Keeping an eye on the birds during lockdown

We have been closed due to coronavirus since mid March 2020. It's been a strange time, some very worrying days, time also to take stock and days when we could just enjoy the beauty of what we have. The wildlife very quickly realised something was different. Within a week the ducks started exploring further afield and familiarised themselves with all the bird feeders around the park they had previously not known about! The spells of very hot weather also worked in their favour as the sprinklers came out and they took great delight in finding these new places to hang out.  

At this time of year we have been able to watch birds pair up, make their nests and hatch their young, something that when we are busy we only get the chance to see fleetingly as you have to be in the right place at the right time to capture these special events.

Soon into the lock down, the Sandmartins arrived. This year over 30 to 40 birds arrived and very quickly made their nesting holes in the dry banks of the river where they come each year. We think they have had two nestings so far.

The swallows have always nested down by the river where they could be seen looping the loop as they fly. This year they have moved onto the Park, finding eves around the buildings to build their nests. Now their chicks have hatched you take your life in your hands walking nearby the nest sites as the parents’ dive bomb anyone who looks to be going close. Poor Bob the park dog has been harassed numerous times as he has dared to walk by!

For the first time this year we have a pair of egrets, beautiful striking birds, although along with the resident Heron we think they may be guilty for the decline in duckling numbers. Nature’s way ☹ We haven't seen if they have nested here or any sign of their young but maybe this may happen another year.

Our pair of Barn Owls have nested again, and we assume they now have owlets as they are making food trips every 15 to 20 minutes from early evening. Their flight path is predictable so with a bit of patience we are almost guaranteed to see them most evenings. They fly silently and are such a strikingly beautiful sight as they fly against the backdrop of the Park and the Cleveland Hills. Seeing them hunt for food is something very special :)

Although on the Red List of endangered bird species, we have always had a healthy number of nesting peewits each springtime. This year a ground of around 15 to 20 birds nested at the edge of an oil seed rape crop running alongside one of the farm access roads. Like the swallows they proved to be very protective of their young and went to great ends to make sure that no one or no thing intended to go close.

Another Red list species is the Skylark which again can be seen in several numbers. We are sure they must have nested in amongst the crops but have not been lucky enough to see their young. When flying they can be seen to fly high in quick blasts and then just as quickly drop down. When there is a group of them it is quite a display.