comments

Afternoon all.

Just a few recent observations from me - as we're heading, helter-skelter into my favourite time of year, so I thought I'd hastily get a few scribbles down here, before I busy myself outside more and more.

  • We're a week (approximately) away from the best birds of all returning en masse. Oh sure, small numbers have been seen up and down the country in the last few days (and I remember that TODAY in fact... well... on THIS DAY in 2012, I saw my first swift back for the year over the house), but they've faced a chilly UK and battled a northerly or north-easterly wind to get here, the early ones... and on Monday of next week - THAT wind changes to a much more favourable southerly or south westerly.  My swift set-up is ready... and as I'm sure you can imagine, I'm CHAMPING AT THE BIT right now. Boy have I missed "my" swifts.
  • Talking of weather - we've barely had any rain at all so far this month. Of course I'm typing this as it rains outside - but I think that today's rain is the first for about a month. I'm pretty sure that the only precipitation we've had (until today) this April was about 6mm of snow a few weeks ago. Whether (weather!) or not this (cold, frosty and dry month) has delayed the 2021 bluebell season, or whether or not this has ruined the 2021 bluebell season is something I'm not learned enough to comment on - but what I CAN say is that at present the bluebell season looks at least delayed or worse, a non-event this year. The photo below was taken by at dawn me a few days ago that normally, at this time of year is stained PURPLE with millions of bluebells.
  • We have had a pair of stock doves visit our garden regularly over the last three weeks. I've never seen stock doves in the garden before and even though I can hardly be described as a fan of pigeons and doves, these two are very good-looking birds and I'm almost pleased to see them.
  • We've also had a lovely wee "sun jumper" (as I call them) come into our house this week. It would be fair to say that this sun-loving jumping spider won't find much sunlight on our landing, but when the temperature increases outside again I'll pop it back outside if it's still around. This tiny spider is a Heliophanus species. And a male. Probably H.cupreus (the "copper sun jumper") too as H.auratus (The "golden sun jumper") doesn't live around here.  The last time I found a sun jumper here, you might remember, was about this time last year, albeit it in a heatwave on our south-facing porch - a much better place for these sun-loving beasties. That was the "yellow-footed sun jumper", H.flavipes. Anyway - a couple of photos of our male golden or copper sun jumper are below. I've included a photo of my hand and the spider, just so you get an idea of how small these spiders are (an idea you don't get from the first photo).
  • Finally - I'm still testing my super-duper thermal camera and last night recorded a short clip of one of our (OBVIOUSLY (look at the clip!)) male hedgehogs  ( I think this one is male hedgehog C) wandering around the garden just after dark. I'm still getting to grips with it (the footage is a bit shaky and I'm struggling to quickly focus) but I'm SERIOUSLY impressed with this kit - and will write a full review as-and-when. As for this particular hedgehog and indeed our hedgehogs in general. I still think we have four visiting the garden(s) each night and now I also think that THIS male (hedgehog C) (video below) sleeps (for now) in our compost heap. Which is fine by me... even if I did originally hope for grass snakes there! 
  • More soon. TBR.




Doug Mackenzie Dodds - Images
Thanks Mr. Hazel nut.
Yes... I would put money on bluebells appreciating shady(ish), warm(ish), moist(ish) soil more than the conditions we've had this April - so maybe they'll do their stuff in a week or two. Or three. Just a little late, that's all.
Filbert Cobb(non-registered)
DMD: I hope your local woods provide you with a good show of bluebells in due course. I think the cold airflow and frosts this month have delayed many things - our Snowy Mespil tree was in full flower in the garden by 11 April in 2019 and this year, only just starting nearly three weeks later. Bluebell flower buds were initiated last summer/autumn so the timing of their emergence is muchly a function of temperature I would guess. It may be that the late bluebell season will be intense and short - but it is always unwise to make predictions about the future. Locally, peeps are posting lots of bluebell carpet pix on FB - from the New Forest to Grovely Woods. The latter are at about the same elevation as we are and here the forest bluebells are late but present, as are the primroses, wood anemones, lesser celandines and toothwort. Although you couldn't descibe the latter as "carpeting".

First Spotted Flycatcher spotted today - last year first spot was on 20 April. I have no idea whether they think the weather is a bit 'Taters when they thought they were coming for a pleasant holiday. I'll ask Mrs Cobb to ask them - she talks to the animals
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