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Ford and Etal

Northumbrian wildlife unfolds, despite cold weather

Other posts by  |  Kevin OHara on Google+ |  April 9, 2013 | 0 Comments
A dipper, photographed near Kevin's local stream. Credit: Kevin O'Hara

A dipper, photographed near Kevin’s local stream. Credit: Kevin O’Hara

As I write at the start of April it is still very cold but at least the sun is out and in the lee of things can be quite warm. So fingers crossed the weather will continue to improve as this time last year we were being bombarded with awful weather after a record breaking warm March and many spring migrant birds never reach our shores.

I heard my first chiff chaff at the weekend, a little later than last year and fur plucked from one of my terriers has been hastily gathered by the garden birds to line nests. The kittiwakes have returned to their bridge and the lesser black backed gulls to the roof top of the former Davy Roll factories. The latter’s chicks keep me entertained whilst waiting in traffic as they balance precariously on the sloping roof often sliding like clumsy skiers on the piste for the first time, backwards to the bottom.

What is even more amazing that despite being bitterly cold the ground is actually starting to dry allowing some farmer to replant and sow spring crops and for me to actually venture to my allotment and dig it over. There you can unwind enjoy the warmth of the sun sheltering behind the hedge, the suns warm rays have been slowly drying out my ‘mud patch’. It was hear I heard my first chiff chaff last year and this year was the same but it was another song that took my attention skyward. A flock of noisy chattering jackdaws were taking in some thermals but amongst the soaring high on broad wings were a couple of buzzards, mewing like frightened cats they were back in the area they nested in last year. To some it might not seem that remarkable but to me who has lived in this neighbourhood for fifty years it is as remarkable and as amazing as the first English ospreys. And here they were above my head and the former miners cottages.

They were soon joined by another and then another until the four of them drifted towards the hill and the nesting area, so hopefully we will have two pairs nesting locally this year if the weather stays good. Walking the dogs later in the week I noticed there were still plenty of winter thrushes about in quite large flocks and the lapwing were actually settling down to try and breed, I noticed several newly excavated depressions and birds on fields over the Easter weekend. Last year they had a dismal time with few successes due to bad weather so hopefully this year will be better.

The hare’s have still been active in my area I’ve seen a few out cavorting which is always fun they seem to switch off to your presence at times and just continue their madness as if you not there it can be quite a sight. Down near the water, dippers are already breeding on my local stream and fresh otter spraints indicate an otter has been abroad too but it has taken until the 1st April to see and hear my first sand martins along the burn and over the adjacent ponds. Three birds were searching desperately for a tasty morsel, still it is better than their arrival last year which was just one long downpour whence they must have been thinking just exactly why have I travelled thousands of miles for this.

That said they are here now and hopefully there will be more to come this month as there is usually a big influx of migrants throughout late April whilst all the winter visitors are heading back to the tundra, or maybe not if this cold continues?

A brown hare. Credit: Kevin O'Hara

A brown hare. Credit: Kevin O’Hara

I’ll finish on a sad note this month as anyone who walks the northeast coastline will tell you the storms of late March have put pay to countless seabirds who have been unable to feed in the rough seas. Thousands of puffin, guillemots and other auks have been washing up on the coastline dead or starving. It’s hard not to be emotive about such disasters but this is nature and it is what happens from time to time; at least we can be thankful that the tanker that ran aground on the Farne Isles has now been re-floated and removed to safety without any damage. I would dread to think what would have happened, at this time of the year, if the hull had ruptured and fuel oil spilled out just as the breeding season is about to kick off.

So this month its onwards and upwards as weather warms and the spring blooms start to appear start to listen for the first migrant songs from willow warblers, blackcaps and early whitethroats with swallows overhead. On the ground the first leaves should start to burst quickly one the temperatures rise and plants like ransoms flower by the end of the month. So lets all think positive and bring on the warmer weather I have a new barbie I bought last year and I still haven’t used it

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Category: Northumbria Wildlife

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