Thursday, 31 December 2009

..........HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL................
Well, its here again, the final full patch walk of the year, and just like the past few days, it was dull and damp, but the persistant rain has at least moved off now.

It was really hard going at first today, I had walked the Tree Nursery, Migrant Alley and the College Grounds, but nothing of all was seen that was of note, apart from the KINGFISHER at one of the ponds in the college grounds, in fact the number of birds were well down than of late - I get more in my garden!

There were of course the usual suspects, LINNETS were seen leaving their roost at the tree nursery, REDWING and FIELDFARE were flying over with BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, a few BLUE and GREAT TITS were about, the odd CHAFFINCH, and GREENFINCH were seen, they were unusually outnumbered by BULLFINCH'S. A CORMORANT flew towards the Lake, and a GOLDCREST was seen along ashes Lane. However, the walk did come to life a bit when 3 GOLDEN PLOVER flew up from the sheep pasture as I returned through migrant alley at the end of the first part of my walk. Two sightings of Golden Plover on consecutive days! Unheard of on my patch!

The second half of my walk through the Small Holding and wet woods was just as still and quiet, very little bird activity was noticed. As I neared the lake area I could see that the two small lakes had thawed out - at last! Nearing the main lake I could see that it too had mostly thawed, and the far side had a patch of open water, a quick scan of that, and bingo! An amazing six GOOSANDERS came into focus, 2 males and 4 females quite something to see for my patch lake, in fact they out numbered the MALLARD until a few minutes later when they were reinforced by eight of their kind.

I was annoyed that I had left my camera at home now, so later on I returned for some pics. So the last walk of the year was mostly dull and quiet, but it did have some very good highlights!

As promised on yesterdays post, here's some more end of year figures, and I know you all love reading my really interesting stats - dont you :-)

The final tally for 2009 was 109 species, which is the best ever yearly total, beating last years old record of 106. I am well pleased with that, as I think if I can get 100 species in a year on my patch, with its less than optimum habitat, I am doing well.

7 species were patch ticks, Mealy Redpoll, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Woodcock, Barnacle Goose, Shoveler Duck, and Little Ringed Plover, any of which i will be lucky to see next year! These 7 species brought the patch total for the 8 years of recording to 127. The average number of species recorded per year is 97. The first two years of recording produced just just 89 species in each year, but I put that down to getting to know my patch, and the fact I was working full time then!

All these facts and figures are part of the challenge of patch watching for me, but in keeping them it also reveals some interesting changes in the bird life - which is more important. In each of the last eight years I have made 120 FULL patch walks, and I keep a track of the percentage of walks that any one species has been seen. It has thrown up some interesting facts - this year for the first time GREENFINCH has not been seen on 100% of my walks, it has dropped down to 97 %, maybe not significant, but year on year it could be. Yellowhammer has dropped year on year, and my findings compare well to the county trends.

Anyway, thats about it, next year it will start all over again, my target is set at finding 100 species, maybe thats a bit modest looking at the last two years, especially as I reached the target by May this year, but I dont think that will happen again next year, 2009 really was exceptional!

Here's the pics from today, I hope they are appreciated, as I had to go back to get my camera, then all the way back to the lake again, through all that mud!

Above: 4 Goosander, Below: 5 Goosander, couldn't get the 6th one in, I know the photo's are a bit rubbish, but I had to shoot in rubbish light and through a wall of branches!

More excuses for these two pics below of a Kingfisher, this was the second one seen today, I came across it when i was photographing the Goosander. I sneaked up on it from half way round the lake, but the camera wanted to focus on the twigs and branches!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The penultimate full patch walk of the year took place this morning in dreadful conditions, low cloud and constant rain, heavy at times plagued me all the way round, the camera stayed indoors - speaking of which - thanks for all the input on my last post about lenses and cameras, it seems i'll just have to keep what ive got!

The species total for the day reached just 40, well down on recent visits, but in the conditions it was a reasonable tally, another 3 species were added this afternoon, when SISKIN, NUTHATCH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER visited my garden feeders.

There were some highlights to todays walk to be had though, 3 REED BUNTING that flew from a grassy area in the Tree Nursery were the first seen this month, I was actually trying to flush up a Snipe! More interestingly, for my patch at least, was the sighting of a flock of 33 GOLDEN PLOVER that flew over Migrant Alley. 33! I normally get excited at just the odd stray bird that goes over. This species now brings the December total to 67, still 6 behind last Decembers record, which will stand for a long time yet I think.

Another highlight for the morning was a KINGFISHER, seen at one of the small ponds in the College Grounds, I saw one here on the 12th as well, the only other Kingfisher sighting i've had this month. So despite the dreadful weather, it wasn't a bad trip out really.

As its nearly the end of the year I though I'd put a few of the years stats up for you to ponder, i'll put some more up tomorow as well.

My monthly targets have been a feature on my posts and I have succeeded in bettering the species total in 6 of the months, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May and Sept. I equalled the target in a futher two months Aug, and Oct. Last year I exceeded all the months targets except one, so It shows how challenging its going to be year on year, but I look forward to it!

The worst species total was achieved in Nov. with 63, the best was achieved in Sept with 78, which is the best ever month in the 8 years of recording. The average number of species that I recorded each month for this year is 68.6, the best average yet, in 2002 when I started recording, it was only 57.6, that shows how getting to know an area well, increases the chance of finding the birds. The overall monthly average for the 8 years is 62.2.

Looking at the 8 year cumulative totals for for each month, the best months are unsurprisingly the months where migration takes place, April has the best 8 year total with 97 species seen, Sept is in second place with 88 species, in last place is, and this surprises me, the month of Aug. with only 77 species seen, one behind the Jan, Feb and Nov. totals.

Well, thats enough figures for tonight, i'll put the more important ones up tomorrow, the final year list, and new patch ticks etc.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

This morning the forecast rain had duly arrived, and it still raining now at almost 15:00. Unsurprisingly I didn't get out at all onto my patch, so what would I do today ?

Well, the wife and I decided to go out to into town a spend some of our Xmas money, me and shopping are about as compatible as sparrows and sparrowhawks! However, I have been saving for a new lens for my camera all year, and with my xmas money i now had the £400 needed to get a canon 70-300 zoom lens with an image stabilizer - cool!

Before we left home I was looking into the near dark, wet gloom of the garden and was chuffed to see 3 REDWINGS come into the garden - only the second ever record, and the 27th species this month, making this december the joint best month ever for best species seen in it, 27 species were also achieved in Aug. 2006.

The day went down hill from there, although i did glimpse a LAPWING at migrant alley as we drove past on our way into town. We got to the camera shop, told the man what I wanted, they didn't have any! Went to the next camera shop, same thing, didn't have any, but our other outlet back in tonbridge (where we had just came from) might have one we were told.

Got to Tonbridge, went in the camera shop, yes we have one, yea! paid over my hard earnt, and took my lens home. I excitedly assembled the lens to the camera, and it made all sorts of clicking and clunking noises - so it was back to tonbridge, where they looked at my camera (a canon 400D) and looked at the lens a Canon 70-300 IS, and decided that the two were not compatible, DOH!!!!


So I'm back to my old lens. Sorry for my moaning rant, but why dont canon lenses fit canon cameras, is it too much to ask ? and why the bloody hell do JESSOPS employ sales assistants who dont know shit about camera's!

It'll be back to my patch tomorow to calm me down - whatever the weather!

Monday, 28 December 2009

. Sunrise over my patch

There was a frost this morning, and with just high thin cloud some good sunny spells were had.
There has been little change in the bird life on my patch over the last 5 visits, but each visit has had something of interest, today it was a small influx of LESSER REDPOLLS that had come to my patch since yesterday. 3 were seen feeding in Alders with a small flock of SISKIN, along the College Stream, and another 2 were feeding in a small silver birch at the Greenhouse Complex, where the KESTREL was hunting, as it has done now everyday since the 19th.

A SPARROWHAWK was hunting in the Tree Nursery, but the LINNETS had already left their roost, so the Hawk had to make do with harrassing the BLACKBIRDS, BLUE TITS and a few REDWING that were feeding under the shrubs there. No sign of the Peregrines flying over today, in fact there wasn't much going over at all today, apart from lots of BLACK HEADED GULLS, a few HERRING GULLS and a single COMMON GULL, Skylark and Meadow Pipit weren't found at Migrant Alley, but a YELLOWHAMMER flew up fom the grass lined fence, and a group of 8 FIELDFARE were out on the horse paddocks.

All the 'sometimes hard to find' species were seen as I walked the Small Holding, Wet Woods and Lakeside scrub, such as TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, MARSH TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT and BULLFINCH. Only two MALLARD were seen at the re-frozen lake, it looks unlikey to thaw out before the new year now, severely limiting my chances of a year tick!

Not much else to report, the GREY HERON that flew over Ashes Lane on my way home was a bonus for the daylist, which reached 45 today, still quite good for a December day.

Later this afternoon I took some garden bird photo's. Below are a couple of Blue Tit pics.

This male HOUSE SPARROW was one of 8 that visited, thats the most I get at one time now.
I tried to get a decent Nuthatch photo, but they are just a bit too far away, and don't hang about for long! Below is the best i could do. :-(

More of a surprise visitor was the MARSH TIT, this is the bird I saw this morning over at the lakeside scrub, there is almost certainly only the one bird on my patch. Lets hope it stays around into the new year. The Marsh Tits visit today brings the total number of species to use my garden this month to 26, the second best month ever, just one behind the total for August 2006

Another Tit species hard to get a photo of because it never stays still is the coal Tit, this is the better effort of the afternoon!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

It was a half decent morning this morning, even with the odd glimpse of sunshine at times, so it was a pleasant 4 hour walk round my patch, and certainly enough energy was expended to burn off some of the christmas excesses!

With the mild temperatures, and a bit of sunshine, some species of birds had refound their voices, DUNNOCK and SONGTHRUSH were heard right from the off, as was the ROBIN - but then that would sing in any conditions! CARRION CROW, JAY and PHEASANT all called just after dawn while HOUSE SPARROW, GREEN WOODPECKER, and BLACKBIRD all were heard before being seen.

I timed my arrival at the Tree Nursery so as to watch some of the LINNETS coming out of their roost, they leave in groups of a dozen or so, over a protracted period. On the way to Migrant Alley, HERRING GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL were already dropping into the sheep pasture and the adjacent college sports pitch, and a single LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL went over as well. whilst at Migrant Alley I saw two YELLOWHAMMERS and just one SKYLARK, 6 LAPWING flew casually over, but didn't come down to stay.

Next part of my walk was the college grounds, where a varied list of common species were seen, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, and SISKIN among the more interesting, whilst there I heard all the ROOKS and JACKDAWS calling in alarm as they swirled up in a large flock, I scanned the sky and found the reason for the panic, again one of the local PEREGRINES was out looking for breakfast!

On the return journey through Migrant Alley I found two COMMON GULLS had joined the Black headed Gulls, four Gull species on the same visit is a good count on my patch. The last birds recorded before my half way break were found just on the boundary of my garden, two GOLDCREST had also found their voices and were trying to out sing each other.

The second half of my walk was as it has been for the past 3 days, mainly a case of finding a LONG TAILED TIT flock, and seeing what tags along with them, today a flock was found in the lakeside scrub which included, BLUE, GREAT and the MARSH TIT as well as 3 TREECREEPERS. A NUTHATCH was seen loosley associating with the flock, but it was more interested in the Garden feeders of the nearby house. The lake is slowly showing more small patches of water, but it's an excruciating thawing process, five MALLARD had returned to what water was open.

At last some sort of effort was made with my camera. Below is a MISTLE THRUSH

and below is one of the 3 Treecreepers seen with the feeding Tit flock

Below is one of the two Common Gulls, always pleased to add one of these to the list

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The last two days have been dull, damp and dismall for my patch walks, however, todays walk makes them look good, the day started with squally showers, and by 09:30 persistant heavy rain set in - great!

It wasn't all bad news on the bird front though, I manged to find a good total of 46 species, despite ending my walk a little prematurely. The best sighting today was of both the local PEREGRINES cicling over the college grounds, it must be a good day when you see a pair of inland Peregrines!

There were 4 species that turned up today that weren't seen on the last two visits, 8 CANADA GEESE flew low over Migrant Alley, with a lone GREY LAG amongst them, a CORMORANT flew over the Greenhouse Complex, and at last a MISTLE THRUSH turned up, 3 in fact were in the Small Holding area.

The exceptional GREAT BLACK BACK GULL sightings for this month carried on, when 3 were seen going over the Tree Nursery as I finished the first half of my walk, a record count.

The walk to the lake through the wet woods was a wet and miserable affair, the rain got heavier, and the tree's dripped even bigger drops of water onto me, but two different parties of LONG TAILED TITS were located, I only had a brief scan through them in the conditions, nothing out of the ordinary was with them, only the COAL TIT, TREECREEPER and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER were noticed. The lake was still frozen, even though the temperature today was at least 8c, the ice has now got an inch of water on it! It goes without saying that there was nowt seen there. I didn't bother with a walk round the scrub area, although I may of added a Goldcest to the daylist if I had, neither did I check out the Little Owl roost, I was just getting a bit fed up by then, and headed off home!

The camera is now covered in cobwebs, another pictureless post!

Friday, 25 December 2009

....................HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!...............

Well, it might be christmas day, but I still have to go out and visit my patch, who knows what avian gifts may be awaiting!

As yesterday, today was an above average visit, with 47 species being seen, unfortunately nothing new for the month, but a few nice species were recorded. A PEREGRINE FALCON flew low over the College Grounds, and out across Migrant Alley, and a pair of MUTE SWANS flew westwards over the Greenhouse Complex, looking very stately, the sound of thier wings cutting the air never fails to impress me.

A pair of LAPWINGS were on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where flyovers by single YELLOWHAMMER, SKYLARK, MEADOW PIPIT and various size flocks of both REDWING and FIELDFARE were noted.

The KESTREL was hunting over the scrub around the Greenhouse Complex, as it has been most of this Autumn/Winter, and a SPARROWHAWK that flew through the wet woods made up the trio of raptors. I didn't find a Treecreeper today, but all the other usual small passerines were seen either in the wet woods, Small Holding or lakeside scrub, including COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, SISKIN and at least 15 BULLFINCH, 10 of which were in a single flock. The lake is still frozen over - frustratingly - how am I going to get a new duck species on my patch with all that ice on the lake!

The walk home took me past the LITTLE OWL roost along edge of the Wet Woods, and it was at home again, always nice to see it!

No photo's again today, it was just too dull and murky out there, lets hope it brightens up soon.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Out on my patch this morning at first light (well, it was almost light!) for the first of my walks that will take me up to the end of the year. These last 8 walks will take me to 121 full patch visits for the year, keeping up the average of 120 for each of the last 8 years.

This morning's walk was an above average type walk for December, with 44 species being being recorded in the gloomy and very wet conditions, only one species that I might have expected to show didn't, that was the Mistle Thrush. All the habitats produced their share of birds, Migrant Alley had the bird of the day, when the first COMMON BUZZARD of the month flew over, being persued by CARRION CROWS, as is usually the case! This was a pleasing find, as it now means I have recorded Buzzards in every month this year - a feat that I would never have believed 5 years ago. A couple of LAPWING were on the sheep pasture, and both SKYLARK and YELLOWHAMMER flew over, as did, more surprisingly a GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL, my third record this month, thats more than I see in the whole of some years!

Along the stream that runs adjacent the College, there were a minimum of 75 SISKINS in the Alder trees there. The college grounds and gardens yeilded the usual day list fillers, the best of which included a group of 5 BULLFINCH.

The Small Holding, Wet Woods and scrubby area around the lake was productive today, MARSH TIT, COAL TIT, 2 TREECREEPER, 3 GOLDCRESTS and a calling NUTHATCH were all nice species to find, and the 3 parties of LONG TAILED TITS made for good viewing. The lake was still in the process of thawing out, but a GREY HERON was waiting patiently on the ice for it to do so! There were no Mallard today, this is the first time this species has not been recorded on a full patch walk this year.

Unfortunately in the gloomy conditions, and the fact I didn't get close enough to any birds, I didn't get a single Photo, maybe tomorrow!
Happy Christmas to you all, enjoy the holiday!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The above photo of a Black Rabbit was the only photo I took this afternoon. The weather really was dismal for the 90 mins spent out on my patch, Low cloud, fog, and rain plagued me, and with all the snow melt dripping from everything it made for a unpleasant walk.

Unsurprisingly, the birds were few and far between, just the really common stuff seen in the wet woods - LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, BLACKBIRD and the likes. The lake was at last showing signs of thawing out, but nothing at all was on it, and the surrounding scrub looked really inhospitable to any warm blooded creature, however a flock of 8 REDWING dropped in for a rest, before moving off again a few moments later.
Over the still snowy Tree Nursey, nothing stirred, and at Migrant Alley it was the same story, if anything was flying over, it was obscured by the low cloud and fog!
The only good thing of note today was on my walk into work, when then, at least, it was clear and crispy with a hard frost, a flock of 7 GREYLAG GEESE flew over Migrant Alley, about time this species was seen! 64 species now for the month, that leaves me with eight days to find 10 new species to beat the record december total of 73. An unlikely scenario, but it is still the second best December ever, and 4 species better than the 7 year December average, any species that turn up now will be a real bonus!
As of tomorrow I'm on holiday, so all eight days will be spent birding, surely i'll find a few more for the months list, watch this space............

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Back out on my patch this afternoon after work. I headed off for the small holding, wet woods and lake area, but despite yesterdays rain, and todays warmer temperatures, most of the snow is still hangng about, and the lake is frozen from bank to bank. As a result not much out of the ordinary was seen, 3 BULLFINCH'S and a small flock of CHAFFINCH seemed to prefer foraging around the Small Holding, rather than coming into my nearby garden for the gourmet sunflower hearts.

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, half a dozen SISKIN and 2 TREECREEPER were in the Wet Woods, one continues to sing, so the cold weather doesn't seem to have bothered it too much. Absolutely nothing was on the iced up lake!

I decided I might do better going over to Migrant Alley for a skywatch, which did give me a new species for the month when a COMMON GULL flew low over, a bird not seen on my patch very often at all, an even more scarce Gull, the GREAT BLACK BACKED also put in an appearance, two in fact flew over heading south, I did record one earlier this month, quite unusual to have two sightings of this gull in one month, very nice! Two single LAPWINGS, a SKYLARK, a GOLDFINCH, a GREY HERON, 5 FIELDFARE, a MISTLE THUSH, a SPARROWHAWK, numerous WOODPIGEONS, JACKDAWS, ROOKS and CARRION CROWS were all seen headed in various directions, and the KESTREL hunted around the adjacent Greenhouse Complex. That was about the extent of my skywatch - not too bad for 90 mins, but I had to give up a bit early as my feet were getting like ice blocks.

About 30 LINNETS were seen in their pre-roost tree as I walked home along Ashes Lane.

I took a few photo's today, below is a male BLACKBIRD

Above is a male Bullfinch, pity I couldn't get any closer to it.

Above is one of the Linnets at the very top of the pre-roost tree

Lastly, this is a view looking north across a snowy Migrant Alley

Monday, 21 December 2009

Due to the abysmal weather this afternoon, low cloud, mist, and rain I decided not to go out after work today, and instead I got a few things done around the house that needed doing before Xmas, so heres the rest of the Photo's I took last friday, of the garden birds in the snow.

Above: Female CHAFFINCH, Below Male Chaffinch

Above and Below a Male HOUSE SPARROW

Above and Below a Male BLACKBIRD

Below a BLUE TIT

Below a ROBIN
Below is a DUNNOCK
Lastly a GREAT TIT

Hopefull tomorrow, normal sevice will be resumed!!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The snow still lay deep, crisp and even over my patch this morning, but after some early cloud dispearsed, and the sun came above the horizon, it soon felt a lot warmer, and wherever the suns rays touched, the snow began to thaw.

I had quite a good walk round this morning, in the 4 hours I was out, I recorded a very good total of 47 species, which could have reached 50 if 3 of the commonly seen species had been found, namely Skylark, Mistle Thrush and Sparrowhawk.

I did have some uncommonly seen species turn up though, firstly a PEREGRINE, which flew over as I watched the LINNETS coming out of roost at the Tree Nursery, and secondly a LITTLE EGRET which flew over the College Grounds, both these species have only been seen once this month. A flock of 15 CANADA GEESE that flew over Migrant Alley was the first seen this month, bringing the december tally to 62, the joint 2nd best december total.

5 LAPWING flew east over the College Grounds, and later on my walk, 7 flew west, also noted going over were a decent flock of at least 60 FIELDFARE, small groups of REDWING, 2 MEADOW PIPITS and 3 single YELLOWHAMMERS, whilst the KESTREL still hunts around the Greenhouse Complex scrub.

The visit to the Small Holding, wet woods, and lake area was still severely hampered by snow, both on the ground and in the trees and scrub, the sun never fully gets to these parts of my patch. However I did manage to record just about everything that I would expect to be out there, TREECREEPER (singing!), NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, MARSH TIT, (good to see it still surviving!), SISKIN, BULLFINCH, and a flock of LONG TAILED TITS, all good birds for the day list. The lake remains firmly ice locked, and just 4 MALLARD were seen on the ice, and a line of 5 MOORHEN travelled around the icy perimeter. A trip along the edge of the Wet Woods, to see the LITTLE OWL at roost was successful, but I didn't hang around to take a photo in case I disturbed it, not a good thing to do in the cold weather!

The garden feeders are still very active, but there has been a drop in the number of Tit species coming in, especially BLUE TIT, I hope they are not succumbing to the cold. There was a staggering 21 BLACKBIRDS in my small garden at dawn this morning, quite something to watch them all squabbling over spilt sunflower hearts! After being thrilled at finding my first Moorhen in the garden last month, and then finding two this week, I can now say there are 3! Cool or what?

Below are a few pics I took this morning, the first two are of Long tailed Tits

Below is a BLACKBIRD, looking a bit chilly
Below is the view up Ashes lane, now the snow is thawing a bit.

The rest of the photo's below were taken on Friday afternoon

Above a Blackbird and a Blue Tit share the feeder

Above: A male CHAFFINCH, whilst below it's a full house of GOLDFINCH

More GREENFINCH and Goldfinch on the 12 port feeder below

Saturday, 19 December 2009

I knew it was going to be a difficult full patch walk today, both in terms of physically walking through the deep snow, and trying to find any birds out there!

In the event I found a creditable 42 species, quite how I dont know, because there were long stretches of my walk where I saw and heard nothing at all. It was pleasing to see that the LINNETS had survived the frosty night, I watched at least 50 leave their roost in the tree nursery, quite how they keep warm in a bunch of Laurel bushes I find remarkable.

At Migrant Alley, REDWINGS were seen going over, several flocks of varying sizes from 3 to 28 went westwards, one flock had a few FIELDFARE with them. Also going over were a just a couple of SKYLARKS and 4 YELLOWHAMMER, it's notable that when watching birds going over, how white their underparts become as they reflect the snow, I had to double check some birds as for their ID. This particularly applied to the HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS as they flew low over.

The college gardens were given a thorough scanning, there are lots of berry laden shrubs here, so anything could be utilising this food source in the snowy conditions, but in the event the best of what was found were 3 BULLFINCH, the males looking very colourful against the snow.

As I passed the Greenhouse complex on the way back for my half time drink, I saw two PHEASANTS fly from the grounds, and the KESTREL was hunting what it could over the area. The SPARROWHAWK put in an appearance as I walked back up ashes lane, being mobbed by PIED WAGTAILS.

The second half of my walk was even quieter than the first, the Small Holding, wet woods and Lake area were still very snowy, and walking on the crispy snow was making so much noise I had no chance of sneaking up on anything, it was like walking over bubble wrap! The lake was frozen over and covered in snow, just two MALLARD were seen, but my heart missed a bit as I scanned the lake edge and found two female Pheasants, just for a milli second I thought they were Bitterns !

My fortunes changed a little as I walked back along the edge of the wet woods, here the sun was beating down, and it was sheltered from the breeze, the sun felt warm, I was quite surprised by its strength. The clever birds also found this place and I found a LONG TAILED TIT flock moving rapidly through, and with it were 2 TREECREEPERS, a COAL TIT, a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and the more common BLUE and GREAT TITS, as I watched them all I saw a lone LAPWING fly over the trees. A little further down the edge of the wood i checked the LITTLE OWL roost and found it home.

I spent some time garden watching this afternoon, and the feeders were very busy again. I was particularly pleased when a flock of 5 Fieldfare flew over, two of them doubled back and alighted in my elder tree, this is the first time I have recorded Fieldfare in my garden! It is the 53rd species to use my little piece of habitat in the 10 years I have lived here. A quick dash to the local shop for some apples was had, maybe I can entice them back!

Below is a photo of the scrubby area around the lake, no wonder nothing is in there!

Below is one of the two small lakes than are adjacent the main lake, all frozen up

Below: the only two Mallard left on the lake, to the wright is one of the Pheasants that had me going for a second!

Below are four Treecreeper pics. The last of which shows it digging away the snow from the tree trunk.

This last photo shows the little owl at roost - can you find it, you'll have to click on the pic and enlarge it I think, look near the centre of the photo

Friday, 18 December 2009

The forcast snow arrived overnight, depositing 4-5 Inches over my patch, it was still snowing hard when I left for work this morning, and walking the mile into work was quite hard work!

On the walk back from work LAPWINGS were very obvious as they moved around looking for a green space to alight, a flock of 13 were seen flying over Migrant Alley, as well as numerous single birds.

I arrived home to find the garden feeders were stacked with birds, the best being a single SISKIN, as well as the MOORHEN, which had been joined by another, an amazing record for my garden! A SONGTHRUSH that came in was the first since last spring.

There were so many Finch's, Tits, BLACKBIRDS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS, HOUSE SPARROWS, COLLARED DOVES, and all the other common garden birds that it was hard to keep track! I did count a max of 23 CHAFFINCH though, I reckon there were over 100 birds in the garden at any one time this afternoon.

I did go out on my patch for 90 mins, I checked the lake, which was frozen solid, and devoid of anything, the wet woods and small holding were also empty, the deep snow made it difficult to see anything anyway. It wasn't until I paid a visit to a snowy Migrant Alley that anything interesting was noted, a flock of 45 Lapwing went over, and again there were many single birds. A YELLOWHAMMER and 2 MEADOW PIPITS flew north, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL flew in the same direction, but the most interesting bird for me was the GREY WAGTAIL that was around the Greenhouse complex, as it was the first this month, species number 61 for December. Far to the north of my patch 3 large flocks of Geese went westwards, a bit frustrating, as I have not recorded any geese on my patch this month!

I took hundreds of pics today, i'll put a few more on over the wekend, but here's a few to be going on with.

Above: One of the two Moorhens that visited the feeders, strange to see them feeding with the Chaffinch's!

Below: The Siskin that came in for a short while

Below: A classic ''Robin in the snow'' pic.

Below is a mixture a GREEN and GOLDFINCH on the sunflower hearts, with a couple of GREAT TITS

The rest of the photo's are snowy scenes from around my patch, below is a photo of the trees in my garden

Below snowy crab apples at the scrubby area by the lake

Below is the wet woods
Below is the footpath from the wet woods to the lake

Below is the drive of a house by the lake

Lastly, this is the footpath from the small holding to the wet woods