Sunday, 1 February 2015

Birds at Winkworth, 26th-30th January 2015

A changeable week, beginning damp and mild then growing increasingly colder with snow by the later stages. The increasing daylight and spells of surprisingly warm sunshine have seen the first signs of displaying raptors this year though. On Monday morning there were two Sparrowhawks displaying over the upper arboretum and on Thursday a Red Kite and at least half a dozen Buzzards were thermalling over the slopes of the arboretum and the wider valley to the east.
Sunshine in the Winter Garden

Holly Wood continues to be the best place to find a Firecrest in the arboretum, with at least one there on Monday and two on Wednesday. The Phillimore/Furze Field area is still the most reliable spot for Marsh Tit with at least one seen or heard down there most days. Bullfinches and Siskins have been in fine voice all week, the former calling and singing all around the arboretum, the latter particularly to be found near Rowe's Flashe and the boathouse.

On Wednesday there was a Kingfisher down at Rowe's Flashe Lake; my first at Winkworth this year. Ten Canada Geese on the lake on Thursday morning represented my highest count of this species here to date. The four drake Pochard from last weekend had reduced to two by Monday, and then alternated between one and two for the rest of the week. On Thursday there were four pairs of Mandarin Duck present and I noted some displaying and scrapping amongst the drakes.
On Monday evening I was informed by visiting birder Ian Exton of a Little Egret near the boathouse earlier in the day - a first record for the arboretum, as far as I can tell. Well done, Ian!

On Thursday afternoon while I was clearing some brambles from an area of Snowdrops near the viewing platform a Raven flew north over Badger's Bowl uttering some very odd calls, unlike any I'd heard from this species before - but not dissimilar to some of the sounds in this recording.
Snowdrops on the western slopes of the Badger's Bowl

The Snowdrops aren't the only signs of Spring in the arboretum at the moment though, as there is new growth popping up all over the place. I noticed these well-developed Arum maculatum along the Thorncombe Street boundary on Tuesday. 


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