Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A full patch walk to start the new month, a month in which much is anticipated! The arrival of many of the summer species and departure of the winter ones, can lead to a large and varied April species list, so how did I do today ?

Well, it was hard going!

I set off in some blustery cool winds, but it was dry bright and sunny at least, here's what was seen, in the order it was recorded during my 6 hour full patch walk.

I left the house at 06:45hrs and headed along Ashes Lane, straight away noting down ROBIN, STARLING, JACKDAW, WREN, DUNNOCK, and WOODPIGEON, as well as a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER which was heard to drum from the direction of the Wet Woods, CHAFFINCH, CARRION CROW, and COLLARED DOVE were seen before I entered the Greenhouse Grounds, where BLACKBIRD, GOLDFINCH, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, SONGTHRUSH and KESTREL went on the list.

Crossing into the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley, I added BLACK HEADED GULL, HERRING GULL, COMMON GULL and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL that were all feeding on the sheep pasture with the ROOKS, a flurry of flyovers species were seen, with GREYLAG GOOSE, CANADA GOOSE, CORMORANT and MALLARD all being seen in quick succession, the latter alighting along the drainage ditch further round the field.

Mallard at Migrant alley

With his mate.

A CHIFFCHAFF sang from the Wooded headland to the north of the paddocks, where a GREEN WOODPECKER was feeding. The LITTLE OWL was seen in the Greenhouse Copse as was a MAGPIE that was agitated by its presence.

I headed off towards the Wet Woods, Scrubby Woods and lakes, via the Pub Field and ashes Lane Fields, the latter habitats only added flyover JAY and STOCK DOVE to the months tally, while the Wet Woods added just MOORHEN and COAL TIT, however I also noted the first Blue Bells in flower here.

A single spike of Bluebells, soon to become a carpet of blue

The lakes added MUTE SWAN and COOT to the April list, and a walk round the Scrubby Woods only added GOLDCREST, GREENFINCH and PHEASANT, many of the scarcer woodland species just didn't get seen today.

I headed off through the small holding, but added nothing to the months list, the next species found wasn't until a HOUSE SPARROW was seen along High House Lane, where I also heard a SKYLARK over the bean crop, plus the very enjoyable sound of a YELLOWHAMMER giving its pleasing refrain, I just stood and listened to it for a few minutes, it's a rare sound here nowadays!

I re-entered Migrant Alley and sat myself down for an hours sky watching, noting that I had just 41 species on my list, a very poor tally for an April visit! My sky watch did at least increase that by five, with MEADOW PIPIT, PIED WAGTAIL, LINNET, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD all being seen. Later in the afternoon the pair of LONG TAILED TITS visited my garden feeders, bringing the April list to 47, that's 33 off the best April tally, with 29 days to go, will I reach such a total again ?

Robin. One of the few songsters from today

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The last patch visit of March was a continuation of the frustrating times encountered throughout most of this month, with a gale force wind blowing throughout the day, very little of note was seen or heard, there were however some decent sunny spells, especially later in the morning, when my attention turned to watching a couple of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies at the Greenhouse grounds, where I also found my first Green Veined White Butterfly.

Small Tortoiseshell, luckily it was on the ground, the only thing not blowing around in the gale!

While at the Greenhouse Grounds the KESTREL pair were seen, the female being perched on the edge of the nest box.

Early in the visit the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley didn't give me any migrants, just 7 HERRING GULLS, 4 BLACK HEADED GULLS and 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS were of note, I was glad to get over into the woods for some relief from the wind.

Not much could be heard above the roar of the wind and clattering of branches, only the song of a CHIFFCHAFF reached my ears, but I did get views of GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER and LONG TAILED TIT eventually.

A pair of MANDARIN DUCKS were visiting the main lake, along with some squabbling CANADA GEESE and GREYLAG GEESE, but other than those it was down to the usual four species of MUTE SWAN, COOT, MALLARD and MOORHEN.

I ended up back over on my seat at Migrant Alley, hoping for something nice to flyover, but it was just too windy, very little was seen apart from the Local BUZZARD pair.

 View North from my seat - empty skies  :-(

So with nothing added to the months list today, March ends on 65 species, the joint 7th lowest total out of 14 and 3 below the mean average total for the previous 5 March's, the likes of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll were notable absences, only once has March not had Siskin on the list, that was back in 2007. Scarcer species such as Snipe, Woodcock, Brambling, Goosander, or a visit from the Peregrine or my old mate the feral Barnacle Goose all could have been reasonably expected, but it was not to be! The 14 year average species count for March, of 64, was just surpassed and the 14 year combined March list was incremented by one, to 93, that addition being Great Black backed Gull.

The year list had 6 additions during March, those being, Mandarin Duck, Teal, Great Black Backed Gull, Red Kite, Red Legged Partridge and Chiffchaff, taking the year tally to 74, which is 35 behind my target of 109 species for 2015, that being the average tally for the previous 5 years.