Saturday, 31 May 2008

The early part of this morning was spent carrying out my BTO Breeding Bird Survey, on the km square, south of my patch, so I only made a brief mid morning visit to migrant alley. Whilst sitting and watching, I noticed a colony of honey bees in the hedge, fascinating to watch. Birdwise just a CORMORANT, and a HERRING GULL flew over, the KESTREL was about, and around 60m behind me a LITTLE OWL was perched on a fence post.
This afternoon was spent doing a spot of wildlife gardening, and cleaning the feeders, but I still managed to see 14 species visit the now gleaming feeders, with another 13 species in and around the vacinity. Two BULLFINCH'S are continuing to visit the neighbours garden for Forget-me-Not seeds, just as i had taken all mine out - Doh!
The end of another month, and looking back I recorded a total of 68 species for May, a new May record, beating the 66 seen last may. Four species were new for this month, Little Egret, Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Yellow Wagtail. The Total for all Mays combined is now 84, so there is still opportunity to beat 68.
Parent STARLINGS at the crushed peanuts
The first Fledgling GREAT TITS were seen in the garden today (front bird)

Here's the swarm of honey bees in hedge - No I couldn't get a closer shot!

Friday, 30 May 2008

This photo of a Little Owl was taken at 19:30 this evening. It alighted just at the end of the garden, and gave me this one shot, beore flying off, with all the local passerines chasing it! I suppose technically I could count it as a Garden tick, as the branches of the tree overhang my garden !!
At last a dry day! I got out this afternoon after work, and sat down in the tree nursery, where work has finished until the autumn. I spent a couple of hours watching the sky and listening to the birds in the habitat around me. In the sky a few heart stopping moments were caused only by a GREY HERON, a few LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING GULLS. The KESTREL was up and about again, I watched it catch a small vole, too far away to photograph though. A pair of TURTLE DOVES flew low over, and SWIFTS, SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS all hunted for insects overhead. WHITETHROAT, BLACKCAP, CUCKOO, LINNET, YELLOWHAMMER, JAY as well as the usual BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSH and various finch's were all heard singing. There were gangs of newly fledged STARLINGS winging around, at times joining up to form a large group of around 60 birds. A pleasant last!

I watched this newly fledged GREAT SPOTTEDWOODPECKER on a telegraph pole, waiting to be fed.

It didn't have to wait long!

Whilst at home a bit later on, I found this female Common Newt, as I picked out some blanket weed.

This is one of the Iris's in my pond, what a cheering sight.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

At last its stopped raining, but its back to work today, so little birding was done apart from the 20mins walk in and another 20mins back. The afternoon visit lasted just 15 mins, before the rain gods saw me out, and opened the heavens again! I did manage to see a KESTREL hoverring over rough grassland around the greenhouses, and there were 10 GREY LAG GEESE in the paddocks early this morning - but that was it. I wasn't even able to do any garden watching as I had workmen putting in a new boiler all afternoon.

My only sighting today was this Kestrel!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Another downpour last night left everything hanging with water, but it wasn't raining when I left at 06:50 this morning. I put on my boots, that were still wet from yesterday, and set off round my patch. It was a bit of a change from tuesday, I didn't hear Turtle Dove, Lesser Whitethroat, or Garden Warbler, and there wasn't much song from the CHIFFCHAFFS or COMMON WHITETHROAT or the BLACKCAPS. Whilst walking across the golfcourse I confirmed breeding for PIED WAGTAIL when a parent bird was seen feeding a recently fledged youngster. I walked on to the lake area, via Cuckoo lane - which had a torrent of water flowing down it! The WILLOW WARBLER was just about the only noteworthy record there, along with a CUCKOO. The wet woods was alive with mosquitoes, and every bit of bare flesh was being bitten, bringing out large itchy lumps, I didn't record anything there!
At migrant alley, HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over, and the SPARROWHAWK was active as well as a KESTREL. Only the other Willow Warbler was of interest at the college grounds, and despite a good look for the Spotted Flycatcher it could not be located, its been a while since i've seen them now.
The wind and rain set in at 10.30, so I conceded defeat, my boots, socks and jeans were soaked, and a cup of tea seemed in order. A total of 47 species was a respectable effort.

I spent a good part of the afternoon recording garden visitors for the BTO Garden Birdwatch Scheme. This pair of BULLFINCH'S would of been a nice garden tick for the year, but they stayed in the large garden next door.
This moth was one of a couple of hundred massing under an oak tree, just look at the antennae on it! I looked in my little gem moth book, and I identified it as a 'Nemophora Degeerella' Has it got an English name Tony ?

Another deluge last night, this was Cuckoo lane at 07:30.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Today was another holiday for me (and tomorrow hurah!) and the weather had relented, just a light wind and overcast skies - ideal for birding. I spent 3hrs out, from 07.00, and heard or saw all the migrants that are present on my patch, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, GARDEN WARBLER, WILLOW WARBLER, COMMON and LESSER WHITETHROAT, CUCKOO and TURTLE DOVE as well as SWIFT, HOUSE MARTIN. and SWALLOW. Flyovers from 3 gull species, LESSER BLACK BACK, HERRING and BLACK HEADED all went towards an excellent list of 54 species. A later afternoon visit to migrant alley to watch for raptors proved successful, with KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD (new for the month) and the local PEREGRINE all being seen. The Buzzard was the 6th rapter this month over my patch!
In the garden the first GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER fledgling was seen, but it was off before I could grab my camara!

Herring Gull over Migrant Alley
Another distant photo of the Peregrine (later in the afternoon, a couple of friends got some excellent views of it at its resting site)

Large Red Damselfly at my garden pond

Monday, 26 May 2008

Its not that often that the weather stops my morning visits to my patch, but today was one such occasion! Heavy rain and gale force winds meant little could be expected.
The conditions did improve very slightly around 10.00am, and as I was itching to get out I decided to go over to the fields at Migrant Alley. The N wind was blowing squalls across the paddocks and maize field, and dark clouds scudded across the sky, it was difficult to keep my feet, and I could barely hear anything through the roar of the wind in my ears, but I did manage to hear a plucky COMMON WHITETHROAT doing its best, also a CHIFFCHAFF and SKYLARK were fighting the elements. I noticed a few LESSER BLACK BACK and HERRING GULLS going over, and thought maybe a Tern would be blown through, but something better came through, a small wader, but frustratingly it was across the other side of the field and flying away and high , blast it! This would almost certainly been a patch tick, it looked as though it may of been a small plover or sandpiper. A small number of SWIFTS passed over and a couple of SWALLOWS hunted for any insects that may of been out, along with a single HOUSE MARTIN. All in all a disappointing bank holiday!!!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

I looked at the weather forecast for sunday, and it was horrendous - heavy rain, strong N/E wind and 15C . I woke up to find it raining, as predicted, but it soon dried up, the sun came out and it was a pleasant 20C !
As yesterday morning, very little was singing, all the birds are getting down to the serious business of rearing young. WHITETHROAT, WILLOW WARBLER, CHIFFCHAFF and CUCKOO did give some song though, the latter was very active, there were two males and a female on my patch. A pair of BLACKCAPS were seen, around their probable nest site, and breeding was confirmed for GOLDCREST, I watched an adult feeding a recently fledged youngster. GREAT TIT fledglings were also seen.
Early on in the rain two LESSER BLACK BACK GULLS and six HERRING GULLS were resting in one of the paddocks at migrant alley, where two, then four CORMORANT flew over. As the morning warmed up, a SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL were seen hunting over the area, but bird of the day was a HOBBY, seen as I was sitting down to dinner, ( outside on the patio, as it was such a nice day!) It circled low over my garden for a minute or two, I kept thinking get the camara, but I knew if I got up it wouldn't be there when I came back!
Also noted in the garden was a COAL TIT the first to come to the feeders since the 11th March, and the first fledgling GREENFINCH came to try the sunflower hearts.

First Fledgling Greenfinch (not a very good shot!)
Sparrowhawk over

One of the Cuckoo's that were very active this am

Saturday, 24 May 2008

What a difference a week makes! Last weekend summer migrants were singing in every patch of cover, this week it was hard just to find one of each species, singles of BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF,LESSER WHITETHROAT and CUCKOO were recorded, but there were still 3 WHITETHROATS, and to totally bemuse me, the WILLOW WARBLER in the college grounds was singing, joining the long staying one at the lake area. I thought the college bird was a passing migrant, two birds in territory on my patch is unheard of, I've not had any before!
A good total of 48 species was eventually seen, but it was hard work. It was nice to see the two MUTE SWANS make another visit to the lake, but disappointing not to find any Garden warblers or locate the Spotted Flycatchers.
I made visits to the 7 nestboxes and can say that, in my area at least, it will be a bumber year for BLUE TITS. One box had 13 'ready to fly' youngsters and 12 in another, the other 4 had minimums of 9 in each, and the great tit had 5. Lets hope they don't fledge out tomorrow - the weather's going to be cold and wet - apparently.

A family party of LONG TAILED TITS gave good photo opportunities
Another Beautiful Demoiselle, this one was at the college pond. Apparently the white spot on the top of the wing (Pterostigma) makes this a female.

Azure Damselflies were around the same pond by the scores

The second Willow Warbler. This is the college bird.

Friday, 23 May 2008

What a quiet day! There was very little singing going on this morning, just a WHITETHROAT early on, with the usual BLACKBIRDS and SONGTHRUSH, the only other birds of note were the 21 Geese in the paddocks at migrant alley 10 of them GREYLAGS the rest CANADA.
A quick hours walk around the lake and scrub area was also disappointing, only a CUCKOO and BLACKCAPS were heard, and the ''patch'' WILLOW WARBLER! I couldn't find any Dragon/damselflies and very few butterflies were on the wing.
On the way back home I went and saw my ringing friend, who had been shown a photo (still on camara, so not too clear) of an Indigo Bunting that had come to garden feeders. He is expecting to see some prints this evening, so we will see what it is, probably an escaped caged bird. - Would be a good patch tick if not!!

Back in my garden - At least there is always a bird or two here.
This MISTLE THRUSH was the one that nested (and failed ) earlier this year. I have seen it carrying beakfuls of food to the tree again, but havn't located its new nest. I often here it ''chacking'' rigorously at the local Magpies.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

The only outing on my patch today was the walk to and from work, as this afternoon I was confined to the house, waiting for the plumber! The only thing of note were 8 LESSER BLACK BACK GULLS resting amongst the maize crop, and opposite them in the paddocks were 15 GREY LAG GEESE.
I watched the garden feeders on and off this afternoon, but not much came in, a pair of BLUE TITS was seen - a peak count for a few days! A SONG THRUSH came in briefly, a new garden species for the month, and a fledgling DUNNOCK picked at the sunflower hearts on the floor.
I took these pic's of bumble bees, but I havn't got a book on bees, so i can't name them!

This species preferred the Chives
While this species buzzed round the Lavender

A bit later on I saw this Wood mouse enjoying a sunflower heart or two

It didn't wander too far away from its bolt hole

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

At last the wind had dropped, which made this mornings journey to work much more pleasent. Walking along Ashes lane towards Migrant Alley, BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSH'S, and a WHITETHROAT were amongst the songsters, a SKYLARK joined in high above the greenhouse complex, and a BLUE TIT was observed taking food to its nest hole in the hedgerow. Whilst crossing between the Maize field and horse paddocks at migrant alley, I saw a group of 15 GREY LAG GEESE and 3 CANADA GEESE resting, and flyovers included a KESTREL, a HERRING GULL, a SPARROWHAWK carrying an unfortunate bird, and the first CORMORANT since the 4 of this month. As I walked on, through the college grounds, I heard another WILLOW WARBLER, two on my patch, wow thats is good!
Whilst at work, I brought to the attention of the dinner ladies a flyover GREY HERON, as we watched it I noticed that the PEREGRINE was just above and behind it - a bonus or what!
The afternoon was again spent listening around the scrub area by the lakes, songs heard included - WILLOW WARBLER, GARDEN WARBLER, BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF, CUCKOO and TURTLE DOVE.
Orange Tip Butterfly -the first seen for a while

An unfortunate end to a Blackbirds efforts

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Both the LESSER WHITETHROAT and CUCKOO called early this morning, and as I passed through the college grounds I noted the SONGTHRUSH and BLACKBIRD were on the lawns feeding newly fledged young, I stayed and watched for a few minutes, but work was beckoning.
On the way home I saw 43 LINNETS in a feeding flock, in one of the paddocks, quite surprising as I thought they would have dispersed to breed.
The rest of the afternoon was spent around the lake area and migrant alley. On my way to the lake area I came across a Vixen and here two cubs, she darted off into the field, being mobbed by a CARRION CROW as she did so, and her two cubs continued ''playing'' for a few seconds, not realising I was there. I got a few photo's, but it was very dim, and only one reasonable pic came out of it.
At the lakeside scrub a TURTLE DOVE purred, and a GARDEN WARBLER sang, along with BLACKCAPS, CHIFFCHAFFS and WHITETHROATS but no surprises today.
A walk over to migrant alley for some skywatching was disappointing, a few SWIFTS, GREY HERON, SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL were seen and SWALLOWS fed low over the recently cut pasture. A Lesser Whitethroat sang for most of the time I was there, from the Headland to the north of Migrant alley.

This patch of Red Campion and Forget -me-not, looked nice in the dappled shade, a piece of ground the Strimmer missed.
One of the fox cubs, not a very good picture but you can make it out -just

Another Beautiful Demoiselle sparkled by and alighted to be photographed

Monday, 19 May 2008

After all of yesterdays sightings there wasn't much left to find on my patch, but........This mornings walk into work produced a first for the month - a LITTLE EGRET, it flew across the college grounds. This is a good sighting for May, and the first seen since March 19th.
This afternoon was mainly used to check my nest boxes. I have 7 woodcrete boxes, all have BLUE TITS in apart from 1 which has GREAT TITS. The six Blue tit boxes al have young in, of varying ages, the youngest family hatched out no more than 4 days ago, the oldest probably 8-9 days ago. I counted 5 Great tit young, but there were also 2 unhatched eggs, the blue tits are having a much better season than last year (so far!) with families of between 13 max and 8 min. I reckon there are near 60 young in total. I better get some more sunflower hearts and peanuts in for the autumn!
When I arrived home there were families of STARLING eagerly snapping up the fat pellets I bought, 6kg has lasted all of 4 days, and thats 20 quids worth!

This fledgling wa still screaming, even though it had a mouthful !
Another youngster stands on the food, but still demands to be fed

All the youngsters

Young with Parent

And this Male Chaffinch was just asking to be snapped!!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

A four hour visit, from 06:45, in a blustery NE wind, didn't really bode well, but a record breaking day total of 55 species was recorded! All the summer migrants sang, and species such as, GREY HERON, GREY WAGTAIL, KESTREL, COAL TIT and LONG TAILED TIT, which are not seen daily all showed up. Less common species such as WILLOW WARBLER, GARDEN WARBLER and LESSER BLACK BACK GULL joined the list, and even the PEREGRINE showed up, circling over migrant alley. A new species for the month BLACK HEADED GULL (unusual for may) was noted, 3 in fact flew over the college. a steady stream of HERRING GULLS flew over, heading NW, and as I watched, a SPARROWHAWK drifted high over the paddocks - 3 raptors in the same day is good going on my patch! An excellent mornings work!

A pair of Grey Wagtails was at the Stream, behind the college
They were feeding right where I cross, on the stepping stones - most obliging.

Yellowhammer had the distinction of being the 55th species for the morning, breaking the previous record by 1

Saturday, 17 May 2008

I set off for a 4 and a half hour walk from 06:15hrs today, but before I did, I noticed the first fledged STARLING in my garden, being fed by both parents. Fledglings were the order of the day really, with BLACKBIRD, CHAFFINCH, MOORHEN, MALLARD, ROOK, ROBIN and GREY LAG GOOSE young all being seen.
Light rain began to fall, but there was little wind, and birdsong was easily picked out. All the regular Summer visitors sang, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP,WILLOW WARBLER, GARDEN WARBLER, LESSER and COMMON WHITETHROAT, TURTLE DOVES purred and a CUCKOO called. All this was backed up by the resident species, mainly of WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, and a brief snatch of TREECREEPER - the first record this month!
Over at migrant alley SWIFTS, SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS were busy in the air, but best of all a YELLOW WAGTAIL (87) was seen flying over the sprouting maize crop, calling as it went, it alighted in one of the paddocks, but was off again before I could photograph it. This is only the second spring record for Yellow Wagtail, I had one in April last year, but most records are for Autumn birds.
A good day today, with 49 species being seen, had i given it another half hour I would probably picked up the likes of Stock dove, Jay, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and the Spotted Flycatcher, but the rain was getting heavier, and I was pleased enough with my sightings.

A newly fledged Chaffinch peers around, calling for mum.

Friday, 16 May 2008

It was cool this morning, and in the NE wind it even felt quite chilly. 7 MUTE SWANS flew over migrant alley, and both TURTLE DOVE and LESSER WHITETHROAT sang from the headland there. The SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was heard in the college grounds, and a male GREY WAGTAIL was seen preening on the stream, behind the college.
Coming from work the Lesser Whitethroat and Turtle doves were heard again, while a group of 8 LINNETS fed in one of the paddocks, they were feeding on dandelion seed heads.
Once I had eaten, I went out for a couple of hours mainly to the lake area, where more purring from Turtle Doves was heard, as well as song from BLACKCAP, COMMON WHITETHROAT, CUCKOO, CHIFFCHAFF and the patch WILLOW WARBLER singing louder than ever, I wonder if he's got a mate yet. On the lake, 5 GREY LAG GEESE and 3 CANADA GEESE as well as 2 MALLARD and a few MOORHEN were seen. I walked over to migrant alley and spent 20mins watching SWALLOWS catching insects around a hedgerow, the usual SPARROWHAWK came over and sent them all into their panic calls - aways sounds like ''attack'' attack'' to me! A Kestrel also hovered nearby, but the Swallows didn't mind this too much.

The Swallows don't mind Kestrels - too much

Chiffchaff on an aerial, strange place to find one

The Cuckoo was calling well for most of the time I was there

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The weather turned today, and it rained on and off for the most part. A good opportunity to do a bit of garden birdwatching, for the Garden Birdwatch Survey, something which has taken a bit of a back seat recently.
I sat down at the bedroom window at 14.00, and for 20 mins I sat and watched nothing! Then the reason for this became apparent, when a MAGPIE flew into the large leylandi, which overlooks the garden, and flushed out a male SPARROWHAWK. After things settled down, only a small trickle of birds used the garden, and the feeders. A peak of 3 GOLDFINCH, 5 GREENFINCH, 4 CHAFFINCH, 5 COLLARED DOVES, 2 BLACKBIRDS, 4 STARLING, with singles of BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, HOUSE SPARROW, ROBIN, JACKDAW, and WOODPIGEON, not a great garden list, but as its May, the natural food is becoming more plentiful, especially for the insectivores. Thirteen species flew over, or were in the close vacinity of the garden, highlights being a skein of 7 GREY LAG GEESE, and a pair of HERRING GULLS. SWALLOWS and SWIFTS were chasing insects out on the sheep pasture, where a group of 45 starlings were collecting grubs for their 'just about to fledge' young. PIED WAGTAILS, a pair of LINNETS and a PHEASANT were around the greenhouse complex, and 3 MALLARD visited the small reservoir that collects the run off from the greenhouse roofs.

Starling - Collecting the fat pellets I put out.
A recently fledged Robin

Collared Doves