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Primroses A Mandarin Drake was in the pool above the top bridge in Corner Wood on the 1st. On the 2nd there was a pair there and a Wood Mouse under the corrugated sheet nearest to the Top Field Shelter. The Mouse was there again on the 3rd and the 4thand has built a nest.  A solo Mandarin Drake was back on the Flo Pond at 5:30pm on the 4th. Harry and Josh moved a pile of rock from the Orchard and erected a small standing stone. The Drake was on the Flo Pond again early evening on the 8th. By the morning of the 9th we’d had 94.2mm of rain (our April average is 56.96mm) and the river was really high again, overflowing by the abstraction point.

Pied Flycatcher maleOn the 8th a solitary male Pied Flycatcher was spotted from Conservation Team room. It was on an Oak tree and singing to try and attract a female into the nearby nestbox. It was still there singing and guarding the box on the 23rd.

Work on the second Field Shelter in Kiln Close resumed on the 11th when Harry and David cut the poles to height and notched them ready for the cross beams. On the 12th the roof and exercise platform on the Polebox in the North Park hedge were replaced by Harry, Pip and Josh. They decided to check the Polebox in the Main Field at the same time and an adult Tawny Owl flew out as they put the ladder up. When Josh looked in the box he discovered 3 young Tawny Owlets. Later that day Pip spotted Bat poo underneath the doorway upstairs in the barn. Looking up you could see ~5 Brown Long-eared Bats roosting there.

The adult Tawny Owl and the three owlets were fitted with BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring on the 15th, they were estimated to be about 3-weeks old. The adult remained in the box with the youngsters after ringing.

On the 16th a Blackcap was seen singing in Corner Wood. A nocturnal excursion with John and Wendy from the Shropshire Barn Owl Group who were spending a week here, revealed a Tawny Owl in the older of the two Tawny Owl nestboxes (near the top bridge). Plenty of heat visible with the thermal imager and a mate observed hanging around nearby – suspected nest. Tawny Owl (probably female) also heard calling near the Top Field pole-box. David heard a  Willow Warbler was singing on the boundary of LLP near the solar panels on the 17th, this is the first one he’s heard at Waterleat since 1983!

By the 9th the Orchids had started putting up their purple spikes and by the 17th when we held our first walk of the year, a Spring Walk, they were stunning. A few Bluebells had appeared in Forde Orchard and along the Apprentice Path into Corner Wood. Despite a cold northerly wind the walk was dry and our visitors enjoyed the flowers and the views followed by a cup of tea in our reclaimed Meeting Room.

A dozen Meadow Pipits were seen flying out of the rough grassland alongside the Long Path on the 18th. A solitary Mandarin Drake was roosting again on a rock in the Flo Pond. A female Kestrel was seen hunting on Top Field near the weather station, and several Linnet pairs with singing males were in the hedge between Top Field and Kiln Close.

The chain harrowing of the winter bird food crop area was started on the 22nd and a pair of Pied Wagtails were frequenting the ploughed area. A pair of Mandarins were on the grass beside the Flo Pond at 7pm.

A group of 20+ Swallows seen hunting low over newly harrowed bird seed crop on the 20th and Harry and Tim worked on the second field shelter in Kiln Close and Orange Tip Butterflies were being seen..

Staff hand broadcasted the winter bird crop on the 24th  sowing a mix of Spring Triticale, 20% Spring Barley, Spring Oats, Gold of Pleasure, White Mustard, Linseed, Forage Rape, Dwarf Sunflowers were also mixed in along with some of the Sunflower  seed we harvested last year. A nectar strip was sown along two border consisting of Corn Chamomile, Cornflower & Common Poppy. Harry then harrowed the area to cover the seed.

Some of the LLP nestboxes were checked: 11 small, 3 duck, 2 Dipper, results were; 7 empty, 1 had a Dormouse nest,1 was nearly finished nest, another 1 finished and lined nest, 1 with 1 egg,1 with 5 eggs,1 with 6 eggs,1 with a Blue Tit sitting, 1 with a Great Tit sitting and 1 with a Mandarin Duck sitting.

On the 25th three Wood Mice were found in the large barrel storing the Sunflower seeds in the First Field Shelter, Harry released them fixed the small hole in the lid to prevent this happening again. The Early Purple Orchids in Kiln Close were counted – 194! An increase of 48 from the previous year. There was a Pied Flycatcher singing in Corner Wood.

On the 29th a female Pied Flycatcher turned up outside the Conservation Team room window much to the delight of the male and the CT team. Unfortunately, the male tried unsuccessfully to attract her into the nestbox, and she eventually flew off up the valley where two more males had been heard calling.

Despite the rain Harry and Josh made great progress with the 2nd Field Shelter and completed the 3 walls.  A Green Woodpecker was heard on the evening of the 30th and three ducks flew off the Flo Pond at about 7:30pm.

Surprisingly, the mean temperature for April was slightly higher than our 19-year average at 9.6°C (9.15°C), although it didn’t feel like it. It was windier overall than an average April but not as windy as we recorded in 2006 and 2008. We had 20-days with rain (our 19-year average is 13.1-days) totalling 158.6mm (average 62.3mm) beaten only by April 2012 when we had 174mm.