The first butterfly of the month.....and the only species seen today - Speckled Wood
Another month starts, and another list begins, this months target is 72, which was achieved in may last year. I think there should be more to come from may, as the combined 8 year total of 86 seems a bit low, maybe I should get out more :-)
Showers were on the cards for this mornings visit, but luckily none fell during the 4 and half hours I was out. My aim today was to get the months list off to a good start by recording 50 species, and it got off to a quick start with, ROBIN, GREENFINCH, JACKDAW, WOODPIGEON, STARLING, HOUSE SPARROW, COLLARED DOVE and LESSER WHITETHROAT all recorded whilst I stood in ashes lane in front of my house.
The first port of call was the lakeside scrub, so I made my way up the lane and through the Small Holding, adding CHIFFCHAFF, LONG TAILED TIT, BLACKBIRD, WREN, BLUE TIT, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLETHRUSH, CHAFFINCH and a COMMON WHITETHROAT that was in a garden hedgerow, probably just a passage bird and wont be staying on my patch. The wet woods was quiet, and is getting darker by the day now that the leaves on coming on the tree's, but I did get MALLARD ( with 4 broods of ducklings), MOORHEN, STOCK DOVE, MAGPIE, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and CARRION CROW to add to the day list.
As I walked the footpath from the wet woods to the lake, a GREEN WOODPECKER was feeding on the large lawn in one of the adjacent houses, an agitated GREAT TIT was seen, outside it's nest hole, bringing up the 25th species and the halfway point of todays challenge.
I was surprised to here a SKYLARK singing over the lake area, but more expected was the sound of CUCKOO, BLACKCAP, and GOLDCREST. I stopped and listened for the Turtle Doves but none were heard from this area today, however it was good to get TAWNY OWL on the May list, it was calling from somewhere in the dense scrub, also heard was BULLFINCH, DUNNOCK, COAL TIT, and JAY, a flyover SWALLOW brought the day list to 35, just 15 more species to find!
Two of those were easily found, the CANADA and GREYLAG GEESE on the lake doing the honours, the last two species recorded on this part of my patch was, a KESTREL which alighted briefly on an out building, but the other was the best bird of the day - my first GARDEN WARBLER (90) of the year - at last! It's arrival is a day earlier than last year, and 4 days earlier than the mean arrival date.
I left the scrub area, via the Wet Woods and out into Marchants field, which is now full of sheep busily munching through the emerging wild plants that thrive on the field margins, this is where I record many butterfly species later in the summer, so without the wild flowers it will be a barren spot for butterflies this year, wretched bloody sheep! Anyway back to my birds list, and both LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING GULL were seen from marchants field, wheeling above Migrant Alley, and crossing the Tree Nursery to get back onto ashes lane and back home for my halfway break a PHEASANT was flushed.
The grounds around the greenhouse Complex, Migrant Alley and the College grounds were checked out after my 10 min break, the first giving me GOLDFINCH, LINNET and PIED WAGTAIL for the list, Migrant Alley had no Migrants today, but i'm ever hopeful of a Whinchat dropping in, or one last spring passage wheatear, it did have some ROOKS to add to the list though, and flyovers by SPARROWHAWK, HOUSE MARTIN and at least 7 SWIFTS brought the list to 49.
The college grounds couldn't produce the 50th species for the day, but walking back through the small area of scrub and young woodland, at the north end of Migrant Alley, 3 TURTLE DOVES did the trick, they were heard purring and then flew out right over me, one made a sound ive not heard from this species before, a kind of 'tuc' noise, is that their flight call ? Anyway, I had my 50 species for the day, and have 30 days left to find 23 more to take the May record.
PS. A brief shower dodging afternoon visit to Migrant Alley added YELLOWHAMMER to the daylist, so that's one more!