Monday, 6 April 2020

Birding in a Lockdown Week 2

Barn Swallow over the garden 

I would normally do a day by day diary of the last week of lockdown but I never know what day it is! They don't really have much significance at the moment whilst things are like they are do they? Thankfully with birds and birding dates usually do have an importance or a memory attached to them.
We usually keep records of special birds we find or remember the rough day the first Willow Warbler or Whitethroat appears as the month of April heralds the return of most of our common migrants from Africa. Seeing the first returning House Martin over the garden or hearing a Whitethroat on your daily exercise includes us personally in this migration even if we can't get out to the places on the coast we'd like to. Making a note of the date is something we all do as birders and throughout the country a picture begins to build up as people post their sightings and I always get excited to learn that the birds have returned safely from their incredible journeys and look forward to seeing the many different species for myself.

This Willow Warbler was only present for 1 morning before continuing it's migration. 

This drake Teal was a real surprise and a nice record for the local area

The Yellowhammer flock has now dispersed with either singing males (above) or birds paired up (below)

Male Pied Wagtail looking very smart

The last week has been such great weather in Cornwall and this certainly makes being at home much nicer and easier to bare for all of us. Me and Libbie go walking early in the morning to a different part of St Columb Major counting the birds and recording the other wildlife and then for the rest of the day we spend as much as we can outside. The changing season is a welcome distraction from life being a bit too monotonous so I think having an interest in wildlife at the moment is a good tonic for everybody. Even if it's just noting birds in the garden you could get involved in the Cornwall Birdwatching & Preservation Society Garden Lockdown Listing Challenge! Plenty of people around the county are sending in their lists of birds seen from their garden with a league for anybody feeling competitive and also every record goes towards the annual Bird Report so it's also good data for conservation as it maps out what birds are thriving in our gardens at the moment. More information can be found here:

A Jay probably eating something it shouldn't be!
The St Columb Major area has a thriving population of House Sparrows but sadly it is red listed as a bird of conservation concern within the UK. 


Woodland birds and resident breeders are busily getting ready to breed and as spring gathers pace birds are singing more and more to attract a mate or defend their territory.I've even heard the first young in the nest of Blackbird's and Blue Tit's whilst the local Rookery is very busy and noisy. Some early migrant birds have also returned with a few Swallow already settling around the local farm and singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff numbers increasing by the day. There were some nice surprises too with some passing Willow Warblers brightening up the morning on Friday and two migrant Teal at the local pond (the first I have seen in the area in twenty years). Whilst today a single House Martin buzzed across the garden. 
We have found 6 breeding pairs of Treecreeper on our local walks

Jackdaw preparing it's nest in it's favourite home, the chimney!

 For the next week I have dug out some sound recording equipment and will be trying to record the nocturnal migrants that pass overhead without us ever knowing. Pete is also giving this a go and he has got the ball rolling already with a flyover Grey Heron calling. 'Noc Migging' is a whole new hobby on it's own and is getting very popular amongst birders across the country. The following website has a lot of information for anybody interested in this ground breaking style of birding ( and I'm sure we will be doing a blog post about our findings at the end of the migration season. 

Common Scurvy Grass is traditionally a coastal plant but has spread inland being easiest to find along roadside verges. The salting and gritting of roads has caused it's abundance.

Freshly emerged Speckled Wood Butterfly contrasting with:

A very worn Comma which has survived the winter. We've now seen seven species of Butterfly

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