Monthly Archives: February 2015

Earsdon Churchyard

Earsdon Cemetery

The churchyard at Earsdon is an interesting place for wildlife, with the older parts having been well and truly left to their own devices. I spent a few hours here on both days this weekend, seeing what is around at this time of year.

Snowdrops (galanthus nivalis)

There were carpets of snowdrops, particularly in the older parts of the cemetery, so I got plenty of photos.

Snowdrops - galanthus nivalis

And the bird life was good too. Over the two days I caught up with flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch around the edges of the churchyard, as well as a mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare in a tree at the bottom of the cemetery.

Snowdrops - galanthus nivalis

A Song Thrush played its rich melody, perched high in a tree, not far from a singing Chaffinch. There are always plenty of Wrens and Robins in the churchyard and this weekend was no different.

Velvet Shank - flammulina velutipes

I stumbled upon these fungi, which I think are probably Velvet Shank (flammulina velutipes). Their fruiting season is September to March and they can withstand the hard frosts, plus they are apparently edible (though don’t take my word for it)!

Spring: out of the bottle?

Gorse

I love looking out for signs the seasons are changing, especially if it’s winter turning to spring. This weekend, the Gorse was back in flower near Holywell – not just old flowers left over from last year, they were all brand new this year.

There were other signs of spring too, with my first Skylarks of the year, singing in bursts in the fields east of the pond. About three or four pairs were in the area, flying up into the air and chasing each other. Also in the fields was a pair of Reed Bunting but there were no Yellowhammers and not a trace of the Linnets that were there in number before the New Year.

The solitary Kestrel continues to hunt the fields though and is always a pleasure to watch. A flock of Lapwing flew over, as well as a pair of Stock Dove as I made my way towards Holywell Dene, in hope of the Dippers or maybe a Grey wagtail.

Scrub - Holywell Dene

The mature scrub on the north side of the burn by Hartley looks fantastic for birds. Just a short look saw Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch and a pair of Woodpigeon that looked like they might already be on a nest. Come May this area is going to be alive with bird life!

Heading back towards Holywell village through the Dene I could hear a Song Thrush in full song but try as I might, I couldn’t locate the bird. Its song was mesmerising enough though and called to mind warm summer evenings.

The usual Tits, Robins and Dunnocks flitted about the feeders in the woods, joined by at least two Nuthatch and scaling a tree nearby, a solitary Treecreeper.

Holywell Pond was fairly quiet, holding a flock of around twelve Pochard, similar numbers of Tufted Duck and Gadwall and a few Mallard. The ducks were joined by two small groups of geese – perhaps family parties – of Canada Geese and Greylag Geese. These were notable for me as they are the first I have seen at the pond in 2015, whereas last year the fields nearby contained a decent-sized flock of Greylag Geese for most of the winter.

There were no Goldeneye on the water but a Grey Heron lurked by the island and a Cormorant fished the deeper water. To me at least, it seems like the genie may be out of the bottle and that spring has begun its inevitable march. We will see though…

New Home

House Sparrow Nest Box

As it is a new year, in a new home, I thought it must be time for a new nest box for the garden. With time fairly limited at the minute, I decided to buy one this year instead of building my own. I must say, I am rather pleased with my purchase.

House Sparrow Nest Box

I decided on a communal box with three separate sections, to try and encourage the local House Sparrows. There are plenty around, with a small colony in the privet hedge a few doors down, so hopefully we will manage to attract a couple of pairs to nest with us.

Nest Box In Situ

With not may locations to choose from I opted to mount the box close to the house. There’s a good chance the birds may find it too close but I’ll give it a couple of breeding seasons before I move it elsewhere.

And this year I am in time for National Nest Box Week, so I will be able to monitor and record what – if anything – chooses to make its home in my new box, as well as the nest box that was already in the garden!