I was up early to carry out the fourth breeding bird transect of the year at Thorpe Wood NR. I can't remember a year when all the bird surveys have been undertaken in frosty conditions, ranging from 0-2C.
The low temperatures mean that the woodland flowers are lasting, and we're now at peak Bluebell saturation a month after the first flowers opened. Sadly, there's been an increase in trampling away from the main surfaced path, which is extremely damaging to these iconic plants.
There were plenty of signs of nesting activity in the wood - this morning the Great Spotted-woodpecker was drumming and I spotted a pair of Bullfinch gathering nesting material on my transect. Sadly, I didn't have the telephoto lens with me, but once I'd finished the survey I drove home (less than five minutes) to collect it. The Bullfinches were in the same area when I returned, but seemed more wary. Fortunately the male perched in a Hazel bush just long enough for me to get some shots.
In the afternoon I visited Southorpe Meadow NR, where I'm supposed to be leading a guided walk at the end of the month. The grassland is at least three weeks behind normal and apart from Cowslips, the few other species in bloom were much tinier than normal. I'm beginning to have second thoughts about the suitability of the site - maybe a woodland would be a better bet!
PS Hopelessly behind now that fieldwork's underway - hopefully I'll catch up sooner or later!