Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Strange bedfellows

Well, the awful weather continues but, while it is a pain for us, it is far worse for the wildlife. I have been involved in a study of Woodlarks for the last few years. They always start nesting early, and generally manage to cope with early spring weather but this year they are really struggling.

Brood sizes have been small and many nests are losing chicks. The chicks that remain are growing far more slowly than usual and in some cases the whole brood is starving.

Having got fairly depressed with the Woodlarks, I moved on to Stanley Common. As I parked, a Robin appeared carrying food so I watched to see where it was going. A second adult appeared and the first one (obviously the male), fed the female. She then flew into the hole in a birch pictured below.

Robins are well known for nesting in a wide variety of situations but this is only the second time I've seen one nesting in a hole in a tree. I continued to watch and after a couple of minutes the male brought more food to the hole. Then a minute later a Blue Tit appeared with nesting material and disappeared into the same hole! It emerged shortly afterwards, minus the material. So it would appear that the Robins and Blue Tits are sharing the same hole.

A walk around the Common produced little of note; a few singing Willow Warblers and a courting pair of Marsh Tits being the highlights. I was however surprised by the number of hoverflies feeding on Common Gorse. Normally all you see on gorse is a few Honey Bees (aka Pollen Pigs) but there were a number of hoverflies of several species on the flowers today, including the Syrphus vitripennis pictured below.

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