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Sunday, 11 April 2021

Not Much Going On - 22nd March to 4th April, 2021

Not Much Going On - or, depending on one's point of view, Too Much Going On!

I'd intended to produce this blog post more than a week ago, and just cover the last week in March. However, this was not to be, for a number of reasons, most of which have to do with working on the infrastructure of our abode. In 2019, after a couple of weeks in hospital, I was rather unwell for virtually the whole of the summer and little maintenance was done on house and garden. The after-effects of this illness were still worryingly apparent through most of 2020, and so I was taking it easy as far as matters of physical exertion were concerned, for fear of a relapse during the Covid crisis.

Much of my time this spring, when we have had fair weather, has been spent trying to reclaim the garden, with the bulk of the work in the past two weeks being in taking down two huge areas of ivy that had got totally out of control.  The largest of these, which was 5 metres wide by 4 metres high had started invading the neighbours' roof. Blackbirds had attempted to nest on a regular basis, but the nests tended to fail, and there was always the danger of fledglings getting taken by visiting cats. The ivy was also attractive to bees, spiders, and Holly Blue butterflies, so it was with a sad heart that I decided it had to go - entirely. Most of the two weeks was spent trying to get the roots up. The job is now finished, but I now have to dispose of the remains! The bed in front of the wall will now be planted with invertebrate-friendly flowering plants.

Also this week we managed to get a plumber in to rectify a grand total of six plumbing issues that had been stacking up, waiting for the pandemic to quieten down a bit, but needed attention - two of them urgent (a leaking pipe in ther kitchen that tended to flood the kitchen floor, and a bath hot tap that suddenly decided it wouldn't open beyond a trickle! 

Anyway, the result of all this is that I've not been out birding except for one failed attempt, and I have not spent much time observing the birds in the garden, which have tended to stay away anyway because of the amount of time that I have spent in the garden.

So here's what little I did manage to muster during the two weeks.

Tuesday, 23rd March

We were, and still are, regularly being visited by Siskins. I'm not sure how long these will be with us for. Historically, we have visits most years and they are usually gone to their summer breeding grounds at some time between early and late April.

Siskin  (Spinus spinus) (female) - garden on 23rd March, 2021
Wednesday, 24th March

Having had a 9a.m. eye appointment, the optician sent me direct to the Eye Casualty department at Leicester General Hospital as he thought that I might have a tear (as in rip) in my eye. Here I spent most of my day while Lindsay patiently waited in the car park - I'd been unable to drive myself as I'd had drops in my eyes to dilate the pupils. I was, eventually, given the all-clear.

Because of this, little was seen in the garden but I did put the moth trap out and the trail cams were also out, as always.

One of he trail cams (I deploy four each night) caught an altercation between two Hedgehogs.

The moth trap only came up with three moths of two species, with 2 x Hebrew Character (an extremely common moth) being a first for the year.

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) - from garden on 24th March, 2021
Friday, 26th March

After being absent for several days, the female Blackcap put in a brief appearance, but was not photographed. The only shots taken were of a Long-tailed Tit. 

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - garden on 26th March.2021
Saturday, 27th March

The only remarkable aspect to this day was the arrival of five Siskin (2 male, 3 female) which were not photographed. I did, however, manage to get a shot of the two regularly visiting Stock Doves together.

Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - garden on 27th March, 2021
Sunday, 28th March

I think that, maybe, the person in the bungalow behind our house is trying to wind me up. Whenever I look out of our bedroom window after dark, I see an owl, faintly silhouetted against the light shining through the blinds at his window.

false owl - from our bedroom window
The first time I saw it I did a quick double-take. However, it is, in fact, the cover on their rotary washing line!  The strange thing is, it is always put on so that those 'ears' are facing our window!

Monday, 29th March

This was the only attempt at a birding walk I made in the fortnight featured in this post. My chosen destination was Saltersford Valley, and the experience was a disappointing one. My first disappointment was finding that the place seems to have suddenly become a destination for anglers, who were there with all their detritus scattered round about them. I was also disappointed by the dearth of birds to be seen, let alone photographed. The only shot I took was of an appealing clump of Marsh Marigold.

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) - Saltersford Valley
Tuesday, 30th March

Disappointingly, Greenfinch had become a very scarce visitor to our garden. However, we have now started having occasional sightings once more. Although not a good shot, I cannot resist including this one 'just for the record'.

Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) (male) - garden on 30th March, 2021
That night, the moth trap went out, and I had a somewhat better catch than on previous attempts this year, with 30 months of 10 species recorded, Small Quaker being the most numerous (13). The following were new for the year (all to the same scale).
Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) from garden on 30th March, 2021

Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda) - from garden on 30th March, 2021

Leek Moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella) - from garden on 30th March,2021

Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla) - from garden on 30th March,2021

Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) - from garden on 30th March, 2021
Happily, the next two were 'lifers' for me, although both classed as 'fairly common' locally. I just wish that the Satellite had been in better condition!
Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) - from garden on 30th March, 2021

Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) - from garden on 30th March, 2021
Wednesday, 31st March
A beautiful sunny day brought four butterflies to the garden - three Small Tortoiseshells and a Peacock. I didn't manage any shots of the Peacock, which was in a fairly tatty condition.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - garden on 31st March, 2021
That night, the same trail cam as on my previous video clip caught another spat between Hedghogs, resulting in the water dish of one of the feeding stations getting upturned. If you have any doubt about the climbing abilities of Hedgehogs, observe the hog towards the end of the clip!
Sunday, 4th April
The last day of the week brought two Jackdaws to the garden, and three Siskin (2 male, 1 female). Only Siskin was photographed so I start and end this post with a Siskin image.

Siskin  (Spinus spinus) (male) - garden on 4th April, 2021
This brings me to the end of this blog post. Based on how little I've observed during this last week, I'm expecting to be offering an even thinner post next time, probably in about a week and a half's time. Thank you for your visit.
In the meantime, take great care and stay safe - - - Richard