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Easter Sunday – April the 1st this year – is not a particularly smart day to go to Cosmeston to spend a quiet, peaceful time with Nature, but I wanted to stretch my legs and public transport on Sundays is quite restricted. So, I passed through Cosmeston on one of my circular local circuits, avoiding the main paths, taking the fields less trodden. I still managed to spot a Long-tailed tit (below left) nest-building – it’ll be cosy with a few more feathers like that, and, with the help of my friend John, I heard and then spotted my first Willow warbler of 2018 (below right), a good start to the month.

180430 3 blackcaps

5 April  Another quick walk-through, to avoid the school holiday madness, but I did pause at the place I’d recently spotted a Hawfinch, to see if I could hear or see it. No luck with that but I did spot my first Blackcaps of 2018 (above), and there were Willow warblers and Chiffchaffs (below) aplenty!

180430 4 chiffchaff

8 April  Once again, I passed through Cosmeston as part of a longer walk, though I did linger for a short time by the west lake where I got talking to a fellow birder. From there, I had distant views of two Buzzards on the far shore – were they investigating a nest site? – and I got a fleeting glimpse and photos of a mysterious mammal swimming rapidly through the reeds. Was it a Water vole, a Stoat or a Mink? Debate raged on Twitter and Facebook when I posted photos and requested opinions but the jury is still out on its identification.

11 April  Though the heavy rain of the previous night and morning had cleared, cloud cover was thick and low, making for a very gloomy walk around Cosmeston, and it was almost as if the birds were experiencing a similar dullness. Although I spotted several Blackcaps and many of the regulars (Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Robins, Chaffinches, etc), bird song was generally subdued.

Highlights were my first Coot chicks of the season, with the attentive parents feeding three chicks near the former bird hide site on the west lake, and Swallows swooping and diving over both lakes. I tried for about 15 minutes to get photos of them but it was very difficult to keep up with their super speedy aerobatics, so a silhouette will have to do. There’s no mistaking that forked tail though.

I passed through Cosmeston again on 16 April, but saw nothing particularly noteworthy, and then had a break to see other sites and while a friend was visiting. My last visit for the month was today, 30 April. Though a cool wind was blowing it was fine, and warm in sheltered spots. And, though I could hear bird song all around, with the trees now rapidly greening, we’ve reached that time of year when the birds pretty much disappear behind the foliage.

180430 9 Large red damselfly

The good news is that this is also the time of year when the other flying creatures take over: today I saw my first damselfly of the year, a Large Red; the butterflies were out in numbers: Brimstones, Peacocks, Commas, a Large white, a couple of Orange-tips and several Speckled woods (I’ll do a separate post for those in a few days); and I also saw my first shieldbug of 2018, a Hawthorn. It was a lovely walk!