Holey Sunday

Sunday left no doubt that spring has sprung. Cranford Park was bathed in warm, golden sunlight and avian activity had stepped up a fair few degrees since my previous visit last weekend.

The good news is we have at least one pair of Kestrel looking to breed at Cranford. Activity around the nesting site continued this weekend with Wendy witnessing more territorial behaviour by the male bird and actual mating on Saturday. On Sunday I saw the male bringing food to the nest and brief glimpses of the female sitting within it. Such is the superb location of the nest that clear photo’s are hard to get at the moment. Should a Crow, Wood-pigeon or Jackdaw come too close though, the male is up and chasing them away.

The other signifier of spring activity is the competition for the many nesting holes in the ancient woodland. As per last year, the Ring-necked Parakeets have started first and can already be seen popping in and out of this prime real estate. These brightly coloured, noisy birds continue to dominate the woodland and seem at their most numerous in the early spring.
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I also saw both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers house-hunting on Sunday and heard some very loud drumming at one stage, undoubtedly coming from a Great Spotted. Last year the Green Woodpeckers lost out against the Parakeets for nesting holes. The sheer numbers of the Parakeets made it very hard for the Green Woodpeckers to compete for suitable spots. There are a few signs that this year may see at least one pair of Greenies nesting in the woodland. Watch this space!

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Also in the hunt for rooms with a woodland view this weekend was a clattering of Jackdaws. Yes, a “clattering” is the collective noun for these corvids although “train” is also used. There were a good dozen or more Jackdaws investigating nesting holes, mostly congregating in the area just behind the Headland.

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The small running brook at the back of the woodland had six Mallards enjoying it’s shady cover. As is often the case, drakes outnumbered the females almost two to one but pairings seemed to have already been made.
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Also putting in appearances today were the usual Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Crow, Magpie, Coot, Dunnock, Jay and one of springs regular visitors, Chiffchaffs who’s calls could be heard intermittently throughout the morning.

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Four Buzzard’s also put in a high-level appearance mid-morning, circling over the woodland at the Harlington end of the park. This is certainly the most I have seen at one time over Cranford.
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Commensurate with the weather, were butterflies and bees. Butterflies seen were Peacock, Brimstone and Green-veined White but they were very flighty, possibly due to the paucity of flowering blooms at the moment. The gradual blooming of the trees and flowers should see the butterfly and bee activity increase over the coming weeks.

As the spring and summer migrant birds start to arrive on our shores who knows what may turn up at Cranford? Last year’s Pied Flycatcher perhaps? We await with interest.

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