Last Sunday I spent a glorious couple of hours in the piece of scrub near my house where me and the dog while away significant chunks of our time. He chases rabbits, cats, pheasants and generally enjoys doing what dogs do, and I marvel at all the wildlife to be found in my local bit of wilderness. It’s probably about 300m x 150m and it’s called ‘Rowleys Meadow’ even though it’s not a meadow, and it lies on the northern edge of the village with houses lining it’s southern periphery. On the east, west and north side are old hedgerows and some wonderful old trees and in the middle are stands of young ash trees, grassy areas and large clumps of brambles.
It plays host to an astonishing variety of wildlife which in the winter and early spring is mainly birds, although a peacock butterfly fluttered by last Sunday and on several warmer days since Christmas I’ve seen bumble bees flying around there . But on this particular day it was the birds that stole the show (click here for a full list of all my sightings on this outing on February 26th).
There are very healthy numbers of green woodpecker here due to the trees and the grassland where they can find there favourite food of ant and termites. They’re tricky to photograph in the Meadow because they’re hidden in the grass and they’re very skittish, so it’s difficult to get close enough when they’re on the ground or in the trees.
Green woodpecker with his black eyepatch and scarlet military policemans cap. This one did let me get close enough… just
There are regularly 5-10 green woodpeckers (Picus viridis, Dansk: grønspætte) to be found as I circumnavigate the Meadow. It’s easy to spot them, both the colours and the low bouncing flight, often no more than 15 feet from the ground, are very distinctive. And of course it’s call is like no other creature, if you’ve never heard it listen here. Scroll down to the entry from Lars Krogh from Lindet Skov in Denmark dated 19/04/2011 where there is a very good recording of a male greenie yaffling and drumming.
Another bird which I almost always see in the Meadow is the long tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, Dansk: halemajse). But for the tail, they’re tiny: the adults weigh 7-8g with a wingspan of 18cm. The long tailed tit is one of those creatures that make we wonder how such tiny ones can survive a long freezing winter. They can also be very difficult to photograph as they never stay still for more than a few seconds.
But when you are lucky enough to capture them they make delightful pictures!
You may have noticed the lichens on the branches, I’ll share some photographs of those in the next post. In another tree adjacent to the one with the long tailed tits was a pair of great tits (Parus major, Dansk: sortemejse), among others. I like great tits, they’re handsome birds and they’re entertaining to watch feeding in my garden, especially when there is a family of them. The pair here are a male and a female:
Male great tit, his black stripe stretches all the way across his chest from toe to toe, making him very desirable indeed. I think the ‘A’ indicates he is the alpha male
The stripe of the female is much narrower:
And very shortly after I took the pictures of the great tits, a female sparrowhawk circled slowly overhead. The trees and hedges suddenly went very quiet as all the small birds concealed themselves from this fearsome predator. I’m not sure if she was hunting as I spotted a second, possibly a male, sparrowhawk circling much higher up. She was probably not more than a hundred feet up, but the male was several hundred feet up. I watched a pair of sparrowhawks do this over my garden once before, where the male was much higher, and I think it may be part of the courtship routine. (If anyone can confirm or refute that please drop me a line and let me know).
A female sparrowhawk circling over the hedges at the north end of the Meadow
All in all it was a very enjoyable and rewarding trip in bright warm sunshine and the birdlife was there in spades.
Gorgeous birds. My son’s heard a woodpecker but never seen one so I had to show him your photo!
One of my hopes for my blog was that children might enjoy it and it may help inspire a fascination for and love of nature in a youngster or two. I never anticipated anyone outside Cambridgeshire would read it so it’s wonderful to know you’re son in the U.S. is learning about UK wildlife via The Naturephile. 🙂
Oh yes, we’re definitely enjoying it here in the states. I like going through your site for the simple pleasure and love of nature but I’m also getting to use it for him and some of his nature lessons since I home school. So thanks again. Sofia/Sofichick
Thanks Sofia, you’re very welcome. I’m absolutely delighted that my blog is being used as a teaching aid. That’s awesome! Whenever I feel a lack of motivation to post I’ll remember your comment to rekindle the enthusiasm.
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Hi Finn, nice pics again…I like the last one of the female sparrowhawk…love the fact that you see the structure and beauty of the wings!! 🙂
She’s a beauty, I was very happy when she flew right over my head. I really like to see sparrowhawks because I think it means that all the prey species are in good shape too. And they’re exciting to watch too, especially when they’re hunting.
What a lovely relaxing couple of hours. I love long tailed tits, we see them up here now and then, clustered in groups of 6 or more on a bird feeder, practically covering it and interlocking beautifully with their tails. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a green woodpecker though. We get the greater spotted woodpecker from time to time but I’d love to see the greenie. Lovely photos, as ever.
It was quite delightful.
Long tailed tits are ace, especially when a big flock flits through all in line astern. The greenie’s are not so common in your neck of the woods, which is a pity, they’re a bit special and the yaffling is such a funny sound.
Yes, I meant to say that I listened to the recording you linked to and it was really good! I hope I see one some day, I’ll just have to keep looking out for them.
They are there in Scotland but I guess you have to know where to look. Good luck.
But that’s what I love about wildlife, one day I peer into a pond, or up in the sky, or under a rock, and there’s something I’ve rarely or never seen before. And it’s ace whan that happens.
Vigilance is the watchword!
It does look like you had a wonderful and rewarding trip, Finn. Beautiful photos, as always. Thank you. 🙂
Hello Scott, you’re very welcome, it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and I’m pleased you like the results.
Very pleased. 🙂
so which one is woody the woodpecker? 😀 like your post
Hello Hendraarkan, maybe one of them or all of them. I’ll let you know if we ever get introduced!
Thanks for stopping by and following ‘thenaturephile’.
ok! looking forward to know it 🙂
So’m I. I’ll let you know 🙂