Sunday, 11 March 2012


It was lovely sunny spring day today, and I was lucky enough to spend most of outside doing two of the things I love most – bird watching and helping others watch birds.

I met up with the rest of the Rodley Nature Reseve WeBS survey team at 07:00. It was cold, but still and clear and the sun soon warmed us up. March is the month when the resident birds are pairing up and getting ready to build nests, getting a head start on the summer migrants. No migrants are on the reserve yet, so the focus was on the birds about to breed here, or about to leave.

The Linnet flock, which had reached at least 250 birds over winter, was today more like 60. The gull flock was eight Black-headed Gulls and one Common Gull – about 20% of the usual winter flock. But there were loads Jays around, well into double figures, and more Bullfinches than usual too. The Willow Tits, meanwhile, have gone into hiding. Two Kingfishers were chasing one another along the river, and three Goosander. Seven Goldeneye on the lagoon, and lots of paired-up Gadwall and Teal.

I spent the afternoon leading the Airedale Otters Wildlife Explorers around Deep Cliffe Wood in Harden, Bingley. We were checking the nest boxes the kids made in January, and doing a survey of the birds. Lots of fun - it’s a private wood and quite unkempt, and there are none of the usual rules and restrictions of council-owned woods or nature reserves.

Common Toad, Harden, Bingley, West Yorkshire - Sunday 11th March 2012

The highlights were the random toad found at the start of the event, and the yaffling Green Woodpecker, which eventually flew into view, and a Common Buzzard flying over as we walked back to our cars. The kids and parents found all these things, including these really interesting scratches on the several branches of a Holly tree that had been cut down. I assumed this was the work of a Grey Squirrel - we'd seen these around the wood - but after consulting my trusty copy of Tracks and Signs by Bang and Dahlstrom, I'm not so sure. Any ideas?

The work of a Grey Squirrel?

The kids seemed to enjoy it, and so did the leaders and parents. Don’t believe all that crap you hear about children failing and standards falling: these kids know their stuff, they're eager to learn, and they ask far better questions than adults ever do.

So, basically, I had great day: enjoyable, worthwhile, life-affirming.

No comments:

Post a Comment