Bush Park Wildlife News

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May 2009 OK I've missed another year (or more) but you know how it is!
The Swallows or rather a single swallow arrive early April but wasn't joined by two more till the end of the month. Still only the 3 on 14th May and as its difficult to sex them from a distance, one of them is going to be unlucky. They could all be the same sex!. A flock of about a dozen flew over the other day and we thought ours had joined them. They did return but stil only the 3. One is returning to an old nest in the milking parlour while two are using the barn. We'll see what happens.
Having added a new feeder filled with niger seed, we now have a pair of siskins as regular visitors.

Another first when a Jay was spotted on the peanuts. It had gone before we could get a camera.
13th Woodpecker back on the peanuts at 3pm. Not seen for months!
11th Second swallow.
April 2007
10th First swallow seen.
21st A pair of Siskins on the peanuts this morning. Not seen here for over 5 years. One of the B&B guests said he'd spotted them on the moor last week.
20th Two Gold finches arrived this morning. About 4 swallows about now. Spotted woodpecker still a regular visitor..
12th First swallow spotted but its a loan one waiting for the rest of the flock. We think its already chosen its nesting site or returned to an old one in the barn.
March Frogspawn found in pond early in the month.
February 2006
The long tailed tits were a pair and they stayed for several weeks but they've not been seen for some days. large animal, possibly a badger, has been digging up the lawn looking for worms.
January 2006 Had a small flock of long-tailed tits here on 6th, six at a time trying for peanuts. A couple returned two days later but they all continued on there journey and we probably won't see them for months. Flock of Fieldfare passed through recently. The Woodpecker is getting very confident and does not appear to mind our moevment so much now.
December 2005
Woops - missed a whole year and some. Swallow numbers were well down this year and then seem to vanish without the usual gatherings on the phone lines before they left. I think early notherly winds meant they took advantage of the assisted flight south to warmer weather. The feeding table has has its regular mix of Great, Blue and Cole Tits. There seem to be more House sparrows than Dunnocks and fewer Green Finches and not seem a single Siskin all year. Long Tailed Tits came and went and the occasional visit from a bull finch. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is back visting the feeding table but the most
startling visitor during the summer was a Sparrow Hawk that twice tried to take birds from the feeding table, missing both times. Next year I'll try and keep these pages a bit more up to date.
April 17th 2004 First swallows arrive but with changeable weather they have yet to settle. Only two seen so they've probably gone back to see what's happened to the rest if their flock.
March 2004
Large flock of red-wings spotted in hay field.
Summer 2003
The bird described in April has been confirmed as a Red Kite. Some were introduced into Lydford Forest many years ago burt hadn't been seen for some time. The one spotted back in April (and not seen since) may have been one of these or a visitor from Wales. We are told the distance would not have been an problem even if they had come straight across the Bristol Channel. We have even been told they can fly high enough to use the jetstream and travel huge distances in a very short time. I'm not sure if this is true. Can anyone confirm this?
May - June 2003 The disappointing number of swallows can best be explained by this article spotted in the Guardian.
Meanwhile the bird mentioned below has been seen several times but even mounting a camera on the window frame of the kitchen and a 3m remote shutter release so I could stand leisurely watching the view, failed to get a photo. The few times it flew past after the camera was fitted to the window I couldn't get to the release in time. I've since removed the camera for fear of damage in the damp air by an open window! I'll keep a look out!
Bullfinch visited this week (June 20th) and Sue has twice seen the Black Cap. The goldcrest made a fleeting visit back in May to collect more spiders webs for its nest.
April - Weather finally breaks on 24th after a very hot Easter. Still only a few swallows. Trees start to come out.
First swallow seen 14th. Still dry. Warm southerly winds keep the Summer weather. I finally get to see a bird seen many times by Sue. Her description was a bird larger than a Buzzard. Ginger brown in colour. Black wing tips and white head similar to a fish eagle! I can confirm its size and colour and that it was much more manouevreable than a buzzard in flight. When mobbed by a couple of crows, it seemed to squirm its way out of reach. Two visiting 'twitchers' soon gave their thoughts as to the type of bird and when checked in a book Sue said "That's the one!" So what is it? Well until we have another positive ID I'm not saying because it is very rare in this part of the country and we don't want to get peoples hopes up. The only thing we can say is its not a Honey Buzzard that is rumoured to be around here.
March - The warmest and driest March on record!
1st - Snow drops out on the bank opposite the kitchen.
February - The last few days of January and first days of February and much of the north and east of the UK was deep in snow. We had no snow but some chill winds and sudden bowts of hail and sleet.
3rd - The first unusual wildlife meeting was when I removed a length of timber from a box used to store firewood. I was alerted by a strange rythmic rustling noise and to my amazement on such a cold and frosty day, I realised I had picked up a stick on which a Peacock butterfly had decided to hibernate. It was repeatedly opening and closing of its wings to try and startle me with its glaring 'eyes'. I couldn't put the bit of wood back as it wood have crushed the butterfly so I spent several long minutes trying to find somewhere to leave it in peace where it wouldn't be disturbed. I hope it didn't use up too much energy trying to frighten me off. A few weeks later I checked to see how it was and it had awoken enough to move from the twig to the sides of the box it is now in.
January - The year began cold with snow and heavy frosts. We spent several hours doing the Lydford Dormouse Survey for the Dartmoor Biodivesity Project. It should have been done by Dec 20th but Christmas got in the way. Amongst the dozens of hazel nuts we found there were a few that we thought could have been opened by Dormice but have not yet had them confirmed. If you'de like to learn more try this link to the Dartmoor Biodiversity Project
Nov - Dec - The spotted woodpecker is still a regular visitor and a bat visted us in the house a couple of times just before Christmas. It remained clinging to a beam long enough for me to note that it wasn't a long eared bat as we had seen on earlier occasions. I think it was a noctule bat, brown with neat pointed ears with rounded tips. Only a bat detector that can identify the frequency of the echo calls of the different species might confirm this. I have since blocked its access into the house so it can only use the attic for its visits
July - Oct - Sorry for the lack of news but life continued much as normal with nothing of note. The swallows went, the bats are about again and we seem to be getting many more owls about. No new sitings but we'll keep you informed.
June - This may sound very boring but for the first time in three years we've actually had house sparrows at the bird table. Always had the Hedge Sparrow (Dunnock) but never the house sparrow.
18th - awoken at night by a Tawny Owl doing the Twit part of the Twit Twoo from just outside the bedroom window. It was so loud that I thought it may have come into the room. Bet you didn't know that Twit Twoo, is in fact the call from one bird and the reply from another. I know I didn't.
26th - Treated to another hovering flight display from the Goldcrest at a tree just outside the window. After some time I realised I was missing a photo opportunity but by the time I'd reallised and fetched the camera, it had gone - bother!
May - The Spotted Woodpecker is now a regular visitor and getting more used to movement in the house. The peanut feeder is only about 6ft from the dining room window so he can been seen at clsoe quarters.
27th - We were gobsmacked to see a bird neither of us had ever seen before and it could not have been closer without being in the kitchen with us. For the last few days we had seen a very small bird hovering at the kitchen window and disappearing to the top of the frame. We had assumed this was one of the many wrens that visit the garden and thought perhaps it was using an old bluetits nest through a hole in the surrounding frame. It had always been silhouetted against a bright light and just appeared as a blur. That morning, however, the sunlight caught it long enough for us to gasp in surprise as we watched a goldcrest hover only inches from the window. A second later and it had gone. It returned twice more and sat for a moment on the window sill, just long enough for us to compare it with the drawing in our bird book, now open in front of us. I later checked to see if it was building a nest and, peering out of the back door, we met eye to eye. The goldcrest was hanging upside down from the rendering above the window. No sign of a nest so it must be going in to use the old Bluetits nest. I just hope our chance meeting didn't frighten it too much.
Later in the day, Sue and I watched an acrobatic dog fight between two or three swallows and a fly cather in the roof of the barn. It looks as though the flycather has buiilt its nest on top of a disused swallows nest that is just a little too close to an occupied one that probably now has chicks or eggs in it. If any readers can confirm that a flycatchers nest would be a large bundle of grass and moss with a single hole it, can they let us know?
28th Update on yesterday. Later I checked the blue tits nest to find the entrance criss-crossed with cobwebs so the goldcrest was not using it. The only explanation is that it is collecting cobwebs to build a nest from. This morning, before we had even left our bedroom, Sue was sitting at her dressing table when she whispered "Turn slowly and look at the window". Doing as commanded, I turned to see the goldcrest had actually come into the room. It was sitting on the frame of the open top window just looking around. I was afraid it might fly into the room and then fly into the glass trying to get out. Luckily it didn't. After a few moments it dropped through the open window and was gone. Later that morning it gave us another close look as it hovered motionless outside the kitchen window, stabbing at the cobwebs until its beak was full and then darting off to line its nest. I didn't even know there was a British bird that could hover as well as any humming bird and now we have one that is so tame.
This same morning the woodpecker visted about three times while a spotted fly-cather did its acrobatics catching flies from its vantage point on a post the other side of the drive. All seen from the comfort of the house.
April - First swallow spotted on 11th and four swooping around on the 13th.
March - 3rd. Long tail tit seen eyeing the peanuts and making a brief visit. It soon lost interest and was gone. Are they insect eaters? Not seen here before. Having just been accompanied by two pied wagtails while sweeping the yard, I first thought the long tailed tit was one of these with the head of a coal tit!
Daffs and primulas coming out. Woodpecker returns to the feeder!
12th - 30th Not exactly wildlife but four lambs born between these dates. The first dark chocolate brown ram was named Bournville. Since he has grown huge and arrived with horns that are now about 3 inches long after only one month, he was then renamed Bunter. Then there was Bean, Pie and Pog. Click Click here for a pic of Pie at 1 day old and Crisp, her mother.
February - Begin tree planting. Only 1000 to do! Primroses & celandines coming out.
Discover Pipistrell bat hanging only two feet from the ground between two boards resting against a wall. Had to carefully move the boards so as not to wake it.
January - Flocks of starlings return.
Badger setts are very active again so I have begun to clear an area for a new hide.
Last week of Jan and snowdrops come out & bats seen on two evenings.
December - followed hare for nearly half a mile.13th - Tawny owl in the greenhouse.

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