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Hibernation Time

October 18, 2009 at 1:34 pm


With the first frosts of Winter this week the local Hedgehogs are now finding places to hibernate. Piles of logs are one of their favourites.

On Hopwood a good view of a Roe Deer was had in the white frost on both the twelfth and the fourteenth. During the morning of the fourteenth five flocks of Redwings flew overhead totalling more the two hundred and sixty birds but still no Fieldfares locally The first Woodcock was flushed on the twelfth of October , which is about normal for their arrival from Scandinavia.

During the afternoon of the thirteenth I was in the Roaches on the North Staffordshire moors, There was a passage of forty Meadow Pipits, four Kestrels were seen separately and two Wheatears were still present on a gravel path at dusk. A peacock butterfly was seen and a great pink sunset followed but no migrant thrushes were encountered.

The highlight in the garden was a record ten Collared Doves on the fourteenth but sadly the male Sparrowhawk returned on the fifteenth and caught prey. I suppose he has to live as well!

Redwings At Last

October 12, 2009 at 2:22 am


On the sixth of October I saw my first Redwing of Autumn, making it six days later than last year which is late in view of the mild Autumnal weather we have been having in the last few weeks. No Fieldfares yet though but with North East winds forecast perhaps next week?

At Hopwood a male Stonechat was present on the tenth as well as a Red Admiral butterfly.

As we sat in the garden, drinking coffee, one day during the week thirty two Goldfinches and seven Greenfinches continued to feed only twenty foot away! Hard to believe that fifty years ago Goldfinches were rare birds locally.


October 5, 2009 at 1:34 am


Not much to report this week as everything has evolved around my eldest son’s wedding on October 3rd. Once my wife and ten month old grandson had been rescued by the Fire Brigade from being locked in the toilet everything went OK!!

On Hopwood Snipe and Skylarks continue to move South but still no migrant thrushes. In the woods Goldcrests are quite noisy and six Bullfinches were seen together.

A Cormorant flew over the Canal one morning and Sparrowhawks have been hunting the garden on two occasions, once catching prey. The Starling numbers have now increased to sixteen.

Dry Weather All Week

September 27, 2009 at 2:22 am

Autumn Crocus

The number of Autumn Crocus in flower at Hopwood is the best for some years but their stalks are so fragile they only stop upright for a few days. In the scrub area by the railway a Willow Tit was calling today – perhaps it is on its way to our garden

As usual at this time of the year Jays are more visible in the woods as they look for acorns. Unfortunately, in comparison to other Autumn fruits, the Acorn crop this year is poor. As a result we should receive more visits from the Jays to our garden.

Parties of Long Tailed Tits are still being encountered in all the woodlands and there is a steady movement of Skylarks in a South West direction.

Despite the lack of sunshine there was a Comma butterfly in the garden today.

Late Summer Continues

September 21, 2009 at 5:23 am


With the exceptionally calm weather a visit to Pennington Flash produced some wonderful film of Lapwings with mirror reflections in the flat calm water. Even in Autumn they have some fabulous colours to view despite some of the crests being a bit tatty.

On Hopwood the first Skylarks are now moving through, along with small parties of Linnets. Fourteen Long Tailed Tits were still together in the woods and they seem to have had a good breeding season. The first Autumn Crocus are now in flower but sadly they only appear briefly before the Autumn gales break their delicate stalks.

In the garden the Goldfinches are now up to a maximum of twenty and the local Tawny Owl is still bringing its young in the hunt for mice and voles. Due to all the sunshine there are still plenty of Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma butterflies coming into the garden.

Summer At Last

September 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm


At long last five beautiful, calm, warm days to bring Summer to a close.

In the garden there are now Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood butterflies flitting about from flower to flower.

A visit to the Hodder Valley produced Kingfisher, Goosander and many charms of Goldfinches feeding on the ripening hedgerow seeds in particular the Meadow Sweet. The crops of berries this year are exceptional especially those of the Blackthorn with sloes all over the place. Pity I don’t make sloe gin!

During the week I filmed , at a local school, a nest full of young Swallows being fed. It wont be long now before they commence the long journey to South Africa.

A visit to a sheltered valley to the North of Manchester produced not one but two male Adders – the latest I have ever seen a local Adder.

On the local Golf Course Bullfinches are still numerous and along with many passerines have had a good breeding season. A Willow Tit that was calling is probably the one from our garden that I have not seen for a fortnight.