Posts Tagged "black spruce"

Patch walk, 8th June 2018

Its a cloudy morning and with the temperature rising its already feeling quite close and humid as I step out of the door. Hmm, herring gulls are calling loudly, that’s a little unusual at this time of the year. Part way up the road the reason for all the noisy kerfuffle is revealed. 3 herring gulls are mobbing a buzzard. Its all happening at close quarters, the buzzard trying to flare its claws at its tormentors but constantly giving ground to them. By the time I’ve reached the top of the road and have an uninterrupted view things are changing again. Another buzzard floats effortlessly into the melee. The gulls don’t seem to like this change of odds and swiftly change direction, unwilling to take on 2 buzzards at once.

On the back lane, goldfinch and robin are singing while dunnock and sparrow are foraging where the road surface meets the old hedge. The only singing in the copse today is from woodpigeons. The great tit nest is still devoid of activity, the woodpigeon is off its nest and there’s no activity at the nuthatch nest hole. I suspect I’ve missed my chance to see the nuthatches fledging, they were so close a couple of days ago.

In the park and below one of the huge horse chestnut trees there’s a collection of feathers. Downy feathers, all white and grey.

Handiwork of the sparrowhawk I’ve been hearing so often recently? Seems like there are too many of them to be from the impact of just one kill. Perhaps the sparrowhawk’s favourite plucking post is right above in the horse chestnut? Its definitely worth keeping an eye on.

At the robin spot the resident robin is around, albeit a little reluctantly today as the area is currently overrun with with very active squirrels. She does come down to collect mealworms, but she’s not hanging about, smashing and grabbing, back into cover. Just how fast is she on these forays from the bushes? Faster than the zoom on my camera, I don’t manage to get a shot today.

With appointments to get to later I don’t have as much time on the patch today, so head straight to the black spruce tree and the squirrels…who aren’t there and aren’t appearing quickly from elsewhere in the park when I rattle the bag of nuts either. Still, it gives me time to collect. I do have a bit of a habit of collecting what catches my eye from what flora and fauna have left behind. Right now, with birds starting to moult, there’s plenty of feathers to collect. Crow and woodpigeon feathers are easy to identify, but the last one (all shown above) is new to me. Could it be a buzzard feather? I think it is.

Its too beautiful to leave behind either way, this one is going on display at home.

There’s also the first spruce cones of the season on the ground, not fully grown of course, but the shapes and patterns are fascinating and these are still sticky with sap.

Eventually, after going on a little wander while rattling my bag of nuts, Braveheart squirrel appears and is looking either extremely eager, extremely curious, or both together!

“Focus? Schmocus! I want to do an extreme close up!”

Its not just Braveheart who turns up today though, there’s also the polite squirrel as well as a new one who’s not come to the tree before. He squats down, both paws crossed across his chest, trying to look innocent. Trying, but the missing section of one of his ears suggests he knows how to look after himself. He gets up to the tree stump and has a good look at me, but doesn’t take a nut yet. His approach is to try and chase Braveheart for his nut instead, so the squirrels are all spinning around the trunk like fireworks.

With the sun over the yard arm and appointments imminent its time to head home.

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Finding nests. Patch walk 2nd June 2018.

Its still raining lightly when I step out, rain that becomes suddenly stronger under the trees when the wind shakes the raindrops from the leaves. Its fine by me, I’d much rather be walking in the rain than in close heat.

Creeping buttercup, daisies and clover are all recovering back to flowering in the verges after their recent buzz cut. Where edges and corners are forgotten on the back lane there are foxgloves coming into flower. Wild finds a way.

It seems as if it may be an unpromising walk in the rainy weather, but getting into the copse soon puts pay to that assumption. It starts with hearing an unusual bird call. That always catches my attention and gets me looking. Once summer is reached so much of birdwatching is really bird listening anyway. Flashes of movement focus me and then I see a Great Tit, going into a tree hole. Its a great tit nest!

Finding the nest makes it already the best patch walk of the week. I watch both parents come and go for a while, they’re being very busy and attentive and making multiple visits in just a few minutes. I don’t want to disturb them though, so move on.

Elated by the nest find, I almost pass by the sweet chestnut tree with the the nuthatch nest in it. That would be double foolish today, as the sweet chestnut has a new resident – there’s another nest in the tree. Woodpigeons have built a twiggy nest in a V of branches.

Its hidden quite well, although I could imagine a squirrel finding it. We’ll see if they make it. The nuthatch parents appear at their nest too and then I can see a little beak begging at the nest hole!


How fantastic, the nutchatch chicks are getting closer and closer to fledging. I’m really rooting for this nest to make it, having seen its progress from the resident male calling for a mate to nest building, laying and feeding the young.  What a great tree this sweet chestnut is too, supporting 2 nests. That won’t be the only amorous woodpigeon pair I see today too.

On into the park and the difference in the rain to yesterday in the sun is remarkable. Its practically deserted, I see only half a dozen people the whole time. It makes such an impact on how much wildlife I see. Squirrels and blackbirds are feeding on the ground and are unconcerned as I quietly pass by.

At the hedge, having passed another robin at an oak tree with a beakful of caterpillars, I’m optimistic of seeing robin by the hedge. He rewards my optimism, going up and down the hedge a few times before eventually coming down to the ground to get food.

The female robin appears too, going back and forth from Mr Robin to the nest, but the expected food pass never comes before I move on.

Past the deserted play area – deserted other than for the magpies on the cut grass (6 for gold) – and round to the black spruce tree. The squirrels definitely don’t disappoint today.

Braveheart and Buddy both come over quickly and get down to the serious business of eating nuts. I keep them apart, Braveheart on the stump, Buddy on the V between branch and trunk, and it all goes swimmingly. Buddy in particular settles easily today, sitting right in the V of the branch and stump and giving me a really up-close view of exactly how they eat the monkey nuts I give them. Crack open the case, strip off the skin and eat the nut like you’re holding a particularly full sandwich that you don’t want to drop anything out of. I like it! Its such a privilege to be trusted by wildlife like this, to see it up close.

Head home, past multiple cooing and canoodling pairs of woodpigeons on the way. Something has really changed for woodpigeons overnight, love is in the air for them.

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