The last day of May, and the last patch visit of May, today was the final chance to find just one more bird species to equal the may record of 72 set last year. It was obvious from the outset that it was going to be a difficult, if not impossible task, as the weather was in a cool, damp and gloomy mood, with a moderate westerly wind adding to the miserable conditions.
Barely a bird was singing at 06:30 when I left the house, a CHAFFINCH, a BLACKBIRD and a distant COLLARED DOVE were all doing thier best, while LINNET, GREENFINCH, SONGTHRUSH and ROBIN made some attempt at a tune, but this morning thier efforts were more akin to a February day!
Just to give you a taste of how poor the day went, it was a full 2 hours into the walk before I recorded a GREAT TIT or a MAGPIE! These two species are normally one of the first in the notebook.
Trying to pick out a hightlight is difficult, but I was amused by the antics of one of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS that are in the College Grounds. I watched it chase off a Squirrel, repeatedly diving at it, I could hear its bill snapping angrily at the animal, which must have got to near to the nest site.
By the end of the 3 and a half hour patch walk I had recorded just 44 species, well down on the 50+ of recent days, it would have been worse but for a late flurry of sightings in the last few minutes, which included KESTREL, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER.
So in the end the record May total, set last year, will hold for at least another year. Although a little disappointed, I can't moan at the 71 species I did get this month, especially as it included such rarities ( for my patch) as Red Kite and Black Redstart.
This months total of 71 stands at the 2nd best May out of nine years, and is 6 better than the May mean total. Also two new species were recorded that have never occurred in May before, the Barnacle Goose and the already mentioned Black Redstart.
A new month and a new challenge tomorrow, i'll be chasing 67 species, which was set in 2008. Last year I fell short by 3, so i'll be doubly determined now!
The only Photo's I got this morning were very poor efforts. The SKYLARK below was seen at Migrant Alley
And the CUCKOO below was at the Lakeside Scrub, I'm sure these birds have eyes in the backs of their heads, I just can't sneak up on them!