31/03/2014 10:30 - 11:30. Misty - growing warm.
Tadpoles have emerged from the frogspawn (but they aren't very photogenic) and Common Frogs were nearby. Once again, there were no migrants on Fox Hill, but two Green Woodpeckers added colour and a Wren posed nicely.

30/03/2014 5°C at dawn.
29 moths and 10 species is a new garden record for March on both counts. They were: 1 Double-striped Pug, 4 Clouded Drab, 1 Early Grey, 2 Early Thorn, 4 Small Quaker, 3 Common Quaker, 11 Hebrew Character, 1 Angleshades, 1 Diurnia fagella and 1 Agonopterix alstromeriana.

The Blackbirds that began building in the garden on March 3rd now have at least one (perhaps two?) babies and an egg ready to hatch. Blue and Great Tits have only just begun to investigate the nest boxes.

A single violet plant introduced next to my greenhouse a few years ago has now become a multitude. I worked these out to be Early Dog Violet (Viola reichenbachiana) though the ones in flower in the Meadow at the moment are Sweet Violets (Viola odorata).

29/03/2014 07:30-08:30. A misty, moisty morning.
A quick visit to look for migrants found none but there were 300 Fieldfares on Fox Hill, a Heron flew by, a Little Owl was back at the entrance to the Barn Owl box and a Song Thrush was in good voice at its usual tree in the lane.

Earlier, there was a good selection of early season moths in the garden trap with from left to right (below) Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab.

24/03/2014 Sunny and pleasant after an overnight frost.
No Wheatears this morning, but plenty of Magpies and a pair of copulating Buzzards. Tim was kind enough to remind me of his sheep's breed as he cleaned up the rear end of the one below, which is a "mule" being a cross between a Leicester (for their bulk) and a Swaledale (for their hardiness). Another ewe is a mule crossed with a Charolais. Despite the earlier frost and a cold breeze, the sun was strong enough for five Small Tortoiseshells to be sunbathing in the wildflower meadow. The Lings Lane seed hopper was refilled; the Tree Sparrows and others have consumed 25kg of mixed seed since 6th February but they now have another 25kg to go at - courtesy of Notts Widlife Trust.

The weather has taken a turn for the worse but I thought we might be happier about it with a reminder of March 23rd 2013.

22/03/2014 09:15-10:00. Very cold westerly wind.
Two Wheatears were, I hope, the first of many at last year's favoured staging post on Fox Hill where numbers peaked at 34 on April 21st which is a record assemblage for Nottinghamshire; the previous peak count being "at least 30" at Netherfield on April 23rd 2006. (Reece 2009). A Grey Heron flew west and Tim's ewes have started production.

19/03/2014 09:00-11:00. Cool becoming warm.
First frogspawn (last year it was 6th April). 300 Fieldfares in a newly tilled field were accompanied by just 2 Redwings. Bullfinches were present in the meadow where they have been few and far between this winter. One Buzzard, a flyover Cormorant and a couple of circuits by a handful of motley Greylag Geese.

14/03/2014 09:00-10:45. Light fog burning off before 11:00 into a sunny warm day.
No migrants as yet despite a search of Fox Hill. The new pond is very dense with algae and blanketweed and I suppose it will be so annually until we can get it to hold water throughout the year. No sign of any frogspawn either as yet despite the early spring, though there were at least 16 Smooth Newts in my garden pond last night. There was a Red Campion in flower and Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers in territory along the lane, and perhaps a dozen Tree Sparrows around the feeder along with Blue and Great Tits and Chaffinches whilst a Greenfinch was a rather scarce bonus. Buzzard and Great Spotted Woodpecker were distant vocalists. A Small Tortoiseshell was an early riser, on the wing before the fog had melted away.

09/03/2014 Sunny, becoming warm; 16°C by 10:30am.
A Song Thrush in good voice at the top of the lane was followed by a Buzzard enjoying the vista from a hedge on Fox Hill, but no migrants there yet. A small party of Skylarks and loose assemblages of Redwings and Fieldfares. Two Mallard were visiting ponds as they do at this time of year. There were two Common Quakers in the garden moth trap.

I recorded 9th March last year as "foggy 2°C"! Quite a contrast and I'm expecting a Brimstone later.

Late Morning Update: Just seen Brimstone at 11:04am!

A considerable amount of time this week has been spent trying to identify landmarks visible from the wildflower meadow (we should give it a name) in preparing an information panel. I eventually established the most distant feature on the horizon as Crich Stand at 37km. It is very distinctive and it should have occurred to me as a possibility much sooner. One of Ilkeston's Churches is visible on a similar bearing, as is West Bridgford RC Church. Perhaps more distant than Crich is the view up the Trent valley, but there don't seem to be any features distinguishable among the plethora of pylons, at least not with the less than perfect visibility that has prevailed over the past few days. Other outdoor time has been spent gardening and making nest boxes.

03/03/2014 Sunny and spring-like.
50 Black-headed Gulls, A Buzzard or two, Green Woodpecker all around Fox Hill where I just enjoyed the morning.

28/02/2014 Cool, milky sunshine.
Nothing of note on an afternoon visit apart perhaps from some Red Dead-nettle in flower. Several Goldfinches visited the garden later where they preferred the remains of last summer's Borage to the niger in the feeder.

The White Willow on the edge of the new pond, half of which blew into the pond several weeks ago, has now been rendered asunder and the other half of the old stool has fallen in the opposite direction.

Although it is has been largely dry now for a couple of weeks, there is still plenty of water about.

25/02/2014 Breezy but sunny and dry
7 Hares a Green Woodpecker around 1,000 Rooks in two flocks and about half that number of mixed Fieldfares and Redwings scattered about and making them impossible to count. Their scattering was further assisted by a marauding Sparrowhawk, which was the first for some time as were the 2 Bullfinches. A Skylark was singing. A search under likely looking reptile refugia suggests there are a lot of Field Voles around - good news for our struggling Barn Owls.

19/02/2014 Quite mild and calm.
The replenished seed hopper has been discovered by 2 Tree Sparrows, and several Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Yellowhammers. A Buzzard, 5 Hares, a Brown Rat in the brook, 100 Fieldfares and about 30 Skylarks followed roughly in order of appearance.
It was nice to see a party of pond dippers discovering the wildlife in the brook - I hope they were suitably clued up on Weil's disease.

16/02/2014 Sunny with a cold light westerly.
A stroll around Holme Pierrepont meant a change in avifauna and included a selection of ducks but only one wader species, though the Lapwings were more numerous than any recent counts from the Keyworth area with about 40 in flight together at one time.

06/02/2014 Quite mild but dull.
After meeting up with the Wildlife Trust to erect a couple more Tree Sparrow nest boxes and fill up the seed hopper on Lings Lane, I continued around the Meadow but once again, wildlife was scarce. There was a flock of about thirty passerines which seemed to be mixed Chaffinches and Yellowhammers and there were a couple of hundred corvids - mostly Rooks by appearance but clearly accompanied by a lot of Jackdaws judging by the calls that predominated. "Highlight" was a very tatty used breeding nest of a Harvest Mouse that was somehow still suspended from grasses in the verge along Lings Lane despite the battering from recent tempests.

02/02/2014 Bright and breezy.
The flow in the brook was surprisingly average for mid-winter, given the storm that passed through yesterday. 7 Pied Wagtails had found one particular patch of field to their liking and there was a hint of spring with Great Tits and Robins in song, but otherwise it was normal winter fare in the form of Fieldfares and Redwings with a scattered flock of the latter numbering around 60.

31/01/2014 Cold, dank and dreary.
54 Black-headed Gulls with 5 Common Gulls mingling in the pastures and a large assemblage of Skylarks numbering around 40 in the big arable field. A Kestrel was sat in a tree and is only worth a mention because it's the first I've seen down there this year. At least the forecast heavy rain held off.

27/01/2014 Breezy and a cold sleety shower.
Everywhere is very wet (you will not be surprised to hear) with the meadow as saturated as I've ever seen it. The area continues to be rather dull from a naturalist's viewpoint with a loose flock of Redwings, numbering around 50, saving the day. Otherwise there were just 5 Hares worth a mention.

The willow tree adjacent to Willow Pond has split and blown down into the new pond. It may have to stay like that until they are all pollarded in the autumn or until the pond dries up.

26/01/2014 Very wet and very windy.
Perfect conditions for sitting indoors with a cup of tea and doing the RSPB Garden Birdwatch. Though it seems the birds were snugly tucked away too and in the hour from 11 till noon, I managed just two Blackbirds, two Robins, two Dunnocks and a Woodpigeon! Although that is untypical, there really has been a dearth of garden birds this winter and a Coal Tit and a Chaffinch are the only non regular species that I can think of. The perception is that the mild weather is keeping the birds out in the wider countryside but my visits to the meadow have not supported this theory.
Willow Tits disappeared from southern England some years ago but they were still to be found around the meadow last winter. However that may prove to be the last as they are believed to have gone from Nottinghamshire now too. (As I write, 20 Greylag Geese have just flown over the house). I wonder if there will be any Cuckoos or Turtle Doves this summer.

Late to be added to the site because of FTP problems but little to report anyway, with the highlight being 21 Skylarks. Otherwise a few Fieldfares would be taking the top spot.

02/01/2014 Cool, sunny and calm.
A little more interest today with 80 Black-headed Gulls drifting through and the Fieldfares out in the open and able to be counted; around 140 accompanied 60 or so Starlings in a field of winter wheat. As last winter, there were no Redwings with the Fieldfares, both of which used to forage the hedgerows in the first part of the winter, but, because these are flailed so severely, there are next to no berries left for them. 10 Hares were counted and there were a few Yellowhammers and Chaffinches too.