Saturday, 12 March 2011

I was out at first light today, and spent the ensuing 6 hours carrying out a full patch walk. There was a thin wispy layer of cloud, which at times the sun burnt through to give a few warm brighter spells.

My first port of call was the College Grounds, I needed to get there early to avoid all the disturbance that was to come from the lambing weekend being held there. On the way I passed through the Tree Nursery, the Pub Field and Migrant Alley, all the time listening for the song of the Chiffchaff, but despite the very springlike conditions it was not heard :-(

It was a pleasant enough walk though, with plenty of song from the common resident species, DUNNOCK, WREN, ROBIN, SONGTHRUSH, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH and GOLDCREST to name a few. Around the College Grounds, where the first Chiffchaffs often turn up, it was still dominated by the winter species, 8 FIELDFARE, 5 REDWING, and at least 6 SISKIN were in the gardens.
On my return through Migrant Alley, I scanned the fence lines and posts for an early Wheatear, but they havn't arrived at the coast yet, so i'm unlikely to see one here for a few days more at least. Flyovers were adding to the mornings species list, with CORMORANT, GREY HERON, GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE, BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL all moving around the area, by the time the first half of the walk was through I had tallied up 37 species.

The second half of my walk, added just 7 more, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, of which 4 were competitively drumming, BULLFINCH, SPARROWHAWK and last but not at all least the COOTS :-) With them today was a Cormorant, 16 Canada Geese, 4 Greylag Geese, 2 MALLARD and 2 MOORHEN, so it was a busier place than of late.

A little after 9 o'clock, I had completed a circuit of the patch, so I spent an hour at Migrant Alley, just sitting and watching the sky, paddocks and pasture there. A few more species went on the daylist, both KESTREL and BUZZARD were seen, making up a trio of Raptors for the day, a MEADOW PIPIT dropped down for a minute or so into the sheep pasture, only the second one seen this month, but the most pleasing species seen there, for me, were 3 LINNETS (59) that sat on the fenceline, these could be the first Linnets returning to Breed on my patch.

Another walk around the lakes and Scrubby Woods was had, mainly to try to record my first Butterfly of the year, but none were found. Ive started a new spreadsheet this year, just to record butterflies, so i'm eager to get it started :-)
A leg weary walk home across the Tree Nursery, was interesting, firstly, a PEREGRINE was seen going overhead, 4 Raptors in one morning! Secondly, I bumped into the Tree Nursery manager, she tells me all the remaining trees are to be shredded, then the ground prepared for the next leasers. This apparently is going to be one of the local farmers who will grow arable crops here, this is at least better than the College putting sheep on it, but how much better time will tell, hopefully it wont be too intensively farmed.

Despite being out for 6 hours, I didn't mange a single photo. Instead I had to rely on my garden feeders, where these Siskin dropped in, there were 4 in all. Also noted were a COAL TIT and MARSH TIT, both which I missed earlier, they brought the list to an impressive 51 for the morning.

Above & Below: Male siskin

Below: female.


Marc Heath said...

Some good shots taken today. You had some good birds today, a few species I would love to see more of at Reculver. Maybe we will get that migrant tomorrow!

Pete Woodruff said...

Lucky man with the Siskin 'dropping in' to your garden Warren....nice pics too.

Bob Bushell said...

Good Siskins shots.

Kieron said...

Hi Warren, 51 species is good going! We have had so many Siskin in the garden this year, I hope they stay for Summer

Derek Faulkner said...

From my experience with both types of farming alongside the Swale NNR you'd be better off with the sheep, they will attract a lot more birds after insects than regularly sprayed arable crops that are rendered sterile to most wildlife.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Derek, Warren, in that sheep pasture would be more productive for the birds.

Greenie said...

Warren ,
Did you see John Young had a Wheatear a couple of days ago at Longfield ?
Also at Dungeness since , so they shouldn't be long now .

Sarah Knight said...

Lovely shots!

Warren Baker said...

Derek, Dean,

The tree nursery used to be in two big fields, one has already gone to sheep pasture, so I will be able to directly compare the two fields once the arable goes in next to it.

the sheep pasture has a year head start already, bird species breeding in it = Zero, birds species using it = 7, that come to mind.

Then there's the Butterflies, and plants, well these both come to a big fat zero in the sheep pasture :-)

ShySongbird said...

I heard Wheatear had been seen at Dungeness Warren so I think you will be reporting them soon :)

What a good total of species for one day! Well done with the Linnets too.

Lovely Siskin photos, you are lucky to have those in the garden. We had two in ours three years ago when we had the influx of Bramblings for weeks on end but the Siskins only stayed for about a week and I have never seen one in the garden since.

Derek Faulkner said...


I rather feel that you've made your mind up which type of habitat will turn out best. Whilst I wouldn't expect sheep pasture to be suitable for breeding birds, just seven species using it at all I find somewhat low. I would imagine Crows, Rooks, Jackdaws, Starling, Blackbirds, Song and Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Robin, Wheatear, Stonechat, Whinchat - to name but a few.