Compared to earlier in the year the weather over the last month has been relatively dry, except for yesterday and overnight when rain did fall. The day was overcast with the clouds breaking up later in the morning when the sun shone through; there was a chill wind. In the car park there were Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Chaffinch and Blue Tits. Entering the grass area north of the marina we come upon a clump of budding flowers very similar to narcissus but also very much resembling something from the Allium family. We pulled a bud apart and it evolved into a decorative green head – Sue J is going to try and identify it. The local Park Keeper came along to clear litter and expressed an interest in the plant asking us to let him know our findings – he seemed genuinely pleased that we were showing an interest in the area.
The spring growth was not much further forward than last month except for Blackthorn (prunus spinosa), which was partially in flower – the flowers appear before the leaves and are white with conspicuous red anthers. There was quite a difference between the each blackthorn bush; some had balls of blossom about to burst and others were flush with open flowers and some had leaves starting to develop. One slightly taller bush had marginally larger flowers with slightly yellowish anthers.
At the foot of the Scots Pine there were fresh burrows, most likely rabbits, and also nearby there were many fresh mole hills. Along this stretch beside the railway line and also in the car park we noticed there was much less birdsong than last month perhaps due to the duller weather.
The bungalow has newly planted hedges along its eastern and southern boundaries. A short way on, beneath a willow tree, flowering clumps of Common Dog Violets grew and opposite, on the wires, were perched two Mistle Thrushes, possibly the same pair we saw in this area last month. We searched in the mud for traces of Muntjac Deer but couldn’t find any clear signs of them; there were many worm casts. A few berries remained on the ivy plants and the gorse was still in flower. On our left in a field a Skylark sang high in the sky and then plummeted to the ground. A short while later we saw another rise up from the saltings and watched, and listened to it as it ascended and then the first one rose up too.
This southerly section was interesting for the many birds we heard: Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird, to name a few, and the sound of a Green Woodpecker’s yapping call. A small flock of Starlings flew over the saltings, landed and disappeared into the vegetation; then they rose, flew around and landed once more. Four Brent Geese flew up river and a lone Cormorant flew in the opposite direction. Several Black-headed Gulls, now with their summer plumage, flew over.
In the dyke on our left a Little Egret poked around in the mud, a pair of Mallards swam in the water and we heard a Moorhen. With the river at about half tide there was plenty of exposed mud but few waders were feeding, just three Oystercatchers and a Redshank. On the top of the seawall and on the landward side were several fresh molehills. Nearing the marina we saw five more Oystercatchers, an adult Herring Gull with two immature gulls and in the marina a pair of Mallard, another Oystercatcher and a Redshank – all on the western side.
In Riverside Park, near a small pond at the southern end, a cherry tree gave a splash of colour with its bright pink blossoms. From the reeds in the pond beside it a Little Egret rose up as did another later on from a larger pond; this latter one was a special sight to see as it rose slowly above the reeds, leisurely flapped its wings, drew in its head, stretched out its legs and flew off. In a tree near the car park we spotted a small brown bird singing. We spent a long time looking at it through our binoculars, creeping nearer and trying to identify it. When we were quite close a man came along and shouted to us, ‘Are you bird watching? and of course the LBJ flew off. We managed to find it again in some nearby bushes with several others and identified them as Linnet.
In the former caravan park area there was much birdsong and having heard Greenfinch from the other side of the hedge we were now able to spot a pair. The dyke there still remained untidy with vegetation and rubbish but a Mallard bravely tried to swim through the tangle. Reaching the meadow, and after having heard their call throughout the morning, we finally caught sight of a pair of Green Woodpeckers.
Birds: Chaffinch, Greenfinch (2), Blue Tit 8(3), Great Tit 2, Wren, Robin 4, Linnet (3), Blackbird 8, Skylark (2), Pied Wagtail, Mistle Thrush (2), Starlings (20), Wood Pigeon 23(6), Magpie 8, Green Woodpecker (2), Crow 4, Little Egret 3, Mallard 6 (2), Oystercatcher 8 (5), Redshank 3, Herring Gull (3) Black-headed Gull 31 (20), Cormorant, Brent Geese (4), heard Dunnock and Moorhen,
Flowers: Dandelion, Red Dead-nettle, Common Dog Violets, Gorse, Common Field Speedwell, Daisy, Groundsel, Yarrow, Blackthorn, Pussy Willow (Goat Willow).