I will start today’s post with an update on the nests I have been following. Last week I introduced you to the collared dove that is nesting on the bracket of our satellite dish. It had laid two eggs.
Yesterday there the mother was not sat on the nest which has been very unusual over the past week. I went and had a closer look at the nest from an upstairs window and discovered it was empty. Something had taken the eggs.
We have a magpie who is a regular visitor to our garden and it is likely it found the nest and ate the eggs. It’s easy to feel sad about this but it’s nature. The magpies will be laying eggs soon so this meal can help to give them the energy to build their nest and look after their young. Our collared doves will likely try again elsewhere and maybe they will have learnt their lesson about building a nest in such an obvious place. Only a few hundred yards down the road is this nest which is harder to reach.
Having better luck are the Bournemouth peregrines who this week managed to lay another two eggs, bringing the batch up to four (the same as last year).
The eggs should start hatching around the 20th April. At the moment the eggs are being incubated virtually 24/7- this experienced pair certainly know what they are doing.
With Spring well and truly underway, the early butterflies are now fluttering around. I’ve seen a fair few brimstones around and also some peacocks which look absolutely stunning in the Spring sunlight.
I have also noticed plenty of early bees and hoverflies buzzing around too. You would have thought pollen was limited at this time of year but this Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax) is covered in it!
Fortunately I saw this adult rather than the maggot form as they sound really unpleasant. Tapered drone flies have ‘rat-tailed maggots’, the long tail acting like a snorkel as the organism breathes underwater. These larvae prefer water badly polluted with organic matter such as drainage ditches and pools around manure piles and sewage.
Not far away I saw some roe deer in a field.
There were six deer here, five does and one buck. I can’t work out where these deer come from. There is the herd I usually see by the Avon not too far away and the lower New Forest deer are even closer but from either direction the deer would have to walk through built-up areas.
These deer will lose this site soon. A large development is being built on this site, at least sixty homes and likely more if the next phase of planning permission is granted. This is green belt land where I’ve also seen a kestrel hunting and a flock of meadow pipits. Then there’s the other environmental effects, like how this will affect the water drainage and adding even more cars to the local roads. In their wisdom New Forest District Council have decided none of that matters.
Let’s end on a happier note shall we? Here’s one more nest I’ve seen this week, a mute swan.
As I’d been hoping, the peregrine falcons nesting in the a clock tower in Bournemouth laid their first eggs this week. The first was laid sometime in the early hours of the 16th March.
Then a second egg was laid at some point on the 18th March.
Peregrines usually have a clutch of 3-4 eggs so I would expect one more egg to be laid in the coming days. The eggs should begin to hatch around about the 20th April. Getting these glimpses of the eggs was tricky as the majority of the time the mother has been sat on the eggs, keeping them warm.
Meanwhile I’m really excited to have another nest to be able to share with you and this one is very close to home. Some Collared Doves have decided to nest on the bracket of our satellite dish!
This is surprisingly a common place for this species to nest. Collared doves are one of the few species that benefit from living close to humans. They actually only nested in the UK for the first time in 1956 and the nest then was heavily guarded. Satellite dishes are actually decent nesting sites as they are well away from predators and if their is bird food around then there is a ready supply of food- like we have in our garden.
The position of the dish means it is very close to one of our windows which means from the right spot we can see directly into the nest.
As you can see there are two eggs in the nest. This is the usual clutch size of collared doves and their may be as many as nine clutches in a year! They take about 14 days to hatch but I’m not totally sure when these were laid- hopefully they will hatch successfully and we will have some chicks within the next two weeks.
When I’ve been out and about this week I’ve seen lots of birds singing and displaying. The breeding season is here and as a result birds are suddenly very visible and audible. Here are a few of my favourites:
Little Egret (with a particularly long plume)
Great Crested Grebe
This week I’ve noticed that the wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) have come into flower.
For most of the year these plants are not visible- they are just ‘rhizomes’, a sort of lumpy root under the soil. In early Spring they grow out of the ground and flower from now until May. They are actually ineffective at spreading via seeds and mostly spread through their roots which is why you can get carpets of wood anemones in some woodland.
Finally, let’s end with a fungus!
I’ve been all through my fungi book but still have no idea what this is. It looks spectacular though!
If you want more regular updates on the peregrines and collared doves then you can follow me on Twitter @dangoeswild1. You can also find the peregrine webcam here– I’ve just watched the male feed a pigeon to the female!
Spring is so very close now and the temperature is starting to reflect this. We seem to have spent much of the week here trapped in mist which doesn’t feel very spring-like at all.
I found these wild primroses (Primula vulgaris) this week. The colour of the flowers vary but these are the more common pale yellow colour. The name comes from the old French ‘primerose’ meaning ‘first rose’, highlighting the fact it is one of the earliest flowering plants of the year. Despite the name it bears no relation to true roses.
Not far from these primroses I spotted this grey squirrel munching on something on top of a fence.
It is likely that this squirrel has recently had a litter of young, or is about to. Grey squirrels usually have two litters a year, the first around February/March and the second around June/July. This is likely to be a male squirrel as females are probably with their young in the drey at the moment. Male grey squirrels do not form pair bonds so don’t worry about looking after their young, hence why this individual looks so relaxed!
My other mammal spot of the week were the Avon roe deer. They appeared to be very relaxed when I saw them today, sat on the grass.
Here we can see a female (doe) and a male (buck). This particular doe caught my attention as she is unusually pale for this herd of deer. The colour of the buck is typical for the deer I’ve seen by the Avon but this doe is much lighter. It’s always interesting to see the natural variation of animals, especially when they are likely to have fairly similar genetics. This doe should be easy to identify so I shall name her Sandy and look out for her in future.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting by first butterfly of the year and it appeared today. I didn’t get a great view so couldn’t be sure on the species but from my limited view and the time of year it seems likely it was a brimstone.
I also saw my first moth of the year yesterday, sat on a fence post on the cliff top in Bournemouth. It’s probably a Common Plume moth but is certainly a member of the plume (Pterophoridae)family.
Whilst I was in Bournemouth I also had a look for the peregrine falcons that nest in the clock tower of Bournemouth and Poole college. There were plenty of pigeons around the building, an excellent source of food for the peregrines, but no sign of the falcons themselves. Fortunately there is a handy webcam of their nesting eyrie.
This screenshot was taken this morning where the falcon appeared to be tidying up the nest. Last year the female falcon laid the first eggs in the early hours of the 15th March. If that’s typical then we can expect the eggs to be laid this week! The pair of peregrines successfully raised three young in 2016, two males and a female- with any luck they will do just as well this year.
I shall be keeping an eye on the webcam and will be eagerly awaiting the eggs. You can do the same on this link.
It’s been a wet start to March here in Hampshire. The lawns and fields are waterlogged and the streams are as high as they ever get. All this means it’s been really tricky to get outside and photograph wildlife. Nonetheless I’ve been out between rain showers to see what I could find.
The local daffodils are looking at their best right now. It’s often hard to work out whether some daffodils have been planted or are wild but to me it doesn’t really matter.
Daffodils are scientifically known as narcissi, members of the narcissusgenus. There are thousands of different varieties thanks how much they have been bred over the centuries. The narcissus genus developed around 24 millions years ago in the Iberian peninsula.
A less familiar flower I’ve spotted this week is the sweet or English violet (Viola odorata).
This flowers blooms much earlier in the year than other members of the family and is often found at the edge of woods and in clearings- I found it on the edge of the path in the wooded area next to the fishing lake.
I was pleased to see two great crested grebes on the fishing lake this week.
They didn’t show much interest in each other but as you can see they were close together. Last year I didn’t see a second grebe on the lake until May so perhaps there is a better chance of the birds breeding this year.
The lake mallards are often seen in groups of up to five in the winter but over the last few weeks they have paired off, like the couple below.
The number of starlings in the garden has increased over the last few weeks- there is often more than twenty on the lawn or in the trees.
They are always aggressive to each other and noisy but they are worse than ever right now. They spend so much time fighting that they hardly get to spend any time actually eating. I’ve also noticed how shiny and colourful they are looking at the moment.
In between the rain today I headed to the river Avon, where the floodplains are considerably wetter than they were a week ago. This didn’t seem to bother the mute swans though as it provided a bonus feeding opportunity.
With few people around due to the rain, the roe deer had ventured very near the path today giving me an unprecedented clear view at two different bucks. From the antlers I think this buck is probably two years old and was with a doe which was obscured by trees.
I also saw this older buck which is probably at least three years old.
As you can see this buck has quite a gash on its lower neck, possibly from the rutting season. You could see it a little more clearly when it was having a clean:
The wound looked like it had healed other than the fur and the buck seemed perfectly healthy. The roe deer are fairly shy but this one wasn’t bothered by me being so close to it at all.