Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Commons are alive with the sound of Pee-wits!

So Spring is well and truly upon us! The good weather recently has certainly lifted the spirits and things are heating up on the Commons.....for the birds of course!
We now have a lovely collection of Lapwings, with approx 10 males seen on one day....which is encouraging. 2 pairs of Ringed Plovers remain and Little Ringed Plovers have finally been heard and seen over Crookham Pools :)
Over 200 Golden Plovers are currently well settled on the Fireplane gravels, enjoying a bit of sunbathing perhaps before heading up north to breed! Other sightings include Redshanks, Great Black Backed Gull, Skylark, Woodlark, Dartford Warblers and Stonechat

Much to the annoyance of some local birders perhaps....I saw a male Black Redstart again in more or less the same spot as the previous week! Didn't even have to bribe it with custard creams! ;)
Its really quite a treat....going from never having seen one to seeing 2 in as many weeks. May well be the same bird but nonetheless exciting! :)
Several Wheatears have also been seen, including one female!

 Slow on the ol' ringing front recently.....too much work and not enough play! Ringed a lone Redpoll thanks to the Newbury Ringing Group, but thats all for now! Next week will hopefully be a good time to get some more done :)

I've also discovered a new hobby....Moths!! Until recently I quite literally knew nothing about I can say I know almost nothing....its a start! ;)
I'd never really got involved in mothing before, but now I wish I'd started earlier...they really are very cute!! 'Cute' probably isn't the most scientifically valid way to describe them, but it works for me! After having one sit quite happily on my hand for a while I've taken quite a shine to them.!! No pun intended!
The night included for example lots of Small and Common Quakers, March Moths and an Engrailed.......all completely new to me!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The weather-man is a bad bad man!!

So....the first full week as a warden has come to an end...a week of confusing rain, post hammering and being searched for by the police....Oops! The weather has made life complicated to say the least....fog, wind, foggy rain, ridiculously horizontal rain, a teeny bit of sun and SNOW!! Needless to say, visitors have been a bit thin on the ground on the Common!!
The birds on the other hand are out in force! :) Its that wonderful time of year again, where the first signs of nesting behaviour are starting everywhere and territorial displays can be seen all over the Common. At least 2 pairs of Ringed Plovers appear to be settling in nicely (and loudly!) on an area known as the 'Fireplane' gravels, named as such due to the presence of a 'fireplane'; a large metal plane once used by the military for  fire practice. The gravels in front of the Fireplane and many others within the Common provide a wonderful habitat for ground nesting species, such as Little Ringed Plovers, Woodlark and Lapwing. Over 50 Golden Plovers have also been seen on many occasions on these gravels on their passage further north.
Much to my excitement, I saw my first Dartford Warbler of the year on Thursday in some deep gorse, on an area called the 'Runway Cross', several have been spotted since which is encouraging. A Northern Wheatear also made an appearance on Monday!! Elsewhere, Skylarks can be heard everyday, along with plenty of Stonechats, Dunnocks, Green Woodpeckers and even the occasional Great Crested Grebe :)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

A rather pleasant pheasant....and my first proper day!

So today was my first day of actual wardening after lots of training fun! Admittedly this was spent mostly hammering posts into the ground and rescuing little wooden posts from trees, but the less said about that bit the better! :)

Greenham Common really is a wonderful place to work and I can't help but feel really quite honoured to work there; so much history in one place and so many wonderful wildlife-related adventures to come.

Today was a foggy start, so any sort of bird watching while we worked was out the window.....but that didn't stop us listening...mostly to the Skylarks :) Its easy to become a bit complacent when you hear birds every day, but I don't think I could ever get bored of listening to these iconic birds. While taking a break from the aforementioned hammering we spotted 3 skylarks darting around the pools at Crookham Common, we suspect in some sort of (very noisy) breeding display.

As part of my job I'll be helping to monitor the breeding of Skylarks on the Commons as well as other ground or near-ground nesting species, such as the Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Ringer Plover and Woodlark. Needless to say I am very excited and will keep you posted with how things go over the next few months.

Other birds heard today included a woodlark, dunnock, a red kite, robins and lots of other garden birds. I did have a rather odd encounter with a pheasant on the drive home....after slowing down at the sight of him...he stopped in the middle of the road, looked at me....then continued to saunter across the road at an alarmingly slow pace. If ever there appeared to be a bird that wanted to be was him! Odd but rather charming!