After a very cold and miserable March, April began with an improvement in the weather in South Shropshire providing a few quite sunny afternoons. There were still plenty of finches using the bird feeders – goldfinches, greenfinches, siskins and a single lesser redpoll. On the 3rd of the month a willow tit showed up – always an exciting moment here. It was only seen feeding for a short time but gave me hope that this lovely little bird, which I hadn’t see here for several months, might still be around my garden if only from time to time. Later in the month a pair of marsh tits (picture of one above) also appeared on the feeders – the first time I have seen this species here for many months. They have bred in the garden before and this pair was seen courtship feeding, so my hopes are high for a successful nest again.
As we moved into the second week of April our first migrant bird was heard – a blackcap singing in all the usual places, making me suspect that it is the same bird that nested here last year. Usually it is a chiff chaff that we see and hear first, but they seem few and far between around us so far this year. Our male blackcap continued to sing around the garden perimeter for the rest of the month, along with plenty of wrens, dunnocks, blackbirds and robins.
The initial good weather at the start of the month was not to last and changed yet again – back to cold and dank with no sign of the sun for several days. A pair of red-legged partridges took up residence in the garden, the male calling loudly from various locations while the female pottered about in the borders. This species has bred in the garden several times so hopefully we might see breeding success again this year. In the middle of the month the weather changed yet again. It was still cool but at least it was sunny! A few butterflies appeared including the usual tatty peacocks and small tortoiseshells searching for nectar, although as a result of the very cold spring so far, there were few dandelions in flower for them to feed on. The weather continued to slowly improve and soon the cowslip meadow was in full flower, plus the marsh marigolds around the big pond also burst into bloom to brighten the garden.
I am very fortunate to have oak woodland adjacent to my garden and it is a great source of interesting wildlife that finds its way into the garden from time to time. This month the moth trap produced a few new species including the beautiful Oak Beauty moth – a stunning moth that I have been expecting to see here, but have not caught until this year. The month ended with a short trip to the Pembrokeshire coast where the wildlife highlights were choughs and gannets and sedge and red warblers sang in the coastal reed beds.
I returned home to find a pair of mallard in the garden with, miraculously, thirteen newly hatched youngsters! The nest was only revealed after the ducklings had left it as it was very well camouflaged in reeds on the edge of the big pond.