April was a particularly strange month weather-wise. You expect fairly warm temperatures with lots of showers. Towards the end of the month the temperature was a fair way below average and we were having frosts, snow and hail which is particularly unusual in the South of England in April.
Still, whilst the weather might not realise it’s Spring the wildlife certainly seems to. Activity on our garden feeders has increased dramatically. As well as the continuous rush of house sparrows and starlings we are now regularly visited by a few blackbird and pairs of both robins and goldfinches. I love all the birds that come to the garden but the goldfinches are so beautiful it’s always a particular joy to seem them.
Various migrants are returning for the warmer months. There are now plenty of swallows swooping over the local lake and I saw my first swift of the Spring this afternoon. I’ve also heard several cuckoos over the last few weeks in the New Forest.
I saw a particularly exciting migrant this morning which trumps the others though: a black kite. I was driving to Salisbury and got a really clear view of the bird flying fairly close to the road. Initially I thought it was a red kite but the colour and look was slightly wrong. I later discovered that a black kite was spotted at Blashford Lakes on Saturday. Given that I was 11 miles further North two days later I think it’s likely this was the same bird. You can see a picture of that exact bird taken at Blashford here.
Black Kites migrate to Africa in the Winter and breed commonly across Southern Europe and Central France. They are pushing slowly Northward but are occasional overshoot migrants in Britain. Blashford Lakes have several records of them over recent years though so perhaps they are a bird we will be seeing more of in years to come.
In other bird of prey news it looks like Bournemouth’s Peregrine Falcons are doing well. Three of the four eggs have now hatched and look to be doing well. They seemed to be really enjoying a feed of what was probably a pigeon as you can see below. I promise you there’s three chicks there somewhere! It’s possible that the fourth egg may yet hatch but only time will tell. You can watch the peregrine 24/7 here.
I thought it might be interesting to seek out some other local bird webcams and I’ve found several.
Over in Poole Harbour is Brownsea Island and Dorset Wildlife Trust has a webcam on the lagoon there. It mostly seems to be occupied by black-headed gulls at the moment but over the few years since the camera was set up 75 different species of bird have been seen there. Unlike nest cameras this one runs 365 days a year and if anything is even more interesting in the Winter. You can view it here.
Also on Poole Harbour is the RSPB’s Arne Nature Reserve which currently hosts a webcam in a Kestrel nest. There are five eggs in the nest, all of which have yet to hatch. You can see them below, although unfortunately I missed getting a shot of the mother sat on the eggs. You can see the webcam by clicking here.
I shall keep my eye out for other local webcams as well as keeping you updated on these ones.
To end, here’s my only recent wildlife photo and not a very good one- a female fallow deer hidden in the trees. It might take you a second to spot it!