Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Springwatch at Rockingham Forest Cider

The last couple of weeks have given us a sneak preview of Summer weather, and the orchard is full of life. The cider apple trees are now showing their late blossom, whilst the Bramley has shed most of it's pink petals over the orchard floor. Let's hope the insects are busy pollinating it all. We won't get much off the cider apple trees this year, but you can never have too many apple pies.

The orchard continues to attract wildlife, and a fair selection of not-so-wild life. Every day recently we've been visited by the various game birds which managed to escape the great shoot of early Spring. Several cock Pheasants have been seen fighting over the broody hens, which just goes to show that 'Yob-Culture' is not just a human trait. These birds don't even have the excuse of cheap supermarket booze to explain their rowdy behaviour. It would seem that the urge to mate is even stronger than a four-pack of super-strength lager.

A pair of lovely Red Legged Partridges have been visiting morning and evening for a peck at Karen's bird seed mountain. They are lovely looking birds, and brave enough to come right down to the kitchen door in search of food. However, if I catch them pecking at my Brassicas again, they'll be reclassified as a 'Brace of Tasty Partridges' before the Summer's out.

Red Kites have become a fairly common sight in the Rockingham Forest since their re-introduction from Spain several years ago. I've been attempting to get a good photo of a Kite since we moved to the area, without too much success so far. This is my latest attempt at snapping a bird which appears daily over Middleton looking for a tasty bit of roadkill. They really are spectacular birds, soaring effortlessly on a windy day and putting the fear of god into the local Crow population. The quest for a better photo goes on, the Kites are doing their bit, I just need a bigger lens and a faster camera.

The dawn chorus has reached deafening levels recently, it's that super-strength mating urge again. In amongst the plethora of common garden birds; House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Robins, Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Wrens, Starlings, and the inevitable Cabbage-eating Wood Pigeons, we thought we'd spotted a Bullfinch. Scourge of fruit growers, but rare and colourful, a Bullfinch would be quite a visitor. Closer inspection revealed it as the much commoner Chaffinch. Oh well, at least the fruit buds on our apple trees are safe.

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