Just thought I'd post yesterday evenings spectacular sunset, really got the most out of the day!
Today though, started foggy, and when that lifted there was a short sunny spell before it clouded over, heralding a wet and windy weekend !!
Meanwhile, another 5 hour full patch walk was had this morning, which revealed 44 species, but of course early on, in the fog, it was hard going, this didn't stop a nice surprise being found in the Wet Woods first thing though. Scanning through the tangled branches, and straining to peer through the fog, I caught sight of a pair of MANDARIN DUCK (71, 63), I had a brief view before they swam deeper into cover, this is another good species for my patch, Mandarins are seen only once or twice a year, if i'm lucky :-)
I was eager to get to the lakes before any dog walkers disturbed them today; had the Coot stayed overnight, or had it left for better habitat, as is nearly always the case ? I could hear the now resident CANADA GEESE honking excitedly, and counted 4 on the main lake, with 2 MALLARD and 2 MOORHEN, but no Coot. I moved round to the ornamental lake, where another 2 Canada Geese were seen, but then, wow, I saw not one COOT but two, both together, brilliant! Only once before has more than one Coot been seen on the lakes, that was last year, so this really is a turn up! Maybe they are a pair ? maybe they will stay and breed ? Maybe i'll have Coot on my daylist everyday ? Hmmmm........I thought that last time....I must calm down :-)
After my coot encounter, I checked out the small lake, but I could barely see to the other side of it due to the fog, but I dont think there was anything there, a return visit later in the afternoon to photograph the Coots, confirmed that.. The Scrubby Wood was not the same place as yesterday, it was cool and dripping wet in the fog, promoting very little song, DUNNOCK, WREN, ROBIN and SONGTHRUSH were attempting to brighten things up, as were a pair of LONG TAILED TITS trilling away in a thick bramble bush, might this be the place to nest ?
I had just 30 species on my list from the first part of my patch visit, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, SISKIN, BULLFINCH, and STOCK DOVE are among the more difficult species to find, but they all showed up today, both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were seen in the Small Holding earlier, so not much more would be found here.
I moved off to the very foggy Tree Nursery, Pub Field, and Migrant Alley, but the fog proved to be a real pain, and not much was seen at all. By the time I reached the College grounds, the fog was lifting, but at 09:30 on a weekday, it's like Piccadilly circus on this part of my patch, it's best to get here early, but I cant get to everywhere at first light. I did a quick tour of the grounds, and added just a few flyovers to my list, those being ROOK, and both HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULL.
I decided a break was in need and went home for a drink and a quick breakfast, after which I did a re-walk of the Tree Nursery and Pub field, before a skywatch at Migrant Alley. I was pleased to find the KESTREL in the Tree Nursery, but I couldn't find a single Fieldfare or Redwing out on the Pub Field. I reached my skywatching seat at Migrant Alley just as the sun came out, and once again enjoyed some spring warmth whilst listening to 2 SKYLARKS singing high up. Some 20 mins later I watched a small bird drop from the sky and alight on the tall hedge just behind me, it called straight away, giving away it's identity as my first REED BUNTING (72, 64) of the year :-) These are scarce birds on my patch, and again it's a case of two - three sightings a year, but if suitable habitat has been left by the farmers, which is very rare, they can become quite numerous during the winter months. The last noteworthy sighting of the day was a COMMON BUZZARD, which came over low, it was being harried by the female SPARROWHAWK :-)
The months list has now been elevated to 64 species, which puts it in second place out of ten, whilst the 72 species recorded so far this year is the the best effort since the 73 species I recorded by the end of Feb 2009, that was the year I achieved my fastest ever 100 species total, in mid May.
Above: The Reed Bunting. Below: Coots!