Tuesday, 28 March 2017


A week ago I heard my first chiffchaff of the year and now I'm hearing them every day.  It's a great here-comes-spring sound - a rather repetitive song made up of regular 'chiffs' and 'chaffs' with the occasional 'chuff'.

Chiffchaffs like woodland with some tall trees, which they can perch in to sing, but as they nest on the ground they like the shelter afforded them by scrub as well.  Filnore is ideal.

Most of them leave Britain to overwinter in the Mediterranean area but come back to breed here.

I love the song when I first hear it at this time of year.  I think it's usually the male bird defending his territory and trying to attract a mate, as he hops about amongst the pussy willows snapping up the pollinating insects.

Flowers golden with pollen on a male pussy willow

Follow this link for another excellent video by Paul Dinning.

Chiffchaff video - Paul Dinning

PS  Don't forget our Dawn Chorus Walk on 30th April, 5.00-7.00 am

Saturday, 25 March 2017

False Oxlip

Found this cheery plant in flower today at Filnore near the steps up from the footbridge.

It's a false oxlip.  The true oxlip is a different species confined to East Anglia but our falsie is a naturally occuring hybrid between a primrose and a cowslip, both of which grow at Filnore.  The flowers are smaller than a primrose but larger than a cowslip. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Wren

Another song to experience on our Dawn Chorus walk, April 30th, 5.00 am

 One of our smallest birds, a noisy little ball of fluff with a pale eye-stripe and a sticky-up tail.

He usually skulks amongst the undergrowth but has one of the loudest voices,especially considering his size.

Listen and look with another brilliant video by Paul Dinning.  You can see how the wren flutters his wings, taking just a moment to relieve himself, as he sings and projects his voice in different directions to notify his rivals singing nearby.

Click on this link

Friday, 17 March 2017

Coppicing the Hedge

You may remember a previous posting, where I said this hedge had got too overgrown to lay.

We started coppicing several of the trees in February.

Here are Paul, Will, Eric, Andy, Jim, Derek and Peter sorting the material into firewood, stakes and poles as well as finding some lumps of metal, barbed wire, bottles and cans in the hedge.

More chainsaw work last Sunday but we have to stop cutting now because it is the beginning of the nesting season for birds.

 The gang (Phil, Steve, Jerry, Roger & Andy) clearing out the arisings so that the tree stumps (stools) can get enough light to send up new shoots

Roger raking ivy off the hedge bank ready for planting new hawthorn and hazel whips (very young trees) to fill in the gaps.

We had to construct a dead hedge to keep people off the regenerating hedge plants. (Jerry and Peter with Andy, Will and Eric in the background)

The tangled mass of twigs and branches is held in place by hedging stakes prepared on site and whacked in by Phil, amongst others.

This should last a few years, by which time there should be plenty of new shoots for laying into a re-juvenated hedge.

Photos by Derek

Sunday, 12 March 2017


These blackbirds are among the first to sing in the early hours in April, May and June when the Dawn Chorus is at its best.  The picture above shows a male bird with its black plumage, yellow beak and yellow ring round the eye.

The female is brown with a speckled breast so she shows up less while sitting on the eggs.

Listen to the song here, courtesy of Paul Dinning, or come on our Dawn Chorus Walk on 30th April.  Click on the link below.

Monday, 6 March 2017


Another busy singer that we shall hear on our Dawn Chorus Walk (30th April, 5-7 am) is the Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow.

It's a rather mousey little bird, hard to see but already singing on fine days at Filnore Woods.  You can read about it on the RSPB link below and see a good video of it collecting nesting material.

The song is a squeaky wheel sort of thing recorded here by June Sobie.

Thank you June.

Friday, 3 March 2017


Hey.  I heard a chaffinch singing today.  

We hope to hear a dozen or so different bird songs on our Dawn Chorus Walk on 30th April.