Great tits are very loud at this time of year. They sit high in the trees and shout. It is a distinctive repetitive call like a creaky gate. Listen out for it.

Buzzard

This is a young buzzard, photographed in the hawthorn trees beside Lambrok Stream. For a couple of weeks he has been hunting in the field on the Church Lane side of the stream, where there are field vole colonies. He roosts in the same oak the barn owls visited last spring.

It would be wonderful if he found a mate and nested in or around the park this year; fingers crossed.

Header photograph by Suzanne Humphries


More about buzzards:
Buzzard

Robins

Photographs by DKG

There seem to be lots of robins in the park this year. In fact, there are lots of robins everywhere in Trowbridge. We know that their population in Britain has grown almost 50% since the 1970s but population growth is measured in means and averages, not in sudden seasonal spikes. There could be several reasons for this spike, not all of them necessarily good news for the park.

Read on:

Winter blue tits

During the winter, in natural woodlands, blue tits spend most of their time in oaks, searching for insect food in the trees’ rich ecosystems. At this time of year they turn their attention to the midges, mites and wasps that come to lay eggs in the new leaf buds.

Read more

Spotting tawny owls

Has anybody heard or seen the tawny owl that was spotted in the park three weeks ago? We are hoping it is still here, perhaps with a mate, looking for nest sites.

Tawny owl calls are unmistakeable, the classic too-wit-too-woo, but their camouflage is excellent and they are difficult to spot against a background of tree bark. Here is a short video from YouTube to help with identification.

Contact details, if you have anything to report, are here.

More about tawnies:

This is the robin that sang for the Friends of Southwick Country Park as they hacked their way through the thicket of bramble and blackthorn at the rear of the car park on Tuesday morning.


Our chiffchaffs will already have started the long journey back to their breeding sites in the park. They have overwintered in the warmth of southern Europe or northern Africa and are making their way home in a leisurely way with lots of stops for fuel; the males are the frontrunners and they need to arrive fit enough to find and fight for a territory.

They will begin arriving in March; their song (chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff) is one of the first signs of spring.

Pictures by DKG

Related posts:

The kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) that DKG photographed at the weekend is a female. The male bird has an all black beak while the female’s lower mandible is orange with a black tip.

Kingfishers are highly territorial; they pair up in the winter but keep separate territories until the following spring. It is probable, therefore, that our female has already paired up with a nearby male.

A kingfisher’s territory covers, on average, a kilometre of waterway; our female will be looking for a nesting site either very close to, or in the park. The Lambrok’s steep clay banks may well be perfect.


Kingfisher at last

An excited email from DKG this morning:

” A few photos of our Kingfisher at last. After 5 years of trying to capture photos of the park’s resident kingfisher, yesterday (Sunday 20th) finally produced the photos I had been after. But these came about as usual with no intention of looking for it and if not for Ian, I would have even missed these shots.”

Continue reading “Kingfisher at last”

Bluetit factoid

Most birds can’t create pigments, other than melanin, on their own. This bluetit, high in the park’s canopy, can’t produce the pigment, carotene, that makes his tummy yellow; it comes from pigments in the green caterpillars he eats. The more caterpillars he eats and the brighter his tummy, the more likely he is to attract a mate.

Header picture by DKG; others CC0 from pixabay


More about migration

Our willow warblers are among the park’s smallest birds; at 8.7 grams, they are only half the size of a robin. Their migration route, though, is the longest of any of the park’s birds: over 8,000km all the way to sub-Saharan Africa, an astonishing feat of endurance, and in April they will come all the way back to the park.

Willow warbler migration

by keithwlarson (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Another migrator from the spring of 2018:
The Chiffchaffs are back

Winter song

Many of our little songbirds abandon their territories in the winter and flock, sometimes in large numbers; but not the robin. Robins stick to and defend their territories right through the winter and their winter song is part of that defence.

Singing in winter is a high risk strategy. It uses a lot of energy when food resources are low but hanging on to a good territory right through the winter gives a robin an advantage in the spring when the breeding season begins. His winter song is shorter, quieter and altogther smaller than it will be come the spring.

Header photograph by Suzanne Humphries

Wood pigeon

Wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) are our largest and most common pigeon. Gregarious, very adaptable and given to flocking in enormous numbers at this time of year, they are an everyday sight in British towns and countryside.

In towns they seem unafraid but in the park they are shy and wary. Often the first indication that they are there at all is the loud clattering and clapping of their wings as they take off and fly away. Their call is the lovely, familiar background noise of spring and summer.


Simon Handley has reported a brown and white magpie in the park, at the top of the Arboretum; this is a rare genetic fault called leucism. Please don’t forget your camera next time you visit; we would love a photograph of it.

One for sorrow, two for joy…

There are several families of magpies in the park. This year’s crop are, as yet, short-tailed, loud- mouthed and clumsy, hanging out in gangs and still learning to fly properly. But, despite their dramatic black and white beauty, their reputation is poor.

Read on:

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

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑