Myland wildlife, Colchester : 21st April 2016

Up early again last Thursday, though not before dawn this time.  The sky was looking rather interesting so it was a case of grabbing wellies, coats and cameras and heading off out into the fields.  The sky was streaked with high cirrus (click on images for larger versions):Myland panorama 21 April 2016 adjusted

It feels distinctly as though the birdlife is more casual about human presence early in the morning. Blue-tits, blackbirds, great-tits all seemed largely un-bothered as I walked past:
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Then I became aware that I was also being watched – by a normally-timid woodpigeon attempting to look like an ivy leaf:
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Walking along the farm track there seemed to be a great deal of activity associated with a hedge up ahead, while the sky continued to do its cirrus thing:
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A robin seemed to feel that it owned the hedge:
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Meanwhile I was being scolded by a blue-tit who was busy hunting insects in the blackthorn flowers in the bushes behind me, although it decided against outright confrontation:
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…when a flash of colour in the corner of my eye caught my attention. A jay flew into the same blackthorn bushes. It soon became obvious that it was flying back and forth between the field behind the blackthorn and a location some way down the hedge in front of me, carrying twigs for nest-building. Eventually I realised that there were two, operating in relays, and it was fascinating to watch the fact that they flew through the air like swimmers through water, giving a flap then gliding with wings against the body before flapping again. Approaching the nesting hedge they always did a spectacular braking flare:
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Then suddenly all hell broke loose. The jays started screeching like a cockatoo with laryngitis, actually jumping up and down with anger, and I realised that a magpie had sneaked into their hedge from the far side, to investigate their nest. There was a huge amount of flapping, barging and swearing, until eventually the magpie fled into a nearby tree-top, chased by the jays. Eventually one of them looked down at me as if to say, “Well, what do you think of that? The cheek of it..!!”
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Then to round off a thoroughly exciting early morning stroll, a pair of yellowhammers leapt out of the hedge as I was heading home and perched on the hedge-top, providing a lovely view of them:
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…and so, home past the fields of sprouting wheat, then off to work…P1590968 adjusted 72dpi

Author: Richard Lindsay

Having worked for 20 years in the UK statutory nature conservation agencies as Peatland Specialist in the Chief Scientist Team, I then moved to the University of East London where I ran the nature conservation degrees for several years. Now I mainly undertake research and support peatland conservation activities, including the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, within UEL's Sustainability Research Institute. I also paint.

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