Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Once again as I walked across Migrant Alley on the way into work, I found another WHEATEAR ( or the same one as yesterday) also a COMMON BUZZARD came low over, no sign of any Yellow Wagtails today though.

I was looking forward to crossing Migrant Alley on the way home from work, to see what may have dropped in, but alas, it had turned into ''dog Alley'' as one of the stable girls walked a pack of six dogs around the paddocks.

I returned after i'd had something to eat, but things got worse, more stable girls with dogs bounding all over the place, and then two more dog walkers from the nearby dog grooming school let their dogs loose on the fields, obviously nothing was seen, so i headed off to the lake and scrub area. Here, I sat and watched the Elder and Blackberry bushes, after establishing that nothing was on the lake, not even a Moorhen!

I saw a few BLACKCAPS, CHIFFCHAFFS, BULLFINCH'S, CHAFFINCH'S, GREENFINCH'S and the BLACKBIRDS all gobbling down the berries, but nothing really of note, it's not quite the same here in the afternoons. However, just as I was going to leave, a surprise was heard, the 'hoot' of a TAWNY OWL (75) one more for the months list!

So the shortened and disturbed last visit of the month ( although I may try Migrant Alley again this evening) did produce something of note, the Tawny Owl took this Augusts total to 75, the second highest August total for the ten years, just 3 behind the record tally achieved last year. I thought maybe I would have a chance of beating that total, with the 5 species recorded this August that weren't on last Augusts list, those being Redstart, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Green Sandpiper, and Barnacle Goose, but thats the way birding is, you just dont know whats going to turn up, or not!

The combined August list for the ten years now stands at 89, whilst the average number of species for this month 67, was easily passed :-)

The only photo's I took today were from the Garden. If you enlarge the photo, you can make out it's a bird born this year, with it's true blue head feathering just coming through :-)

I also found this moth on the back door, one for the Moffers out there to ID

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back to work today, but the walk in had the antidote for that, when I found yet another WHINCHAT at Migrant Alley, then a few minutes later the shrill calls of YELLOW WAGTAILS rang out as at least 5 left the paddocks, it was hard to see them against the grey sky.

The walk back home was equally as exciting, the Whinchat had become two!! Whilst in one of the paddocks yet another WHEATEAR was feeding, brilliant :-)

After something to eat I was back over at Migrant Alley, where I managed to photograph the Whinchats from a distance, but the Wheatear wasn't having any of that today, it stayed out in the paddock. Whilst there a SPARROWHAWK went over, sending the mixed GOLDFINCH/LINNET flock diving for cover, around 60 birds headed for the nearby wooded headland. Another two raptors were seen a little later, a BUZZARD and a HOBBY the latter was shadowing every move of the Buzzard, until finally they circled out of sight. Two more Yellow Wagtails called as they went over, and a large flock of HERRING GULLS were circling around just to the NW of my patch, I scanned through them, hoping that it was an Osprey that had put them up, but it turned out to be a Buzzard - maybe next time :-)

After an hour I walked over to the Maize crop at the pub field, and then into the Tree Nursery, but very little was seen, just a WHITETHROAT, and my fourth raptor of the day - a KESTREL, of any note, so I ended up back at Migrant Alley for another half an hours Sky watching. I was hoping for a Lapwing to fly over, to add to the months list, or maybe a Harrier ( well I can hope!) but neither did, I think last years record August total looks pretty safe now on 78, as I'm still four behind with just one more day left.

Above and below - Whinchat, a double Whinchat day, excellent indeed :-)

Below is a record shot of them together

Another fence sitter was sighted from my sky watching seat, this GREEN WOODPECKER, I took this photo, then tried to move a bit closer, but as soon as I stood up it was off!

Back home, the garden was brimming with GREENFINCH's :-)

Monday, 29 August 2011

It was nice to start the day with a bit of warm sunshine this morning, and it was obviously appreciated by the birds, as they had all come back out of their hiding places of the last few days, making for a very pleasant bird filled 4 hour patch walk - the last full patch walk of August.

First bird up on the list was the inevitable COLLARED DOVE, and as I walked along Ashes Lane it was quickly followed by JACKDAW, GREENFINCH, SWALLOW, ROBIN, CARRION CROW, WOODPIGEON, BLUE TIT, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD, STARLING and WREN. Crossing through the Greenhouse Complex, lots of common stuff was feeding in the Elder and Blackberry scrub, SONGTHRUSH, CHIFFCHAFF, LINNET, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, GREAT TIT and at least 3 WHITETHROATS were back there too. Walking into Migrant Alley, the list was augmented by flyover LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS, as well as MAGPIE, ROOK, and STOCK DOVE. A scan of the fence lines again gave me WHEATEAR for the list, what a good Autumn i'm having for this species :-)

Next up was the College Grounds, no surprises here today, but both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, BULLFINCH, HOUSE SPARROW and a fly through SPARROWHAWK were all viewed, the Spotted Flycatchers seem to have departed now, they havn't been seen here since the 21st, so any more sightings of these will be down to passage birds moving through.

As I walked back through Migrant Alley, the now familiar call of YELLOW WAGTAIL was heard, at least 4 single birds went over, and one flew up from the sheep pasture, also a few HOUSE MARTIN fed overhead for a few minutes, before flying off SW.

The second half of my walk was just as entertaining, in the Small Holding there was plenty of activity, and I added JAY, plus PHEASANT to the days sightings, but the walk through the Wet Woods proved pretty quiet, it was still quite cool and dark in here :-) Moving on to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, I added MALLARD, MOORHEN from the main lake, as usual, but today they were being kept company by a GREY HERON and a superb KINGFISHER, which as always avoided the camera!

The Scrubby Woods was very active today, all the birds seemed to be crammed in the sunniest area of the scrub ( cant blame them!) A large mixture of birds, including BLACKCAP, LESSER WHITETHROAT, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, plus more Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, Blue and Great Tit, as well as Song Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Dunnock, just about everything in fact were all feasting on apples, Elder and Blackberries.

After that little lot, I made my way back over to Migrant Alley via the Tree Nursery, while walking through the latter, both GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE flew over, they were late today! Whilst a 30 min skywatch at Migrant Alley gave me views of a HOBBY, a BUZZARD and a KESTREL, finishing off with a SKYLARK, in all 53 species were noted, an excellent visit indeed :-)

With all those birds about, something had to stay still for the camera, and the most obliging was the Wheatear below.

I was very pleased to get a photo of this Lesser Whitethroat, this species hardly ever shows itself, and when it does it isn't for long, this one was in a spanking fresh plumage too.

Below is one of the Long Tailed Tits, in somewhat less fresh plumage, having had a good preen :-)

The Goldcrest was also a bit shabby after it also finished a preening session

Below is a Southern Hawker Dragonfly which alighted briefly

Lastly a newly emerged Comma Butterfly, looking like a red hot coal on the green brambles :-)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The four hour full patch walk today started off in dull cloudy conditions, and the birding was just as dull to begin with. Very few birds were seen, but the species list was kept ticking over by the likes of the 3 Gull species that flew over, those being LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED, also the GREYLAG GEESE, but there were far fewer of them this morning, and they were without the Canada Geese.

KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were out early on hunting for breakfast, and a LITTLE OWL seen in the Small Holding was a good sighting. The summer species were well down in numbers today, with not a single Whitethroat seen, and just one BLACKCAP, and 5 CHIFFCHAFF, the Scrubby Woods had a good mix of species in it, but again only in ones and two's, the likes of COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH and JAY all showed well.

After the full circuit was coming to an end, and I entered the Tree Nursery, I at last found something to excite me a bit, a lone WHEATEAR, I dont often find them away from Migrant Alley, but this is where they can be seen at times. Spurred on by that sighting, and the fact that the sun had just come out, I had another look around Migrant Alley, earlier it was empty of birds apart from ROOKS, but on this second visit I found at least 6 YELLOW WAGTAIL, with another two flying over some minutes later, at least two SAND MARTIN mixed in with the 30 odd SWALLOWS and 20 odd HOUSE MARTINS, plus the cheering sight of another two Wheatear on the paddocks, it just goes to show, sometimes things are worth a second look!

A quick skywatch gave me another two raptors for the day when both BUZZARD and PEREGRINE were seen circling around the area, which took the daylist to a creditable 48, surprising, when there were so few birds around.

Later in the day as my missus and I went up to the local church on the hill ( which over looks my patch) I saw around 60 Lapwing, unfortunately, just off my patch, i've not recorded Lapwing on my patch this month yet!

Once the sun came out the camera came into action, below is an Immature GOLDFINCH, and if you click on the image you can make out its first red face feather coming through
There were a number of Juv. Swallows on the fence lines at Migrant Alley, and I filled my boots with photo's

Below is one of the Wheatear at Migrant Alley

Lastly the painted Lady Butterfly, which was exactly where I saw it yesterday, on the thistles at Migrant Alley, this time it sat still!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Yesterday's poor weather prevented any meaningful visit to my patch, two attempts to get out were aborted, and all i got was a soaking!

Today, however, the weather was more co-operative, staying dry for the 4 hour full patch walk, which was a very mediocre affair, gone were all the passage birds, and even the likes of Songthrush, Blackcap, and Mallard were not recorded today.

Highlights of the morning were finding a TURTLE DOVE in the College Grounds, and watching hundreds of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE go over. A HOBBY was also a nice addition to the daylist, which at 43 was was 12 species down on my last full patch visit on Thursday morning, but HOUSE MARTIN, SKYLARK, and YELLOWHAMMER were on todays list, but not on Thursday's!

Of the summer birds left on my patch, as well as the Turtle Dove and House Martin, there were quite a few CHIFFCHAFFS, maybe as many as 15, 2 WHITETHROATS and the SWALLLOWS, but that was it!

Above and below, One of the Chiffchaffs, this one was in the Greenhouse Complex, hiding from both the SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL that were up hunting over the area today.

Above: Here come the Greylags!! This is all I could fit in the 400mm lens, it only shows a third of them.

Below a few came right over.

Butterflies seen today were mostly Small Whites, but I also saw my third painted lady of the year.

Back in the Garden this afternoon, as took a break from doing a bit of wildlife friendly work, a flock of 50 plus GREENFINCH'S came in

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Yesterday evening I made a quick visit to Migrant Alley again, I refound the 4 Wheatears, and the Whinchat, but also recorded this YELLOW WAGTAIL, which brought up the 50 species for the day :-)

The Whinchat also allowed me to get a little closer!

Back to today, and it was a day of two halves, I started off at 06:00, in calm conditions with patchy cloud, but before 10:00 a huge bank of black cloud had rolled in, and showers fell, but after lunch I was out again to finish the visit.

Quite a few migrants were noted early on, the WHINCHAT was still at Migrant Alley, but no Wheatears today, and a TURTLE DOVE was on the overhead power lines that cross the fields and paddocks. CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and WHITETHROAT were seen, as well as two SAND MARTINS that flew over the Greenhouse Complex, where the undoubted sighting of the day occurred, no fewer than 14 COMMON TERNS (103, 74) were seen going over, heading south, calling as they went, 14 is more than I've seen in the last 9 years combined! I was hoping to add this species to the year list, but they are by no means annual birds here :-)

Other bits and pieces seen before the rain set in were, a LITTLE OWL calling from the Greenhouse Copse, HOBBY, SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL up hunting, and flyovers form LESSER BLACK BACKED, BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL as well as GREY HERON and 2 CORMORANTS.

I got over to the lakes and scrubby woods this afternoon, and added the the usual woodland species to the list - NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, LONG TAILED TIT, as well as good sighting of a LESSER WHITETHROAT, I also saw the only SONGTHRUSH of the day. On the water MALLARD and MOORHEN were joined by four CANADA GEESE and the BARNACLE GOOSE, nice to see it on the lake :-)

From there I walked over to the Tree Nursery and did another circuit of Migrant Alley, where I added flyovers from BUZZARD, STOCK DOVE and a lone SWIFT. At the end of the protracted visit, I had recorded a massive 55 species, 56 if I include the COAL TIT seen in my Garden, so near to the magic 60 species in a day, if only the likes of Skylark, Yellowhammer, House Martin and Mistle Thrush had shown, most of whom are regulars! I have only ever seen 60 species in a day once on my patch.

I only took a couple of photo's in the poor conditions today, below is a Common Blue Butterfly

Above and below - Approaching black clouds.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

This morning the weather was dire, misty, drizzly and at times rainy, but there was at least, not a breath of wind :-)

Despite the conditions, there were still some good sightings to be had around the patch. At Migrant Alley I came across yet another WHINCHAT, i'm having an excellent Autumn for these brilliant little birds :-) Also at Migrant Alley, a SEDGE WARBLER was seen in one of the excuses for a hedgerow, the cover provided was barely adequate to conceal it, probably the reason I found it!

Three CORMORANTS flew over the Greenhouse Complex, where the KESTREL was hunting again, around the Tall hedge and Greenhouse scrub two WHITETHROATS and a few CHIFFCHAFFS were feeding on the berries.

Over at the lakes and Scrubby Woods, the water only held two MALLARD and a MOORHEN family, but the woods had come to life, with a mixed feeding flock made up of CHAFFINCH, BULLFINCH, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, more Chiffchaffs, and at least 6 BLACKCAPS, best bird seen with them was a GARDEN WARBLER.

The dreary conditions slowly cheered up, and by midday some sun was peering through the broken cloud, encouraging me to make another visit to Migrant Alley. I mainly went to try and see if the Whinchat was still around, so as to try for some photo's. On the way I stopped to photograph a Gatekeeper, and as I did so, a Painted Lady Butterfly flew past, only my second one this year. Moments later I heard the honking of a Goose, I looked up and saw a BARNACLE GOOSE (73) fly low over, no doubt the one that visits here on occasions, a bit of plastic months tick, but i'll take it :-)

After that bit of excitement :-) I walked round to the paddocks, where I quickly found the Whinchat, but it wouldn't allow any sort of approach, but as I looked at it through my bins, I noticed another bird further up on the fence line, a WHEATEAR! It dropped down on to the paddock, I followed it in my bins and saw another Wheatear, then another, and another still, four Wheatear!! Good job I visited Migrant Alley for a second time! I noticed one of the Wheatears was a cracking male bird, and as it was the nearest one to me, I crept up on him and took a few photo's, so much better looking than the dowdy immature birds ive been seeing so far :-) Just to top off the visit, a HOBBY and SPARROWHAWK performed SWALLOW hunting acrobatics over the sheep pasture.

So again, i'm afraid, its Wheatear photo's today, but they are the flavour of the month :-)

The Gate Keeper was a cracker too though :-)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Steady rain fell this morning as I walked into work, but I mustn't complain, it's the first rain for a while now. There was still a WHEATEAR present at Migrant Alley, and also 9 YELLOW WAGTAILS were feeding out in one of the paddocks.

This afternoon I was back out at Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds, in some rather dull, murky and humid conditions. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending how you look at it, the first pair of birds I saw were KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK, remarkably they were sitting just a meter apart on the Greenhouse guttering, needless to say there was not a lot of activity in the tall hedge and scrub area !!

I moved over to the paddocks, where the Wheatear was happily perched on the fence line, and further down I could see three GREEN WOODPECKERS, two of them immature birds, clinging to the fence posts. I sat down for an hour, and watched and waited, no more migrants dropped in, but another Yellow Wagtail circled over before flying off SE, also two SWIFTS flew NE, I looked up my Swift records and see that the mean last seen date is the 26th August, so I should get one or two more sightings of them.

30-40 LINNETS were wheeling around in a flock, up and down from the more weedier of the paddocks, and overhead small skeins of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE were moving around the area, a few HERRING GULLS also went over, and two LESSER BLACK BACK GULLS, but I didn't see a much wanted Common tern for the year list! I heard a LITTLE OWL calling from the Greenhouse Copse, and shortly after walked back to the tall hedge and the Greenhouse area, where the Kestrel was up hunting still. I had a quick look around the hedge, and found some skulking CHIFFCHAFFS, and two WHITETHROATS, but little else, the Whinchat that was present for the last two days has apparently moved on now - unless it's hiding from the raptors :-)

I'm on holiday until next Tuesday now, so i'll be out scouring my patch for the 7 new species needed this month to beat the record August total, weather permitting!

It wasn't a day for the camera, I tried to get a photo of the finch's on my garden feeder, but it didn't really work out :-)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Monday morning, and back to work :-( The morning started well enough though, when I saw a BLACKCAP on the garden Elder berries as I ate breakfast, always a welcome visitor to my little oasis.

I dont usually take my camera to work, but as it was so sunny, and the migrants seem to be dropping in recently, I decided I would. This proved a good move, for as I stepped into Migrant Alley, and walked the tall hedge that borders the Greenhouse Grounds, I found it full of migrant species, WHITETHROAT, BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF and a probable Willow Warbler, but that disappeared before I could say for certain. Best bird there though was my first SEDGE WARBLER (72) for the month, the low sun made for some great light to photograph it by. (below)

I had to drag myself away eventually, but as I passed through the paddocks I found a WHEATEAR, probably the same individual as yesterday, but who knows!

The walk home was made in sunny and warm conditions, but it soon turned cloudy, even as I walked through Migrant Alley the sun was disappearing, but on the brighter side, I found that this mornings Wheatear had been joined by another, excellent little birds these are !

I was back out around the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley after lunch. I checked the tall hedge and the scrubby areas in the Greenhouse Grounds, finding once again WHITETHROAT, BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF, as well as WRENS, ROBINS, DUNNOCKS, BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSH, GOLDFINCH, GREENFINCH, CHAFFINCH, LINNET and even relocated the Sedge Warbler, it came out right at the top of a Hawthorn tree, the wind blowing it around and the totally different light made for a much poorer photo (below)

As I was fiddling around trying to get the Sedge photo, another bird caught my eye further along the hedge - A WHINCHAT! Brilliant! This may have been the one I saw yesterday, but again who knows!

Again the light was against me, but I still manged a record shot :-)

I left the tall hedge and walked a circuit of the pasture and paddocks in search of the earlier seen Wheatear, I found them quite easily, and got a couple of photo's, before retiring to my sky watching seat.

Above and below Wheatears, what a good run I'm having with these ;-)

My 40 minute sky watch didn't quite produce the Harrier or Osprey to round of the day, but both the KESTREL and the SPARROWHAWK were up hunting. Not much else went through, just HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS, anyway the first spots of rain were now falling, so I moved off home, where I saw a HOBBY fly low over my rooftop, very nice!

One last photo. This Caterpillar was munching on the nettles, i'm sure someone out there knows waht butterfly it will turn into :-)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A warm morning, with overcast sky and little wind was had for this mornings full patch visit, where once again sightings of passage migrants provided much of the excitement for the day.

At Migrant Alley, no fewer than six YELLOW WAGTAILS were found in one of the horse paddocks, and more were heard flying over as I walked the College Grounds, their distinctive call giving them away. A TREECREEPER was heard here too, one of at least 4 heard today around my patch.

More passage migrants were seen along the Tall hedge that divides Migrant Alley from the Greenhouse Complex, a WILLOW WARBLER, four CHIFFCHAFFS, two BLACKCAPS, at least 6 WHITETHROATS and best of all my fourth WHINCHAT of the month were all busy feeding on the Elder and Blackberries.

I at last came across a flock of LONG TAILED TITS in a large Oak in the Small Holding, they were joined by more Chiffchaffs, and another Treecreeper. Over at the lakes and Scrubby Woods, things were a little quieter, but plenty of Blackcaps were seen, as was a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, I didn't see any at the College Grounds this morning, so it was good to catch up with one here, they don't usually appear in this area.

A quick afternoon visit around Migrant Alley had the same result as yesterday, with a WHEATEAR found sitting on the fence line ( the same bird as yesterday?) plus two BUZZARDS soaring overhead. 47 species for the day was a few down on yesterdays big haul, but 58 species for the weekend is very acceptable :-)

Above and below, the Wheatear from this afternoon - I remembered my camera this time :-)

The small Butterflies that live in the Tree Nursery were still very evident, although they are looking a little worn now.

Common Blue

Small Copper

Brown Argus