As I left for my final holiday patch visit, small chinks of blue were developing across the grey sky, but before long they had disappeared again, and at no time coincided with the suns position, so I still await my first bit of sunshine for 2011!
With the temperatures recovering to normal values for the time of year, it seems most of the birds have moved on again, the chances of finding a visitor from northern parts of the country have now diminished, the Snipe for example, which was seen almost daily throughout December, have now all moved on. The weather change, and the increased use of gas cannons, and shooting activity around the edge of my patch, made for a birdless sky today, at times it sounded like a war had broken out, I bet the farmers dont live near the bloody gas cannons, the triple bast every half hour drives me nuts, and thats just from one cannon!!
So with much of the flyover activity curtailed, the daylist suffered accordingly, with just 40 species being recorded, the only birds in the sky were the poor WOODPIGEON that were being scared from one field to another, whilst being blasted by the gutless shooters as they did so!
A few FIELDFARE and REDWINGS have started to arrive on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, just 4 or five of each, this is in response to the berry crop being used up, they change their diet to insects and worms that they find in the grass, it's something they do every year, and over the coming weeks big flocks can build up, if they are not disturbed too often. Also at Migrant Alley, I found two YELLOWHAMMERS, all that is left of the 26 seen recently, and on a fence post I watched a KESTREL eating a prey item, good to see it is able to find small mammals after all the recent frosts. Whilst there, a continual arrival of BLACK HEADED GULLS was observed, 46 were counted before I left.
My visit to the lake area was also below par in comparison to recent visits, some of the regulars weren't found today - including Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, and Mallard, the latter had moved on since yesterday, another frost last night had sealed over the few small pockets of water that had become open.
A few SISKIN, REDPOLL, BULLFINCH, and GOLDCREST were seen about the scrub area, but in much reduced numbers.
Despite carrying my camera around for the 3 hour visit, the dull conditions continue to thwart my photographic attempts, and I still await my first photo of 2011, no new species were recorded for the year either, all a bit worrying. However, looking back on this time last year, I had just one more species on the list than this, and 60 species wasn't reached until the 17 jan. So i'm on target for my 109 species for the year :-)