Its incredible what changes a week can bring. Both the North and South Paddocks are a sea of yellow thanks to a bumper showing of buttercups and yellow rattle coming into flower. Since we spotted our first early purple orchid flowers on Tuesday, they are now springing up everywhere providing little jewels of contrasting colour during the ‘yellow phase’. Later in the summer the meadows will transition first to white and then to purple. There is something comforting about the way this pattern repeats year on year.
The new fedge is really shaping up with almost all of it showing vigorous growth. One or two of the stakes at the far end have failed, probably due to water competition with the large willow tree next door. Water management in general, has been a real challenge this week trying to balance a meagre supply between the two ponds so neither dry out completely. So much wildlife relies on these ponds for food and shelter it’s a big responsibility.
Our most exciting wildlife spot of the week came completely out of the blue. Kate and Stig were headed out to shop for provisions and spotted a roe deer hind close by, in the field next to the track. Closer inspection revealed a recently born fawn lying in the grass at her feet. We watched for ages while she looked warily at us and eventually began to move the fawn to a safer distance. It was very wobbly on its new legs so it was a slow escape. This will change quickly as the fawn will need to be completely independent by the time the rut begins in Autumn.
Fortunately, Bryan managed to capture the long lens shot as (typically) we had no cameras with us in the car!
In birding news, the rooks in Kate’s copse are making their presence felt, calling raucously as they go about feeding their young. Campers may not be missing this particular Greenhillock wake-up call! This week, we spotted our first moorhen chicks on the pond. We’re hopeful these will do well as our moorhen parents are very experienced and defend their young ferociously.
We now have nearly our full range of warblers on site – willow warbler (arrived just this week), chiffchaff, blackcap and whitethroat. Sadly, no sign of sedge warblers which used to be a distinctive sound around the house pond but have been absent for a few years now.
Since most departed for the Arctic a month ago, we were surprised to see and hear a skein of pink-footed geese flying North . Our list of bird species spotted on site since lockdown began now sits at 50 – not bad for armchair birding! In the last couple of days, we’ve been particularly enjoying colourful male siskins on the feeders.
More familiar but no less welcome, a brave blackbird is sitting on eggs in our bird food store. Since we are in and out of there constantly throughout the day, she’s proving to be a very dedicated mum. Bryan was delighted to discover a ‘secret’ blue tit nest hidden in a gate post, again somewhere we are all passing multiple times a day. Despite spending much time to trying to capture the parents nipping in and out with caterpillar food, we still have no photos which shows how good these tiny birds are at being hidden in plain sight.
This time of year is marked by the brief emergence of the swarms of mayfly, with their characteristic dangling back legs, as they mass over the ponds before laying their eggs. Insect highlight of the week, however, has been the appearance our first damselflies. These colourful indicators of early summer are a joy to watch as they dart between plants before settling to mate.
Take care and stay safe!