Spring has sprung and the natives are getting restless… These new nature notes come courtesy of our very own ‘Funny Tern’…

As skies lighten and buds burst, so the smaller residents of the Rec get busy. Romance is clearly on the mind of our moorhens and mallards, with some pairs bonded while tetchy bachelors continue to try their luck.

The beginning of March has seen a flurry of activity around the pond and in our high oaks. The moorhens are well used to their island nesting sites, and the ducks are considering which parts of the surrounding trees have the best view.

The first moorhen brood won’t know its luck. An island home surrounded by a clear pool and grassland packed with tasty morsels – no wonder they do so well. On the other side of the tracks, it looks likely that any ducklings will need to steel themselves for a jump from nests high in the oaks. Learning to swim must seem a doddle after trying to fly with no serious wings yet in place! And then, before they’re much bigger, they’ll probably have to waddle after mum across busy roads to Broomfield’s more luxuriant ponds.

Of oaks and owls

The oaks are home, too, to our resident crows. A nest is in place and both birds make regular visits. These masters of flight issue a firm vocal reprimand to any magpies and wood pigeons who trespass high amongst the branches. Cor!

This week was notable for strong calling from a pair of tawny owls

This week was notable for strong calling from a pair of tawny owls. They may not find a suitable nest site locally but it’s great to have them around and hear their calls: the original t’wit t’woo (do you know which is mum and which dad?) Some years ago, we were lucky enough to have a tawny owl perch briefly on a balcony rail by a bedroom window, but have only had rare glimpses since then.

Robins, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits and house sparrows are all going about their domestic business too. It must be quite a job choosing exactly the right sticks and bits of fluff to make the perfect nest. Eggs marks the spot!

Heron in

Finally, mention must be made of that most elegant and sinister of avian visitors – the grey heron. There have been a number of recent landings, with our heron spending time on islands and pond edge, looking meaningfully and hungrily at the water for potential snacks. For a duckling, the traffic on Alderman’s Hill is certainly a more attractive proposition than a ride in that long and powerful beak.

Keep watching and reporting – there’s lots to come!