Plenty to report from the second half of February and early March at Winkworth. Things have turned altogether more chilly in the past couple of weeks although this hasn't slowed down the approach of spring as bird song and woodpecker drumming is increasing every day it seems and there is now a fair bit of early spring colour around the arboretum - but more on that later.
First off, a few bird highlights. Down at Rowe's Flashe Lake it was good to welcome back a trio of Pochards on 28th Feb - two drakes and a female, at least two of which are still present as I write this on 5th March. On the 22nd there was a Bar-headed Goose honking away in the drizzle first thing - only the second time I've seen one here and, as I've mentioned before, clearly an escape from somewhere.
Firecrests were seen near the boathouse on 27th Feb and 4th March. These little birds never stop flitting about which makes them hard to photograph, so John Rowland did a great job of getting this picture.
|Firecrest - John Rowland|
I got a bit of a surprise on the morning of 2nd March when I went down to open the boathouse only to find two Grey Wagtails flying about inside. They bred in the wall last year so perhaps they were investigating possible nest holes for this year when they inadvertently ended up inside the building. Canada Goose numbers are increasing - there were eleven present on 27th Feb. Ravens have been seen and heard on several occasions recently and on 18th Feb I photographed one cronking (giving its distinctive bellowing call) low over Furze Field.
|Raven - Matt Phelps|
Buzzards have been up and displaying on sunnier days along with the odd Sparrowhawk and Red Kite. Meanwhile, Red-legged Partridges are becoming a more regular occurence in the arboretum, seemingly venturing further from the neighbouring Wintershall estate - on 4th March there was one calling right up the slope on the western side of Bluebell Wood. Finally, the Yellowhammer that flew west on 18th Feb was only my second record of this species here.
|Buzzard - Matt Phelps|
In other news, eagle-eyed volunteer Ann Jacobs has been out and about with her camera capturing all manner of shots around the place, from the tiny...
|Butcher's Broom (Ruscus aculeatus) flower - Ann Jacobs|
...to the not so tiny...
|Roe Deer - Ann Jacobs|
She's also been photographing the now numerous flowers opening up, and one of the many creatures that rely on them as an early source of pollen.
|Lesser Celandine - Ann Jacobs|
|Salix laevigata buds - Ann Jacobs|
|Honey bee on Snowdrop - Ann Jacobs|
If you've visited Winkworth recently you can't have failed to miss the golden swathes of Daffodils all over the place: they really are looking gorgeous when the sun shines now.
|Daffodils on Sorbus Hill - Matt Phelps|
Considerably harder to find though are the very early Bluebells, as there's still only the odd flower here and there amongst the carpets of green spikes, but they are coming!
|Bluebell - Matt Phelps|