Europe’s smallest bird arrives

Two goldcrests were spotted and heard in woods yesterday afternoon, indicating that autumn has arrived. Plymbridge’s habitat of broadleaf woodland with nearby conifers is perfect for the UK’s smallest songbird.

Goldcrests weigh around 5-6g and travel distances exceeding 1,000km. Last year a ringed goldcrest was recorded crossing the North Sea from Norway, to Lincolnshire in just two days. That’s 665km, from a bird 9cm long, with a 15cm wingspan!

They’ll often associate with foraging flocks of tits, nuthatches, and treecreepers. The goldcrest’s call is thin and high-pitched (listen to it here), and they spend most of their time in the tree canopy. (Photograph taken by Nigel Climpson)

Peregrine Chicks Take to the Wing

 

by Steve Waterhouse

 

Peregrine falcons have bred again successfully in the Plym Valley much to the delight of the volunteers and 17 000 visitors who have been following their progress this year. The nest site in Cann Quarry, Plymbridge Woods has been watched by a committed team of volunteers for 10 breeding seasons. This year the peregrines had two healthy chicks which flew the nest on Sunday 10th July.

The chicks will still be calling Cann Quarry their home for now while they test their wings and learn to hunt for themselves. They are still reliant on the parents for food and can be seen (and heard!) around the quarry perfecting their flight skills and nagging mum and dad. They will finally become independent in the Autumn when they will be chased from their natal territory.

For the first 3-4 years of their lives, the juveniles will have no fixed abode but will travel around different areas (Peregrinus is Latin for wanderer, traveller or pilgrim). A young peregrine that is ready to breed will find a suitable territory (the presence of other peregrines will be a good indicator of this) and hopefully a mate.

The Plym peregrine chicks were ringed this year and last. This involves putting small plastic and metal rings on their legs while they   are in the nest and greatly contributes to our understanding of the peregrine’s movements, life history and population status. We hope that the chicks hatched at Cann Quarry will one day go on to breed somewhere else in the country and a glimpse of a yellow ring by an interested observer will lead to us finding out where the Plym chicks spend the rest of their lives after leaving Plymbridge Woods.

 

The public viewing platform and telescopes on Cann viaduct will be in place until Friday 22nd July for a last close up view of the newly fledged chicks. But the volunteers and NT staff will be keeping an eye on the family until the youngsters leave for good in the Autumn. There is still a good chance for you to see the birds flying around the quarry and making a racket so don’t forget to stop and look as you stroll or cycle across Cann viaduct.

Redstart and spotted flycatcher

A spotted flycatcher has been sighted feeding around the river Plym at Plymbridge Woods. Masters of the air, they hunt butterflies and other insects with an audible snap of the bill. Recently the numbers of spotted flycatchers has dropped dramatically, so they are now high on the Red List.

The redstart is breeding near Cadover Bridge at the Upper Plym. This bird is much easier to identify due to their bright orange-red tails. Like the spotted flycatcher, the redstart is a migratory bird, and spends the winter in northwest Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. (Photographs taken by Nigel Climpson)