Since getting back to the UK and Brandon Hill, it’s been a pretty miserable time weatherwise, but inexorably the season and wildlife pushes forward and after a few interesting Spring migrants passing through the park (including siskins, willow and garden warblers, plenty of swifts and hirundines and a hobby flyover), the first fledglings are taking their inaugural flights. Long-tailed tits, robins, dunnocks, wrens, blackbirds and the first mistle thrushes I’ve seen nesting at Brandon Hill are out and the blue and great tits aren’t far behind, with nests bursting with noisy nestlings, ready to join them.
There has been no sign of the pair of peregrine falcons that spent most of the Winter hanging around the Wills Memorial Tower, apart from the occasional solitary tercel perched on Clifton Catholic Cathedral, but I’m pretty sure it was the pair that nest at the Gorge – and hopefully they will be having as successful a year as they have for the previous few, despite the weather. Bristol’s urban peregrine pair are also busy nesting and I’m starting to see them both up and hunting, so they must be confident that this year’s chicks are well enough developed for the Castle Park gulls not to be too much of a threat. Interestingly I found some common tern remains just under one of their perches the other day, which added to the recent teal and greenfinch remains just goes to show what a varied diet they have and what birds fly unnoticed directly over the city centre.
The ponds around Cabot Tower have been busy with activity, with tadpoles starting to develop into froglets and toadlets, newts displaying and patrolling their territories and plenty of young three-spined sticklebacks out basking during the sunnier days. A few damselflies have even been out, but only one or two and no dragonflies yet..
The Cabot Tower visible migration watches have been significantly silent this Spring, with no significant passage of passerines over the city at all, which suggests that the Autumn migrants making their way over Bristol after passing south through the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley must be following a completely different flight-path on their return journeys (most likely slightly to the west of Bristol judging by the finch and pipit counts at New Passage this Spring). I’ve spent some lonely mornings up there with just a hazy sunrise and a carrion crow or two for company, but I’m already looking forward to this Autumn to see if the site is as successful as it was in 2011.
The bats have just returned after a slow Spring, with serotines, Leisler’s, a couple of soprano pipistrelles and a common pip swarm or two on Friday night making a massive change to the few solitary common pips feeding on the flies buzzing around the up-lights surrounding Cabot Tower so far this year..
The meadow, although a few weeks behind, is just about ready to burst into blossom, so I’m hoping for a few more butterflies in the coming weeks. So far holly blues and red admirals have been the only common sights, but it won’t be long before I see some other familiar faces, but who knows what will happen if the bass-ackward weather continues into the Summer this year!
Update: 2 male tawny owls calling in Berkeley Square just as I finished this post. Only the second time I’ve heard them calling this close to town – nesting gulls going bananas!