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Frogspawn! A bird in the hand! Mystery tracks!

Date posted: Wednesday 7th March 2018

Frogspawn!  A bird in the hand!  Mystery tracks!

After the snows and freezing arctic temperatures of last week nature has been catching up with a vengeance – delighted to see frogspawn in my pond when I went to the plot yesterday morning, on a mild, almost spring-like day. For the last few years the spawn laying has been earlier, as the winters have been comparatively mild. I was beginning to think the frogs had moved on, althought they do tend to return each year to the same water to breed. That’s another reason why it’s such a shame when ponds are covered in or removed – I imagine the hapless female frogs trudging resolutely back to their chosen water, only to discover it gone – so sad!

On arriving at my shed door I’m often joined by ‘my’ robin, one of two who visit my plots on a regular basis. This one is mad keen for suet pellets, so a slow campaign of luring to the hand has been in progress, after I witnessed a fellow plotholder with ‘his’ robin perching (briefly) on his outstretched hand picking out mealworms. So, a modest success for me and a meal of useful fat for robin! The other one that frequents the plots prefers sunflower seed to suet pellets, so it’s easy to spot the difference – they’re not partners as the dominant suet pellet eater will see off the other – possibly an offspring from last year’s brood?

Before the snow melted last week we were wandering around the site looking for fox and other tracks when we noticed this mystery set of prints, looking suspiciously like rabbit! It’s not a difficult site to get into from the surrounding park, as an iron railings fencing runs along Church Grove walk, easy enough for bunnies to slip through. But if that were the case, our allotments would surely be over-run by rabbits by now, enjoying our local produce.

A small group of longtail tits appeared yesterday, one or two of them landing on the ground to forage around the next door plot’s sprouts. Birds now singing and foraging at full tilt, a blackcap on site singing it’s repetitive song, a bit like a robin but less varied and melodious. There’s now quite a sizeable little flock of goldfinches passing back and forth over the site. They’ve done very well recently as many people now put out niger seed feeders and their numbers have risen. My partner has seen lapwings and little owls in Bushy Park. Our starling numbers are slowly increasing, but it’ll be a long time before we can enjoy the mass murmurations seen in the Somerset levels, Brighton and other specific locations.

The fieldfares and redwings have joined the starlings and jackdaws over the past weeks to forage in the area. This tree in an adjacent street is a popular spot for them and the pavement’s been spattered with red spots, looking like one of Damien Hurst’s splatter spot paintings (produced by others!)