Friday, 29 February 2008

It was pretty grim walking home from work today, the wind had got up and the rain was starting to fall. However, I did stop long enough at migrant alley to see at least 700 STARLING feeding in the pasture, with them were 100min FIELDFARE and a sprinkling of REDWING, It was difficult to count them, as they kept flying up and mixing together.
It was a bit disappointing not to get out some more on the final day of the month, but looking at the records I had done quite well. A best ever Feb. total of 63 species had been recorded, better than the previous high of 59, achieved last year, and some way better than the Feb. average of 57.5. The total for all February's combined is 75 - still room to get better! I was surprised to see that I had found 6 species this Feb. that have not been seen in any other ; MARSH TIT, LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER, PEREGRINE, BUZZARD, LITTLE EGRET and LITTLE GREBE. Keeping all these records and stats helps me keep up the enthusiasm for my patchwatching and allows me to see the changes that occurr, I'm not really a mental lister!!

I was greeted by an empty garden when I arrived home, the SPARROWHAWK was back up to its usual tricks, hiding in the leylandi type tree on the boundary of my garden. He waits till the finch's come in, allowing the Tits to feed, then dives after a Green or chaffinch.

Stats for garden ( for those who can stand more figures!) Total species in garden this month -22. The Feb. average is 22.7. The total number of species to visit in combined February's is 33. Only one species was new to Feb, the MARSH TIT. 2006 and 2007 hold the Feb. record for species in the garden with 23.

It was to dull and wet for pics so here's some from yesterday.

Blue Tit

Great Tit


Thursday, 28 February 2008

This afternoon I spent from 2 - 4:15pm watching the garden, armed with mugs of tea and a few biscuits! There was more activity than I expected, now that I have moved all the feeders into cover, the sparrowhawk finds easier pickings elsewhere. 15 species came to dine within the confines of the garden, and another 14 missed out, and stayed in the vacinity looking on. I took some pics, but the light was a bit poor. Bird of the day was a BRAMBLING. a real treat.

Ten of the species are pictured below, the other 5 species seen were, BLUE and GREAT TIT, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, and STARLING

House Sparrow - This male bears a colour ring. It is part of a survey I am doing with the local ringer.

Coal Tit, Enjoying a sunflower heart

Bird of the day, Brambling, a great addition

Great Spotted Woodpecker, one of 3 that chased around the garden

Greenfinch Chaffinch

Male Greenfich, Coming into its breeding plumage (ringed)

Goldfinch - Gorgeous!

Collared Dove

Blurry Female Blackbird

One of a pair of Nuthatch, (you can just see the ring on its left leg, against the tree.)

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I noticed this morning that the FIELDFARE and REDWING numbers at migrant alley, were only half of what they were yesterday. They were congregated on the sports pitch at the college at 7:15am, but had moved back to the manured pasture in the afternoon. A female SPARROWHAWK flew low, beside the greenhouse complex as I left this morning, making everything give an alarm call, and 6 GREY LAG GEESE also flew over as I walked on.

Blue Tit

It was springlike this afternoon. I walked over to migrant alley to do a bit of skywatching for an hour - but all I saw were clouds! Whilst sitting on one of the horse jumps, I noticed one of the Molehills moving. A Mole was just under the surface, I sat and watched, with my camera poised, but it didn't show itself.
Crocus In My Garden
I walked on round the field, and across to the wet ditch in the hope of seeing something exciting, but only found 2 MALLARD. I made my way back home through the tree nursery, where I snapped the BLUE TIT, there was still a work party there and little else was seen. I reckon a garden bird watch is on for tomorrow.

Spectacular Blackthorn Blossom

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

I walked to work in dull, windy drizzley conditions, but this didn't seem to bother the ever cheerful resident birds, they sang just the same, and the paddocks at migrant alley were starting to welcome in the FIELDFARE and REDWING for the days feeding. They were still there on my return, around 1pm, joined now by a flock of 75 STARLING, allbeit a bit flighty, both male and female SPARROWHAWK were on the prowl for the unwary! I waited around for an hour or so, watching the fence posts, and partly clouded sky, it was pleasant enough in the warm sun, but there was no sign of an early migrant - still a bit too early yet I suppose, but i'm chomping at the bit for the spring birds to come over!
A quick walk around the wet woods and lake area produced the usual, GREY HERON, MALLARD and MOORHEN, with at least 6 TEAL on the pools in the woods. Work was still going on at the tree nursery, so that was useless. A CORMORANT flew over a bit later, towards the lake area, and seemed to alight there. All the usual happenings! A few weeks from now and it will all be different.

Monday, 25 February 2008

A thick fog enveloped my patch this morning, so the walk to work was of little value. Resident songsters did attempt to brighten the gloom a little, SONGTHRUSH, ROBIN, CHAFFINCH, MISTLE THRUSH and DUNNOCK all joined in. On the walk back home it was quiet, very quiet! The only thing of note were the winter thrushes at migrant alley, still around a hundred strong, mostly FIELDFARE but about a third were REDWING.
An hours stroll after my tea and sandwich confirmed that there was very little to see, the odd ''tic'' from a robin, caw from a CARRION CROW or chatter from a MAGPIE. Just 2 MALLARDS and a MOORHEN were at the lake area.
There has been some talk of a possible influx of Stonechat down this end of the country, following some sightings in unusual places, i'll have to keep an eye on those fence posts.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

At 6:50 this morning it was dull and overcast, but by 8:30 the sky cleared and warm sunshine broke through. The last full walk round my patch for February didn't provide any new species for the year or month, but a few shorter walks, as well as trips to work this week might provide an early migrant.
The 44 species seen this morning were of the usual mix seen on the past 3 visits, only 2 Gulls flew over - they were HERRING GULLS and at the lake a pair of CORMORANT fished, I did get a pic. of one, but they are hard to get close to. The wet woods had no TEAL that I could see, but I did find 3 in a large ditch, that fills with rain water that runs off the roof of a small greenhouse complex. At the point where the water comes out from a pipe, down from the roof, is a small area of bramble and sycamore - or was, it was slashed and burned yesterday afternoon, another good nesting place gone, at this rate there will be nothing left for the summer visitors to breed in!
Migrant alley had its usual mix of FIELDFARE and REDWING 200min covered the pasture. The first kestrel since the 17th flew over, It seemed to be in a display flight, resembling the flickering wingbeats of a cuckoo.

Teal In A Ditch Of Run Off Water


Saturday, 23 February 2008

I left the house at bit earlier today, in the hope of finding either Tawny or Little owl, but I failed, I've yet to record an owl yet this year! I must do a nocturnal visit.
The first hour of the walk was still, overcast and windless, allowing all the resident songsters to be seen or heard, but the wind soon picked up and the bird action slowly decreased. There were both GREY LAG and CANADA GEESE on the golf course, as well as a meeting of moorhen, 18 in all. The lake area had no surprises, just MALLARD, GREY HERON, and some more of the Geese and Moorhens. A total of 7 TEAL were in the wet woods, above them GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS drummed and cackled, chasing each other around. Only 4 GULLS flew over, 3 HERRING and a BLACK HEADED. As I walked back down Ashes Lane, a YELLOWHAMMER was singing loudly from a hedgerow.
On the farmland the ROOKS were mostly busying themselves with nest building, there are three rookeries just off my patch, which explains why I only saw 2 at migrant alley. Also there, in the paddocks and manured pasture, were the usual 2 - 300 winter thrushes, feeding along with 100 or so STARLING. At the Stream I saw a black PHEASANT, as I got a bit nearer I could see it was more purple and bluish, an interesting specimen!

Black Pheasant
Or is it purple and blue!

I couldn't not take this CHAFFINCH's photo.
** later in the afternoon, whilst watching the feeders, a superb male BRAMBLING (67) came in. At last I can add this to my patch year list! As well as the 67th patch species, it's also the 26th tick for this years garden list. **

Friday, 22 February 2008

Out on my patch this morning, and it was much quieter - maybe the windier weather played some part? I did manage to get 45 species, but they were a lot harder to come by than yesterdays. A passage of Gulls was observed, mainly HERRING, but two LESSER BLACK BACKED went over and a single BLACK HEADED, all going N/W.
I decided, once at migrant alley, I would do a bit of ''stand and see what turns up''. Well the usual SPARROWHAWK did, scattering the 200 STARLINGS and the 100 or so mixed thrush flock, that were feeding on the freshly manure spread fields. SKYLARKS took turns in flying up, giving their song and plummeting back down again, just a single meadow pipit flew to the greenhouse complex, but nothing really was happening today.
When I got home I found the MARSH TIT feeding in the garden, the first time this month. It usually feeds in the garden by the lake area, but I noticed this morning their feeders were empty. my garden is just a standby!

This is a view of the stream behind Hadlow College - (actually the river Bourne)

This wet ditch marks the western boundary of my patch. I always hope for a snipe or Sandpiper! The greenhouse complex is in the background, migrant alley is behind that.

One of the half a dozen SKYLARKS, this is the best shot I could get !
From 2:00pm onwards I watched the garden and surrounding area. A good total of 30 species was seen, 3 not seen on my morning walk, MARSH TIT, LINNET, and BUZZARD, 3 of which soared high to the N/E.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Robins always want their pic. taken!

It was dull and mild this morning, not good for pics, but at least the low sun wasn't a continually making me squint! I left at 7:00 am, and by the time I had walked up ashes lane - from my house to the footpath, that leads to the golf course, some 300m, I had noted 22 species of birds. The lane is flanked on one side by pasture, and the other by mainly large, mature gardens, with some large oak trees. Always a good place to pick up the garden species - Tits, Thrushes, finch's as well as NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, and the odd GREY HERON in the field. The Golfcourse was busy, birdwise, 10 GREY LAG GEESE were resting with 2 CANADA GEESE, a mixed flock of at least 60 FIELDFARE and REDWING were feeding on the fareway, also, a group of 24 MOORHEN fed together, I don't recall seeing so many in one gathering.

Once at the lake area I scanned around the edges, where I found another ( or the same?) coot. A Grey Heron fished under a overhanging willow tree, and the usual MALLARDS were dabbling around,but the Teal had moved on however. The wet woods were reletively quiet, just a few GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS drummed and chased each other through the bare branches, the TEAL were located here, a pair, hiding in the cover of the dead wood.

On the way to migrant alley 5 HERRING GULLS drifted over, in perfect formation. When I reached the fields there were a min of 200 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing and 2 MISTLE THRUSH. The best bird of the day though was found flying low over the stream behind Hadlow College, then alighting in a tree, I tried to get a pic. of the LITTLE EGRET (66), but it was too far away, and after getting halfway near enough, a dog walker, belowing down his mobile scared it off!

An excellent morning, with 45 species seen, plus a COAL TIT to add that was seen at the feeders this afternoon. Out again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

An afternoon stroll, out on my patch today was very pleasant weatherwise, but very frustrating in other ways. The lake area was disturbed by the groundsman of the adjacent large house, he was on that bloody petrol mower again. The tree nursery was disturbed by a work crew removing saplings, and migrant alley was disturbed by a muck spreader - that didn't leave me a lot! However I did find a nice flock of REDWING on the edge of the waterlogged woods that ajoins the tree nursery, 60 at least were chattering in the tree tops and dropping down to feed on the edge of the field. There were at least 30 CHAFFINCH amongst them, but no Brambling. Oh well I've got tomorrow off so I can get out early and beat the workmen.

Bumble bee on Blackthorn
Muck spreading at Migrant Alley

Work crew At The Nursery.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Today, as a bit of a change I visited a friends patch, which lies adjacent to mine, just to the north. The habitat is similar to mine, but some parts of his patch are at higher elevations, giving some spectacular views. Bird wise, there was a large mixed flock in an overwintering raspberry field, 100 CHAFFINCH min, 40 or so Linnets and at least 5 BRAMBLING! RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE were seen in an orchard, along with a couple of HARES, which were lounging in the afternoon sun. The main reason for visiting was to find the COMMON SNIPE, 3 of them made an appearance. A nice change from my patch, but i'll be back on it tomorrow..........I never wander away for to long!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Just an hour was spent out on my patch this afternoon, a walk to the lake area, through the woods didn't produce anything much. Three GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS drummed, trying to out do each other, a mixed Tit flock fed in the tree tops, including eight LONG TAILED TIT, and at least three GOLCREST were around. At the lake, which was three quarters frozen over, there was a single GREY HERON, a few MALLARD and MOORHEN and six TEAL, the most i've ever seen on the lake. On my return home I found a new addition to the garden year list, when a male SISKIN visited the sunflower hearts, number 25 for the year.

Forsythia coming into bloom
5 Of The Six Teal On The Frozen Lake

Grey Heron, Over The Ice

I Caught This Green Woodpecker Napping In The Sun!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

A Frosty Sunrise At The Golf Course.
Another frosty morning, slightly more so than yesterday, the lake area was mostly frozen over, but a little piece of open water had a GREY HERON, a few MALLARD, a pair of TEAL (unusual for the lake), and best of all a COOT! The second one this month , I am being spoilt. A CORMORANT flew over as did a selection of Gulls, BLACK HEADED, HERRING and COMMON, A good number of FIELDFARE and REDWING were scattered over a wide area at migrant alley, where a couple of SKYLARK sang, and a YELLOWHAMMER alighted in an ash tree. A few more species were noted than yesterday, 47 in all. no new species for the month or year though.

The scrub that was cut down last week was being burned today, so I went over and asked theworkers why. They turned out to be the owners of the land, and were clearing the scrub at the request of their tennants - Cobland nurseries - to help get rid of the rabbits. I explained about habitat for birds and wildlife, and we passed a few minutes chatting, they told me that coblands would soon be moving on, and the land would go back to pasture, the owners even said they may put some hedgerows back, maybe some good news there then.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

It was bright, still and frosty this morning, but the cold easterly breeze picked up around 8:30. The first birds encountered were the usual early songsters, MISTLE THRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, ROBIN, DUNNOCK and WREN, joined by CHAFFINCH and GREENFINCH.
It was however generally a slow day, only 42 species bothered to turn out! I put this down to the disturbance over my patch in the past few days. some of which was due to the ''tidying'' of areas around the tree nursey. This really angers me, these areas are some of the last 'wild-ish' places left for our resident birds to breed, as well as our summer visitors. What is the problem with a patch of bramble and hawthorne ?
Anyway back to the birds - 2 CANADA GEESE and 8 GREY LAG GEESE were on the golf course, with the usual MALLARD and MOORHEN in the rough. Another 4 Canada Geese were at the lake area, along with a GREY HERON, this area was disturbed by the two large dogs which live in the nearby house, continually yapping, before I arrived. There were 5 TEAL in the woods with another pair of Mallard, and my old friend the MARSH TIT looked spectacular among the blossoms, as it fed in a blackthorne tree. Migrant alley had a 100 or so FIELDFARE spread widely over the pasture, with just a few REDWING. The only other winter visitors of note were 20 or so SISKIN in the alders along the stream behind the college.
I didn't get any pics today! nothing really took my eye, maybe tommorow!

Friday, 15 February 2008

There was again much disturbance on my patch today, but I went out for an hour between 2:30 and 3:30, to see what was at the lakes. The smallholding I walk through to get to the woods and on to the lake, had 100 min of REDWING and FIELDFARE, a lone SONGTHRUSH was feeding with them, and a small flock of CHAFFINCH was also viewed, but still no Brambling. I walked into the woods and watched a GOLDCREST bathing in a small puddle, (do they feel the cold?) It sat on a branch, to preen and dry off whilst posing for the camera. On the wetter parts of the wood a pair of TEAL, a pair of MALLARD and at least 3 MOORHENS were active, a TREECREEPER was creeping up an alder trunk, and 2 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS chased around noisily. The lake area was completely devoid of birds, the adjacent large house had been out with the lawnmower! On the way back, just before the re-entering the woods, my old friend the MARSH TIT called above me, waiting to have his pic. taken, so I duly obliged him.(or her!)

Thursday, 14 February 2008

After work this afternoon, I arrived home to find the garden feeders full of birds. Given the amount of disturbance around my patch, I decided to watch the garden for a few hours, maybe a Brambling or Redpoll would drop in. There were certainly more CHAFFINCH, a peak of 8 came down, but alas no Brambling. A peak of 7 GOLDFINCH and 5 GREENFINCH all fed at the sunflower hearts, 3 ROBIN, and a pair of DUNNOCK fed on the scraps under the feeders, in competition with up to 6 STARLING. A SPARROWHAWK ruined the party at 3:25, and only the tits came back within 20mins. Nothing new for the monthly list, in retrospect maybe I should of gone to the lake area!
A Colourful Mix Of Finch's
This Magpie Is The local One, Note its injured Eye.

Another unfortunate Character - Look At The Bill On This Dove!

Always One Of My Favourites. This was One Of A Pair Of COAL TITS To Visit

Finch's And ROBIN

Gold, Green, and CHAFFINCH With GREAT TIT