Not So Quiet On The Nesting Front

It was back to the local patch this weekend. The salty, breezy air of North Berwick was a distant memory as I pulled into the car park at Cranford Park. Saturday’s weather was wonderful though, bright sunshine and warm, rather than hot temperatures, bathed the park.

I made firstly for the Great Spotted Woodpecker nest seen on my last visit, but despite waiting for some time there was no sign of activity. The same went for the now almost totally obscured Wren’s nest. From there I made my way to what has been the most active nesting spot of late, the Green Woodpecker hole.

On arrival it was a case of deja vu, two Ring-necked Parakeets were once again paying the nest hole some very close attention.

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I waited on the usual log and heard two different sets of Green Woodpecker laughing calls but no sign of the resident male. The Parakeets continued to probe away until something caused them to fly off. Seconds later and the male was back on the tree checking out the hole again and as I watched him, he was responding to the other woodpecker call coming from around this part of the woods.

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I returned later with Sue and Wendy, and whilst they were watching two males confronting each other on opposite sides of the nesting tree, I saw a long bill protrude from the hole. With one of the males conceding ground, we moved around for a better view of the nest hole. Despite the height and poor light, we all agreed it looks very much like a female is in situ inside the tree.

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Although a brief visit on Saturday, there was plenty to be seen. Along with the above, I saw plenty of Long-tailed Tits and Great Tits, one Red Kite being mobbed by corvids and one Buzzard attracting the same attention. As Wendy and I made our way across the headland, we had a very quick sighting of one Kestrel heading into the copse on the cellars. Whitethroats are now present in good numbers around the headland and butterfly numbers are increasing all the time. Orange Tips were the dominant species seen on Saturday.

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I arrived a little earlier on Sunday morning, just after 9.30. The first thing that greeted me was a large, noisy flock of Long-tailed Tits making their way across the trees adjacent to the Information Centre. I walked along the path next to the Ha-Ha Wall serenaded by hidden Blackcaps and Chiffchafs until reaching the Great Spotted Woodpecker tree. A few short moments and I saw the male arrive, the female shooting out of the hole to greet her partner.

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It looks very good for this pair now, a settled nest and fingers crossed for a healthy brood in the coming weeks.

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The Green Woodpecker was already on his tree as I arrived at the watching spot. Although challenging calls could still be heard in the area, they were not as loud or as frequent as Saturday. This pair have had to work very hard to establish this nesting spot and although they now seem established I don’t think it will be plain sailing.

While quietly watching the family Green, a very confiding Wren appeared almost in touching distance to me.

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Clutching in his bill what looks very much like nest lining material, we sat and stared at each other for a good two to three minutes.

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Nests checked, I made for the Headland. One Buzzard soared over-head, sending Crows and Jackdaws into the air to mob it away. The latest summer visitors, Whitethroats were a little more accommodating today and I managed a few pictures.

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I decided to move across the headland and check out the open area towards Cranford itself. With Skylarks heard on both days this weekend and infrequent sightings in the past of Meadow Pipits in the past I thought this a good chance to see what was out there in the open areas of the park.

As I made my way across, a male Kestrel flew over me into the woods, seeming to make a line directly for where we believe the Kestrel nest to be. I then noticed movement low down on the ground and thought I had Meadow Pipits but they moved away too fast to confirm. I settled down on the grass and played the waiting game.

Not Meadow Pipits but a Song Thrush.

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In fact it was two Song Thrushes. They were making regular, low-flying runs from the Ice House copse to this hawthorn bush. A possible nest? I will certainly be popping back to this hawthorn next time to see if these two are still around.

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One definite nest was my last stop of the day. The nesting box opposite the Information Centre is home to a very busy Great Tit couple who are making regular food sorties.

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Wendy, Sue and I saw them taking insects from the brickwork and eaves of the Information Centre on Saturday. At least one exit from the nestbox – one of the Great Tits carrying a fecal sac, a sure sign that young have hatched in the box.

Butterflies were in good number again today, this Small Tortoiseshell being the pick of the bunch.

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The season is moving apace at Cranford. Parakeet presence is down in noise and number compared to a month ago. I am fairly sure they like to breed early which would explain their lower profile now. Sunday also saw both Swift and Swallow cross the park during the morning.

Chiffchaff noise has also reduced, replaced by alarm calling Blackcaps and attention seeking Whitethroats. Fingers crossed our woodpecker and Kestrel nests are successful and the coming month or so sees some fledglings around the place.

For more pics, please check out the Flickr page.

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