Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Today's last full walk round my patch of the year was the 121st, and that keeps the tradition of doing at least 120 full ciruits of my patch over each of the last 7 years.
This morning wasn't as frosty as yesterday, in fact the frost that was about was from the day before. I left at 07:30, and it was barely light, but I wanted to see the LINNETS leave their roost, I did see them, and also was treated once again to the sight of the BARN OWL hunting next to it's roosting shack, until it was mobbed by a CARRION CROW which sent it back into the shack. I noticed a flock of some 30 LAPWING coming from Migrant Alley, and I suspected they had been flushed up by a dog walker, or the shepherd, but as I arrived I found that it was in fact the PEREGRINE! It was sitting in the middle of the Maize stubble, needless to say nothing else was around. A circuit of the College grounds produced the standard array of birds, nothing unusual today, and the return walk through Migrant Alley, only gave me MEADOW PIPIT and BLACK HEADED GULL for my list.
The walk around the wet woods and lake area was also disappointing, mainly because everything was frozen. A couple of LESSER REDPOLL flew over, and a SPARROWHAWK (the first of the festive period) also went past, but very little else of note was recorded.
Just 43 species were seen, with 2 from the garden to add - NUTHATCH and MARSH TIT. An afternoon sit on the horse jump, over at Migrant Alley, for 90mins, was not the spectacle of yesterday, all I got was cold! Well a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL did fly over, bringing the day list to 46, but that was it.


So thats it, another year of birding at the Pittswood Patch ends, and it was the most Successful year of the 7 years of recording. Some basic stats - The year list ended on 106, easily beating last years record total of 99. I was very pleased with this, as I have been chasing the '100 in a calander year' and only thought it would achieved narrowly, how wrong was I!
The full patch list went up by 5, bringing it to 121 species, they were, BARN OWL, OSPREY, MARSH HARRIER, POCHARD, and GOLDENEYE.
The number of species that bred or attempted to breed, was 47, the other 59 species were just visiting or passing through! This shows how hit and miss my year list can be. Some of the species were seen just once, I happened to be in the right place at the right time!
2009 will be a testing time I think. 2008 monthly totals were beaten in every month bar one (July), and some months were well beaten, i'll find it hard to do better next year.
When I started recording birds on my patch in 2002, just 89 species were recorded in that year, with an average monthly list of 57. The average monthly list for 2008 is 67! This goes to prove the beter you know your patch, the more likely you are to find those 'special' species.
Well I've bored you with enough stats for now. I wish all who read this blog a HAPPY NEW YEAR and an excellent birding year for 2009. Also I'd like to thank all of those who leave comments, I read them all, but don't often get the time to reply always, please keep them coming!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

It was a cold and frosty morning, but the sun shone brightly, when it did eventually rise around 08:00.
The dying embers of the year, and the penultimate walk around my patch, produced another of those memorable days that have made this year such an exciting one on my patch. After finding not much at all around the wet woods and frozen lake, apart from the skating MALLARDS, I made my way over to the farmland part of my walk. I checked the BARN OWL shack, and was pleased to find it at home, then made my way to migrant alley, where the Maize stubble held 90 LAPWING, but it was the college grounds that was to hold a surprise for me, in the form of a GREEN SANDPIPER (105), it flew low over my head and weaved it's way through the tree's and over in the direction of Migrant alley,calling as it did so, a year tick on the second last walk round of the year, what more could be asked for.......well another year tick that's what!
An afternoon visit to Migrant alley, to sit and watch the fields, produced no less than 27 GOLDEN PLOVER (106), they flew in to join the Lapwing, but left almost immediately. I was feeling pretty pleased with my haul for the day, but a further surprise was in store, when a COMMON SNIPE dropped in, just beside the hedgerow that the summer whinchats had found so attractive. I would have settled for any of these species when started out early this morning.
The Snipe had taken the monthly total to 72, the joint best ever monthly total recorded, I also had 72 species in the September just gone, I sat and watched the excitable Lapwing, and another two golden Plover out on the sheep pasture, everything went up in panic. This means just one thing - PEREGRINE FALCON, and yes, I scanned the sky and found it! I watched as it flew from over Migrant Alley, and back behind the Tower at hadlow, fantastic! 73 for December, and that has set a new monthly record.
It may have been an even better! I was sure I heard a Curlew flyover, in fact i was more than sure. I heard the cur- lew call just once, but a long scan of the sky didn't reveal anything, close, but for me, I wanted a bit more to covince myself, one that got away!

Above: A ROBIN, fluffed up in the cold.

Above. You'll have to take my word for it, the 27 Golden Plover.

Above. Some of the Lapwing out on the stubbles, the grass field behind had 2 Golden Plover on it.

Above; The only FIELDFARE of the day!

Above. If you look into the gloom, you can make out the Barn Owl

Below are a couple of sunrise shots

and below are the Skating ducks again. One for the Fishing Guy!

Below is Migrant alley in the frost.
And the tree nursery boundary all frosted up

Monday, 29 December 2008

GOTCHA!! At last TAWNY OWL (104) went down on my year list. I was awoken at 05:10 by the hooting of said Owl from close to my bedroom window, it may have been on the nearby telephone pole. Just to make sure I wasn't dreaming it, I woke the wife to confirm it, I don't think she was quite as excited as i was though!
A couple of hours later I was out on my patch, I walked the farmland first, and was early enough to watch the LINNETS leave their roost in the tree nursery, I counted a min. of 105. The Barn Owl wasn't at it's roost, and as I stopped to scan the shack it roosts in, BLACK HEADED GULLS started to stream overhead towards Migrant Alley. I followed them over, and counted 100+ and they were still coming in, as I was counting, a flock of 75 LAPWING came in on the Maize stubbles,also out there were 5 REDWING, a MISTLE THRUSH and 4 SONGTHRUSH, but there were no Fieldfare, a second day with none recorded. The walk along the stream by the college, and the associated grounds was without any excitement, just a small flock of 6 SISKIN in the Alder tree's.
The second part of my walk, over to the woods and lake area, started along ashes lane, where I recorded at least a dozen YELLOWHAMMER and 3 REED BUNTING in the wild bird crop. It was hard to count them as they flitted from the hedge to the crop continuously.
In the wet woods, the pools were all frozen, so nothing was see on them, however the drier part of the woods had a wide ranging flock of Tits, with 3 TREECREEPERS, and 7 GOLDCRESTS spread amongst them. As the lake itself was fozen from bank to bank, I expected little here, and wasn't dissappointed just a few iceskating MALLARDS, but as I looked at the only open piece of water, (the bit around the ornimental fountain), what was there ? The GOLDENEYE ! most unexpected.
Only 43 species were seen today, thats with the Tawny owl! Another disappointing total, given that a couple of goodies had turned up.

This JAY was seen in the college grounds, and it allowed a photo to be had, usually there off in a flash.
Above: The Goldeneye, on the only bit of open water

Above: Ice Skating Mallards, and below a NUTHATCH, seen just off Ashes Lane.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

It was a sunny but cold morning for todays walk round, but later in the morning, once out of the wind, and into the sun, it felt quite reasonable.
I started my walk by going up the western end of Ashes lane to visit the wild bird crop, there were 5 YELLOWHAMMERS in the adjacent hedge, but no Reedbuntings were present, I think I was a bit early. I cut through the small holding, to get to the wet woods, and picked up some common species as well as NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER and a pair of STOCK DOVES, only the second record this month. The wet woods was lifeless, and the lake area was frozen over, so it was pretty deserted, just MALLARD and MOORHEN were seen here, but a KIGFISHER flew low over the ice.A pair of MARSH TITS fed at a garden feeder nearby, but the long staying Coot had departed, or was very well concealed.
On the farmland the number of LAPWING had increased slightly, 73 were present on the Maize stubbles, and around 200 BLACK HEADED GULL were with them, and also spread out on the sheep pasture. A KESTREL hunted over the nearby hedgerow and a LITTLE EGRET flew over, presumably the same bird i've been seeing for the past few days, another flyover was a GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL, always a scarce species over my patch. A group of 30 - 40 SISKIN were in the alders along the stream, and the grounds of the college held plenty of BLACKBIRDS and SONGTHRUSH on the lawns. Crossing back over Migrant Alley,SKYLARK, REDWING and GREY WAGTAIL were recorded, just a single of each.
It was a little disappointing to have only reached 45 species today, especially as some regular species like Coal Tit, Pheasant,Fieldfare, and Long Tailed Tit, weren't recorded, and recent regulars like the Coot, Barn Owl and Cormorant might well have been expected. Oh well, there's always tomorrow!

despite some bright sunshine, photographic opportunities were rare on my walk. So I took some pics of the finch's in my garden instead.
Below are: Top CHAFFINCH, then GOLDFINCH, then GREENFINCH. The bottom BLUE TIT was just asking to be photographed so I obliged it!.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

As the sun rose this morning, it looked like it was going to be another clear and sunny day, but the cloud soon drifted over, and a biting easterly wing blew.
I could only walk half of my patch today, as I had to be back for 10:00am - a trip down to bexhill to visit the mother-in-law for the afternoon had been arranged. Now, what do you think i'd rather be doing!!
Anyway, the half of my patch that I decided to walk round was the Farmland, and college grounds. A good variety of species were seen, 42 in all, with nothing out of the ordinary, but the first CANADA GOOSE of the month flew over migrant alley, typically, after taking so long to record one, another 11 flew over some minutes later! Other noteworthy mentions go to the 62 LAPWING in the maize stubbles, a KESTREL hunting alongside the greenhouse complex, and the BARN OWL tucked up in it's roost. Along with the Lapwing were over 100 BLACK HEADED GULLS and 2 COMMON GULLS, a few mixed Thrushes also fed out on the adjacent sheep pasture, where a couple of MEADOW PIPIT were heard, but it wasn't a very fruitful visit today. I wonder if my Coot was on the lake ?

Above: Canada Goose, the 68 species for this month. (the same total as I achieved in May!)

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing day dawned bright and sunny - what a change! The first bird I noticed was a KESTREL, hovering in the distance, the cold had no doubt forced it out early to hunt. I saw the LINNETS leave their roost in the tree nursery, where I was also given a treat by the BARN OWL, who was also out hunting along the hedgerow. It was out for just a minute or so, then flew back into the shack, as I was watching, a CORMORANT flew overhead.
Migrant Alley had just a few SKYLARK in the stubbles, with around 35 BLACKHEADED GULL, who's numbers were increasing all the while, as more glided in from the west, later there were also 32 LAPWING on the stubble, with just a few REDWING, FIELDFARE, a couple of MEADOW PIPIT and a single YELLOWHAMMER.
In the alders along the college stream there were 40 SISKIN at least, with a dozen GOLDFINCH. The college gardens produced a GREY HERON and KINGFISHER on one of the ponds and a group of 4 BULLFINCH fed nearby.
A GREY WAGTAIL flew up from the car park, and as I crossed the sports pitch a GREAT BLACK BACK GULL flew over with 4 HERRING GULLS.
I walked up the western end of ashes lane to check out the field with the ''wild bird'' crop in it and found at least a dozen yellowhammer along the hedgerow, with them were 3 REED BUNTING. I think the crop would attract down many more birds, but the nearby gas connon blasting away every 40mins scares off everything, as does the pigeon shooter, who didn't call an xmas truce, he felt the need to kill even on xmas morning!
The wet woods were quiet this morning, but a MARSH TIT was calling, no Teal were recorded there, and the lake was deserted, all bar a couple of MOORHEN, and my long staying COOT!
A very good total of 49 species were seen, which could easily have gone into the 50's had the Pheasant, Teal or Coal tit showed up.

Above: The welcome sight of the sun at last!
Above: One of the 32 lapwing at Migrant Alley, and below, the KESTREL. Look - Blue Sky!!!!

Thursday, 25 December 2008


This morning I started my walk through the tree nursery, and got there just as the LINNETS were leaving their roost, I counted at least 90, but there were probably more than 100 in all. As it got lighter the sun threatened to break through, but it never quite made it, tomorrow looks a better bet for sunshine.
Just a quick run through of what was seen today, as I'm off out to the parents for xmas dinner and time is short.
8 LAPWING flew over Migrant Alley, and a flock of at least 30 SISKIN, and 20 GOLDFINCH with a single LESSER REDPOLL, was feeding in alders along the college stream. Also there, were 30 ish REDWING. On my way to the lake area 9 CORMORANTS flew over in a 'V' formation, the most i've seen go over, in some years. The lake itself was empty except for a GREY HERON and my old mate the COOT. Both KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were out hunting, but the Barn Owl wasn't home. I noticed this morning that there were a lack of GOLDCRESTS just one was seen, where have they all gone ?
47 species were seen in all, a good start to the xmas bird challenge that has organised.
Above: The Grey Heron at the lake.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The same grey, dull weather prevailed for my walk this morning, but at least it was mild, and windless.
It was evident from the off that there were not as many birds about today, as there had been in recent days. I found it hard to track down some of the most common species. One welcome visitor was a flyover GREYLAG GOOSE, the first this month, other than that, it was much the same as yesterday, right down to the sighting of a LITTLE EGRET at the college stream. Migrant alley had 25 SKYLARK feeding in the stubble, and as I sat and watched the sky the last of the 47 species seen today flew over in the form of a GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL, not a very common bird here at all, and yet another new species for this month.
This months total has so far reached 67, easily passing last years record December total of 62, and is surprisingly higher than this July's total (66), equal to June's total, and just one less than May's. The total for all Decembers combined is 79 - which is higher than the combined August total (77). These figures go to show, I believe, that my patch is all about 'visiting' birds. There are not many resident breeding birds, and it is just down to luck, and being in the right place at the right time, and of course persistance and frequent visits, that dictates the monthly totals.

I was watching the garden after my walk, and it appears that the Sparrowhawk attacks have stopped, or almost stopped. The behaviour of the birds has totally changed, they feed from the floor now! They bath in the pond! They go to the open parts of the garden! ROBINS and DUNNOCKS perch on plant pots and rocks out in the open, and the Tits and finch's all crowd onto the feeders, non of that take and fly stuff. So..... I have moved the feeders back out to the places that I designed them to be, over the paving slabs, will the hawk return for easy pickings, or has he met his demise somewhere ? He was at least 4 years old ( I know because it was ringed by my friend) and I read somewhere the average age of a sparrowhawk is 3 years. We shall see!!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The first of my xmas holiday walks took place in ideal birding conditions, but rubbish photography conditions. It was dull and overcast, with no wind. I went through the wet woods, to the lake first thing, nothing much there, 13 MALLARD, a GREY HERON, a few MOORHEN, and the COOT, which had changed lakes, the MARSH TIT called from the bank vegetation, and two CORMORANT circled over, but saw me and didn't come down. On the way back through the wet woods, it was now late enough to see GOLDCRESTS, and a single TEAL, but there weren't any Long Tailed Tits, I had to wait until the college before I caught up with them. I spent some time looking for the Firecrest in the tree nursery, but I couldn't find it - shame. I passed the shack and saw the BARN OWL at roost, then went on to Migrant alley, it wasn't as busy here as usual, just a sprinkling of FIELDFARE on the stubble, along with 3 MISTLE THRUSH, 14 SKYLARK and 5 YELLOWHAMMER in the hedgerow, the adjacent sheep pasture had around 25 ROOKS and 30 BLACK HEADED GULLS, but just one MEADOW PIPIT was heard. Walking along the stream behind the college, I was counting the SISKIN and GOLDFINCH, when a LITTLE EGRET flew over, the first this month, a bonus December bird. The college gardens and grounds held some common birds - Tits and Finch's, but also a TREECREEPER, nice to see that here.
The 4 hour visit produced 47 Species, and when I got home, the NUTHATCH was on the feeders, bringing the total to 48. Also of note on the feeders was a Marsh Tit, I wonder if it was the one from the lake I had seen earlier, or was it the other one ? They seem to feed separately, also a superb looking male Siskin was on the sunflower hearts.

Thanks for all the comments on yesterdays post, it's interesting to hear about other peoples Firecrest records - or not ;-)

Above: You can just make out the Barn owl at roost, and below is the Siskin on the sunflower feeder, with a Goldfinch.

Below is a BLUE TIT, Thought I would stick this on for a bit of colour!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Hurrah!! My last day at work today, and it's birding all the way into the new year from now - bliss.
What started to be a normal run of the mill afternoon, turned into a real bonus day. After walking over to the lake area and scanning the wet woods, nothing out of the ordinary was sighted, unless you count the COOT, which was still present, and maybe the TEAL, that were on the pools in the woods. I was contenting myself with these species as I walked through the tree nursery, and as I watched another goldcrest, I saw another beside it, I scanned it in case it was a Firecrest, and WOW ! yes it was one ! A FIRECREST (103), another new species for the year, not a patch tick though. One turned up in my garden in Oct. 2006, and another longer staying bird was recorded in Dec 2004, through to Feb. 2005. I know I keep saying this, but 2008 has been quite some year at pittswood, I think i'm going to have my work cut out next year, if i'm going to come anywhere near the excitement of this, but all I can do is go for it!

Now I have put some rubbish photo's on this blog before, but I think these are probably the worst ever! If you look carefully at the top photo, I think you can just make a Firecrest out. The middle photo shows the birds black eye stripe, and white eyebrow, - once you get your eye in!

Below is a photo of a GOLDCREST for comparison, I took this earlier in the afternoon when it was a bit lighter, pity I couldn't get the firecrest this clearly.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The wind was much stronger this morning, making it difficult to pick up bird calls, especially in the wet woods. It was here that I again came across 3 TEAL, 2 Drakes and a duck, just visible in the growing light, with them on the pools were at least 2 pairs of mallard and 5 MOORHEN. A MARSH TIT called from amongst a mixed feeding flock, which also contained 4 GOLDCREST and a COAL TIT. Over at the lake the COOT was still present, as was a GREY HERON, as I left 2 CORMORANTS came in, so I left them to fish undisturbed. As I was finishing the first part of my walk I scanned the setaside field at the western end of Ashes Lane, It was pleasing to find a flock of at least 20 YELLOWHAMMER, and 5 REEDBUNTING feeding in the crop thats been planted for the overwintering birds, they flitted from the crop to the hedge, where I also saw WREN, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD, BLUE and GREAT TIT, whilst a pair of NUTHATCH alarm called up in a large ash behind me.
Over at Migrant Alley, the fields were full of BLACK HEADED GULL (120 min.), STARLING (200 min), WOODPIGEON (50min), ROOK (50 min), with small numbers of MEADOW PIPIT, SKYLARK, FIELDFARE, REDWING, a pair of MISTLE THRUSH and a lone Yellowhammer. Along the stream behind the college, a mixed flock of some 20 or so SISKIN and a dozen GOLDFINCH fed in the Alders. The only bird of note in the college gardens was a KINGFISHER, which as yesterday, flew from one of the ponds there. Another quick scan of migrant alley produced a COMMON GULL and a LESSER BLACK BACK GULL, the latter was flying over.

Another good day total of 49 species was seen, with the weekend total reching 54, very good for a December weekend.

Above: A male REED BUNTING. One of a flock of 5. This is a large flock for my patch!!
Above: Some of the Black Headed Gulls, Rooks, Starlings and Woodpigeon at Migrant Alley
Later in the day, some fellow bloggers helped me put up the Barn owl box. ( Well, they actually did it all!!) Greenie was the main man He scaled the ladder, climbed the tree and attached the box like it was all in a normal days work. Steve from gave a bit of muscle, and my friend dave - the local postie - did some much needed rope work.

Above: Greenie left and Steve do some risk assessments!

Above: Steve holds it whilst Greenie screws it! Then it was decided that we didn't like the position, so the box was moved again.

Above: Here's dave - On the pull!

Below: The Barn Owls new home. Lets hope it stays in situ and is producing the goods soon.
Thanks again to Greenie, Steve and Dave. Especially Greenie who showed us younger guys how it should be done, well done mate.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

I was out at first light this moning, a bit before, in fact. I wanted to get down o the lake area to have a look for visiting ducks before the dog walkers were about. However, only the COOT was out of the ordinary, also there, were 14 MALLARD and a few MOORHENS. The wet woods had produced 3 TEAL earlier, as well as a feeding Tit flock, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and 5 GOLDCRESTS.
Out on Migrant Alley the first STOCK DOVE of the month flew over, and a total of 18 YELLOWHAMMER, 29 SKYLARKS, a sprinkling a FIELDFARE, and REDWING and a couple each of MISTLE THRUSH and SONG THRUSH, also feeding on the stubble was a GREY WAGTAIL another first for the month.
I was followed by a barking dog all the way down the stream behind the college, so nothing much was noted there, apart from a small mixed flock of SISKIN and GOLDFINCH. I lost the dog when I crossed the stream, and walked through the college grounds and garden. A KINGFISHER flew off one of the ponds, where, in the vegetatation a group of 5 BULLFINCH were feeding on berries, a CHIFFCHAFF was heard calling from the same vegetation, but I couldn't see it, a good addition for this months list. I crossed the college sports pitch, where over 100 BLACK HEADED GULLS and 2 COMMON GULLS were feeding, along with more Redwing and Fieldfare. The home leg of my walk passes back through migrant Alley, along the hedgerow separating it from the Greenhouses, in here was a female REED BUNTING, the fourth additon for the months list, which brings it to a total to 63, a new record for December. So it was a productive visit, 49 species were seen in all, nothing spectacular but an enjoyable walk. As I filled the garden feeders this evening the 50th species turned up - a MARSH TIT.

Once agian, the pictures are poor, but here are the couple I did salvage - somewhat!

Above; Female Reed Bunting. Below: The Grey Wagtail

Friday, 19 December 2008

It's all a bit of a rush today. This evening it's the works xmas dinner, so I had to be back early from my afternoon ramblings, so as to have my weekly shave, also to have a quick bath, which are a little more frequent than weekly. What made it even more of a rush, was that I was waiting for a parcel to arrive. It arrived at 14:10, and I was out by 14:15, after unwrapping my my new toy - a telescope, well my other one must be 10 years old now.
I wandered over to the lake area again, hoping that the Goldeneye had remained, but alas it had not, probably not helped by my old mate the gardener, who had decided upon having a huge great bonfire, to burn all the weeks chainsaw production. At least the COOT was there, and the KINGFISHER. A CORMORANT circled over, thought about coming down onto the lake, but then decided against it. A GREY HERON did come in though, and fished contentedly. These sightings normally would mean quite a productive visit, but I felt a bit disappointed after the recent sightings.
On the way back through the wet woods, SISKIN were again seen in the tops of some of the Alders, and there were two drake TEAL on the pools there, a quite scarce species on my patch. Apart from that, it was all a bit quiet, could have had something to do with the unruly dogs and there obviously deaf owners, who have to shout greetings at one another, I could hear them 60yards away! (moan moan, sorry greenie, i'll take a pill!)
Well i'm off now to get ready for the first round of turkey dinner and red wine, not too much of the latter though, as I'm up, and out early tomorrow. (beat the dog walkers)

Some more poor pics today. At least it gives some impression of the birds!

Above is a Male BULLFINCH. Not an easy bird to get close to at the best of times. (Ken, this would be in my list of top 5 favourite birds, but I would find it difficult to name just 5, I like so many species!)

Above. It's that Coot again ! I hope it stays around for the new year, Coots are a difficult one to get on the year list!!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

It was back to the cloudy, damp, and dull weather today, and the fact I had to leave work half an hour later this afternoon meant that the light was too poor to take my camera out.
A trip over to the lake area was a must, after what turned up yesterday, and I only briefly scanned the wet woods as I passed through, as I was eager to the water, saying that, I did notice quite a few SISKIN feeding in the tops of the alder tree's there. Nearing the lake, I again passed the gardener of the large house that sits beside one of the lakes, I was talking to him whilst at the same time looking over his shoulder at the ''tidied lake''. I could see the female GOLDENEYE again! I pointed it out to the gardener, and explained the status of the bird to him, to which he replied, oh! yes that's been there all day, it was with two small, almost white ducks, early this morning!!! What have I missed! Male Goldeneye ? perhaps male Goosander, maybe even a male Smew! DOH! Why do i have to go to work.
Anyway, I carried on to the main lake, and was pleased to see the COOT had also remained, but there was no Goosander today. I had several good glimpses of the KINGFISHER, and the usual MALLARD and MOORHEN were around. A flock of some 48 REDWING flew over, as did several groups of FIELDFARE, but only in two's and three's. I stayed around until it got almost dark, and apart from a few more Mallards dropping in, nothing else of note was seen. I kept an ear out for a Tawny Owl as I walked through the woods on the way home - but still no luck!

PS. Directions for for anyone wanting to help in the Barn Owl box erection. -
pass through hadlow village square, in the direction of Tonbridge, carry on for about a mile, until you reach the Rose revived pub on your right. There is right a turning here into Ashes lane, carry on down the lane for about 3 qaurters of a mile, and you'll see the large greenhouse complex on your right. This is where we will meet at 1:30 ish, you can park here easily.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

At last, some sunshine! So after work, and a bite to eat, I set of for the lake area via the wet woods. Most of the activity in the wet woods was centered at the western end, where the sunshine penetrated the woods. A flock of at least a dozen LONGTAILED TITS were joined by a minimum of 6 GOLDCREST, again, careful scanning for a Firecrest was in order, but none was present, a lone TREECREEPER also tagged along with them.
I passed the large garden on the way to the lake, and talked to the gardener (the one who chops and burns tree's for a hobby) He told me it was the owners of the garden who told him to do the work, I told him what I thought of his employers,and got on with my birding.
At the lake I scanned across and found 6 MALLARD, but then......hey whats that....a COOT! a real treat for my patch, not seen one here since 21st Feb. a bonus addition for the december list! However much more excitement was to come, I picked out a smaller duck, grey back, brown head, bit of white on the wing, bloody hell, a female GOLDENEYE (121:102) !! A patch tick ! This really was a most unexpected addition to my Pittswood list - brilliant! I would have been pleased with the KINGFISHER that flew onto a branch, and gave good, but distant views, as it was a first recorded this month, but it had to take a back seat today. I was well happy with the afternoons sightings, but unbelievably another treat was in store in the form of a female GOOSANDER! It must have been under the overhanging tree's when i first arrived, and I failed to notice it.Another species for the month, and the first seen since 4 flew over the lake on 20 Jan earlier. this year.
Regular followers of my blog will know that the lake on my patch rarely holds anything more exciting than a Mallard, moorhen, or the occasional goose, so today was exceptional, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming it all. Today must be my best winters patch watch ever!

The pics. of todays birds are absolutely dire, but I just had to get some form of record!
Above is the Coot, a rareity in itself.
Above the Female Goosander, the fouth year out of the seven years recording, that this species has been seen.

Above and below:. The female Goldeneye - Wow!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I didn't hear any Owls this morning before dawn, only 15 days left to get that Tawny!
On the way home from work I gave the Maize stubble at migrant alley a scan, the dull, cold overcast conditions didn't make it much fun, nor did the assembly of species recorded. Just 5 BLACK HEADED GULL, and a sprinkling of REDWING and FIELDFARE.
I decided, once home, that I was just as likely to see something new for the month at the garden feeders, as I was in the woods, i e a Brambling. So I sat and watched the feeders from 14.00 to 15.30, at which time all but a ROBIN, and BLACKBIRD had gone to roost. I didn't get the Brambling, but 17 other species came to feed, with just 3 other species noted in the vacinity of my garden, WOODPIGEON, GREEN WOODPECKER and CARRION CROW, not one species was seen flying over, as the visibility was so poor I couldn't see anyway!
Here's a list of what came in, and the peak number seen.
GREAT SPOTTED WOOPECKER - 3 ( Unusual to see 3 together, tolerating each other )
JAY - 1
Below are some photo's. But the light was so dire they aren't the best.

Above: A busy feeder with 5 Species visiting. I'll leave you to find and sort them!

Above: Blue tits at the fat blocks

Above. A Male Greenfinch

Above: A Goldfinch

Above. One of 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS that visited. ( 2 Females and a Male)

Above: A Female Chaffinch

Finally a Male Blackbird. The dark beak, ( instead of yellow) and lack of yellow eyering, indicates this could have arrived from the continent