There has been lots of lovely sunshine at Winkworth this week, making it feel more than a little like Spring. Certainly the birds are really starting to feel it, with lots of singing going on around the arboretum now, particularly in the morning. A Grey Wagtail pair were a regular sight down in the Phillimore and Furze Field area, the male often heard singing. Stock Doves, too, are becoming very vocal in Bluebell Wood and can be seen performing their sailing display flight above the trees in the lower arboretum. Buzzards and Sparrowhawks are now displaying regularly overhead - there were at least four of the former around on Tuesday, when a Red Kite also drifted over, heading east.
Down at Rowe's Flashe Lake the highlights this week included a Kingfisher at the southern end on Monday, a drake Teal on Thursday morning (a first record for me here) and three very vocal Little Grebes on Friday. There are still a few Mandarin Ducks around although I haven't been seeing as many as previous weeks. Canada Goose numbers, on the other hand, have been increasing this week with at least fifteen around on Sunday (eleven of them pictured below).
While I was putting in willow edging along a path near the Fox Memorial on Sunday a great deal of alarm calling drew my gaze upwards just in time to catch sight of a male Peregrine gliding southeast overhead. Indeed, the appearance of such a feared predator was enough to set off a Firecrest frantically calling in bushes nearby, the presence of which I was unaware of until that moment.
Another nice find around the same time was this Green Crab Spider (Diaea dorsata).
A few other bird highlights this week have included regular Marsh Tit encounters along the path through Phillimore - there were at least two on Thursday morning - and a notable increase in Redpolls about the place, with at least ten along the Spring Walk on Saturday. There are still good numbers of Siskin and Bullfinch around, although perhaps slightly less than recent weeks. Phillimore remains the best place to catch up with a Water Rail; there was one squealing away at the northern end on Tuesday while on Thursday morning I noted one flying to cover along the stream towards the meadow end of the Phillimore path.
One of the first moths of the year - a Dotted Border (pictured below) - was on the door of the tearoom on Sunday morning, while on Tuesday the first airborne butterfly I've seen this year - a Peacock - flew past us down in Furze Field.
There's still lots of great-looking fungi to be found around the arboretum, like this Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) along the Phillimore path just around the corner from the bridge over the bog.
If you're visiting Winkworth soon, keep an eye out for my recent bird and wildlife sightings posters on the kiosk and in the boathouse, and let us know of anything else you see!