I was determined to get out early and find some of the bird species that are missing from the February list, such species as - Meadow Pipit, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Little Owl, Lesser redpoll and a few more that should have turned up by now!
As I left the house at 06:50, things seemed in my favour, no rain or wind, just a slight frost and an overcast sky, a SONG THRUSH sang in the distance, and a ROBIN did the same from nearby. I set off down ashes lane and saw the regular CHAFFINCH and HOUSE SPARROW, whilst a WOODPIGEON flew overhead and three JACKDAWS called from the chimney pots of a large country house. Both BLUE TIT and DUNNOCK were added to the list before I went into the tree nursery, where, apart from watching the LINNETS leave their roost, it all went very quiet.
Below is the view from the tree nursery, over to the wet woods, the empty field is Marchants field, last year it was part of the nursery.
I carried on through the tree nursery and the only birds added to the list was a distant calling PHEASANT and a flyover FIELDFARE.
Out of the nursery I followed the hedge, and scanned the sheep pasture to the right of it, where a flock of Fieldfare and REDWING were seen feeding, around 100 birds in all, the hedgerow provided just BLACKBIRD, MAGPIE, a MISTLE THRUSH and a CARRION CROW which 'cawed' from the top of a tree. A very poor start to the walk, plus it was begining to get very misty.
I got to Migrant Alley and NOTHING at all was added to the list! the mist had rolled in and viewing was restricted to the immediate vacinity. I made my way to the stream and grounds of the college, where at least I did pick up some more common species, COLLARED DOVE, GREAT TIT, WREN, LONG TAILED TIT, STARLING, GOLDFINCH and BULLFINCH, plus a low flying MALLARD and a few BLACK HEADED GULLS on the sports pitch. The walk back across migrant Alley, heading back home for a drink break provided just one more species - a flyover HERRING GULL. At the halfway point I had totted up just 26 species, at least 10 short of the norm, the day wasn't going as I had planned!
The second half of my walk was not much better, GREENFINCH was added to the list with JAY, they were seen in the small holding, but the only species added in the wet woods was a MOORHEN. As I reached the lake rain started to fall, and as it splatted on the iced up water, I scanned the lake and found nothing, I didn't bother with the smaller top lake, instead I decided to march off home and wait for the weather to clear up. I had just 29 species on the list -terrible!
An hour later the rain had eased off, so back out to the lake I went, to finish the walk, the camera stayed at home, it was just a lump of dead weight in the murky conditions This time I found my first GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER of the day as I passed through the wet woods again. Nearing the lake I could hear CANADA GEESE - they weren't there earlier, just the two had dropped in. I walked round to the top lake, hardly a lake really more of a large pond, and found another 10 canada geese, I scanned through them and got the surprise of the year so far, amongst them was a lone female TUTFED DUCK (68, 56) fantastic! This is a real rare bird for my patch, I have only ever recorded this species once before when two flew over Migrant Alley back in December 2006, so this is the first ive recorded on the lake area. What a great addition to the year list, I have recorded the likes of Black Redstart and Firecrest more than I have Tufted Duck :-) - and i'd left the camera at home -doh!
The rain started fall again, but I was bouyed by the excitement of my Tufty, and went around the scrub to see what was about. I added NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, and COAL TIT to the list, but that only brought it to 35 species. I decided to have another walk around the wet woods to try and find a Treecreeper, as I was leaving a GREY HERON flew in to the main lake, and a GREEN WOODPECKER was seen on the lawn of the large house just before the woods. On entering the woods, it was cold, wet, and quiet, I walked on and listened, and finally heard what I wanted to hear, a flock of Long Tailed Tits, this meant the chance of a treecreeper. I quickly located the Tit flock, and with them was the obligatory TREECREEPER - two in fact, plus the MARSH TIT and another Goldcrest for the day.
So the day list ended on 40 species, a respectable tally, but none of the species mentioned at the beginning of this post wee found, but the Tufty made up for that!
Above: This fox was hunting around the Greenhouse complex, it made one of those comical 'pounces' but didn't get what it was after.
I came across these two Blackbirds, also in the grounds of the greenhouses. I have seen birds fighting before, but these two were really going for it, I got so close to them I could of picked the up! After a few photo's of them I split the quarrelsome pair up, and they went on their way, none the worse.