Its cloudy and cooler than I was expecting. Feels cooler than the forecast said, which is all good by me. Just plodding along today. I have time to spend and you can miss so much when you move quickly.
The back lane feels full of life today. Where flowering bushes are overhanging garden walls and fences they are busy with bees. Honeybee, Garden Bumblebee and Tree Bumblebee all spotted.
Tiny flowers on this one particular bush, so the the bees are constantly on the move. This makes photographing them something of a lottery! The garden bumblebees already have leg baskets that are filling with pollen, its heartening to see.
The brambles are starting to flower by the hedge that runs the entire length of the lane. Summer ploughing ever on onwards. At the bottom of the lane, 4 long-tailed tits fly across the lane in front of me, from garden to garden. The first long-tailed tits I’ve seen for months. New birds out exploring the world with their parents? That’s a happy thought.
Chaffinch is singing in the copse and that’s the only good news from there today. The woodpigeon nest is empty again today, with no sign of them. Is it another failed nest in the copse this year? It could well be. The possibility of predation by the sparrowhawk in the park over the road can’t be ruled out. The nest wasn’t in a particularly hidden position.
I can hear the sparrowhawk calling as soon as I enter the park. The collection of feathers is still there at the bottom of the horse chestnut, but so are lots of droppings. This might not be a plucking post, this might be a sparrowhawk nest! I can’t see anything from the ground, the leaf cover is too dense, but I’ll try to work out a way to see from higher ground.
Head over to the robin spot and the resident robin is quickly on to mealworms, but not just taking the one and going – they’re filling their beak up with the lot! Hang on, now there’s 2 of them and they’re both hoovering up all the mealworms I’m putting down. Then they’re both flying off to the same rough area of the park. It has to be a nest. Is this what happened to winter and spring’s highly unusual arrangement of 3 robins in the same very small area? Did 2 of them finally pair up and breed?
Before I can even think about going and investigating further, Buddy the squirrel turns up and he’s making it very clear he wants a nut. He pops up into a yew tree when I tell him but now I’m in a dilemma. I can’t go looking for the nest and and risk Buddy following me and discovering where the nest is, for the safety of the birds. I need something that will temporarily make the squirrels want to be elsewhere in the park…and here it comes in the shape of Bonniedog. No squirrel in its right mind wants to be anywhere near her. She’s a lovely-natured dog, unless you’re a squirrel. Its textbook.
With the squirrels safely elsewhere I can can stalk the robins, looking for the nest. It has to be done carefully, patiently, at a distance. Binoculars required, don’t disturb the birds or the nest site. Move slowly, move deliberately, watch where you’re putting your feet. After about 20 minutes I’ve identified which particular bush they’re nesting in. That’s enough for today, really don’t want to go closer and risk disturbing.
Look at my watch, I’ve spent an hour just feeding and watching robins. So, I head onwards, ending up at the black spruce where Buddy escaped to and Braveheart has joined him there.
Evidence quickly confirms that they’re both pretty darn hungry. Its not surprising, this is a rough time for squirrels, with all of last years stocks exhausted and not much new food emerged yet. Summer can be a real winter for squirrels.
Keeping them separate by feeding them at different points on the tree I give them their first nuts and they do their utmost to plough through the rest of the bag of nuts.
I’m there for ages, until they both satiated and starting to run off and bury nuts. Feels like its about time for my lunch now too, so its time to head home from a very enjoyable patch walk.