An unseasonably hot week, with little rain.. seems more like mid-summer than mid-April. Myriad insects out, with the first peacocks and a brimstone moth amongst them. I have been on the look-out for emerging dragonflies and damselflies and migrant birds, as south Devon was bursting with them last weekend (most orange-tips I have ever seen, my first reed warbler of the year and whitethroats everywhere) and expected that Bristol wouldn’t be far behind. I think my expectations may have been a little bolstered by last week’s redstart though, as no new birds have arrived at Brandon Hill apart from a lone swift slowly passing over on Wednesday 20th evening, high in the stratosphere. Haven’t seen any house martins here yet, which makes it the first spring I’ve seen a swift before a martin. 5 more swifts behaving a bit more swift-like tonight too with lots of screaming and chasing.
The blue tits in the tower box are still in and out, but not as busy as the pair by the wildlife pond box. The male there is constantly back and forth with food for the female and occasionally calls her out, but can’t hear any chicks yet and don’t want to try and get a photo, as think I may disturb them a little as the box is quite low.
The lawns were mown on Tuesday, which has made it a little harder for the crows to bathe in the dew. At half past eight on Wednesday morning, I watched one individual taking a little run-up, before diving on to its back in the short grass to get enough water in its feathers for a decent wash. It repeated the action a number of times before it was satisfied and was amusing to watch it rolling around in the grass. They seem to like this time for their daily ablutions, as there’s still plenty of dew in the grass lying in the shade of the trees, but the sun is high enough to dry them off once they have finished and flap up to the top branches.
The mower blades had a close encounter with a common frog in the little butterfly patch in the south-west corner, but thankfully they were just high enough to skim over it and was good to see a healthy frog making its way to cover after a busy breeding season.
The butterfly patch has been full of hoverflies too, which I’ve had some fun trying to photograph.
A nice holly blue there too.
Other things of note this week were a heron passing over at midday, getting mobbed by 2 LBBs, which is an unusual time of the day to see one here. A few more smooth newts, both in the wildlife pond and have discovered that there is a small population in the tower ponds, which should be better for photos. A few small mammals near the wildlife pond, which were probably bank voles, but didn’t get a good enough look, so will require further investigation as could have been wood mice. A few notable absentees too – the peregrine isn’t using the Wills Tower as regularly now, raptors in general are visiting less and I think the treecreepers have moved on to nest. Now, where are those house martins!…