Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Signs of spring on Brush Hill

We were supposed to get a couple of inches of snow last night, so I was planning a snowy walk around Brush Hill. The snow didn't happen, so I headed up there anyway, as it was a lovely cold sunny day.

It soon became very clear that the crows were feeling extra feisty this morning, as they were making a terrible racket high up in the tops of the trees. I then realized that they were actually shouting every time a red kite flew overhead. There are a lot of red kites around here, so the crows were doing a lot of shouting! At one point I saw a crow chasing and buzzing a red kite, as several of his friends screamed and shouted, egging him on.
Crow on the left, chasing after the red kite

Feeling feisty
The red kites didn't really seem very worried about the crows and just glided past. I did see one retaliate though. It had been chased by a crow that had gone back to sitting in the top of the tree. Suddenly the kite dived out of nowhere, straight at the crow. A lot of shouting from the other crows, a noise that sounded a bit like a whimper from the crow under attack and the red kite was gone again. I guess it had just had enough!

Red kites don't like crows and rooks around their nest sites and will chase them away if they're too close. My parents had several pairs of rooks that nested in their garden for years, but when the red kites decided to nest in their garden, the rooks were evicted and their nests dismantled by the red kites.

Perhaps the crows can feel spring in the air and are trying to stake their claim on the nest sites, before the red kites start nesting. Perhaps they were just having a noisy day!

I found a few signs of wild flowers starting to grow. The Lords and Ladies that we spotted a couple of weeks ago have grown a bit more and started to uncurl. The Bluebells that carpet the floor of the woods in the spring have started to grow leaves. There also seemed to be a lot of Herb Robert and Celandine showing signs of growth.
Lords and Ladies (Wild Arum)

The Bluebells are starting to grow

Herb Robert


At first glance the woods seemed quite bare and wintery, but on closer inspection there was green starting to appear everywhere. With the sun shining and the plants starting to grow, it feels like spring is on the way. Perhaps we'll get the snow they've been talking about and that will be the end of that though!

Feeling green!
The little birds were all out in force again today. A large flock of Chaffinches flew down through the woods ahead of me. They're so well camouflaged in the leaf litter, that you hardly notice them until they fly up right in front of you, flashing the white bars on their wings. They'd move to the trees or ground just head of me, only to be disturbed again as I walked near them. They led the procession as I walked down through the woods.
Chaffinches camouflaged in the leaves
A Robin followed me round, singing to me and having a good nose at what I was doing.

The Great Tits and Blue Tits seemed to be having a lovely time, twittering away, in the trees above me. Looking up at this time of year, it looks like they're climbing around a giant climbing frame and thoroughly enjoy every minute of it.

As well as the signs of spring, there were a few left overs from autumn. The Velvet Shank we'd found on a previous visit was doing well, but it doesn't mind the cold or frost. I even found a brave little Butter Cap and a Common Bonnet that had survived.
Common Bonnet

Butter Cap

Velvet Shank
Finally, no trip to Brush Hill would be complete without a photo of the glorious view. I could see for miles today. What a sight!

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