Well... ok, maybe I'm being more than a little premature (what with talk of wintery showers over Easter) .... but I can't wait any longer!
Firstly the bad news.
I've given up on our Blue Tit box. Both birds seem completely disinterested in it - have been for about a month now.
There are boxes all over the country that have the beginnings of nests being built in them now - (a few are linked to BG in my links section), so if you want to see Blue Tit nests - feel free to use those links!
Its fair to say we feel dreadfully disappointed, especially after last year and the activity in the box over winter, but hey ho - you can't win 'em all!
The pair do come to the garden each day, to steal from the feeder - I'll pop a sign up before too long - NO BLUE TITS ALLOWED!!!
Anyhoo... we'll keep the set up, and take it with us wherever we move to. Here's to the future eh?
Thats the bad news. What of the good?
Well... I know some people have reported seeing Redwing and Fieldfare over the past few days here in the south of England. Not for long now - if at all. I haven't seen them for at least two weeks.
What is apparent though, is that we're experiencing the first influx of Hirundines*** (Swallows, Swifts and Martins) into Britain.
*** Always makes me think of "Hrundi Bakshi", the character played by Peter Sellers in the film "The Party" (Still one of the funniest films ever made, in my opinion).
Generally the order is ALWAYS the same, each year - first to arrive are the Sand Martins (they're here in good numbers already). Then it's the Swallows and House Martins, (never were the same after Fatboy Slim left...), then, finally, my favourite bird of all - my Swifts "scream" into Britain in late April, or very early May.
I've yet to see the Sand Martins - because I've not had time recently to visit my "haunts", but I know they're there!
An awful lot of birds appear to be nesting already - Magpies, pigeons (no suprise there) and even Blackbirds. I wandered down to the garden centre t'other day, to pick up some heather, and got run over by a juvenile Blackbird, which had obviously fledged no more than a week or so ago, and was indignantly peeping at it's ma for some scran.
The Egyptian Geese goslings at the University lake seem to be doing well also - I don't suppose it'll be tha long before the Mallard Ducks start getting serious, and little balls of fluff are bobbing up and down on the Thames.
I am also aware that Ospreys are on their way back to us again, from Africa. One has been spotted fishing over a large gravel pit near London (well.. Slough really) this week, though I've not checked the Scottish websites yet (or Rutland, for that matter) to see if any have arrived at their breeding sites yet.
I know (from my friend Jane as much as anybody), that Badgers are up and about after their winter slow down, and Hares (Nic) are starting their annual madness. I am up in Hare country next weekend, but am otherwise engaged in wedding duties, so won't be going to see these marvellous animals.
Should you want to see Badgers and Hares, I advise you most sincerely to visit "Urban Extension" (Jane's site) where she's recently uploaded at LEAST two fine videos of these critters...
(UE can be found near the bottom of my alphabetically-ordered links section).
I really hope to find time this year to visit the setts I know (with Anna) and get some photographs of at least a fox, if not a badger or a deer, (a Roe I hope, but a pesky Muntjac will do!)
Time will tell.
The "bug life" has bounced into action also.
Mating Ladybirds, and lots of bees.
Garden Cross spiders have JUST started to spin their first orb webs of the year, and it will be any day now before the Squash bugs and other shield bugs appear.
Big sticky Horse Chestnut buds have appeared over the last ten days, and I'm sure its only a fortnight, maybe 3 weeks before our large Lime tree starts budding and raining sap on us again in the garden below!
I spent the last two mornings in the garden, knocking back the er.... cough cough... "lower paddock", in preparation for the seasons ahead, and have scattered a few Poppy and Cornflower seeds for the insects in a few months.
The Bumblebee box is buried and covered in heather - maybe we'll get lucky there instead of the Blue Tits eh?
All the photographs above have been taken by me in the past few days, and I think they are all in my online photo album, the "New Warren" (flickr account).
Click here to visit my album, to see the images in their largest, original sizes, and read a little more about them.
Anyhoo - HAPPY EASTER! to anyone dumb enough to be reading this! I am on nights for the next 7 nights (including the er..... festive? weekend), so if you could all be a little considerate with any levels of noise during the day, I'd be most appreciative!