Wednesday 29 April 2015

My date with nature

The RSPB have started a project called 'A date with nature', the idea to encourage more people to get outdoors, specifically to their fantastic Nature Reserves. Many of these dates are free to attend and are a great way to encourage children to get outside and appreciate wildlife. For me, looking closer to home can be just as rewarding, if not even more so as you stumble across something that perhaps no one has found before...

On a brief dog walk in one of the many local woods a couple of days ago, I was delighted to hear my first Nightingale of the year. The next morning I went back with my camera, daughter and dog to discover it in exactly the same place, singing again at the top of his voice from deep within the coppice. Add in the sound of many Song Thrushes, Wrens and Nuthatches, a Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Goldcrest and a mewing Buzzard circling low overhead, I was in my element and pleased to be able to show my 3 year old such a selection, even if she didn't really feel the same elation I felt (and really just wanted to splash in the stream).

That evening I went back alone, my very own date with nature and a very memorable one it turned out to be. A Buzzard sitting on a fence post in the adjacent field was being harassed by Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds which drew my attention towards it. Having never taken a decent picture of a perched Buzzard, I was off to a great start. Back on the path, a fox strolled across down at the bottom of the hill, either unaware or not bothered by my presence. Nuthatches, Goldcrests and a calling Great Spotted Woodpecker were around on the way to the coppice, where again I was graced by the birdsong of the Nightingale along with many others. A fly by Hobby, another first for the year, darted by overhead, disturbing the melodic evening chorus and causing a stir.

A few years ago I was shown a Tawny Owl nest box in use at the bottom of the woods, but having entered a different way I was unsure as to its whereabouts. My unsuccessful search for the box was not a waste of time, however, as I spotted a badger near its sett. Though it at first spotted me and went back down, I decided to wait as the light dimmed for it to emerge once more. The next half an hour was spent being entertained by 3 badgers snuffling around in the bluebells, one making its way up their track towards the very path I was squatted down on. It briefly stopped about 50 yards away, before spotting me and darting across to the other side. Though my photos are nothing to be proud of, my date with nature was completely enchanting and I'm sure we'll be seeing each other again!

Common Buzzard



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