Friday, 15 April 2016

March Winds and April Showers

"March winds and April showers
bring forth May flowers"

So says the old folk rhyme, and it's a couplet that has double meaning as I write this. March did indeed deliver some fairly ferocious winds, especially at the end of the Easter weekend, which sadly did a great deal of damage in the arboretum. Now we are halfway through April and enjoying our fair share of showers but also some beautiful warm sunshine and temperatures in the high teens celsius in recent days. April this year also brings with it new opportunity as I am leaving Winkworth and moving on to pastures new. It's been a great experience getting to know the arboretum and its wildlife these past couple of years, and I hope you've enjoyed reading my ramblings about the things I've seen when I've been out and about.
So, for the final time - from me at least - here's a round-up of what's been happening at Winkworth in the past few weeks...
Oak leaves emerging - Matt Phelps
In the three weeks since my previous blog post winter has well and truly given way to spring and everything is bursting in to life around the arboretum. Birdsong is increasing all the time, with more and more Chiffchaffs each day since late March, while the first Blackcaps and Willow Warblers were heard on 30th March and 4th April respectively - both exactly a year to the day since their arrivals in 2015. The winter visitors have more or less all departed now, with just the odd Brambling still around in the first week of April. My first Winkworth Swallows of the year were two flying purposefully north high above the gardeners' yard on 3rd April, while early on the 10th I heard my first Cuckoo of the year, giving its distinctive two note song just up the valley from the arboretum.
Blackcap - Ann Jacobs
Blue Tit - Ann Jacobs
Many of our resident birds are now busying themselves with nest building, like the Treecreepers which are again taking up residence in the wall of the boathouse as they did last year.
Down on Rowe's Flashe Lake we have already seen the first Mallard ducklings of the year - a clutch of a dozen appeared on 7th April.
Treecreeper on the boathouse wall - Ann Jacobs
Robin - Ann Jacobs
Nuthatch - Ann Jacobs
Mallard duckling - Ann Jacobs
Also of note on Rowe's Flashe recently have been occasional Pochard (there was a pair present on the 4th), up to half a dozen Little Grebes, the now fairly regular Bar-headed Goose, plus the rather odd-looking Canada/Greylag hybrid which appeared last week.

Canada x Greylag Goose - Matt Phelps
Little Grebe - Ann Jacobs
Butterflies are starting to be seen more regularly now, particularly in the warm sunshine this past week. I've noted Peacock, Brimstone and Comma at Winkworth recently, while I've seen Orange-tip, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood elsewhere locally this week, so it's only a matter of time and good weather before they take to the wing in the arboretum too.
Anyway, back to the flowers I mentioned in my opening paragraph. In addition to the glorious displays of Magnolia, Camellia and Cherry, the resident wild flowers are beginning to put on a great show of their own. Here's a few that Ann Jacobs and I have photographed here recently.
Ramsons - Matt Phelps
Red Campion - Matt Phelps
Bluebells - Matt Phelps
Common Dog-violet - Matt Phelps
Wood Anemone - Ann Jacobs
Wood Sorrel - Ann Jacobs
Marsh Marigold - Ann Jacobs

And that's it from me! Thanks for reading, and do get over to Winkworth soon if you haven't visited recently or at all - it really does look particularly wonderful at this time of year.
Spring hues along the Spring Walk - Matt Phelps
Honey bee and cherry blossom - Ann Jacobs


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