A bit late for Easter
An early start to the dayfor my third breeding bird transect in Thorpe Wood - I can't believe I'm half way through! Once again there was a frost, and overall the birdsong seemed more subdued.Some species don't seem to sing when the temperature is very low, but I suspect others are now busy sitting on eggs or even gathering food for young. There were certainly a lot of blue tits foraging for caterpillars in the oak trees.
After a quick breakfast I headed out to Barnack Hills and Holes to see how the flora was developing. One compartment is still being sheep grazed and I was shocked at how short the grassland was - a result of the prolonged lack of rain. This compartment always supported a good show of spring flowers, including Field Mouse-ear, Early Forget-me-not and the only Meadow Saxifrage on the site, but no sign of any of them this year.
The remainder of the site was also very dry and the only flowers out in quantity were cowslips. The pasqueflower were just coming into bloom on the most sheltered south-facing slopes but I suspect that they won't be at their best until early May this year. The early purple-orchids, which are normally in flower around the third week of April, weren't even showing any buds. The weather forecast for the next couple of weeks is for continued cool and dry weather, so things won't be rushing into bloom. A slow, slow spring here in the east.