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Monday 20th to Friday 24th March

Monday 20th March 2017:
A cold, cloudy, damp  morning on the common with little of note but for 3 Meadow Pipits that flew over heading N and 2 Stock Doves that were over heading NE.  Also noted were a ♂ Kestrel and a 4 singing Chiffchaffs.

Tuesday 21st March 2017:
The weather hand improved slightly for today's visit although the blue skies were complimented by very cold strong winds.  A few more inverts were now active with Green Tiger Beetles, Yellow Dung Flies and an Tawny Mining Bee all noted. Green Tiger Beetles are a speciality of heathland, moorland and sandy grassland.  They are voracious predators of other invertebrates and great to watch as they are fast, agile hunters.

Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris)

Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva)

Thursday 23rd March 2017:
Today's weather started with blue skies but quickly turned cloudy.  I decided to pay a visit to Hillditch Pool.  Primarily I was looking for toad spawn but couldn't find any along the accessible fringes of the pool.  However it was nice to see the stunning yellow flowers of the Marsh Marigolds coming into bloom. 

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

I also observed my first Tree Bee of the year.  The Tree Bee is a recent colonist and was first recorded in the UK in 2001.  Since then it has steadily spread rapidly across the country.  It is a very effective pollinator and it's arrival doesn't appear to have been damaging to our native bee populations.

Tree Bee (Bombus hypnorum)

Friday 24th March 2017:
Today bought about a big change in the weather conditions with blue skies, sunshine and no breeze.  As a result I encountered my first Common Lizard of the year basking on a south facing log. 

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

On the invert front the Green Tiger Beetles seem even more numerous, especially amongst the broom scrub where the southern end of the plantation used to be.

Birdwise, Linnets had returned to the common for the breeding season with 2 males perched up  singing.  The Linnets tend to move away from the common during the winter months to join other linnets in arable areas where they can form quite large flocks that feed in the stubble fields or on fresh plough.  At my former local patch of Shenstone there would regularly be a flock of 200-300 Linnets present most winters.

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