I acquired a voice recorder last week. It’s tiny – not much bigger than a cigarette lighter – and it means I can record what I see alot more accurately as I don’t need to rely on memory. Which is a good thing as my memory is not brilliant. The weather was glorious on Saturday and Sunday morning so the timing of my acquisition was pretty good because there was an awful lot to record when I was out and about. The birds are very busy right now building nests and in the last couple of weeks blackbirds have been collecting strands of hay ejected from the rabbit hutch in my garden and I’ve seen various other species with beaks full of grass, twigs and moss.
Apart from enjoying the sunshine I saw two species of bird for the first time this year – blackcap and linnet. A pair of linnet appeared to be in residence in a bramble at the southeastern end of Rowleys Meadow, Histon. (On the map, Rowleys Meadow is the area of green scrub in the middle.)
Linnet perched on top of a bramble
The blackcap were in the northwestern hedge row at the opposite end of the field to the linnet and perched, tantalisingly, directly over my head, so my photographs are all of the underside. I saw one pair together and two individuals on this walk which is almost as many as I’ve seen in Histon in total in the last three years.
Also in the same hedge along the northwest periphery were several yellowhammer and in the bright sunshine the colours were amazing:
Yellowhammer male sitting atop a branch beautifully lit by the early morning sun
Yellowhammer are a species of bunting that are resident in the UK so can be seen all year round and breed here. They feed predominantly on seeds but also on insects which they harvest from the ground. I often see them perched on top of hedgerows and they fly to the ground when flushed where, despite their colour, are often next to impossible to see. The female has similar markings to the male but is much less yellow.
Pair of yellowhammer, male on the left and female to the right – I was very pleased to get this picture as they’re normally so difficult to see on the ground
Yellowhammer are currently on the red list due to the decline in numbers over recent years, although there seem to be good numbers in my locality and I’ve even had one feeding in my garden!
Many species of birds were busy this weekend, including a buzzard, a pair of sparrowhawk wheeling around way up high, and a pair of kestrel. Closer to the ground, blacdbird, chaffinch, greenfinch, long tailed tit and songthrush were all very much in evidence.
The unmistakably speckled underside of a songthrush
Butterflies are also starting to emerge in the warm weather and a couple of red admirals and two others which I couldn’t see close enough to identify were floating along the brambles.
A good photograaph of a blackcap eluded me this weekend as I only managed to shoot it from directly underneath so the cap wasn’t visible, but I shall have another look this weekend and hopefully post a ;picture next time.