Saturday, 26 April 2014

Easter Egg-ventures

Well, I had to get an Easter pun in somewhere. I realised that this little blog has been a bit neglected for the last couple of weeks as the Easter holiday came to a close and the summer term started. Here is what I have been up to, with some exciting updates about our blue tits!


My parents house

The first time my fiance visited my parents' house with me, he said he could see why I was so interested in nature. I hadn't really thought about this before, but he does have a point. Their house has a big garden, with lots of suitable trees for birds to hide and perch in. We saw a number of different birds queuing up for the bird feeders, especially for their new sunflower heart feeder. My mum wanted to attract the goldfinches she had seen in the area, so I suggested this, and it seems to have worked - although I never was fast enough with my camera to get them. Here are just a few of the birds I was fast enough to catch, but there were more, most notably sparrows! We don't see sparrows hardly ever where we live in Norfolk, so it's always a treat to watch them and listen to them chattering away to each other when we head back to Cambridge.

A pair of green finches enjoying their sunflower hearts

A little wren who has a fondness for foraging in my dad's hanging baskets and pot plants

Not quite in focus - A parent and young dunnock who we watched harass its parent mercilessly

A slightly calmer dunnock perching on a fence

Wicken Fen

We also took the opportunity to visit a National Trust nature reserve about half an hour outside of Cambridge which I remember visiting during sixth form for my biology A-level. We last visited over a year and a half ago where we saw our first bull finch ever. Unfortunately, our timing was bad this year, we managed to coincide with a children't Easter egg hunt... and it would seem lots of small loud children and wildlife don't mix all that well... Although as the day warmed up we did start to see a number of butterflies, even if our bird count was relatively low. We also saw some (I think) water beetles in one of the streams, which were making wonderful patterns of ripples in the water. Here is a little of what we saw.

Chaffinch singing - took a while to track down who was making such a racket, but I can now add his song to the bird songs I am slowly memorising.

Male house sparrow - I love these cheeky little birds, and wish I saw more of them where I live in Norfolk
Some kind of water beetle? Regardless, they made mystical patterns on the water

Hoverfly of the genus Eristalis (thank you again, these critters keep fooling me with their mimicry too, I think I need to learn a few more of them.

Speckled wood butterfly - my first one this year

Small tortoiseshell butterfly, possibly newly emerged from the way he was glistening in the sun


Our local patch

From our wanderings around our local patch and our views of our bird feeders, there has been lots of new action and species to report. Our greater spotted woodpecker is back (or perhaps it is a new one) in all his splendour, bullying our flock of starlings for a share in the 'bird cakes'. Bluebells have sprung, although I am seeing far more of the Spanish variety than our native ones. Also, one of our resident collared doves has built a nest in a tree in our carpark, and her young have now fledged.
Collared dove sitting on her car park nest. I have seen one fledgeling since this photo was taken.

Male small white butterfly. Apparently the female has two spots, but the male only has one, if any, on the hindwings.

A cheeky squirrel clambering through the trees

A blue tit posing nicely for the camera

Spanish bluebells

Our beautiful greater spotted woodpecker who has just started visiting our bird feeders again this year.

Our school blue tits

Our little bird box and blue tits is causing much excitement - the female has now laid 11 eggs, and I think she started incubating on Monday 21st April, so hopefully we will have little fluffy blue tit chicks in the next week or two. Watch this space!

As well as our lovely blue tits, we have also been down to visit our beehives this week. Our number one beekeeper also keeps bees at home, and they had swarmed. He brought in a box of bees to fill our empty hive, then fed them. Watching them was fantastic, and I'm really looking to going on the bee keeping course later this year. I'll try to remember my camera next time we visit our bees!

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