A trip to Walton Country Park produced several spring migrants including willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap and whitethroat while at Brockadale, the cowslips are now abundant.
At the April meeting, Eddie Andrassy reported what is probably the earliest Yorkshire record of reed warbler, seen at Calder wetlands, so I thought I’d send a note to the Wakefield Express. They have kindly put it on the Wakefield Express website.
“The mild spring weather and southerly breezes of late has brought an influx of spring migrants with chiffchaff, willow warbler, wheatear and even swallow all being seen in Wakefield this past week or so. These are all the usual suspects for an early arrival but what has been of more interest to local birdwatchers is the early arrival of a reed warbler on 6th April at Calder Wetlands (just behind the Swan & Cygnet pub on Denby Dale Road).
Reed warblers are a fairly non-descript bird, a little brown job or LJB as birders are apt to call them, spending the winter months in sub-Saharan Africa but head north to Europe in the spring to breed deep in our reedbeds. Although it is possible to see reed warblers quite readily in the reedbeds around Wakefield, they are very much a secretive bird and prefer to sing from deep within the phragmites reed. For such a small bird they have a great vocal range, a loud voice and they are easily recognised by their slow chattering song but they are also great mimics too! What makes this record unusual is that it is a couple of weeks early and could well be the earliest ever spring record in Yorkshire. Although he might have to wait a week or so for a mate, he will certainly get the pick of the reedbeds to set up territory.”
I was driving into Wakefield on Friday evening and, as the traffic slowed, I was scanning the patches of Danish scurvy grass in the middle of the road when I spotted some conspicuous patches of pink flowers. I returned the next morning to have a closer look before the traffic got too busy and I found that the flowers belong to common storksbill (Erodium cicutarium).
Common storksbill is an invasive species normally favouring sandy soils but can grow in a variety of soils. According to Wkipedia, the whole plant is apparently edible and has a similar taste to parsley However, another plant site says ‘may be toxic’!
I had a trip to Brockadale today to see where the cowslips were at but they are still not through yet despite the warmer weather. Another week or so should really see them showing strong. On the way back I drove beneath Went Hills at Wentbridge and noticed a really bright female wheatear there.
After lunch I hit Newmillerdam to see if there were any nesting great crested grebes but didn’t find any. It was rather quite in general to be fair, though I did hear chiffchaff singing and saw at least one large terrapin basking in the spring sunshine. The mute swans were busy nest building only a few metres from the bank and way too close for the 500mm I had with me!