We apologise for wrongly identifying this little bird. We thought it was a blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) but our expert has identified it as a marsh tit (Poecile palustris). This is the first sighting of a marsh tit in the park: a new name for our species lists.

Read on for more about the marsh tit

Creeping thistle

Like ragwort, creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) is classed as an injurious weed by the Weed Act of 1959. Our hedges and edges are full of it: beautiful, pollen-rich, heavily scented flowers, buzzing with invertebrates, followed by seed heads elevated on stems sturdy enough to support seed-eating birds. Gorgeous.

 

Photographs by DKG

Drought

 

This is now the longest continuous period of drought since 1976. The park’s paths are dusty, the grass is brown and crunchy underfoot,  some of the trees are shedding leaves in an attempt to stop water-loss and the streams are shrinking.

Continue reading “Drought”

LBJ

The world is full of little brown birds. Small and brown seems to be some kind of default programme for birds and accurate identification can depend on an extra millimetre in a  brown tail feather or the exact shade of a brown eye-stripe. Until they are otherwise identified, the RSPB calls them all LBJs: little brown jobs.

Continue reading “LBJ”

DKG heard this year’s first cuckoo in the park on Sunday morning.

Sunday Morning in the Park

BY IAN B.


Pleasant saunter with Pat and all the hounds this morning round Southwick Country Park.  The long tailed tit’s nest is now finished with a cladding of lichen.

 

 

Two reports: a little egret at the pond and a barn owl hunting on Lambrok Meadow but we didn’t see either. We looked for the daffs we planted last year and saw about fifty in flower and lots of blind bulbs all along the edge of Village Green from the decorated bridge around to the seat, and also down by the stream. Not a bad return considering they were supposed to be bedding in the first year.

 

 

The primroses are out all over the place and the first of the blackthorn and the pussy willow are beginning to show. Spring just round the corner. . . . .

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Pictures: Ian B. and SMH

Good news: the pair of barn owls photographed by David on March 10th are still in the park. They appear to have chosen a nest site in a hollow oak tree. Both were seen early in the morning last week; the cock bird hunting, the hen near what we hope is the nest.

 

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Pop goes the Weasel

Hats and scarves was the order of the day for Wednesday’s work party, and hedges and ditches, out of the east wind, were the best places to spend the morning. The park, however, was getting on with spring to an accompaniment of birdsong.

Trish saw a weasel hunting through the hedge; it ran across the picnic place and the track and into the brambles. Low down in the  brambles, beyond the reach of Dave’s camera, we found a long-tailed tits’ nest, half-built: a ball of moss, hair and lichen, lined with downy feathers.  A weasel is dangerous company for breeding birds; it will take eggs and nestlings, particularly if it is feeding its own nestful of young.

 

 

While we drank coffee and ate home made cakes, a pair of blue tits were trying out nest holes in the very highest branches of the ash tree at Fiveways. In the oaks, above us, robins and great tits shouted loud territorial challenges at each other.

A great spotted woodpecker worked its way up the trunk of an oak tree in the hedge between Cornfield and Sleeper Field, and three green woodpeckers flew overhead towards the copse in Sheep Field. The blackthorn is in flower, primroses seem to be ignoring the arctic start to their growing season, and leaf buds are swelling on the trees. Ian says there is frogspawn in the little pond!

 

 

It’s such a pleasure to work in the park on a spring day.

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Pictures: Google Images

 

 

Owl nesting boxes

In 2016, a pair of tawny owls nested in the owl box in Sheep Field and reared these two owlets. The parent birds returned in 2017 to inspect the box, but it obviously didn’t meet their standard and they left.

This year a pair of barn owls is hunting across the park, roosting in one of the park’s oak trees and, we hope, looking for a nest site. We have asked the Countryside Team to help us clean the nesting boxes in the hope that the barn owls will stay.

 

Photograph: DKG

One of a pair of barn owls seen hunting over the park this weekend by DKG and Chris Seymour. 

Photograph: DKG

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