The weather on the 9th was dominated by two features: bright warm sunshine and a biting northerly wind. They were combining to make some brisk but very pleasant walking weather so I spent the morning exploring Guns Lane and fields north of Histon. Rowleys Meadow was very quiet, apart from the occasional blue tit (Cyanistes caerulius) or wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) and numerous unidentified gulls gliding over. Unusually, the only interesting sightings were a song thrush (Turdus philomelus), a pair of magpie (Pica pica) and a flock of hundreds of fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) which drifted over the field east of the Meadow – none of which were close enough to photograph.
Not long after emerging from the Meadow and turning north up Guns Lane the situation changed dramatically and the hedges were full of birdlife. Blue tit and great tit (Parus major) were busy looking for food and a pair of bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) emerged from the hedge heading northward just as a small flock of approximately 15 fieldfare descended into a tree in front of me, remaining in situ until I was directly underneath, in pole position for some photographs:
A pair of fieldfare, and…
…a single one
Shortly after taking these pictures and moving on, a second pair of bullfinch rose out of the hedge. They may have been the same ones as earlier, but I’ve seen bullfinch here on numerous occasions lately so I’m hoping there are more than one pair in residence.
Having turned off the Lane and walked along the south side of a mature hedge containing some big old oak (Quercus robur) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) trees, I was admiring the perfect symmetry of a woodpecker hole around 5m up an oak tree when I noticed an insect emerge from it. It turned out to be a honeybee (Apis mellifera):
A lone honeybee entering a woodpecker hole casting its shadow on the threshold
And several more toing and froing in the sunshine. I love the texture and colours of this gnarled old oak tree
I was surprised to see so much honeybee activity on a freezing cold January morning. The south facing hedgerow was sheltered from the wind and I think the bright sunshine had warmed up the tree sufficiently to waken the bees from their winter slumber. I was hoping they had sufficient stocks of honey to fuel them through their brief awakening before the cold forced them back into hibernation.
I carried on around the field looping back to Cottenham Road in Histon. The terrain on this route included alot of grassy scrub with patches of brambles and other low arboreal scrub consisting predominantly of hawthorn. A green woodpecker (Picus viridis) rose out the grass and dipped over the field to take cover in a tree and a group of five yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), which had been feeding on the ground, rose up and headed into another old oak tree which I’d passed by a couple of hundred metres back. As I about-turned to try to get a photo they upped sticks and returned to their original location on the ground where, where their amazing camouflage rendered them completely invisible even from a distance of about 5m, As I approached so close they again flew into the same old tree and as their place on the ground and the tree were a fair distance apart I decided not to disturb them again.
The landscape here looked as though it will be rich with birdlife in the Spring and Autumn so I’ll hopefully report more sightings as the year progresses