Issue 25

Twitcher's World: 0.9          marienkaefer-48


After what has felt like a colder winter than usual, it was a relief to see the first bumble bee whizz past my head in early March. Someone had seen one in mid February which seemed a little too soon after the decent covering of snow we´d had. The heather at the front of the clinic provided some food for them, but there was little else for a few weeks.

The leafless winter has shown up a few birds that would otherwise have remained hidden. A goldcrest was seen in Ogmores garden as it searched for insects around the windows. This is our smallest British bird, and its reliance solely on insects means it suffers through a hard winter, its numbers being greatly reduced. Another bird spotted in the grounds was the treecreeper, a small brown bird which is easily overlooked. Its scurrying, mouse-like movements up the tree trunks usually leaving people wondering what it is.

The sparrow hawk is ever-present, with patches of white and grey feathers appearing on a regular basis in the grounds. Still, the numbers of white doves never really seems to fall so there must be a steady stream of offspring being produced, with each generation trying to improve on their 0-60mph performance.

If you ever get the chance to walk along the river, the dipper and kingfisher are permanent residents. The dipper will sit boldly for everyone to see whereas the kingfisher will appear as a blue and orange jewel-like flash. Rarely do you get to see one perched on the banks. Goosanders have also been seen on the river, the contrasting colours of the male and female making them appear different species. These expert fishers have not been particularly popular with angling clubs over the years and have suffered as a result.

Putting food out over the winter months has helped the usual garden visitors through the colder weeks. Since January these birds have come in pairs and I´m hoping I haven´t added to the sparrow hawks menu. These blue tits, robins, wagtails and many others will soon be busily feeding nests full of chicks. Keep an eye open too for the summer visitors; the swallows and house martins will soon be here.

In the gardens there is some colour appearing week by week. Primroses, speedwell and bittercress are out in flower. Further afield celandines and wood anemones line some of the walks, and bluebells will soon produce their blue carpet beneath some if the surrounding trees. I´ll leave you with that and hope you enjoy the spring and summer months, seeing plenty along the way.