The 1st saw a few birds noted, these being:- Goldfinch (*4); Long Tailed Tit (*2); Mallard (*2); Magpie (*2); Redwing (*1); Wood Pigeon (*1); Carrion Crow (*1); Wren (*1); Grey Wagtail (*1); Feral Pigeon (*1) and Cormorant (*1).
Red Campion (Silene dioica); Chickweed (Stellaria media); Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium); Common Field Speedwell (Veronica persica); Daisy (Bellis perennis); Canadian Fleabane (Erigeron canadensis); Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare); Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris); Oxford Ragwort (Senecio squalidus) and Ivy Leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis) were all seen in bloom.
Physcia aipolia was a lichen spotted on a riverside fence and a brick wall sported the mosses:- Tortula muralis; Grimmia pulvinata and Bryum capillare. Wall Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria) was also added with Shiny Woodlice (Oniscus asellus) and Rough Woodlice (Porcellio scaber) seen beneath an old Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) log.
On the 3rd I did a bird count along the river, the list comprised of:- Wood Pigeon (*24); Blackbird (*6); Starling (*1); House Sparrow (*2); Robin (*6); Magpie (*17); Wren (*2); Blue Tit (*10); Dunnock (*1); Moorhen (*3); Great Tit (*4); Song Thrush (*1); Goosander (*4); Mallard (*16); Carrion Crow (*4); Pied Wagtail 9*3); Goldfinch (*7); Cormorant (*2); Buzzard (*1); Grey Heron (*4); Canada Goose (*1); Grey Wagtail (*2); Chaffinch (*1); Long Tailed Tit (*2); Nuthatch (*1); Treecreeper (*1); Redwing (*2) and Mistle Thrush (*1). Xanthoria parietina was the only
On the 8th I noted that Hazel catkins were now producing pollen and Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) was in flower. A pair of Goosander (Mergus merganser) were seen on the river.
The 17th was a red letter day, Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna) was sporting a couple of sunshine yellow blooms, by heck it gladdened the heart. A Song Thrush (Turdus philomelus) was singing away for most of the month and bird-life activity was building by the day. It would be good if folks could buy some seed and keep these little songsters fed – I am scattering a bit here and there to help them along.
On the 28th a small cluster of Snowdrops were hanging their snowy white heads on a rather dull and damp day and Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) was glowing bright beneath a log with very little substance left!
The 29th saw the Scurfy Twiglet Fungus (Tubaria furfuracea) popping up over some woody debris and on last year’s leaves of Wood Speedwell (Veronica montana) was the micro fungus Puccinia veronicae.
The 31st saw yet more unseasonably warm weather indicating we all have to do a bit more than our bit.
I had noted some Silver Birch (Betula pendula) trees had been felled. Apparently they are interfering with phone signals (so sayeth the council) – I am unconvinced and not bothered about a signal as I refuse to have a phone. More trees are to be planted, this is a good thing and even better is that the log-piles will encourage bug-life and fungi – I shall be checking, watch this space.
On the 4th I noted a slice of a log I had prepared to use as a feeding place for birds had been taken away – it seems people have no insight into the needs of nature.
The first leaves of Ramsons (Allium ursinum) were now emerging and the local Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) patch has started to spread. It was nice to see a clump of Italian Lords and Ladies (Arum italicum) bursting through the soil, I look forward to the vulgar flowers very soon.
On the 5th I strolled down the path from the industrial estate to the old railway bridge besides the farm. Scarlet Elf Cup Fungus (Sarcoscypha austriaca) was occupying a few branches and Soft Bracket (Datronia mollis) was on an old Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) log. As I looked below a few fallen bits of timber I revealed an orgy of Large Yellow Slugs (Limax flavus agg) and exposed numerous Shiny Woodlice (Oniscus asellus); a few Striped Woodlice (Philoscia muscorum) and the odd Pygmy Woodlouse (Trichoniscus pusillus). On the bridge itself the old wall was sporting Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) and Wall Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria) whilst nearby Hart’s Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) was seen – what better adornments are there?
The 6th saw me mesmerised by a close-up feeding Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) and I was delighted to see a Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) basking on some sun-kissed Ivy (Hedera sp) and a lone Dandelion (Taraxacum agg) in delicious sunshine flower.
The winds whipped up and the rain fell for several days, on the 12th I had a short mooch beneath some Willows (Salix sp) and found several specimens of the Southern Bracket (Ganoderma australe) on a dying trunk and the Frosty Bonnet (Mycena tenerrima) on a fallen twig. On a nearby Silver Birch (Betula pendula) stump a tiered display of Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) was appealing and on the hidden roots, many Glistening Ink-Caps (Coprinellus micaceus) were exposing their granular and grooved caps. The weather continued to play havoc but I still managed to have a pootle.
On the 18th, despite dogs damaging the banking besides the river, Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) was being defiant and poking through – we do need to be more considerate of this area though, it is a habitat and a protector – try and keep the pooches away please.
On the 19th the first Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) flowers were showing on a rather skeletal tree and the local birds seem to be enjoying my liberal scattering of food, especially those gluttonous Wood Pigeons (Columba palambus). The rest of the month saw many species on a go-slow with the poor conditions keeping everything in check. A Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) was a regular tweeter near the orchard, Magpies (Pica pica) were quick to pounce on any seed I left for the smaller birds and numerous plants seemed to be in a state of stasis waiting for a burst of warm weather – here’s hoping!