Sunday, 15 March 2015

Buzzards, bees and butterflies... Early Spring at Winkworth

Meteorologically speaking, March 1st marks the beginning of Spring and so far the month has been largely dry with some very pleasant days indeed, the mercury rising to 14c on the 7th.
Looking across Rowe's Flashe Lake

The increasingly warm sunshine has seen seasonal changes moving at a pace at Winkworth, with signs of Spring springing up all over the place, and something new to see or hear every day.

In the upper arboretum a pair of Jackdaws have been busy building a nest in a chimney on Fox Cottage, and Blue and Great Tits have been seen inspecting nestboxes around and about.
At Rowe’s Flashe Lake, the Mandarin Ducks have been displaying, and the pair of Little Grebes are also still around. A Kingfisher has been seen intermittently, most recently on the morning of the 12th.

The 12th also saw the first singing Chiffchaff of the season, in the Carlotta Glade – another surefire sign that warmer days are on the way!

A pair of Marsh Tits are often to be seen or heard in the Phillimore Wetland where they were very vocal on the 11th. Bramblings were heard in or over the upper arboretum on the 4th, 8th and 12th.

Birds of prey too are taking advantage of the improving weather, with several Buzzards and Sparrowhawks regularly seen and heard soaring overhead on the rising thermals. Red Kites were seen on the 7th and the 10th. On the 13th a Raven briefly alighted on a Scots Pine in the upper arboretum.
Common Buzzard on the lookout

Another sight that always lifts the spirits at this time of year is catching that first unmistakeable glimpse of a bright yellow male Brimstone butterfly fluttering around in the sunshine. The Brimstone is one of the five of our butterfly species to overwinter, the males emerging on the first warm days of the year – usually in March but sometimes earlier - to find and mate with the females. The first such sighting in the arboretum was on 7th March, flying around the Rhododendrons near the tea room, followed by another in Magnolia Wood on the 11th. Other butterfly sightings this month have included Small Tortoiseshell on the 10th, Comma on the 12th and Red Admiral on the 11th and 12th.

Comma (Polygonia c-album)
Red Admiral

Bumblebees, Hoverflies and Solitary and Honey Bees are also becoming more active. Look and listen out for them buzzing about around the arboretum – Prunus ‘Okame’ on the eastern edge of Magnolia Wood is proving particularly popular at the moment – here’s an Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) enjoying the blossom.

Eristalis sp. Hoverfly on Rhododendron (thanks to eyorksbirding for the identification help on this one)

Look out also for the various wild flowers beginning to bloom around the arboretum, such as Lesser Celandine, Dog Violets and Colt's-foot (pictured below)

As I said earlier, Spring is well and truly springing!


No comments:

Post a Comment