Monday, April 23, 2012

Bird time

I've been meaning to write about birds for the past 2 weeks or so mainly because - joys of joys - the first swallows put in appearance at our end of Long Mountain on 14th April. Their arrival coincided with the end of a month of unseasonable warmth and the arrival of a climate which would send any right-minded bird straight back to Africa. A sight to lift the spirits none-the-less.

However, it seems these were passing through. A few days later a lone bird sat on the wire which crosses the lane, slowly and elegantly flexing first one wing and then the other. It was there long enough to raise my hopes that 'our' swallows were indeed back. But nope. Another passer-by. Today another two twittered, tweeted and stretched on the same wind-swept wire before they too launched off into the grey skies which have been this month's signature sky colour.

Chester the 'brave' hunting dog has sniffed out 2 nests: a Dunnock with these most beautiful bright blue eggs and that of a Robin.

The Dunnock has chosen to build in a little topiary ball at the back of the house - not a particularly private or secret spot - as you can see from this rather uninteresting picture of our terrace.

The dog's sensitive nose sniffed out the Robin's nest, beautifully crafted in a clump of sedge and grass - a little soft mossy cup with 4 tiny speckled eggs. We called him away but he obviously filed it away in his dog-brain as some thing which needed further investigation. Two days later he seized the opportunity for a bit of hunting and dived in...emerging with a mouthful of Robin. Why is the death of a Robin the saddest thing?

Chester was chastised and sent to his bed but I'm not sure our rantings will have much effect - he is hard-wired to hunt. It is in his nature. Curiously he has not taken much notice of the pair of ducks which look as if they might set up home near the pond - or maybe their presence has bookmarked for future action too. Advice for all birds around here would be to nest at least 3 feet off the ground.

The Trelystan orchids show promise - last year Powis County Council's hyper-efficient verge mowing team did as instructed by the Wildlife Trust and didn't mow until late summer. They managed to escape predation by sheep, lambs and rabbits as well. Let's hope they have another good year. This is the first one coming into flower - another duff picture as I was too idle to get out of the car.

I hope and believe this stretch of roadside is being treated as a nature reserve - it will be interesting to see what emerges if things are left to grow and seed rather than being scalped.

So. We await swallows and sunshine. The soil is moist though so maybe I should be out there sowing seeds. It's not raining at the moment....carpe diem.


Cro Magnon said...

No Swallows here either, but masses of wild orchids!

Kirsty.a said...

I've never seen a Dunnock's egg. What an amazing colour

Fennie said...

Saw some swifts, high in the sky the other day - at least I think they were swifts - but they were some way off. Yes it's sad when someone destroys a nest, in the case of our local robin, me. And the robin was most put out despite this being late autumn and the nest being in a high tangle of creeping vegetation that had climbed up the wall and was making inroads into the roof. A wonderful nest but I want to know - first, how hatchlings without feathers survive at all and especially during a week of drenching rain when the nest doesn't have a roof - why (doesn't it have a roof, it wouldn't be difficult to make)? Why do you need to be a weaver bird to make a nest with a roof? Second, how do you hardwire the making of something as complicated as a nest into a bird's DNA - what is the genome sequence that reads 'nest?' Why hasn't anyone worked this out?

Sarah Tavenner said...

The swallows are back here in France in force despite torrential rain and winds, they must be regretting coming back I imagine , weather is more suited to ducks!

elizabethm said...

The blue of those eggs is fantastic. The orchids are beautiful too. Amazing how such a simple change as changing the mowing time is all it needs to conserve such lovely things. We have no swallows yet. I am watching and waiting!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Since they've stopped scalping the verges here , there have been many more butterflies and bees . And the spot-checks ( by satellite , I imagine ) on fields has controlled the use of weedkillers and scarey fertilisers , too , making life much more pleasant for grebes and ducks and things that croak , slither and swim .
A vast improvement all round , in fact .

Frances said...

Mountaineer, from you I have learned the name of a gloriously beautiful color, Dunnock's egg blue. (If I were to try to draw/paint a picture from your photo, would you permit me?}

It must have been hard to know that the robins' nest had been revisited. It's reading posts like this that give my city eyes a much better idea of what the country really is like.

On a happier note, the sensitive timing of hedgerow trimming does seem successful.

Over here in New York, we had long sustained rain beginning late Saturday and finally finishing before dawn today (Monday) ... how we needed it.

My pollenated eyes are thankful, and I am sure that lots of plantlife agrees.


Twiglet said...

As we sat in the Lowfield having tea last night we noticed one lone swallow on a wire. Do you know if there are any tables left at the craft fair on Saturday?