Sunday, 20 February 2011

Greenie's decline

I didn't put the trap out overnight the last two nights but did find a Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) in the house yesterday. 

The Chestnut that wandered into the house

It was wet and quiet when I left for a couple of hours of wandering over the fell this morning and nearly 4 hours later nothing had changed. Walking over the fell, I tracked down two fly over Lesser Redpoll but they were were both very un-mealy like.  A male Roe Deer bounded away before I got anywhere near it and a Common Snipe jumped out of one of the wet patches.  During the course of the morning I heard 2 Green Woodpeckers (as well as seeing 2 Great spotted Woodpeckers). I am getting a bit worried about the Greens. It wasn't that long ago that I reckon there was between 5-7 pair in the area, now I think there is only 2, possibly 3 pair, a serious decline but the reasons I'm not sure of, the habitat hasn't changed very much. In the nearby horse fields, 20 Redwing were feeding with about 100 Starling and 12 Chaffinch and 2 Siskin flew over.

Redwing by the stables
Walking through the Scrog Woods near to Beaney Lane, there seemed to be Grey Squirrels everywhere, in fact I can't remember noticing so many anywhere in the area. They still haven't appeared in my garden yet despite being very close on a number of occasions but I am not complaining.  In the Felledge Wood, 15 Goldfinch were feeding in the Alder and Silver Birches and 2 Jay called. The titmice family were prominent today with several Long-tailed Tits paired up. It was interesting to note the differences in the current state of this families breeding cycles. The Long-taileds have paired up, most of the Great Tits are currently singing and looking for a mate, whereas the Blue Tit and Coal Tits are still in their roaming flocks with little song at the moment.

In the South Burn Wood, a group of 7 Bullfinch showed well for a few moments and a Willow Tit was calling by the new road. The Snowdrops are out in full flower here and looking quite good.

Snowdrops in the South Burn Woods

Nearby, the only plant of Harts-tongue Fern that I know of on the Fell proper has greened up and has come through the winter well. This species is increasing and can be seen on many of the walls in Chester-le-Street town centre these days but this one is in the woods.
Hart's-tongue fern - possibly the fell's only example of this species

The invasive moss, Heath Star Moss (Campylopus introflexus)  is increasing quite rapidly and has now moved into some of the barer areas in the South Burn Woods. On the way back, the big flock of Redpolls flew over, nearly 100 birds, but did not settle, so there may be a Mealy (or better) in there, if only I could ever get them perched up for a few minutes.


  1. interesting to read about the Yaffles
    i reckoned @ 11 pair in the Valley between Durham & Chester, when i was birding there regularly in the 90's.
    It does seem to be going back-over....
    Had one calling at Lumley Castle a week or so ago - (certainly a difficult bird to catch up with round Houghton area)

  2. Steve,

    I am worried about them, I'm sure I had less last year and there is definitely a drop in the number I am seeing/hearing again this year so far. My only hope is they are a bit late in their claiming of territories and will pick up later in the spring