The month of March was great for gardens and birds in general: some super spring weather and the comfort that comes with a mildness that reassured all that winter 2014/15 was behind us.
I never noticed so much early nesting / breeding behaviour in our resident species: nest boxes were visited daily by Blue and Great Tits, and a pair of Long tailed Tits were regular commuters to a gorse bush behind the compost bins: a nest well under construction by mid March and perfectly formed by Easter.
|Red Kite: hunting for nest decorations (c.OOS)|
Best of all was the frequent and often bold shows by two of the more recent additions to Wicklows breeding avifauna: Buzzards spread naturally south from County Antrim in the 1970s and perhaps east from Wales where the population is at saturation point.
|Complete tumble: just for fun! (c.OOS)|
|Majestic raptors! (c.OOS)|
Buzzards always put on a good show at this time of year when pairs come out to strengthen bonds, soaring on the first spring thermals, and attracting rival or just neighbouring pairs on to the borders of their territories. There is frequent 'mewing' and some vertical movement leading to diving and close enough contact as birds drop and fall at an alarming speed.. the crows keep a respectful distance, perhaps intimidated by the sight and sound of up to five Buzzards in active display.
|Buzzard in free fall (c.OOS)|
Red Kites, given a welcome helping hand via a re introduction from Welsh stock, they look so at home on Wicklows slopes: mixed farming land and some of the best oakwoods in the country to choose for nesting.
|Buzzard: Dark (and threatening!)( c.OOS)|
The Kites are a regular sighting over the house and gardens, a recent ploughing of the winter stubble brought a couple straight in, along with eight or so Lesser Black backed Gulls: it doesnt take long for birds to pick up on feeding opportunities presented by the plough! The Kites were frequently buzzing my neighbours garden: either for food items or for decorations for the nest: I suspect the latter, as some light building work is under way.
A couple of visits to the local stand of oak, proved fruitful: a bird rose from the bare canopy and seemed sufficiently committed to the site to circle low over my head: A nest of sticks was quickly located in the bare canopy, a bit smaller than expected but, close inspection revealed the tell tale decorations of discarded plastic and twine hanging from the branches immediately below the nest. A visit the following day revealed a Kite sitting tight on 10th April, grey head and beady, two tone eye visible from the ground: thank God for late leafing Oaks!