Spring is definitely upon us. This weekend, I noticed that we could no longer see through the woods, as the elder leaves are coming out and blocking the view. The catkins are almost finished and the leaves on hawthorn and hazel are also starting to come out. It will not be long before the oak leaves are out too.
Of course this makes it harder to photograph the little birds, as they become progressively obscured by foliage.
I haven’t spotted the willow tit for a week or so, but we do have a good collection of reed buntings, including at least three males and one female, and these have been coming to the feeders as well as settling down into the reeds on our small ponds in the clearing. I hope they are nesting.
Long-tailed tits are difficult to photograph, but I finally managed some shots this weekend. The little birds have been seen collecting feathers and moss, so are clearly nest-building at the moment.
This weekend I also noticed an absence of cackling redwings, although no sign yet of spring migrants. I will be listening for chiffchaff and blackcap (they overwinter in the garden, but not at the woods) in the next week or so.
Another really excellent piece of news is that the lesser-spotted woodpecker is around. Not seen, but the high-frequency drumming and song have been heard and this points to its presence again this year. The song/call and drumming are quite distinct from the greater-spotted and it is fortunate we have both as it allows us to compare. The buzzards are also thinking about setting up home in our woods after a year off – we think this may be the chick from two years ago.
There are at least three skylarks singing from the set-aside strips in the adjacent fields, which is brilliant news. The mallard are also taking a keen interest in our ponds as a slightly quieter option when compared to the adjacent nature reserve and canal.
These are a few shots of the little birds around our feeder and around the woods taken in the last couple of weeks. Soon it will be in leaf, and it will be time to swap the long bird lens for the macro lens when the butterflies emerge – a few brimstones are already on the wing.