Monday, 31 October 2011

Back to work today, so the last patch visit of October was an afternoon affair, and for the 6th day running it was dull and cloudy with spots of drizzle in the air, that in itself makes the birds less easy to find, but today that was compounded by the number of SPARROWHAWKS that were hunting in the area. The first was seen this morning, I hadn't even walked out of the back door when a male whizzed past at knee height, hoping to catch an early finch on the feeders.

This afternoon my visit to the lakes and scrubby woods was overshadowed by 3 more Sprawks, 2 being female, the male with them may have been the one I saw early this morning. They circled over the woods and made several dashes into the canopy, flushing out numerous BLACKBIRDS, THRUSHES, WOODPIGEONS and 3 FIELDFARES, whilst the ROBINS, DUNNOCKS and Tits were heard giving their alarm calls as the dived deeper into cover. Needless to say, I wasn't going to find anything here today, and with only 3 MALLARD and 5 MOORHEN seen on the water, I made my way over to the Tree Nursery, where blow me down overhead was a big female Sprawk, not one of the two seen over the Scrubby woods, this was a much bigger one!  Once again I had to move on, so the Greenhouse Complex was my next visit, I walked the boundary hedgerow, and all was very quiet, I then saw the reason why fly from a fence post, a KESTREL, this flew up and gave it's alarm call, ki ki ki ,  the reason for that was the BUZZARD that was going over low and slow!!

Well, it wasn't my day, with all those raptors about, I was on a looser,  the light was going fast having lost an hour in the evening now the clocks have gone back, so I decided to go home and watch the garden feeders for 40 mins, maybe something will turn up there to salvage the day, how wrong I was, just ten minutes into watching the garden this little bugger (below) comes in and took a GREENFINCH, I gave up on the bird watching after that!!!!!!

Yet another Sprawk, this time he got his finch meal - a poor old Greenfinch

I'm getting fewer and fewer Greenfinch's in the garden now, however it's NOT the Sprawk thats at the heart of the problem, thats down to the surrounding poor habitat that the farmers and land owners keep degrading   :-(

October went out with a whimper in the end, but for the majority of it, especially early on, there was some good birding to be had, the Whinchat on the 4th was only the second recorded in October, and all those passage Wheatears were a brilliant sight, with the 8 seen together on the 6th being a peak count for my patch. Early Brambling, a Coot, and a couple of Reed Bunting sightings, as well as the arrival of the Redwing and Fieldfares all made for an exciting period, while the two patch ticks, Crossbill and Great Skua, put the cherry and icing on the cake!   :-)  The total species recorded this month ended on 69, the second best October for the ten years, 8 species behind the best October tally though.  The ten year combined species total for October, now stands at 93, with the addition of the Crossbill and Skua.


Phil said...

It might be a 'little bugger' Warren but what a handsome one, great pictures too.
I'm not getting Greenfinches in the garden and i'm hardly seeing any down the lakes either now.

Warren Baker said...

I keep records of the percentage of full patch walks each species has been recorded. Greenfinch has always been seen on 100% of full patch walks, until this year, so somethings wrong big time :-(

Fylde Amphibian & Reptile Group said...

Have you had an out break of tricho....sis in your area Warren? Touch wood no sign of it on any of my few greenies....yet. I will be cleaning the feeders once they've been emptied though, just to make sure


Warren Baker said...

I had one Greenie with a suspected case two months ago, I destroyed the bird, and disinfected all my feeders and havn't had any more cases here.

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful Raptor photos.

Ken. said...

Hi Warren.
Aren't you being a bit greedy, hanging on to all those Sprawks :-)
They are a terrific bird though especially when you see them doing what they do best.
It is a shame about the drop in finch numbers due to the change in farming measures.
Well done with the months total.

Christian said...

What a raptor fest! Some might say that you were very lucky to see them all (including me) and to get such excellent shots. The presence of so many Sparrowhawks is the sign of a very healthy eco-system of course.

I had Trico in Greenfinch and Chaffinch late this summer - very sadly. I took in the feeders for a few weeks and that seemed to eradicate it. said...

What a great shot...the predator with the prey.....poor greenfinch it has to be horrible to be eaten while you are alive...nature is crude...

Dean said...

Great pics over the last few days, Warren. And very well done on the 2 patch firsts.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Warren, great Sprawk pic. it is a shame it decided on a Greenfinch though! 69 sounds like a good total I haven't added mine up yet but early 60's is my bet.