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Long Tailed tit

1. Chiffchaff

Wild cherry

White Tailed bumblebee



Peacock butterfly


Small White butterfly


Robins courtship feeding




Great Spotted woodpecker

IMG_2598 Correction.jpeg



Robin feeding young



Sycamore seeds


5. Hawthorn flowers

3. Long Tailed Field mouse

4. Elderflower in the hedgerow

Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – April 2020

by Catherine Locke

April 1st 2020

An overcast April Fools Day but the weather was mild. A lot of goldfinches in the

park today, mostly in small flocks. I heard Greenfinches, mainly the "Shwee" calls of

the males. Always a lot of Robins about, but I also heard the 'seesaw' calls of Great

tits, one pair of Coal tits in a fir tree and a couple of pairs of Long-tailed tits. I do

love the little pink, grey and white Long-tailed tits. They are not bothered by people

walking below the tree they tick-tock in, often landing on a low branch to get a better

look at me. I heard a couple of warbling Wrens. A song to fill the heart with

happiness, so beautiful and clear. Their whole little body trembles to produce those

rich notes. I heard the great snoring whistle of a Bullfinch. A rare treat to see a

male in his fine orange/red front and black head. A very chunky bird. Today I

heard quite a few Chiffchaffs. I had heard my first Chiffchaff in the park on the

22nd of March this year. Although in some areas Chiffchaffs are resident all year

the ones that arrived in the park in March and April are probably European birds

that come here to breed, but may have even arrived from North Africa to spend

Spring and Summer in this park.


8th of April 2020

A sunny day with a lot of warmth. I saw and heard a lot of Robins in the park as

usual and some of them will be making nests now for a Spring brood (they often have

two broods of between 4 and 6 eggs from April right up to August). I heard several

pairs of Greenfinches and several single males making their "shwee" calls across the

park. Wild cherry trees are in full blossom now, the flowers being white, and it is of

these trees that A.E. Housman wrote:-

Loveliest of trees the cherry now

is hung with bloom along the bough

and stands about the woodland ride

wearing white for Eastertide


And it is indeed lovely to see the wild cherries in bloom, especially when there is a

stand of them as at the bottom end of Mules Park.

Today I saw queen bumble bees looking for holes in the ground to nest in. They were

the queens of the White-tailed bumblebee species, most common bumblebee in the

park. So many Blackbirds about today, males calling constantly to advertise their

nesting territories and to ward off Intruders. I saw Herb Robert, Primrose,

Celandine, Red Campion all in flower. I saw two pairs of Dunnocks and a group of


I saw a pair of orangey diamond-shaped long-winged bee-like insects in flight, and

they were mating. I looked them up later, at home, and found they were a pair of

Bee-flies. These bee mimics fly from March to June and hover making a high-

pitched whine. Their larvae are parasites in the nests of Mining bees.


Butterflies seen in the park today are;

a Speckled Wood (shady areas), a male Orange Tip (female has black crescents

instead of orange tips to the Wings) 4 Commas, and amazingly 5 Peacock

butterflies. The lovely colours of the Peacock butterfly make it one of my favourites.

It is an exotic looking butterfly and iridescent in sunlight. The 'eyes' on the wings

are to ward off predators and attract mates.


19th of April 2020

Hazy sunshine today and quite warm. I saw quite a few butterflies in the park:

3 Holly Blues, 4 Small Whites, 1 Large White, 2 Speckled Woods, 1 Red

Admiral, 3 Peacocks, one male Orange Tip, and one Tortoiseshell. As I entered

the park there were bluebells growing under the shade of the towering Monterey

Pines, like little blue lanterns in the gloom. A Wood pigeon clapped his wings

loudly at the Zenith of its flight, then glided downwards into the trees. I heard a lot

of Wood pigeons in the park today calling to each other. I also heard lots of

Robins singing or titting to each other. I've also seen them doing courtship feeding.

The female calls like a baby bird and the male brings food to her. As he approaches

she makes a more urgent hissing call. She needs this extra food provided by her mate

for energy to lay eggs and incubate them. Male Blackcaps were establishing

territories and I heard 7 in different areas of the park. Most of the Blackcaps in the

park have arrived from Southern Europe to breed here. Males arrived first, in early

April to establish territory and the females joined them in mid-April. The male has

a very loud garbled song and a sharp 'tak', like two stones banged together. They

make a small nest up of grass and flower stems in a bush and the female lays 4-5

eggs. Blackcaps often have two broods between April and July. I was lucky to see

three male Bullfinches today, one of them with his mate. In winter males often hang

out together in small groups but in spring they find mates and remain very loyal to

them. I heard the 'shwee' calls of a male Greenfinches from the tops of trees. The

male will guard a particular area with his far carrying call, and often if they remain

in one tree it is because their mate is nesting in the branches below them. I saw a

Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Nuthatch both searching for insects in the same

old English Oak tree in the woods above Overdell Path. I heard the gentle

'chipchap, chipchap' call of Chiffchaffs, three of them in different areas of the park.


The Hawthorn or 'May' will soon have to be called the 'April' as it is flowering now.

The scent is said to be like sex and death combined. Very attractive to insects that

lay their eggs in dead animals. The dangling Oak catkins are covered in a fine dust

of yellow pollen. I only had to brush one lightly and a mist of pollen dispersed into

the air. A flock of six twittering Goldfinches heard, then seen in the same English

Oak where I'd seen the Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch earlier, and the

Nuthatch was back, a male making a lot of noise 'hoowit, hoowit' repeated loudly.


26th of April 2020

It's cloudy today with hazy sunshine. The park was ringing with the calls of Wood

pigeons. I also heard a lot of Robins and saw a family of them, the speckled brown

fledglings were calling with high-pitched call from branches, not bothered by my

presence and only moving when the parents called to them. As the parent bird

approaches the fledgling flaps its wings violently and gives a long hissing call until

it is fed. I heard the lovely loud piercing songs of Wrens establishing territories.

The male makes up to 5 nests and the female chooses her favourite. Often use the

others for second broods or for roosting in at night.


Butterflies seen today:

3 Large Whites, 2 male Orange Tips, 2 Speckled Woods, 6 Holly Blues, and

one Peacock.


The Sycamore trees now have dangling bunches of yellow-green flowers. The male

flowers at the tip of the bunch eventually fall away and the female flowers at the base

of the bunch remain to become the familiar winged seeds that we see helicoptering to

the ground in late summer and early autumn.


I heard a bird that was mimicking the songs of other birds. I knew it wasn't a Song

thrush as it's mimicking was more rapid, firing off one bird sound after another. It

may well have been a Sedge Warbler, known to use much mimicking in its song.

The Hawthorns are looking lovely in their creamy white flowers by an area I call

Bottom Lower Meadow. Next to the Hawthorns are the fading flowers of the wild

cherry trees or geans. There were Hazel trees there too with dangling 'lambs tails'

catkins. In a long bramble brake running along the edge of the meadow, which was

part of a rabbit warren, a pair of Long-tailed tits were nesting. They came and went

into the brambles with nesting material. The lovely nests are made of lichen and of

mosses stitched together with spiders webs and lined with hundreds of feathers, and

designed to expand as the brood of up to 10 chicks is growing.


A long tailed Field mouse was sitting upright near a hole at the bottom of the

brambles then it very quickly turned tail and disappeared into the the hole in the

dry yellow grass.


Elderflowers are blossoming now and will be ready to pick by mid-May to make my

annual elderflower cordial.


Catherine Locke



Photo credits

1.chiffchaff. Attribution - Andreas Trepte / CC BY-SA (

URL  -

3. Field mouse. Attribution - Christian Fischer / CC BY-SA ( URL:

4.Elderflower. Attribution - Kate Jewell / Elder in the hedgerow


5. Hawthorn - under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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