Chaffinch Encounter

The path around our normal Sunday morning stroll was closed due to fallen trees so we ventured forth on a new route.

A Chaffinch was noisily flying across the path and stopped and sat for what seemed like ages.

The chaffinch is a common sight in the U.K., there are about 6 million breeding pairs in the summer. The Male as in the picture above is brightly coloured with a pink breast. The females are dull and less striking. They build beautiful bowl shaped nests in the angle of a branch in a tree, this nest is carefully constructed with a soft moss lining and a lichen and spiderweb exterior. The pair have two clutches of eggs a year each of about 4-5 eggs. chaffinches eat all sorts of seeds but in the summer they also eat insects especially caterpillars.

The chaffinch we were watching was noisy and very busy, they have a loud song and can be recognised as a ‘pink,pink’ sound.

Birdsong is something I am really keen to learn, as you walk the soundtrack is in stereo but I need more knowledge !

This walk at Wilson’s pits , an area of lakes formed from gravel working in the Nene Valley was full of interest and discoveries.

The Hawthorn trees are in bloom and the scent is really strong and wafts over you as you walk.

Hawthorn ( Crataegus monogyna)this tree has a range of other local names, May, white thorn, Quickthorn and more.

Mature trees can reach 15 metres in height, we see lots of smaller Hawthorn and they are often in hedges.Hawthorn is important to more than 300 insect species. Caterpillars feed on the leaves including the lackey moth that I was fascinated with at aged 12! Much to my Mums annoyance as the caterpillars escaped my room and somehow ended up appearing in the airing cupboard!! Dormice eat the flowers ( what an amazing photo that would be) They provide nectar for pollinating insects.Hawthorn is also a great place for birds nests as it is densely branched.

We were told by our grandparents that it was unlucky to pick this May blossom. Reading about this belief it seems that the outcome of picking the blossom bringing it into the house would cause illness and death to follow!

The young leaves, flower buds and flowers are edible.During walks on a Sunday my Grandad would often eat Hawthorn leaves and pass me one to nibble he called them ‘ bread and cheese’.The fruit , bright red haws can be cooked and made into jelly to eat with meat which I have done, it can also be made into wine.

This walk at Wilson’s pit was scattered with Hawthorn trees all smelling lovely.The small birds were flitting in and out and sitting on the very tops to sing.

This photo is not quite in focus ,still learning the use of the lens but showing these birds favourite spot.

The lakes formed from this gravel extraction were full of bird life too.

Flying above us were red kites and buzzards.

What is surprising is that all this wildlife is very close to the busy A45 and shows that areas close to people and activity can be full of interest and biodiversity. This site has an unusual beetle .

I will be in the look out for this beetle Donacea claviers.

A great walk in a new spot that we will returning to , hopefully we will find the beetle and maybe that elusive otter !


One thought on “Chaffinch Encounter

  1. Great minds definitely think alike.I picked and chewed a few hawthorn leaves the other day,and told the same story of ” bread and cheese”, it was even mentioned on Country file last week ! This walk sounds so interesting, I feel sure you will spot the otter eventually.Lovely photos. I

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