Local sightings

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February 2008

Long-tailed tit nestLong-tailed Tits had already been noted nest-building during the latter stages of January.
Right:Long-tailed Tit, Aegithalos caudatus
The nest that gave them their 'old' name of Bottle Bird
These are now nesting on average two weeks earlier than they were 25 yeas ago
a total of 19 Lesser Black-backed Gull moved towards roost over the village late afternoon.
House Sparrows remained a regular visitor to gardens off Station Road.
Blackbirds were obvious in many gardens, the late winter / early spring movement back to northern breeding grounds perhaps already taking place; most noted being males.
Dunnocks were singing their tinny serenade from many hedgerows and even higher song posts.
Lesser Celandine were already brightening many hedgerow bases.
Canada Geese were occasionally joining the other wildfowl on the source of The Test.
Snowdrops were to be seen throughout the Parish, gardens, roadside banks and woodland edges being amongst the favoured spots to find them.
three Buzzard were again over the Town Meadow / Primary School area, two of which lingered for some time. Also in the air, later in the day, were Lesser Black-backed Gull in their pre-roost movements.
Robins though vocal early in the day were not as obvious in their winter garden retreats.
over wintering Chiffchaff remained about the wetter woodlands.
Flower of stinking helleborea Pale Brindled Beauty was found on an office window at the school mid-evening. Stinking Hellebore were in flower on the southern side of Whitehill.
Right: Stinking Hellebore, Helleborus foetidus - Whitehill, Mike Duffy
Possibly the first to be found in the Parish
another frosted start to a clear and sunny day. Three Red-legged Partridge were again in fields opposite Southington Close. A flight of 121+ Jackdaw moved low over the school late afternoon, when small numbers of Linnet were heading in to roost.
a Collared Dove in the east of the village had been noted on a nest since the year started.
a Muntjac and a Tawny Owl were on / by the B3400 on the Overton side of Rotten Hill early morning.
the Muntjac was again on the grass verge of Rotten Hill early morning.
a noticeably heavy frost remained in places for much of the day. A Little Egret moved off east from the garden of Southington House late morning, a pair of tufted Duck being on the main pool there. A Buzzard was seen circling over Court Drove in the wintry sun. A Great Spotted Woodpecker reappeared in gardens at Lower Ashe.
two 'roosts' of hibernating Harlequin Ladybird off Southington Lane numbered 30+ between them, a cock Pheasant was also noted roosting in poolside trees. A Buzzard was once again over the village early afternoon.
Brambling had been noted visiting a Two Gate Meadow for much of the year, the flock peaking at some 20 birds.
the partially albinistic Blackbird appeared again in Woodlands where a female Sparrowhawk excited the less mobile species.
flowering Dog's Mercury remained hidden, the green flowers not alerting many to their presence.
Frogafter the initial burst of butterfly activity in January no further sightings had been reported by this date.
a second partially albinistc cock Blackbird was seen in Woodlands. A Magpie was a rare visitor to a Station Road garden. Primrose were seen in flower in Court Drove whilst Long-tailed Tit were frequenting nearby gardens; the latter's ponds already holding frog spawn.
Right: Common Frog, Rana temporaria - Mike Duffy
Spring is on the way!
White-tailed Bumble-bees were out early in the day, though there was no hint of sun.
mild conditions were hinting at spring on the way, or global warming!
overnight rain left some roads partially flooded to at least dawn. A Golden Plover was heard over the Town Meadow area mid-evening. The strongest earthquake ever recorded in Britain was noted elsewhere during the latter night.
sheep were now in the field south of Southington House. A vocal Black-headed Gull over the village mid-afternoon was soon followed up by 29 Lesser Black-backed Gull moving north-east. The Tufted Duck population on the pools at Southington had grown to three whilst a Mute Swan was nearby, on The Test.
a female Blackcap, in Woodlands gardens, was the first bird noted over wintering.
the extra day to the month was not a herald of extra sightings!

Contributors: Dave Athea, David Cluett, Mike Duffy, Timi van Houten, Alison Hutchins, Bryher Hutchins, Jay Hutchins, Peter E. Hutchins, Veronique Kerguelen, & Fenella Swinscoe.

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