I went over to the lake area first, passing through the Small Holding and Wet Woods as I went, stopping to seek shelter each time a showers passed overhead. Three skeins of CANADA GEESE, numbering 16, 8 and 4 plus a pair of GREYLAG GEESE were seen in the growing light of the morning sky, a SPARROWHAWK was up hunting very early too. I hadn't got much to get excited about on my list as i reached the lakes and Scrubby Woods, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, PIED WAGTAIL, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH - all the regulars. Looking over the Lakes there was a GREY HERON fishing on the main lake, and between all the 3 water bodies, 22 MALLARDS and 11 MOORHEN were seen.. The Scrubby Woods provided the likes of SISKIN, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, and MISTLE THRUSH, but still nothing too exciting.
I made my way over to the Tree Nursery, and noted a stream of HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS continually flying over, plus I could see 3 BUZZARDS up soaring over the Greenhouse Complex, a PHEASANT frightened the life out of me as it flew up just feet from me, putting up a pair of MEADOW PIPITS with it. On the near horizon, a big black shower cloud was looming, so I took an early break for breakfast, just getting home as a torrential downpour arrived.
40 minutes later I was out again, but it was now 11:30 so i didn't expect to see much , however, as I crossed the Greenhouse Complex, heading for Migrant Alley, an unfamiliar call rang out from high above me, it took a few seconds to realise what it was - CROSSBILL ( 136, 106, 68 ) !!! I looked frantically up in the sky to try to find them, and just managed to see two flying off into the distance, fantastic! A new patch species, my 136th :-)
Another big black shower cloud was coming in, and the wind was gusting, so I decided not to go to the College Grounds and gardens, it would be full of workers by now anyway, so I stayed at my sky watching seat, at least I could run to cover from there! The shower narrowly missed in the end and went round to the NW, but once it went through, a few SKYLARKS were heard going over, and then a REED BUNTING, only the second this Autumn, a YELLOWHAMMER called as it also flew over. I scanned the sky, watching the heavy black clouds gathering again, then spotted a gull like bird coming in from the SE, It was high up, but heading my way, as it got nearer I was amazed to see that it was an GREAT SKUA ( 137, 107, 69 ) , !!! WOW!! Another patch first!! I watched it fly past heading NW, all the time being mobbed by a crow then a KESTREL, I could see the white flashes on the Skuas wings as it banked to avoid the mobbing birds, what a species to find at Pittswood! Admittedly, being a sedentary inland birder, my experience of Sea faring birds is limited, so although I am in no doubt it was a Skua, what type it exactly was, is a bit of an ID problem for me, however after showing the photo's around to fellow birders, the conclusion is that it's a Great Skua :-)
So with two new additions to the patch list, the year list moves on to 107, the 3rd highest, and the month list moves on to 69, the second best October out of the ten.
|Great Skua - Unfortunately by the time I got the camera on the bird,it was very high up, but ive cropped it as much as possible, you can make out the wing flashes, and a bit of a pointy tail - just!! :-)|
PS: MESSAGE FOR FOLLOWERS OF DEANS BLOG AT CORTONWOOD: HIS BROADBAND IS DOWN AND HE WILL BE OFFLINE FOR A WHILE :-(