Monday, 31 December 2012

Well what an anticlimax to the year!  :-(  I had intentions of going out on my patch and giving it my all to find that one new species for the year needed to attain my 2012 target of 109 species. Alas the weather ( once again!!!)  made a mockery of all that, I was out for just 2 hours in some horrible wet and windy conditions and quickly realised I was not going to see much, let alone a new year species  :-(.

In the two hours I was out I managed to check the lakes, Scrubby Woods, Wet Woods and Tree Nursery, but in a howling wind and at times driving rain, the best birds I found were the KESTREL pair and a hunting SPARROWHAWK, although whilst sheltering in the Wet woods I did come across an entertaining flock of LONG TAILED TITS, with 2 GOLDCREST, a NUTHATCH, a TREECREEPER and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

So the years list ended on 108, ( see list in the side bar on the right), which puts it in joint 3rd place out of the 11 years of watching my patch, the same tally as last year, but 5 behind the record year of 2010. If pushed to say what was my most pleasurable sighting of 2012, it would have to go to the female HEN HARRIER that passed through in June  :-)

Looking back at my monthly totals, only February stood out, the 68 species found was a record February tally, all the other months were well off their respective record tallies, none getting within more than 3 species of it.

The average number of species seen per month this year reached 67.9, which is the lowest since 2008 with 67.4.  Last year the average reached 69 species, but the best year was 2010 when an average 70.25 species were seen per month.

Checking out the 11 year combined monthly totals, April is easily the best month to be out on my patch, with a combined tally of 103 species seen, which shows just how poor this Aprils haul of just 69 species was, in fact it was the first April that 70 or over species were not found since 2005! October is the next best month with a combined total of 95 species recorded, and September is in third place, with a total of 91 species found.

The overall patch list moved up two species, with RAVEN and YELLOW LEGGED GULL being added in 2012, of all those species 43 were confirmed breeding here, with a further 5 probably breeding but no young were found, they were ; Turtle dove, Stock Dove, Cuckoo, Tawny Owl and Pheasant. Coot was a first time breeder for my patch last year, as was the KESTREL.

Of the 108 species seen this year, 11 were recorded on just one of the 121 full patch walks made, and  at the other end of the scale 17 species were seen on every visit.

I'll leave the stats there for now  :-)

All that's left now is to wish everyone a Happy New year, and hopefully you'll all have some great wildlife experiences for 2013 !
Oh and of course some more Green Woodpecker photo's ( with a long tailed tit thrown in) these were taken yesterday in my garden  ;-)
Male Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Long Tailed Tit
Long Tailed Tit

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Fifty or so FIELDFARE resting up just before dawn
The weather was much better than it has been for weeks for this mornings patch visit, there was even a few glimpses of sunshine, that and the likes of MISTLETHRUSH, ROBIN and WREN all singing loudly, made it feel quite springlike  :-)

I had only been out a few minutes when two more MUTE SWANS flew over Ashes lane, that after me saying how scarce they are here! They however proved to be the highlight of the day as it was a fairly 'run of the mill' visit today, I cant complain though as i've had a bit of a purple patch recently.

The COOT has stayed around at the lakes, hopefully if there are no hard frosts to freeze the water, it may find a mate and breed next year, as they did last year for the first time here. Also on the water this morning were 32 MALLARD and two MOORHEN.

The Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods provided me with the likes of BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, and NUTHATCH, as well as a flyover SKYLARK, not had many of them recently.

Three MEADOW PIPITS, 2 GREEN WOODPECKERS, and good numbers of BLACKBIRDS with a scattering of SONGTHERUSH and REDWING were found in the Tree Nursery, none of these were evident when I passed through earlier whilst taking the photo above. The KESTREL pair were hunting between the Tree Nursery and the Greenhouse Grounds, and while in the Greenhouse Copse a SPARROWHAWK flew through clutching its prey, a TREECREEPER and two more Goldcrest were also in the Copse.

The College Grounds was good for finding the more common birds, but the likes of Greenfinch, Pied wagtail, and Coal tit didn't show there today. I finished of the morning at the Alder Trees back in the Greenhouse Grounds, where a few SISKIN, GOLDFINCH and a single LESSER REDPOLL had dropped in, I also saw 4 female PHEASANTS here, they have been scarce this month.

Forty species were recorded this morning, on this my 120th full patch walk of the year, which give or take one or two is the number of full patch walks I try to do each year  :-)

I managed a few Siskin photo's today, and later this afternoon I got some slightly better Green Woodpecker photo's from my garden, as well as a couple of fun long Tailed Tit images, i'll post them when I have nothing else left!
Male Siskin

Saturday, 29 December 2012

A short window of drier, but very windy conditions prevailed this morning, which allowed me to get round for a full patch walk. There was much excitement almost straight from the off, when the 13th species for the morning turned out to be a fantastic JACK SNIPE (108, 68) which I almost trod on as I waded my way across the Tree Nursery, this is only the second record of this species on my patch, I now need just one more new species for the year and I will have reached my 2012 target  :-)

The lakes had some interest today as well, 34 MALLARD were still dabbling about on the water, and yesterdays COOT also remained, two GREYLAG GEESE were the first seen on the water this month, and a KINGFISHER zipped low across a very choppy main lake. Whilst noting down the usual species that are to be found around the lakes and the adjacent scrubby Woods, I heard the calls of Geese coming nearer, these turned out to be 3 CANADA GEESE plus my old friend the feral BARNACLE GOOSE (69), well it turned up eventually to join the December list  :-)

Other lesser, but just as enjoyable highlights for the 3 hour walk, involved sightings from the KESTREL pair at the Greenhouse Grounds, a SPARROWHAWK hunting successfully at the College Grounds, and flyovers from a trio of CORMORANTS, plus a YELLOWHAMMER, a few SISKIN and three Gull species, those being LESSER BLACK BACKED, BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL.

The winter thrushes seem to have moved on, the decent numbers of FIELDFARE on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley have dwindled to just 8, with no Redwings seen at all. Overall today, there were few birds to be found, but a good count of 44 species was recorded  :-)

Nothing for the Camera today, and the only photo left in my 'Blog Folder' is of the GREEN WOODPECKER, so at the risk of boring you i'll post it up anyway!
Green Woodpecker - again  !

Friday, 28 December 2012

The unrelenting, seemingly endless run of wind and rain continues! Once again this morning I attempted a full patch walk, but was thwarted by this incessant run of wet weather  :-(

I did however get as far as the lakes, where there was a couple of surprises, for as well as the 37 MALLARD, and 4 MOORHEN, a COOT (66) was also present, but a much scarcer patch bird was blindingly obvious - a MUTE SWAN (67) ! Coot and Mute Swan are both common species that can be found on most water bodies, but on my patch they are scarce birds, especially the Mute Swan, only one other record has been had this year, and that was a flyover back on March 24th, todays sighting of one actually on the lake is only the second record of Mute Swan on the water, the last was back in February 2008. Such a shame the weather was so poor my camera was left at home  :-(  Two CORMORANTS flew in to fish whilst I was there, making the lakes a busier place than they have been for quite some time!

The two new species for the month takes the December tally to 67, which places it in joint 3rd place over all, the same total as achieved in 2009.

I spent some time this afternoon trying to get some images from my garden feeders for todays blog post, but it really was so dull and wet it proved to be quite a challenge, the best I achieved was another grainy GREEN WOODPECKER effort, and a COAL TIT .
Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Coal Tit

Thursday, 27 December 2012

This morning was yet another wash -out, heavy rain and strong winds kept me off patch for most of the day, with only two short sorties over to the lakes possible.

The first had me battling against the rain, and little was of note on the water apart from 43 MALLARD and 3 CANADA GEESE, a flock of 48 FIELDFARE sat in an Oak tree at the Tree Nursery, where the KESTREL pair were again hunting.

After a couple of hours drying off, and watching the garden feeders, the weather dried up somewhat, and a second visit to the lakes was had, again I went via the Tree Nursery, this time the Fieldfare had been replaced in the Oak tree by 17 REDWING  :-)  I also noted a flyover CORMORANT, as well as, at last, my first GREYLAG GEESE (65) for the month, 3 flew over as I was entering the Wet Woods.

My second look over the lakes was rewarded with yet another GOOSANDER, a female, the 10th Goosander seen this month!

The days are running out fast for this year, with just four patch visits left ( weather permitting) I still need to find two more year ticks to reach my target of 109 species for 2012, the months list isn't looking too bad, the Greylag Geese seen today move this Decembers tally on to 65, the 4th best out of 11.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

I took a few garden bird photo's today, they are only the the regular species, and the light was poor, but they do brighten the blog!
Great Tit

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

08:00hrs - and still no sunrise

As you can see from the above photo, this morning started relatively clear, and for two hours the sun shone, allowing for a more enjoyable trundle around my patch  :-)

I arrived at the lakes just as the sun broke over the horizon, I was hoping to find something new for the year on the water, or just something new for the December list - a Greylag Goose would do, but only MALLARDS and MOORHEN were found  :-(   I hung around for half an hour, but nothing dropped in, so in the meantime I noted what was heard and seen around the lake edges and adjacent Scrubby Woods. The likes of BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, SISKIN, LESSER REDPOLL, and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER all turned out, as did a PHEASANT, the first one recorded since December 16th, all these serenaded by a MISTLETHRUSH, which belted out its springtime song.

The 20 min walk over to the College Grounds, Via the Tree Nursery, Pub Field and Migrant Alley, was just what was needed after being cooped up indoors all yesterday afternoon and evening, the sun felt warm, and there was little wind, a much nicer day than some endured early last Summer! The birds were few, as has been the norm recently, but it was great to see all the FIELDFARE on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley again, along with STARLINGS, plus today there were a few REDWING with them. The KESTREL pair remained on their territory around the Greenhouse Grounds/Tree Nursery, surely they will remain to breed again this year ?

Most of the of the more notable species seen involved flyovers, these included, SPARROWHAWK, HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, CORMORANT, MEADOW PIPIT, STOCK DOVE ( just the second record this month) and best of all a flock of 55 LAPWING  :-)

42 species were recorded today, which is only slightly less than average for a December patch visit, but i'd like to add a couple more species to the months list in the final week. As Mentioned I still haven't seen a Greylag Goose, and the likes of Peregrine, Teal, Snipe, Mandarin Duck, Brambling, Mute Swan, or Coot may well turn up, plus there is always that feral Barnacle Goose!  :-)  All a bit of incentive to keep up the visits  :-)

The only other photo I took today was of this GREENFINCH in my garden, a species getting getting scarcer here now.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Christmas to all who read these pages !

Another early post, as there is much to do throughout today!
My Christmas day patch visits are always eagerly anticipated, as they generally provide me with the place to myself :-) However, this Christmas days full patch walk was not too enjoyable, a blustery wind blew in some hefty showers, these after more overnight rain had made my patch wetter and muddier than at any time seen during the 13 years i've lived here!

By the end of a cut short 2 hour visit, I had found 42 species, which is a bit up on recent visits, nothing outstanding was found, and nothing added to the December list, but there were one or two bits of interest.

On the lakes yesterdays Goosander had moved on, leaving the 50 or so MALLARD, a single MOORHEN and a CORMORANT. The Wet Woods had a mixed feeding flock making there way through the trees, this comprised of 12 LONG TAILED TITS, 3 GOLDCREST, a COAL TIT, the MARSH TIT, and a small number of both BLUE and GREAT TIT.

Whilst out in the open, walking through the Tree Nursery, a BUZZARD was seen going over, and a SPARROWHAWK sped past me, heading over towards the flooded Pub Field ( which still looks good for a wader, but was again not providing one!) The KESTREL pair looked wet and bedraggled as the perched on the overhead lines, and 3 MEADOW PIPITS flew out of the vegetation, along with at least 6 SONGTHRUSHES.

Over in the Greenhouse Grounds I found a small number of SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLLS feeding in the Alder trees along with the GOLDFINCH'S, but only about 15 birds all told, and noted was a spanking looking male Redpoll that had a ring on its leg, I wonder what its story was ?

I never did get over to the College Grounds, the sky went very dark, and another heavy squally shower had me running for cover, shortly afterwards I had just about had enough, but whilst sheltering from the rain against a hedge at Migrant Alley I noticed a well concealed flock of birds on the sheep pasture about 100 meters away, I scanned through them a found at least 200 FIELDFARE and 70 STARLINGS, good to have some winter thrushes back on patch!

Obviously the camera stayed indoors today, but i've a couple of images left in my 'Blog Folder' these are of the Green Woodpecker - I still havn't got a shot i'm happy with though  :-)
Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker

Monday, 24 December 2012

There was a short window of dry weather this morning, after yet more overnight rain, and as I sit and type this at 13:30hrs i've given up birding for the day as even more wind and rain has arrived  :-(

Three hours were spent out on patch, the sky was dark and overcast and a breeze was blowing from a mild SW direction, many footpaths have now become streams of mud and standing water is lying in every dip, hollow and ditch. Birdlife was extremely difficult to find this morning, with a pitiful 35 species being recorded, maybe even the regular resident and sedentary species have had enough of this crap weather and migrated further south!  :-)

The few highlights of my visit, were as follows, a BUZZARD over the (very) Wet Woods, a SPARROWHAWK over Migrant Alley and the KESTREL pair hunting over the Tree Nursery. I was also pleased to see that no less than 52 MALLARDS were on the water over at the lakes, but at the same time a little disappointed that there wasn't anything else with them.

As I neared home, hot tea and mince pies were on my mind, but a glance up at the sky over the Wet Woods had me reaching for my bins as 4 large ducks flew across, they turned out to be two pairs of GOOSANDER. I watched then circle round and then drop down, presumably onto the lakes, so hot tea and mince pies were put on hold, instead I got home and grabbed my camera, even though the light was poor, a record photo would be better than none  :-)

When I arrived at the lakes again, only one pair of Goosander remained, and they were right at the back of the main lake, after an hour of waiting they came no closer than 40 or so meters, but I got my record shots, and I also had the chance of a record shot of a CORMORANT as that dropped in to fish. Even with the Goosander, Cormorant, and a flyover LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL which I saw on the walk back home, the days list still only reached 38 - very poor indeed !

Here's the record shots  :-
Fantastic - another two Goosander !
A few of the 52 Mallard present this morning - a peak count for the year no less!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

I got out at last this morning for a full patch walk, in overcast and breezy conditions, the going underfoot was unsurprisingly very wet, with most of the footpaths ankle deep in water and mud.

The four hour visit was mostly uneventful, without any major highlights, or any new species for the month being found, in fact a very low daylist of just 38 species were found. In the Wet Woods a small party of maybe 10 LONG TAILED TITS were seen, no doubt the same party that turned up in my garden later in the afternoon. The Lakes had 14 MALLARD and 4 MOORHEN on the water, plus a CORMORANT sitting up in a bankside tree. BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST and a singing MISTLETHRUSH were the best on offer in the adjacent Scrubby Woods.

The Tree Nursery was full of BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSH, DUNNOCKS, WRENS, ROBINS and 2 each of MEADOW PIPIT and GREEN WOODPECKER, while the nearby Pub Field was totally empty of birds, it did have a huge shallow puddle across it, promising for a few Lapwing or Golden Plover, maybe even a Green Sandpiper - but I fantasize a bit there!

I made my way over to the College Grounds via Migrant Alley, finding the usual ROOK flock, plus a small party of 30-50 STARLINGS. At the College Grounds it was a case of ticking off the regular species that are found here, GOLDFINCH, PIED WAGTAIL, COLLARED DOVE, HOUSE SPARROW, and more unusually for this time of year a couple of LINNETS.

My visit was finished off by a look around the Greenhouse Grounds, but little new was seen here apart from half a dozen SISKIN in the Alders, and the KESTREL PAIR sitting on the rooves of the Greenhouses. Whilst there, flyovers from YELLOWHAMMER, LESSER REDPOLL, HERRING GULL, and BLACK HEADED GULL made the list a little better than it would have been, it was just good to get out today though  :-)

The camera stayed at home today, but a few brighter interludes this afternoon allowed for some attempts at photographing some garden birds. Just the usual stuff, although I missed the Siskin that came in !
The Green Woodpecker continues to feed on the apples i'm supplying
Green Woodpecker
One of 8 Long Tailed Tits
Coal Tit
BLUE TIT, I counted a minimum 21 at the feeders !
One of 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers that came in

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Today was a total washout - how many times have I said that recently! The first day of my holidays wasted  :-(

I can only hope tomorrow morning is a bit dryer, but it doesn't look too good. So with nothing to report from my patch, and little from my garden, i'll post up the rest of the photo's I took yesterday.
SISKIN (Female)
Siskin (Male)

Friday, 21 December 2012

A break in the awful weather of late gave me a chance to get out this afternoon after work, I headed off over to the lakes, via the Tree Nursery, where not much was happening, just the KESTREL pair up hunting and a couple of GREEN WOODPECKERS of note. A SPARROWHAWK flew over the adjacent Pub Field, which was completely devoid of birds thereafter!

At the lakes, the only things on the water were 14 MALLARD and 2 MOORHEN, while around the lake edges both GOLDCREST and a pair of BULLFINCH were seen. A COAL TIT called from the adjacent Scrubby Woods, as did a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, but in all it was a very disappointing visit here, well it was for finding birds at least. However, I got some great views of a WEASEL as it came from under an out building to check the coast was clear, before dragging out a Vole, of course, the coast wasn't clear because I was awaiting with my camera  ;-)
I love these little creatures, you cant look at them and not smile!
Weasel checking coast is clear
One more check
All clear to move lunch to a safer spot to eat  :-)
  I just love the furry feet!
After my Weasel encounter, I headed off over to the Greenhouse Grounds, finding a feeding flock of around 12 SISKIN and 12 GOLDFINCH on the Alders, also one of the Kestrels had come over from the Tree Nursery. Amongst the scrubby areas, another pair of Bullfinch were seen, as well as most of the usual regulars of WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, CHAFFINCH, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD and another Goldcrest, nothing new for the months list this afternoon though. I got some Siskin photo's and another Kestrel image, but i'll save them for tomorrow !

A note from my garden-: The MARSH TIT decided my garden is again in favour  :-) it visited late on, along with 2 LONG TAILED TITS, making five tit species at my feeders today. Also of note, was a TAWNY OWL that was heard 'kewicking' at 23:45hrs last night   :-)

I'm off work now until the 7th of Jan, but tomorrow looks like a write off, heavy rain moving in over night and into the morning once again  :-(

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The expected deluge arrived overnight, and lasted throughout the day, a truly miserable and dark December day, as many are of course  :-) 

So another patch visit was missed, the third in a row now, i'm getting withdrawal symptoms! Hopefully at some point it will eventually stop raining, and i'll get out again, especially as I finish work tomorrow and am off until early January  :-)

Until then here's the last of my photo's from the ''Blog Folder'' these were taken from my garden last weekend  :-)
BLUE TIT ( wow the sun was out!)
Chaffinch ( Male)
Chaffinch ( Female)