Saturday, 25 December 2010
Ashes Lane as I left for my Christmas walk this morning at 07:30
It was well below freezing as I left for my patch visit this Christmas morning, but it felt less cold than the last two mornings, as the North wind had dropped out.
The first birds on the list were mainly heard and not seen as I walked along an icy Ashes Lane , DUNNOCK , BLUE TIT , JACKDAW , CARRION CROW , and MAGPIE all called from cover or in the adjacent gardens. A SISKIN flew over just as I entered the Tree Nursery, where I saw a minimum of 50 LINNETS leave their roost from the shrubs there, a GREEN WOODPECKER flew up and onto an oak trunk, and a BLACKBIRD alarm called as it sped low through the Laurel bushes.
At the end of the Tree Nursery, just before entering the Pub Field, I checked the frozen run off pool, which has about a meter of running water where it comes from underground, here were a small band of GOLDFINCH taking a morning bath, along with a FIELDFARE and a SONGTHRUSH. Carrying on up the side of the Pub Field and along the hedgerow, all was quiet and still, that is apart from the annoying crunch of frozen snow underfoot, an annoyance that accompanied me throughout the visit, causing me to miss a few flyover calls no doubt, but I did hear a LESSER REDPOLL go over, and saw a pair of CORMORANTS headed NE, only the third record of this species for December. I passed the large garden at the end of the Pub Field and picked up ROBIN, CHAFFINCH , COLLARED DOVE and WOODPIGEON for the day list.
Entering Migrant Alley the fields were still ice and snow covered and apart from the ROOKS and STARLINGS flying over nothing else was seen on the Paddocks and Sheep pasture, until I reached the manure pile at the end of the footpath, where the two MEADOW PIPITS were still feeding, along with a WREN, another Cormorant went over, heading SW this time, and the first Gulls of the day were seen up high as I walked towards the College Grounds, they being BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS.
The Alder lined stream that runs adjacent to the college had at least 100 Siskin feeding in the Alders, their calls were quite something to hear. The College Grounds and gardens gave me the first GREAT TIT, HOUSE SPARROW, GOLDCREST and LONG TAILED TIT of the day, plus two GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS that were chasing around through the trees, I checked the drainage ditch for the Jack Snipe seen there recently, and a Snipe did fly up, but it proved to be a COMMON SNIPE - still nice to see :-)
I exited the College Grounds and made my way over to the wet ditch at the NW end of my patch, via the scrub at the north end of Migrant alley, I didn't add a single species to the day list on the way, but more Siskin were noted going over. On reaching the ditch, I slowly walked it's length, and saw nothing until the last few feet, when another Common Snipe flew out. By now the frost was getting into my fingers, so I crossed over to the boundary hedgerow at Migrant Alley and the Greenhouses to head for home for a halftime thaw out. I always walk slowly down to the thawed area where the Snipe feed so as not to flush them, but I saw a big dog fox trot right through the middle of it, and nothing was flushed, so I assumed their were no snipe there today, however as soon as I approached no fewer than 6 of them flew up and out, alighting further down the field! They obviously bluffed the Fox with their camouflage, and stayed put, seeing it as no threat, how clever of them to be able to distinguish between a fox and a Dog, which they would of scattered immediately for.
After a quick thaw out, I went over to the lakes via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, yet more Siskin were heard going over as I was looking through some GREENFINCH'S at the Small Holding, where a single PIED WAGTAIL was on a large lawn along with another 3 Green Woodpeckers. In the Wet Woods a party of Long Tailed Tits were located high up in the tree tops, with them was a MARSH TIT, at least 4 TREECREEPERS, 6 GOLDCRESTS, and some more Blue and Great Tits, plus yet more Siskin! The Treecreepers were singing almost continuously, a lovely little song.
At the lakes it was quieter than usual, but 4 BULLFINCH feeding on sycamore keys made a nice sight, and I also added NUTHATCH and JAY to the list, both were heard but unseen. The walk back home to finish up the day, back through the Tree Nursery was almost uneventful, just a SPARROWHAWK and a REDWING were added to the list, which finished on 40 for the day, still below average, but better than yesterday. As for my Christmas waxwing, well, it never got delivered :-( .........
The photo's today come from my feeders back at home, below is the Great Spotted Woodpecker
with a Blackbird to finish.