We met for the fourth of the ‘Our Patch’ meetings on a bright sunny day with a light westerly wind and a temperature of around 13-14° and set to rise. It was noticeable that birdsong in the car park area was less than the previous month and trees and bushes more advanced with leaves beginning to show their shapes as they emerge; the Ash trees were especially distinctive with their reddish ‘cauliflower-type’ buds found only on the male trees. Butterflies were plentiful and we saw Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Painted Lady as well as some unidentified white butterflies and also a yellow one – the Peacocks were the most abundant and were predominantly on Dandelions. There were many hovering insects, tiny flies, several 7-spot Ladybirds and an active bees nest in a Poplar tree. A Skylark sang above the field to the north of the railway line and another over the field beside the river. On a young Hawthorn bush near the bungalow a nest of wriggling, small caterpillars were encased in an elongated web along a branch and around the leaves. The Weeping Willow near the barns displayed bright yellow catkins and the hum of insects around them was clearly heard; beneath it was a swathe of flowering Violets.
The tide was ebbing but with only a little exposed mud there were not many waders feeding. On the seawall we spotted the first lizard of the year. In the marina swam a Little Grebe and pairs of both Moorhen and Mallard.
Hitherto the former Caravan Park has produced many birds but today just a Magpie was sighted and a Swallow overhead. Leaves had appeared on the Horse Chestnut but were not yet fully developed. A few flowering Bluebells growing beside the copse near the dyke were an unexpected delight. Finally on the meadow we saw a pair of Green Woodpeckers and lastly, soaring overhead, a Common Buzzard,
Birds: Chaffinch 1, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit 4, (2) Dunnock (2), Wren, Skylark 3, Starling, Swallow, Magpie 7 (4), Wood Pigeon 6 (2), Jackdaw (8), Green Woodpeckers (2) Oystercatcher 3, Little Grebe, Moorhen (2), Mallard (2), Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull 10, Common Buzzard (Heard – Chiffchaff, Great Tit 2 & Pheasant) – numbers in brackets are those seen in one sighting.
Flowers: Dandelion, Red & White Deadnettle, Common Dog Violets, Gorse, Common Field Speedwell, Daisy, Groundsel, Chickweed, Cow Parsley, Bluebell, Smooth Sow Thistle & yet to flower Cleavers or Sticky Willie.
Other: Butterflies – Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell & Painted Lady, 7-spot Ladybird, Lizard and Bumble Bees.
‘Our Patch’ (5) Friday 1st May – meet 9.00 Burnham Marina Car Park – all U3A members welcome
13th May – Tollesbury – Meet 10.00 in the Woodrolfe Green Free Car Park (on the left about 350m from the riverside & sail lofts).