Hi this is Simon for the Wild Bunch with our latest column.
Every day we walk our dogs in the park at the Lighthouse, Tytherington, and earlier this year I heard a bird song I didn’t recognise, a single, short, unremarkable couple of notes repeated every three seconds. Ah … now this could be the clue? The song thrush usually repeats each phrase of its varied and glorious repertoire. Although this was still midwinter, maybe it was a first practice note pre-empting the whole joyous recital soon to come. The next morning there was a second thrushy phrase, answered by another from the wood, just the same. I presumed the echo to be another male song thrush, unable to resist an opportunity to answer a challenge … but with the same phrase ?
Also, this spring we counted ten species in the garden for the RSPB’s Big Bird Count, which isn’t too bad for the middle of town. And ordered my swift whistle to call our April visitors down to visit their new swift box.
Even more excitingly, last month I was alerted to a brand-new discovery – the first clump of frog spawn ever seen in our 10-metre pond since it was dug five years ago. We always had frogs, four large chaps who made themselves known with their croaks, a bit like vintage motorbikes revving in the distance. But never any spawn. Assuming they must all be males, two years ago we poached some spawn (and a couple of strings of toad spawn for luck) from an understanding neighbour. We lost count of the number of froglets we watched launching themselves from the nursery tub and so began the two years, minimum, that it takes for a female to reach breeding condition.
Finally at the beginning of April we saw the first strings of toad spawn had arrived! Spring is well and truly sprung.