Contrary to what everyone may be thinking, I’m not dead, I’ve just had a busy few weeks and either haven’t been out, or haven’t seen anything worth writing about when I have.
On Saturday I made up for this by actually managing to get out, on a glorious warm spring day. I started a walk at High Bradfield, almost immediately picking up my first swallows of the year, with three perched on wires.
Continuing on to Agden Rocher, I picked up my first willow warblers of the year, and more surprisingly a fairly early redstart sang and showed well in its usual spot, not far from the abandoned barn. I was hoping to see one, but was thinking I was probably a few days early.
Skylarks sang, green woodpeckers yaffled, curlews and lapwings displayed, and a little owl was waiting for me on a wall as I reached Agden Side.
A quick look at Cowell Flat turned up many more willow warblers, the usual red grouse, and my final migrant year-tick of the day, in the shape of a handsome male wheatear. Adding to the spring-like vibe were peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies, and several common lizards scurring through the scrub.
A walk down Agden Side had a trio of cronking ravens and a buzzard overhead, and a walk by Agden Res turned up many more willow warblers and chiffchaffs, a few singing goldcrest and a long-tailed tit collecting nesting materials. The rustling of leaf litter alerted me to a couple of amorous pairs of toads.
A stop by the Agden birdfeeders also saw some quick visits by the resident wall-dwelling bank vole, which sadly was too rapid for a photo (for some stunning pics of this little charmer from a more patient and technically proficient photographer than me, see Roger Butterfield’s Flickr page!).
I finished the day with a walk through the Loxley Valley. Not too much to see, and apart from chiffchaffs no migrants as yet, which surprised me as this time last year the swallows were already skimming Old Wheel Dam. On the road leading from Old Wheel Dam to Rowell Lane, there were the corpses of several toads that had sadly been run over, with a couple of survivors among them. I managed to usher a few across the road towards the Dam… hopefully they made it and were able to spawn!
I’m not sure how often I’ll get to get out and about over the next couple of weeks, but as always I’ll let you know if I see anything interesting!