Return to moorhen home page

Log for 2001


9 Feb 2001:
A pair of Moorhen have stayed all winter, even during the freezes. A few flattened reeds indicate first thoughts of nests sites.
In Duck Pond today (a cold but sunny day with a light skim of ice on shaded areas of ponds) a few frogs were heard (but not seen!) gently croaking from under the grass overhanging the wateron the South (sun-warmed) side. Some previous frogs can be seen by clicking here.
All the grass areas are awash after months of rain. Walking across the grass leave puddles in the footsteps even days after heavy rain. The night-photo kit has been removed to safety for some months.

25 Feb 2001:
This morning about 07:00 while sitting at this computer looking at the news, a Bat was suddenly flittering around the study. We have no idea where it was roosting - there is no direct route from study to loft where a bat might roost. We think it is a Pipistrelle.
Placed in a safe place in a shed with holes in the walls for birds, it has gone an hour later.
11 Mar 2001:
1 Clump of Frog Spawn discovered in the Duck Shaped pond. The weather is unseasonably warm, so expect more. The Amphibian section is here.
A Pair of Moorhens are at each of the two large ponds. No nests found yet, but the dead reeds are dense owing to missing an intended autumn thinning because of the flooding, so we can't see in.
Two pairs of Mallard ducks that have been spending most of the day here have become two drakes - very likely the 'girls' are sitting on eggs somewhere in the long grass.

12 Mar 2001:
Now 14 Clumps of Frog Spawn in the Duck Shaped pond's head.
Firsrt Blackthorn flowers have appeared in 3 specimen trees rather than in hedges.
1 Daffodil has flowered on Round pond island (safe from being picked!)
Spring must have arrived!

31 Mar 2001:
About 30 frogs are spawning today in the main pond. This pond is in shadow for much of the winter so it is initially colder than the Duck Shaped Pond.
Moorhens have been seen fighting at all of the ponds. We think there is one nest deep in the reeds of the main pond.
A Mallard duck started a nest on the island of the main pond in full view of the world. She laid two eggs before Jackdaws or magpies wrecked it. The 3 Mallard drakes that hang around together on the site, and are occasionally seen singly with ducks, suggest that there are three nests somewhere on our plot. In the base of clumps of rank grass they are very hard for us to find - we only discover them by luck.
A new Little owl box was commandeered by Jackdaws. Owls won't have a chance, so have fitted a plate to turn it into a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest box - probably too late for this year.
After 10 years we have finally added the common bird Dunnock to the site species list. Why this has been so locally scarce we can't imagine. We have also never seen a Coal Tit even though Blue and Great Tits are rife. Here is the Species List
We have thousands of daffodils finally erupting, but many are clearly distressed by 6 months of being waterlogged.
The vegetable garden is a waterlogged swamp. Marie is planting potatoes in pots and is to be located gazing forlornly at the puddles. At least the ponds will start the summer full of clean water.

22 Apr 2001:
Muntjac Deer seen for the first time, and in the back garden at that. Here is a Picture through the Patio Doors
A Great Spotted Woodpecker has chosen an unusual Drumming post - a Blue tit box. Not surprisingly, no birds are nesting in it - well not any more anyway. Here is the new section dedicated to Woodpeckers.
With stunning reproducibility of date, the first Cuckoo of the year was heard. We intend a page on Cuckoos in due course - for now here is his Call (73K)

19 May 2001:
Muntjac Deer seen for a few days after the above, but not since.
Moorhen are nesting on the main pond, deep in the reeds where we can't see what is going on. Another pair of moorhens have built a very exposed nest on the round pond. This had 6 eggs in it last Wednesday, but only 2 yesterday - probably Magpies or Jackdaws took them. Maybe another go with better cover from growing reeds will be successful.
First House Martin seen on 15 May 2001. We don't know where they breed - they usually spend a lot of time here feeding their young later in the season.
Starling flying to nestStarlings are feeding their young in the space above the (unused) House Martin artificial nests. Worms, insects etc. arrive every couple of minutes from Dawn to Dusk.
The Great Spotted Woodpecker has stopped drumming. Male and Female are using the Peanut feeders.
Ponds are again overflowing after a further deluge - the opportunity taken to plant more willow wands to fill in some rearranged paths - push sticks into the waterlogged soil and they usually take. Some get rabbit guards.

21 May 2001:
A new specifies for this plot - a Holly Blue Butterfly.
First Odonata (Dragonfly) seen this year were dozens of Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damselfly)

7 June 2001:
A pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker have produced at least one youngster somewhere near us. Here the youngster (left) is near the peanut feeder with the male.
Magpies have been taking eggs from all large exposed nests. Moorhen, Pigeon, Ducks are all complete blanks so far this year - we find lots of broken shell, and have actually seen a magpie raiding a pigeon nest in a bush. By the evening of that day the pigeons were already mating again.

19 June 2001:
17 June a moorhen on the main pond was seen frantically collecting morsels from under floating leaves and delivering them to a well hidden nest in a clump of Iris. Next day two youngers being fed by one adult near the nest. Another bird is still sitting - we expect some more.
17 June a Skylark briefly heard and seen over a neighbours hedge. First sighting/hearing for some years. Very windy - it was struggling to keep station & dived back into the hedge.
18 June a Muntjac deer seen drinking from the pond. Same evening seen pictured here - the animal is about 75cm high. It's presence explains some unexplained damage (minor so far) to tree trunks above the Rabbit or Hare reachable height.
  20 July 2001:
The Moorhen hatched 7 young, of which 3 have survived and are all doing well. The parents are getting 'romantic' again.
No more sighting of any sort of deer but the rabbits and magpies have done altogether too well. At least two pigeon nests have also produced - they do a lot of damage but we enjoy them anyway.
Molehills everywhere - back garden, paths, pond edges, hydrants, under plant pots which then topple. Good soil for potting but also just right for blocking up the mower and the drains!
The great Spotted wood peckers have had two youngsters now being shown how to extract nuts from the caged nut feeders. One adult spends hours collecting nut fragments and hammering them into a hole in the post the nut feeder is on. The youngsters then come along and feed from them.
A Juvenile heron spent about an hour outside the kitchen window feeding on Newts from the pond. We didn't know this pond had any, and he had at least 4. It took it about 30 minutes to learn how to swallow the first, but the last (much bigger than the first) went down in seconds. Interesting to watch the learning process of dealing with a non-fish shaped morsel. Page of herons pictures planned. Here is a sample

25 Aug 2001:
The moorhen have produced another brood. On 14 Aug, 2 egg sized chicks were seen at the duck shaped pond in company of a panicking adult. Next day, 6 young and 2 adults were feeding on the main pond. The 3 juveniles surviving from the previous brood were being chased off by the parents, rather than helping feed their younger siblings.
As of yesterday at least 4 are still around.
No more sightings of deer, although we still find some fresh damage to trees.

26 Sep 2001:
3 Snipe landed in short rough grass South of the Duck Shaped Pond about 20m away from us - first time more than one at a time. Later 1 Snipe was flushed from round pond - the first time seen there.

25 Nov 2001:
At 21:55 a Little owl seen in a Sycamore behind woodpile. Flew away after a few seconds in the spotlight - normally they just seem to ignore lights - perhaps it saw the human behind the light.

Logs from Previous years