Dave Dawson’s natural history notes for 15th May 2017:-
With bird breeding in full swing there was little song, but some early breeding species were singing between breeding attempts: Robin, Great Tit, House Sparrow and Woodpigeon. A few migrants were still singing: Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Two seed-eating residents that breed late were also singing: Chaffinch and Goldfinch. There were 25 Mute Swans, including at least two sitting on eggs. As in the last few months, this is a lower number than in the previous two years, suggesting that the scarcity of weed is sending the non-breeding birds off to find greener water bodies. There was a single Common Sandpiper feeding along the fishing jetty, a migrant on its way to breed further north. There were also some Swallows in transit and newly-arrived Swifts on the 6th. The sole Black-headed Gull was only the second seen in May over the last 30 years. This species may visit more often in May now that it breeds at the Wetland Centre. Out on the playing fields there were 40 Herring Gulls, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 17 Egyptian Geese but only 7 Greylags and 9 Canada Geese. April and May have minimum numbers of Canada Geese as they disperse to breed elsewhere. The Cuckoo-flowers by the steps at the corner of the tennis courts were in flower and thankfully spared from strimming. Yellow-flag Irises around the lake were in flower. Other plants in flower included Elder, Cow Parsley, Bluebell (both native and the hybrid), Green Alkanet and Dog Rose. Another species of rose flowering in the Golf Course hedgerow near the Stadium remains unidentified, as yet. The Glade in Horse Close Wood is looking better this year, with 58 plant species recorded since National Grid departed the area. There were many plants of Corncockle and Corn Marigold beginning to flower. The area will need strimming soon to deter the Bramble, Docks, Nettles and Pendulous Sedge. The swathes of daffodils between the tennis courts and the tube line have been left unmown, allowing the Soft-brome and Common Field-speedwell there to flower. It was heartening to see that the Hart’s-tongue Fern is growing back on the Railway Bridge brickwork. No sign of any elvers, despite looking on each visit made to track the lake levels.