Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The flying saucepan

Bit of a delayed post this week, as I got so carried away with the woodland flora in the last post, I completely forgot about the birds!

Up at Clarendon park, I was walking back from the woodland when I heard the unmistakable sound of lapwing calling. This explains the title of this post - anyone that has seen a lapwing in flight will understand its nickname of 'the flying saucepan' - the distinct rounded tips of the wings looking a bit like saucepans (if imagination is used!).

Lapwing would have traditionally bred on open lowland wet pastures, with predator perches (i.e. trees) far enough away from the area for the adults to spot incoming crows etc. Now, they are very much marginalised and a declining species. At Clarendon, however, the farming practices of big, open fields of spring cereals/over wintered stubbles left over from previous crops, provide ideal conditions to attempt to breed - that's if the badgers and foxes don't sniff their nests out (a serious problem in the lowlands).

I was able to watch the adults' swooping display flight over the stubble fields, with their odd 'peewit' calls (another nickname) - and, of course, they were not alone, with skylarks also singing from the areas of chalk grassland/spring cereal crops on the estate, and the hedgerows alive with other species such as chiffchaffs, chaffinches, dunnock, wren, blackbird and song thrush.

Last weekend I was over in Devon visiting friends, so not exactly my local patch - but it was amazing to see the contrast of bluebells occupying a whole hillside, as opposed to being in the familiar woodland setting.

I'm off to more local sites this Friday around Devizes, before heading off to Turkey the following weekend - definitely not my local patch! - so I won't be able to post for a little while.

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