Northants gleanings

It’s been good to visit some local sites over the last few days and check up on how Spring is progressing.

  • At Glapthorn Wood on Friday evening it felt more like winter than spring. But a Nightingale sang in brief snatches, and without much enthusiasm: certainly not with ‘full-throated ease’. But he was there and that means that spring is real – despite how cold it felt. I’ve never before stood in the blackthorn scrub waiting for those liquid notes and seen it covered with white blossom – that added another wintry feel to the dusk. Usually the blackthorn is coming into leaf when the Nightingale sings but on Friday their black branches and twigs were clothed in snow-like blossom.
  • At Summer Leys on Sunday evening it felt more like winter than spring. But I saw my first UK Swifts of 2016 so that means that spring is real. And on a sheltered lake there were hundreds of Sand Martins, scores of Swallows and a few House Martins catching insects.
  • At Stanwick Lakes this morning it felt more like winter than spring. But there were Swifts Swallows, both martins, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Blackcap, as well as lots of resident species in song and a Blackbird carrying food, so that means that spring is real.
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7 Replies to “Northants gleanings”

  1. Fantastic time of year Mark. On an early morning survey on our local reserve (Otmoor), Lyn and I had ten spp. of warbler and five cuckoos. Desperately awaiting the return of turtle doves, they were here last year but no definitive evidence of breeding!

    1. Richard - I guess that included Grasshopper Warbler then? I have yet to catch up with either whitethroat here (lots of Lessers in Israel, and Common in Israel and France). Good luck with TD - but one day soon they won't be there.

      1. All of the above and a garden warbler. Would love wood warbler but wrong habitat. Don't get too pessimistic about the TDs!

  2. Bluebells, violets, primroses (masses) , toothwort, celandines, wood anemones, water avens, and a morel. Later I shall wander wondering whether ramsons are ready to poach. Otherwise, I know it's Spring because of more reliable indicators: Liege-Bastogne-Liege was rerouted because of snow, London Marathon, Universally Challenged has finished, reminder notice for my PI renewal, and I keeping hearing this voice saying "that lawn needs cutting again".

    1. Toothwort: a strangely beautiful flowering plant with no leaves and no chlorophyll. Local in Sussex and a parasite of hazel in ancient woodlands.

  3. The blackthorn observation is interesting and adds to the general impression that, despite the very mild winter, spring has not yet got into top gear and has even slowed down.
    Here, Sussex Wood Pigeons have produced their April song peak a week earlier than normal (based on the average for the last twelve years). It’s not what you would expect. Or maybe it is, given those mild daffodil filled days all through last January.
    Now we have a ‘Blackthorn winter’ -- an old and once familiar saying. Can we learn or relearn from it and do we need to listen more to our neighbours, especially close ones like the Wood Pigeon?

  4. Blackthorn is still in flower, with no leaves here in North Yorkshire although a colleague has found Early Purple Orchid in flower. At the local Staveley NR on Saturday were 5 species of warbler although both Whitethroats and Grasshopper have also been recorded there along with Hobby. Plenty of Sand Martins around Swallow numbers are picking up but very few house Martins as yet. Missed Osprey by going to Nosterfield NR where there were several Greylag broods, a brood of Coot and ten Yellow Wagtails.
    Sunday out on the moors (Hen Harrier survey!) freezing cold wind, both of us in full winter gear whilst sat at a good observation point for more than four hours, felt like real winter again complete with hail showers. Three very distant Buzzards, a kestrel, a female Merlin perched in a known territory, best of all a female Hen Harrier (the first in that valley since 2004, the year after they last bred). Not sure whether I want her to find a mate locally or go somewhere safer!
    Next week end to Wales where I know PFC and Redstart are already in the garden and the House Martins are back.


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