Although it’s only mid-February, the ongoing mild conditions mean that the sights and sounds of early spring are becoming increasingly evident. This morning I therefore spent three hours checking a couple of sites between Lyndhurst and Woodlands for early breeding birds. Starting with the established Raven territory, I saw one bird on two occasions, suggesting the partner bird may already be sitting on a nest.
Nearby, a pair of Woodlark, present since late January at least, were feeding in a sheltered corner of a large clearing. The male occasionally gave bursts of sub-song on the ground, but would sporadically take flight and aurally illuminate the scene with bursts of full song while holding station in the face of a stiff westerly breeze.
A Hawfinch was heard calling and briefly seen flying overhead as I moved through an area of mature beeches, where I briefly paid my respects to a recently downed tree that was no doubt a victim of the recent storms. Entering an area of conifer plantation, I noticed a good carpeting of Common Tamarisk Moss, and a couple of inquisitive Roe Deer (a doe and mature fawn).
Some of the clumps of frogspawn in the shallower ditches were already containing well-developed tadpoles, and a Firecrest called from its winter territory as I retreated homewards in the face of the impending heavy showers!