Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eyes opened early on a bright Monday morning to Chiffchaff song in woodland round about; at least a week earlier than expected, ten days earlier than last year. This morning, a superb cock Wheatear stands on the gunwales of a beached rowboat on estuary sands: black highwayman mask; slate-blue back & wings; peach-tinged gorge shading to clear buff; also a week early. Blue skies, warm sun, and milky seas, all in silver haze this morning: two roseate-white & black-streaked drake Goosander ‘snorkelling’ in shallow water just off shore, bottle-green heads and red bills contrasting with ginger ‘bobbed’ head plumes of a single female nearby. Walking back down the concrete breakwater, buzzing calls of first Sand Martins float across the tidal lagoon, returning to nesting burrows in a sand cliff behind the harbour.

Yesterday was warm enough in sun to attract the first Viviparous Lizard of the year from hibernation, sufficiently torpid to photograph. At the weekend, a kitchen light left on over-night attracted moths, including a superb, white & grey mottled Oak Beauty.

Last Saturday was the annual kids’ Frogspawn session. Several pairing Toads remained impassive even when netted out of ditch bottoms, smaller male piggybacked on larger females; two sets of orange-ringed eyes unblinking throughout. This year, no signs of Otter biting off legs and discarding mutilated bodies, but ditch bottoms are still littered with dead Toads: females smothered by a clutching ball of amorous males, or another mammal eating Toad meat whilst avoiding poisonous pustules. Interestingly, spawn in puddles & ditches is all in masses as laid by Frogs, but only Toads were found. This year, the pond held a number of Toads, plopping into water from rushy banks, scattered heads & orange eyes watching from a bed of floating weed, but no strings of spawn to date.

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1 comment:

Simon D said...

Brian - really enjoying your weekly wildlife diary. All the best to the family - Simon