Springtime Birds in Witheridge - Now and Then

I will start with "then" and take stock of what we have lost in the last 30 years or so. It was usual to hear several cuckoos from the village, but now the nearest is a few miles away. Curlews bred up at Stretchdown but we no longer hear their wonderful cry. When I came in 1952 we always had Redstarts nesting in the back cob wall of the barn at Elworthy, but you have to go out the Moor to see them now. Willow Warblers too seem to have left us. So what do we have here in April?

Chiffchaffs have arrived and are trundling out their onomatopoeic song, and the first of the Swallows has been spotted. House Martins will soon follow, and last of the migrants will be the Swifts in May. Most evenings a Song Thrush tries to deafen me with his loud repetitive phrases and I have seen the hen gathering beak full's of food for her young. His song is bold and welcome, if not so musical as the Blackbirds. Cock Chaffinches seem to have time to spare and are starting to slur the ends of their songs; their hens will be on eggs. The ivy on the oak tree is a favourite spot of theirs for a nest, as it is for the Wren and Robin. Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits still appreciate the seed feeders, and there are rare visits from Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Nuthatch, Spotted Woodpecker and Starling. Start work in the garden and quickly a Robin joins me, scrutinising every scrap of turned-over soil for food. A Dunnock will not be far away, and little escapes the vigilance of our thriving House Sparrows. Go further afield and a walk down part of the Two Moors Way (just over the hedge as I type this) to the Little Dart River would surely show you Buzzards, and at the river if you were very quick or very lucky or both you could see Kingfisher and Dipper. To hear one of my favourite birds, the Skylark, you might have to get as far as the Moor.

Happy Spring and Summer watching. wherever you are. Why not tell us what birds there are in your garden, wherever in the world your garden is ? Please do.

John Usmar

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Last Edited 09/02/2010    Copyright © 2000-2010 Witheridge

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