STOFORD – YEO VALLEY WALK
WEATHER: glorious sunshine, no breeze, temperature 5 -8C
A thick mist covered the valley but by 9am it began to clear and a beautiful morning developed. It was so inspiring that I got off my backside and ventured outside, brr… it was cold so I went back in and put some clothes on.
The meadow outside our flat, looking fantastic in the morning sunshine
Nine Pheasants sat in the far side of the meadow behind our flat, they were sitting in sunshine at the farthest point away from me.
I saw nothing else until I reached the valley entrance, from the gate I could hear Robin, Wren and a party of long-tailed Tits. MANY Rooks, Jackdaws, Crows and Magpies were on the move all heading westward towards the top fields beyond the road to Yeovil. I didn’t get far before I bumped into a small flock of Long-tailed Tits, they were so busy that I could get shot of them. Both Blue and Great Tits fed with them.
a female Siskin feeding on Alder seeds, it was the only one I saw today
The sun warmed my back as I stood motionless near the small footbridge, a tall alder tree stood next to the bridge. Some of you may remember this tree which was the stage for an exciting tug-of-wall between a pair of Green Woodpeckers and a pair of Nuthatches, they fought over a hole that the woodpeckers had made. (the Nuthatches won in the end!!).
This tree was covered in birds today, I stood for 90 minutes watching dozens of birds feeding on the alder seeds and on insects in the foliage. A flock of 20+ Goldfinches were joined by a single Siskin, they were a joy to watch but very flighty. A Goldcrest passed through the tree as did Blue and Great Tits and another pack of Long-tailed Tits.
the female Great Spotted Woodpecker
Common Chiffchaffs (I counted six) flitted about too, too fast for me to get a picture. Then I heard the loud ‘chit’ of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a female landed right in front of me showing really well. I watched her peck away the bark and come away with at least two white grubs. It was interesting to note how hard a woodpecker has to work to find food whereas the Goldfinches simple have to pick out seeds from countless florets of mini-cones.
After a while the Woodpecker got really noisy and suddenly a second bird appeared, a male this time. The female scolded the intruder and promptly flew off. Would you believe it, a Green Woodpecker flew in and landed on the same part of the trunk as the male Great-spotted, he flew off, and before I could get my phone to the scope the Greener also disappeared.
digging out grubs from beneath the bark, it has one in its bill
a closer look, you can see the white grub in its bill
the male turns up
A pair of Coal Tits came into view much lower down and another pair of Goldcrests flitted through the greenery. A Kingfisher called twice (he wasn’t called twice, I mean he made a call two times), but I never saw him/her.
the leaning Alder Tree where all the action took place this morning
Suddenly all of the Goldfinches took to the air, a lot of calling went out and then a Sparrowhawk came over the top of the trees chased by a Magpie. It flew right over the top of me and surprisingly the Goldfinches took chase too!! They returned unscathed.
I walked a little bit further to look at some open water in the stream, hoping for a flash of blue, but I saw nothing. The air was warming up now and a few Red Admirals took to the air, I searched for late dragonflies but only saw a few Hoverflies.
the Melangyna cincta Hoverfly
My two hours were quickly up, I noted Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Skylark all flyovers as well as dozens of Wood Pigeons, a few Herring Gulls and all the common corvids. It had been a lovely walk and refreshed my enthusiasm to return to Yeo Valley very soon.