Friday, March 28, 2008

Despite the Arctic weather, the past week has been very, very busy at Scrag with 2 woodland birds courses as well as getting several jobs done that needed to be completed before the start of the Spring/Summer seasons. This included getting more willow whips into the ground so that they take root in this growing season. I would estimate that I've now planted 45-50 to form the lose 'scrubby' hedge mentioned earlier as well as planted generally around the edges of New Meadow. I've added to the hedge some hawthorns and blackthorns transplanted from an area I want to keep clear.

I've never experienced Scrag Copse in the spring and I am amazed at the carpets of ground flora I have. Bluebells (some already in flower!) and dog's mercury appear very evident meaning that I'm very concious of where I can walk now. There are also primroses and violets dotted throughout the wood. Some areas, however, predominantly the thicker areas, are devoid of ground flora and this is a good indicator to me of where to 'thin' next autumn. This thinning will benefit the remaining tree species as well as allowing more light down to the ground layer, encouraging more flower species.

Two birds have dominated the weeks activity. First the barn owl is definitely using the barn owl box, there are fresh white droppings below the box and in some of the branches immediately outside the entrance. I also found a nice, fresh pellet underneath, which I am drying so I can dissect it, lovely!! The views I am having of this owl are incredible, mainly because he is coming out surprisingly early each day, sometimes as early as 4pm, but also because he flies in surprising habitats such as straight through the wood itself and not sticking to a barn owls usual grassland habitat.

On Tuesday, while showing Filma Dyer, from Sussex Wildlife Trust around the wood, we had specatcular views of a lesser spotted woodpecker feeding and foraging at low level on some of the dead fallen trees around the stream. I heard a lesser spot last year calling, but this is the first sighting and as you may know how keen I am about woodpeckers, this is very exciting for me. It means that I have all three of the main British woodpecker species at Scrag and it was also a special sight because Filma has never seen one before.

Yesterday, during the woodland birds course, a chiff chaff briefly came down to the blackthorn around the hide. It wasn't singing, so I assume it was a female. This is the first summer migrant to arrive at Scrag. I don't think warbler numbers are that high for my patch due to the lack of scrubby areas, so hopefully my willow and hawthorn planting will help boost breeding numbers. Yesterday, I also found the a long-tailed tit nest in some honeysuckle attached to a fence. I've suspected over the last week or so that they were nesting here due to the activity and I even watched individual long-tails picking up bird feathers that have fallen around the feeding area. This along with the goldfinches repeatedly feeding on the teasel heads means plenty of opportunity over the next couple of weeks, especially now the canvas hide has been repaired.

1 comment:

Ali said...

Sound like all is well and good at Scrag Copse.It must be captivating to see what this new season at Scrag is revealing.

Continued good news about the Barn Owl and now the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - I've never seen one either.