Spring rolls on…

Photo: bogbumoper via wikimedia commons
Photo: bogbumoper via wikimedia commons

Yesterday’s walk at Stanwick Lakes showed that spring is moving on. Instead of the air being filled with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler songs it was the newly arrived Whitethroats, Garden Warblers and Reed Warblers that seemed to be in best voice.

I think I could probably tell you what time of year it is, quite accurately, if you played me the songscape from Stanwick.  What is the balance of warbler song? Are the Song Thrushes or Blackbirds more noticeable? How obvious are the Robins? Are the Oystercatchers noisy or not?

Every spring is different – every day is different.  This year there is a greater coverage of Cuckoo Flowers than I’ve ever seen here but I am yet to find an Orange Tip butterfly egg on any of them – I’ve seen a few males but no females at Stanwick so far.  The females do tend to sneak around though.

We’re in the time between Blackthorn (whose petals are blowing off the bushes in drifts at the moment) and May (which is still leafy green).

I’m already beginning to feel as though spring is slipping away even though we are nowhere near the end of April yet!


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12 Replies to “Spring rolls on…”

  1. Everything seems to be happening a bit earlier this year. I found the annual Blackbird nest in the wisteria, but they have nearly finished building it already, just the lining to do. They are about two weeks ahead of last year. Everywhere you look in Spring there is something new happening from migrants coming back to bluebells popping up. I could do with an extra pair of eyes and an extra day in the week for Spring.

    1. Findlay - last year was a very late spring though round here.

      I could do with that extra pair of eyes and extra day in the week too - nice phrase! So true.

  2. Good to see a few spring migrants at The Sanctuary LNR in Derby these last few days including 5 wheatears, a yellow wagtail, a male redstart (a first for the site), sand martins in and out of their nest wall, a reed warbler singing and, earlier in the month, a male ring ouzel. Just shows what small patches of green/brown in an otherwise tarmaced industrial estate can draw in.

  3. Local fishing lakes walk showed a Mallard Duck with 23 Ducklings,guess some disaster caught up with another Mallard female and her youngsters conveniently tagged along with this group.
    There is always something different happening.
    Of course I am biased but according to what I see on literature from RSPB farmers are entitled to think that conservationists in general are biased far more,ref.
    In our woodlands 60% decline in species monitored.
    In our wetlands 57% decline.
    In our uplands 65% decline.
    In our farmland 60% decline.
    It seems to me that all the emphasis is on farmers ignoring completely the fact pollution kills thousands of people each year so it must be killing billions of small creatures if it can kill humans and more or less ignoring the other three things mentioned above.
    Well there has to be a reason and the one that springs to mind must be that RSPB get satisfaction from kicking farmers and get subs from it while conservationists just get satisfaction.
    Would like to get another explanation.
    No way am I ignoring the fact that we all need to do more to get more farmland birds just that those figures seem to prove that really farmland birds are no better or worse than the others.

    1. Dennis - I think you might be a bit unfair. On quite a few counts too!

      It doesn't seem to me that the RSPB is attacking farmers (and never has done). The RSPB seems quite quiet about everything at the moment.

      We do know why farmland birds are declining (and more so in the UK than other European countries), and we do know the types of farming that will reverse those declines. And we do know that reversing those declines is possible under the existing grants available to farmers in most parts of the UK (but certainly in England). So the problems and solutions are in place. Only farmers can make use of those solutions through agri-environment schemes and if they had been better led by the NFU then we would be in a place where this discussion was totally unnecessary because farmland wildlife was showing real signs of real recovery.

      Those other habitats are mostly farmed too, by the way.

      1. I think Martin Harper's blog from yesterday answers both your point about the RSPB being quiet at the moment and Dennis's comments about the RSPB's attitude to farmers. In both situations it appears to me that the RSPB is working tirelessly to achieve better distribution of CAP funds; is working closely with farmers to pressurise Governments, especially in Northern Ireland; continues to experiment with new ideas at Hope Farm and much more. The RSPB is also supporting and endorsing Chris Packham's brave foray in to Malta, perhaps not directly financially but certainly in spirit.

        I hope you've got a cuckoo or two at Stanwick Lakes by now Mark. There were three calling on Otmoor (not too far from you) on Tuesday. In fact they seem to have arrived before most of their prey species so far. It's interesting that of the BTO tagged cuckoos only one has arrived in the UK so far! My sponsored bird is still in Portugal. Perhaps their backpacks slow them down a bit!

  4. You could not have put it better Mark,the last remark said it all.
    It is all down to farmers.

  5. It seems a little earlier for flowers this year. Some hawthorn in flower. More birds in and around the garden including two song thrush. I,ve found three dead blackbird chicks on the path. Not magpie or squirrel results as these would have taken them away? Two male blackbirds often fighting in garden. Chicks may be removed by rival male? Barnack would be worth a visit later in the year, say middle of June. Perhaps a guided tour by one of the wardens would be useful if it could be arranged, Mark.

  6. Mark several things come to mind,you do not need to criticise farmers to make it plain you are not happy either RSPB or conservationists.
    Refer to Chelsea boss praising like crazy the ref in match against Sunderland,of course he meant completely the opposite but not one bad word was said.
    Reversing the declines by saying it could be done under present grants,it is not really possible as you well know human nature means almost everyone will take the easy options for most benefit in life in all walks of life and conservationists are included in this and what happens is farmers take the easy options.
    The schemes are absolute rubbish unless they have improved considerably and grants can be claimed without doing the important things as you point out about Skylark patches.Why are the important bits not rewarded well enough to get farmers to do them.
    Do not think we should blame the NFU,after all if the EU rules for schemes were set up correctly and rewards went for the right things it would be out of the NFUs influence.

    1. Dennis - the important things are well-rewarded. Farmers are ignoring them, though. I blame the NFU for not promoting agri-environment schemes that work. The Campaign for the Farmed Environment was a classic failure of Big Society - and it's not as though some of us didn't say that it would be...

      However, this blog post wasn't about farming...


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