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April 2009

In this months blog Peter Walton talks about the large number of moths seen at Kelling including the Purple Thorn. Butterflies are beginning to show with several species on parade including Brimstones and Commas whilst a number of warblers are visiting the park the Willow Warbler amongst them. 

Peter also talks about BBC Springwatch which has been filming at Kelling Heath in readiness for the next series live from Pensthorpe

There was welcome fine and mild weather over the Easter holidays and this was certainly a boon for our Kelling Heath moth events. In fact we recorded 17 different species of ‘macros' on Good Friday including a gorgeous Purple Thorn to go with the smart first generation Early Thorns which have recently been appearing. Immaculate Red-green Carpets just emerged from hibernation, an early Nut-tree Tussock on my favourite illuminated wall, Oak Beauty, Early Tooth-striped, the Engrailled,... The list goes on. I can't deny the enjoyment it gives me to call out these indulgent Victorian names, which fortunately remain unchanged two centuries on.

This was the first week when butterflies really started to perform, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Brimstones and Commas all taking to the wing after their extended siestas.

Three species of warblers were singing heartily for us on our dawn chorus walks, Blackcaps the loudest, Chiffchaffs the most persistent, plus newly arrived Willow Warblers adding their lilting refrains. Spring had sprung! A scarce Firecrest in a new location took up the baton after last year's surprise cluster of summer residents. These are miniature gems of birds and easy to overlook, especially as the foliage thickens. A keen ear is required to separate the ‘stuck on one note' song from that of the cascading Goldcrest.

By the end of April, twittering Linnets and vivid Yellowhammers were moving back on to their seasonal nesting territories around the heath. There was still the occasional chip chip chipping of a roaming flock of about 16 Crossbills, usually in rapid transit from A to B. Perhaps most exciting of all, however, were the Redpolls, especially since they tended to arrive out of the sky in a bumper group of 30 or 40 individuals. This charming and busy little finch has become scarce in recent years. In amongst the party were brick red, vocal males and even the odd silvery ‘Mealy' form, which normally resides further north.

In fact, BBC Springwatch caught some of the Kelling Heath wildlife on film, when presenter, Martin, joined me out walking in the bright sunshine to talk about Adders (now breeding and elusive) and in the early morning to listen to the birds. Watch out for clips of us in action during the series and then in the wildlife holidays ‘special' to be broadcast on Tuesday 16 June.

On a broader front, I am really busy running Adult Education courses countywide at this time of year at dawn, dusk and all times in between. Apologies therefore for my well overdue  blog entry and watch out for the next one in a couple of weeks or so.

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What our guests are saying:

Kelling Heath was fantastic, incredibly peaceful but there was still so much to do, the children loved it.

Mara Lee: Past Editor, Practical Parenting