Wyre forest

Nature Diary

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A recap on April 2001

Most of the migrants arrived very early this year but most of them seemed to pass through. We had a Cuckoo on the 12 th, and a Redstart the following day, which is the earliest in 22 years. Buzzards, which have only moved into the forest this past few years were much in evidence displaying over the nest sites. The pair will soar at a great height and then the female often closes her wing and plummets down to the wood below. Plants pushing on as normal, with Toothwort, a parasite on Hazel, found on the 20th. Bumble bees frequent. Woodcock are 'roding' or in other words performing their display flight at dusk over the wood where they intend to nest. I have three pond in the garden. All three species of Newt are back, the Great Crested, Palmate, and Smooth. Both Frogs and Toads have spawned and gone, but a pair of mallard duck took up residence and have eaten all the tadpoles. I am tempted to shoot the ducks.


Ravens pass over twice a day back to feed their young after scavenging in the field around Bewdley. They always nest early, trying to coincide with lambing time. Not that there is a shortige of food this year, because I have never seen so many rabbits. The grass in the meadows around the house are like putting greens. Due to the foot and mouth outbreak, the forest has been devoid of people and it is strange how many species  are turning up in places they were never seen before.


It is the 8th of the month now and the forest is still closed. All being well, things will be back to normal before long. The plague of rabbits continues, and that can be seen by the lack of cowslips in the meadows. What few there are being stunted. The bluebells are just breaking as I write, and the vernal species like Wood Anemone, Violet, Dogs mercury, Celendine, Ransoms(nearly),Bugle, Barren Strawberry,Yellow Archangel, Wood Sorrel, Primrose, and Cowslip are in full bloom. There is a fine spell at the moment, but there have been hard frosts in the mornings. In the wetter meadows down the valley, Marsh Marigold and Ladies Smock is in bloom. One or two butterflies are out such as Tortoiseshell, and Brimstone.
 Saw my first queen Wasp yesterday. Got some pictures of Crows, Magpies and a Buzzard feeding on a dead rabbit which I had staked out.  I tried it two days ago and got to the camera just in time to see a fox making off with the rabbit, and that was in the middle of the day! The most interesting thing of late was the discovery of a Green Woodpeckers nest only 6 feet off the ground in an old apple tree. I rigged and open microphone up with a 70 metre cable to the house and got some superb recordings of the bird digging out the hole, and calling. It nearly blew my headphones off when the bird did his loud 'yaffle' cry only 18 inches from the mike!. I found the nest the day he started digging, so I will know exactly how long it takes to complete the nest hole. It is the 10th day now and he is still digging.   A pair of Stock Doves are nesting in the next tree. A Blackbird is feeding young in the nest under a nature reserve sign alcove. Still no Song Thrushes around, but two pairs of the larger Mistle Thrush are nesting. The migrants around the farm are all settled now, but are down in numbers. Those here are Redstarts, Willow Warblers, Chiff Chaffs, Pied Flycatchers, Cuckoo, Wood Warblers, Tree Pipits, and Swallows.
There are several pairs of House Sparrows nesting in boxes in the garden which is good because there is a national decline in the species.  We have some old galvanised sheets laid down around the edge of the meadow and these are great for a number of species. I have just had a look now, and there were several Slow worms, Field Voles, a Toad, and a Wood Mouse. Found a Coal Tit's nest in the ground at the base of an old hazel bush. (That's the tit with the white patch at the back of the neck)
The Oak trees are just breaking bud, and the Blackthorn and Wild Cherry are in full blossom. Saw my first bat of the year
last night, and my wife came across a Glow worm, so things must be warming up.
May 9
Put a few  nest boxes up for the late arrivals as the house sparrows have taken over so many. Saw a strange bird feeding in the meadow this morning. Turned out to be a Wheatear which is very late as they are usually about the first to arrive, often in March. they nest on moorland so he was way off course. Mind you, they often nest down rabbit holes so he could be alright here! Found a beautiful Chaffinch nest, nearly complete, in a bramble patch down the track. I say beautiful, because they decorate the nest with lichens and flower petals. Play woodpecker sound ( Just trying this out) Have not got this streaming rubbish sorted yet. Click on it and see what happens.


May 11 
Well, I've got a phobia about thunder and lightning, and had a good night last night. It blew my modem out. Did some pics of Marsh Marigold this afternoon.  Found a Kingfisher nest site. Will keep you posted.  Also a Grey Wagtail about three metres away. This sudden burst of warm weather has brought the Pipistrelle bats out around the house.
May 16
Well, it's been a bad week for me. This phobia of mine about lightning has really been put to the test. Several short bad storms. I spent most of the time with my bottle of bells and headphones on. The  weather has gone mad. A couple of hot days and then back to cold wet conditions. there seems to have been a second fall of migrants.- many more redstarts about. The chaffinch is sitting and I think the Woodpecker has started to lay. I had an E Mail about some one with small blue butterflies in the garden. These are Holly Blues, and the catterpillars feed on holly and then later, with the second brood, on ivy. The Grey wagtail has got two eggs, and the chaffinch is sitting. Went to the black country museum at the weekend and it was strange to see a Coot nesting on a canal in the grounds, with the nest built almost completely of rubbish, including tin cans and polythene bags. had two Goldfinches in the garden today, which is a bird we don't see very often down here. Somebody wanted to see what it's like where I live, so here's a picture.

This picture was done 
on the CanonXM1 video
camera, as four still shots,
and then joined together.
Not bad eh?

May 25
What a great week it has been for the weather for a change. The fine spell has really brought things on. The chaffinch is still sitting, and the Woodpecker too. The cat has had one Blue Tit out of a box in the garden, so it's a good job the the Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers went somewhere else. I bought the cat for my wife as a 30th wedding anniversary present.  It is a pedigree Burman. I went for the snooty type because I thought that they just sat on silk cushions all day and left the birds alone. She does,- she leaves the sparrows alone, and goes for the good stuff!  
The Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterflies are out in good numbers. It is one of the rare species found in the forest. They are often found where woodland work has gone on, because this attracts violets, which are the food plant of the catterpillars. Saw my first dragonfly of the year today. It was the small blue damsel fly.(Ishnura)  Watched the two mallard duck catching newts in my pond, as they came up to the surface for air. That's  another excuse to give the ducks lead poisoning. It's funny but no matter how long one has been in this game, there is always a surprise around the corner. I got one last Tuesday - it was literally a chance encounter of a lifetime.  I was walking in the forest with my wife and dog, which is an event in it'self. The dog suddenly shot back from the side of a track after disturbing a male Adder. The good bit is though, that it was in the process of swallowing a vole. 

Pearl B Fritillary

Now to see an adder feed in the wild is something that very few people have seen, and most never will.  I had my digital video camera with me,(the Canon XM1) and managed to get some really good footage. The picture here is off the tape. Normally when any snake is eating, they will regurgitate the food. Grass snake often do this. Evidently the Adder bites the prey then waits for the venom to take effect then seeks out the stricken animal. 

   Snakes have jaw bones which come apart so that they can swallow large items, and it was interesting to see this one put his mouth back in place after swallowing the vole. I was telling a friend about this in the pub and  we had been talking about the fact that Kidderminster had lost it's local hospital. He pointed out that if you were walking in the forest and got bitten you would now have to go to Worcester to get a 'semen' injection. I replied that I would probably end up in Afghanistan if anybody tried to inject any semen into me! 

June 1
Well the weather seems to have settled a bit now. The chaffinch has got three young and the Woodpecker is still sitting. Talking about woodpeckers, my wife jean has found another two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers nests with young, all within 400yards of each other. That's 1 Green and Three Greaters we've found now, which is quite a density. It must be all the fat and nuts we give them in the Winter! Tried to sell the Adder footage to the BBC but they don't seem interested. It's strange how birds addapt. I went to B&Q (not an advert) yesterday, and had an ice cream in the car park. Across the way was a small patch of scrub and planted bushes. In full song was a Whitethroat, which is a bird which has declined a great deal in the past few years. Who knows what there might be on Sainsbury's ! Found two Twayblade orchids in the meadow. It has a green flower spike and is the most un-orchid like one could imagine. Went fishing for the first time in a year the other day and had one 10 lb Common carp. The first of the larger hawker Dragonflies are out. It's the large blue bodied one - Libellula depressa. Had an interesting E-Mail from Canada the other day. This couple had found a Ruby Throated Humming birds nest in the garden. Make you sick, doesn't it!

June 5
A bad day!  We had a bantam which has been sitting for 21 days in the shed. The chicks hatched yesterday. Gone this morning, during the day, so it's Magpies or Crows. They got the chaffinch chicks as well. Decided to give them a little lead poisoning- only a warning though, I don't like killing anything really. I shot to the side of them several times, and the corvids, or Crow family learn quickly. I've hardly seen one all day. I staked another rabbit out, and wired it down. There hasn't even been a Buzzard down. I think they know that because there were no Magpies or Crows around that something was wrong.

I did get some nice footage on foxes though. Even they knew there was something not right though. There appears to be one cub and the vixen. Even the cub was extremely nervous. How do they know? Does  the vixen pass on some kind of message that  we  cannot understand? The interesting thing was that the cub ran off across to the other side of the meadow with a mouthful of rabbit, and buried it.    A few minutes later magpies were digging it up. - and the  fox sat and watched! These pics are off the a Canon UC9Hi8. I would never have been able to do stills in the light as it was 8.45.

I'm going up into the top meadow now because I know where the magpies roost. I'll just fire the air gun empty, and it makes a hell of a bang. That should give them the message. Long live conservation. Hope there's no Bogey men up there.

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