As the first snowdrops appear, their white heads dancing in the early Spring light, changes are starting to happen around us. Tattershall Castle is once again surrounded by green leaves and the grass finally has a chance to defrost. The air is full of bird songs and those with a keen eye can spot several different species sitting in the trees, including some which are now on the RSPB’s red list.
Song Thrushes can be very early nesters and the young may be on the wing by the end of March in a good season. In common with other thrushes, mud is incorporated into the nest but the Song Thrush does not bother with a grass lining – she lays her lovely blue eggs onto a smooth mud inner surface, making their nests easily recognisable. Song Thrushes are usually seen feeding on the ground or heard smashing snails against stones. The flight is typically fast and direct and may be accompanied by a short call note.
Mistle Thrushes can utter a series of harsh chattering notes (a rattling call), particularly when alarmed or disturbed. This song is usually delivered from a high perch and is characteristic of early spring or even late winter, often in strong winds, hence its country name ‘Storm Cock’. Mistle Thrush nests are large and untidy, sometimes including odd materials such as waste paper and plastic. The nests can be very well concealed and each has a mud layer sandwiched between the ragged outside finish and the ample inside lining of fine grasses.
With the first eggs laid as early as late March, our resident Starlings begin looking for nesting cavities very early in the year. Male Starlings, which establish breeding territories from January onwards, attempt to defend a series of suitable nesting cavities in the hope that they will be able to attract several females. In addition to probing the ground for invertebrates, they will also flycatch or actively pursue insects across the ground. Large food scraps are taken regularly and they have even been known to tackle small lizards, newts and frogs.
As the evening descends you will spot different fellows including our protected species of bats:
Daubenton’s bats hibernate in the same type of locations from September to late March or April. Mating occurs in autumn and fertilisation takes place the following spring. Females gather in maternity colonies of 40 to 80 bats during June and July. Daubenton's bats are able to fly three weeks after birth and reach independence at 6 to 8 weeks of age.