Sunday, 22 March 2009

Lesser spot joy

Despite the forecast of a dull day, Sunday dawned bright and still. There was only one thing for it - to try for Lesser Spot again.

This time it I headed for Palmers Wood. I joined the Sunday God worshippers in the car park, and headed for the wood across the fields. It was full of bird song - Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Marsh Tits, Song Thrushes, mewing Buzzards, and even the odd Woodpecker too. A fantastic atmosphere, but I was struggling find my chosen quarry. After 45 mins of listening and looking I had to head home, and get ready for the Broom work party.

As I was just about to leave the wood I heard a tapping. Now, every time I've heard a tapping before it's been a Great Spot, so why should this time be any different? I got a little closer. A short burst of drumming had my ears prick up instantly! It was only about one second long, but that was enough to make me look a bit harder. I caught a movement on an old gnarled trunk about 50 meters away - a glorious male Lesser Spot! It's red crest was gleaming in the sunshine. I could feel a huge smile on my face. I watched it work up and down an old Oak, looking inside a few old holes, before slipping in to the wood a little further. It worked its way through some much thinner trees lower down, bobbing its head as it went before going even dipper in and finally loosing it. Excellent stuff.

Lesser Spots have obviously declined, but they seem to have evened off in recent years. Many of the sites that had them five years ago, appear to still do. I wonder if they are just a naturally thinly spread species, whose retiring nature make them that bit harder to find anyway? Certainly the months of March and April are the peak time to find yourself one. The 'pee-pee-pee' call always brings a smile to my face.

By late morning I was on a small boat heading for 'cock's Island. We needed to clear the vegetation for the coming breeding season and the return of the terns and gulls. This island is Bedfordshire's largest Tern colony, and our only Black-headed Gull colony. However the future for it looks bleak, as the lake is about to be turned in to a fishing/boating Mecca, which will no doubt expel these birds. This could be our last year to enjoy the spectacle so we chopped, dug, and made pretty, as much as we could. Hopefully the birds will appreciate our hard work later in the spring. 2 LRP's flew over a few times, as if to than us. Or perhaps that was wishful thinking?

Some hours later, a short quirt around Gypsy Lane East found five Green Sands, 2 Shelduck, and about ten Pied Wags (still no Whites with them). Six Redshanks were on the opposite side of the road, at Gypsy Lane West. Pipits are still very thin on the ground - perhaps we won't get any Rock Pipits again this spring?

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