Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The weather picked up a bit this afternoon, with some good, warm, sunny spells. The birding picked up a bit as well, and the were some notable species seen ( for my patch)

After walking through the Small Holding, and photographing a few of the Finch's and Tits that had Gathered there, I meandered my way through the Wet woods, trying to be as quiet as possible, which was impossible, as the very dry underfoot conditions made the leaves and twigs crunch loudly, like walking on bags of crisps! However, I did mange to creep up on three TEAL that were on one of the diminishing pools, a female and two males, must be the same birds I saw on the 24th. One of the males missed being photographed by a nano second, as I followed him in the view finder, swimming along, the camera decided to focus on a nearby branch, the chance was gone and he swam into deeper cover  :-(

Over at the lakes it was as you were with the 3 pairs of CANADA GEESE and the pair of COOTS, but singles of both SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL were seen in the Scrubby Woods, along with the regular species of COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, and TREECREEPER.

I made my way over to Migrant Alley for another skywatch, on the way noting 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS in the Tree Nursery. Whilst skywatching from my seat, I noted a COMMON BUZZARD go low over the Greenhouse Copse, from where a LITTLE OWL called, and at least 100 FIELDFARE flew, the most recorded here all winter. A KESTREL was seen numerous times up hunting, and both HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS were seen. A YELLOWHAMMER flew into the tall hedge behind my seat, and although it called a few times I wasn't treated to any song from it.

The sheep pasture has now been filled with sheep and their newborn lambs, these were joined by the Corvids, waiting for the lambs docked tails to drop off, mostly ROOKS, who find this a useful food source, occurring as it does just when their young will be hatching.

The months end produced no more species to the month or year list today, but with the February list ending on 68 species, this was the best ever February total for the 11 years. There were two species that were found this month that have not occurred in any other February, the Barnacle Goose, and more surprisingly the Common Snipe, these two bring the combined February list to 81, which is one species behind January, and six behind March. The 11 year mean species count for February is now 60.4, but the mean for the last 5 February's is 64.1, the latter years having more effort put in !!

Here's the photo's from the finch's and tits seen at the Small Holding today, plus the friendly ROBIN thrown in  ;-)
Great Tit

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Not much to report from this afternoons patch visit, everything is a settled and as uneventful as the weather at the moment, that being windless, mild and overcast.

All I can report is that the pair of COOT and three pairs of CANADA GEESE on the lakes are preparing for nest building, their territorial behaviour is increasing daily now, any of the MALLARD or MOORHEN that show themselves are soon seen off. There was no Cormorant today here, the first time in a week.

COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, and GOLDCREST all showed well, but the light wasn't very good for a photo of any of them. A SISKIN and two FIELDFARE flew over as I walked the empty Tree Nursery, and a REDWING was seen briefly in the tall hedge behind my sky watching seat, where the only birds seen going over on the sky watch were two HERRING and four BLACK HEADED GULLS. Nothing else to report at all really, but at the end of February things do tend to quieten off a bit on my patch, especially with the benign weather.

The chance of a couple of photo's cropped up when I got home, albeit in some very poor light. This Siskin came down to my garden Feeders, also the Long Tailed Tit pair, which have been frequenting my garden for a few weeks now, I wasn't going to put their photo up, having done so many of them recently, but I know you love 'em  :-)
Male Siskin, a shame all the metal work of the feeders is in view!
I did get a shot of it away from the feeders, but the light was worse here, making for a very grainy image
Long Tailed Tit, these images are suffering from the poor light, nice though  :-)
Long Tailed Tit

Monday, 27 February 2012

There was much disturbance on my patch this afternoon, bonfire smoke drifted through most of it, you can always tell it's getting near spring, the slash and burn brigade start to come out of their winter hibernation!

In dull and dreary conditions I went to visit the lakes, on the way, passing through the smokey Small Holding and the Wet Woods I noted 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS chasing about a tree trunk, and two TREECREEPERS were doing the same a bit further on, all getting in the mood for the upcoming breeding season  :-)

On the lakes is was much as it has been for the last week or so, but I wont knock that because that's better than normal! The CORMORANT was in it's lookout tree, and a GREY HERON fished in the shallows, the pair of COOTS fed contentedly, and the three pairs of CANADA GEESE had a lake each to themselves, just 1 pair of MALLARD and two pairs of MOORHEN were seen, although 3 Mallards did drop in whilst I was there.

A look around the Scrubby Woods was as I expected, two or three pairs of BULLFINCH, a singing COAL TIT, a pair of LONG TAILED TITS a single calling NUTHATCH and at least 4 singing GOLDCRESTS made for an entertaining half hour, a little more unexpected was hearing the hoot of a TAWNY OWL as I went to inspect  the feeders in the garden of the adjacent house, these were of some interest as a LESSER REDPOLL was on the niger feeder, while around eight CHAFFINCH were on the floor feeding on spilt sunflower hearts, unfortunately there wasn't a Brambling amongst them .

I made my way over to my sky watching seat at Migrant Alley, not seeing much at all on the way, too much drifting smoke! My skywatch only turned up a YELLOWHAMMER, another Cormorant, which headed towards the lakes and numerous BLACK HEADED GULLS, with the odd HERRING GULL, no raptors at all today, not surprising with all that smoke about!

The camera stayed indoors today, so i'll put up the garden GREENFINCH photo's I took yesterday afternoon.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The last full patch walk of the month was undertaken in some bright and sunny conditions, with a light frost at first. I'd hoped to add something to the year/months list during the 4 hour visit, but I seem to have used up all my luck over the recent visits!

I still found a good tally of 47 species for the morning though, with some nice birds amongst them, like the COMMON BUZZARD that was seen perched up in the tree line along the NW boundary of Migrant Alley, the first of three raptor species seen today, the others being the SPARROWHAW and KESTREL.
Distant Common Buzzard  
 In one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, at least 28 FIELDFARE were seen feeding, the first actually on the floor here for some time  :-) Another nice bird for my patch is the LESSER REDPOLL, six of these lovely finches dropped from the sky and straight into a small larch tree at the College Grounds, where they fed ravenously on the cone seed, I managed to creep right up beneath them, but couldn't get a clear view for a photo, so left them in peace. The first LINNETS of the year were also at the College Grounds ( the first that have been seen away from the roosting flock that is) 4 birds were recorded.

Three Gull species flew over whilst I was out, a single LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL was with one of the small groups of HERRING GULLS that headed W, while 33 BLACK HEADED GULLS fed on the College sports pitch, a good deal of them now sporting their brown hoods.

Other notable birds for my patch were the COOTS over on the lake, I'm confident that they will at least attempt to breed now. The regular CORMORANT was also on duty at the top of the bank side Silver Birch tree, and each of the three water bodies here, now have a pair of CANADA GEESE holding territory.

That was about it for the visit really, all the normal Tits, finch's Woodpeckers, and thrushes were recorded, plus NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, JAY and YELLOWHAMMER all added to a pleasant mornings walk.Oh! almost forgot about the two Red Admiral butteflies that were seen, the 2nd and 3rd this year  :-)

I took one or two other photo's in the good light :-
Black Headed Gull
Friendly ROBIN - I'm a sucker for this one, cant resist taking it's photo whenever I see it  ;-)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The penultimate full patch walk of February started out with heavy cloud cover that only parted once I had finished the walk 4 hours later.

 A good total of 45 species was recorded, but it was generally quieter than of late, with less birdsong, although both SONGTHRUSH and MISTLETHRUSH, as well as WREN, DUNNOCK ROBIN, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH and BLACKBIRD all gave some song at times, the latter the first I've heard singing this year  :-)

Whilst looking into the Wet Woods for yesterdays Teal, which I didn't find today, I came across a drake MANDARIN DUCK, probably the same bird that was on the lakes yesterday afternoon. The Lakes today had a GREY HERON and a CORMORANT fishing, plus a few MOORHEN, with 3 pairs of MALLARD. There were no Geese today, and the third Coot had now moved on, leaving the paired up couple to themselves.

Winter species were not fourth coming today, the only one seen were flyover SISKIN, not a single Fieldfare or Redwing was recorded. Just 2 Gull species were noted, those being BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL, 25 of the former were feeding on the College sports pitch.

YELLOWHAMMER, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT and GOLDCREST were all good species to see and enjoy, as were the three raptor species of KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and the birds of the day, the pair of PEREGRINES (68), which were watched circling the village tower for a few minutes before flying off SE, seemingly finding nowhere suitable to perch on the covered building. These were a new species for February, and takes this months species tally to 68, a new February record has been set!!  :-)

This afternoon, after a failed attempt to locate an off patch, but nearby drake Smew, I spent an hour in the garden just enjoying the sunshine with the Bees and birds  :-)
Bumbles bees 'drunkenly' staggering over the Crocus'

Friday, 24 February 2012

It wasn't as sunny, or as warm as yesterday this afternoon, but it was still very acceptable weather for late February.

The walk over to the Lake area this afternoon was a most productive affair, whilst meandering along the path leading through the Wet woods, I stopped, as I always do, to scan the small pools of water beneath the trees, and today I got what I was looking for 3 TEAL (68, 66) the first this year  :-). Two drakes, and a duck were dabbling about, so I quickly took a photo at a distance so as not to flush them, and swiftly moved on. I was quite surprised really, as the lack of rain here has made these pools nothing more than large puddles, but the Teal didn't seem to mind  :-)
You can just pick out the 2 Drakes and the Duck Teal.
Also in the Wet Woods, a TREECREEPER called constantly, and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER drummed again.

On the lakes, it was very busy - well about as busy as it gets for these small water bodies! 10 CANADA GEESE were dozing, and 3 pairs of MALLARD were dabbling in the shallows, the 3 COOTS were still present, and as I picked out three MOORHENS under the overhanging tree branches, I also saw a drake MANDARIN DUCK (69,67) another new species for the year! Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo of it.  The CORMORANT had returned to its lookout point in the Silver Birch tree, and later came down for a fishing session.

You'll have to forgive my indulgence in Coot photo's, they are scarce birds here !!  :-)
A feeding Canada Goose!  A sight only seen here in recent years, as this particular lake has only just been cleared of the larger fish, allowing the water weed to grow back
There was less activity in the Scrubby Woods than yesterday, I had good, but distant views of a pair of BULLFINCH, and two COAL TITS were singing.

As usual I made a visit to the Pub field, which was totally empty today, and the Tree Nursery, where nothing had changed from yesterday, with the MAGPIES and GREEN WOODPECKERS the only birds seen. I ended my visit with a short sky watch on my seat at Migrant Alley, where the sky was mostly empty, just a few BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS went over, plus the local Corvid population milling around, the ROOKS of which are well into building there nests.
The two new species for the year takes the count to 69, not bad for this early in the year, and the February list hits the record total of 67, joint with the February of 2009. So with two full patch walks this weekend i'll be looking to set that all time February record, a Grey Wagtail is still possible, as is a flyover Mute Swan, or maybe a Brambling at the garden feeders, any of them would do  :-)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

What an absolutely gorgeous day today was!! Long warm sunny spells meant not even a fleece jacket was needed for this afternoons patch visit, all the garden crocus' were open and honey bees flitted from one to another, the only thing missing was a Butterfly  :-)

Walking to the lakes, the bird song and calls were loudly echoing all through the Small Holding and Wet Woods, the most obvious being that of the GREAT TITS, with their ''Teacher Teacher'' call shouted out from seemingly every vantage point. Song from DUNNOCK, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLE THRUSH, COAL TIT, ROBIN, WREN, CHAFFINCH and GREENFINCH were all heard, as was the increasing sound of the drumming GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS.

There was a small surprise on the lakes as I arrived, I immediately saw the 15 CANADA GEESE, along with the BARNACLE GOOSE, but the surprise was a third COOT, I am being spoilt! It stayed on the main lake, away form the established pair that are on the smaller Ornamental lake.

Canada Goose
Canada Goose
The third Coot, which was very difficult to photograph through the bankside branches!
Not the best photo, but I loved the way I caught it. It looks like it's shocked at me, sneaking photo's whilst it preened!  :-)
A quick scan around the water found 4 pairs of MALLARD, and two MOORHENS, but no Heron or Cormorant today. The Scrubby Woods was alive with bird song and calls, I heard TREECREEPER, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH and at least 6 GOLDRESTS, even a fly through SPARROWHAWK didn't dampen things down for long. Whilst I sat and listened, a SISKIN flew over calling, they will be getting a bit scarcer now as the spring progresses.
Inevitably, I got a Long Tailed Tit photo!
Just as inevitable was getting a Dunnock photo  :-)
I eventually dragged myself away from the Woods in order to visit the Tree Nursery,  where it was noticeably quieter, just a few MAGPIES and two GREENWOODPECKER were seen, a peak over the boundary hedge into the Pub Field revealed just 4 BLACK HEADED GULLS.

I spent an hour around the Greenhouse Grounds and skywatching at Migrant Alley, the best on offer from the Skywatch was a flyover of 47 FIELDFARE, a singing SKYLARK, plus another Sparrowhawk, a female. A flock of 27 GOLDFINCH dropped in to a Holm Oak, its evergreen fiolage is ideal for them to use as a roost site, I pass this at just the right time in the morning as I walk to work, to see them leaving it  :-) The Greenhouse Complex had the first few PIED WAGTAILS come in, also to roost, it was only 16:30 and still an hour of light left, so these birds were early to roost, must have had a good days feeding. As I left for home, another Goldcrest was found in a fir tree, and yet another was singing from my garden when I arrived home.

Nothing spectacular was recorded this afternoon, nothing for the February list or year list, but it mattered not, in such splendid conditions it was just good to out in it   :-)   :-)
Goldcrest in a fir tree at the Greenhouse Grounds
Pied Wagtail, early into roost at the Greenhouses

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

After yesterdays short patch visit, I was hoping to make up for it this afternoon, but the weather soon put a stop to that. A strong SW wind blew, and even as I left for the lakes the first spits of rain were felt  :-(

Walking through the Small Holding, I noted a mixed flock of birds feeding in the Alpaca enclosure, this is a regular feature here at this time of year, as the wind blown seeds from the Hornbeam trees are lying scattered on the floor. I found 3 REDWING, a GREEN WOODPECKER, 2 BLACKBIRDS, 6 BLUE TIT, about a dozen CHAFFINCH, about 20 GREENFINCH and two PIED WAGTAILS, further along the footpath another Green Woodpecker was seen.

On the lakes today, there were 4 pairs of CANADA GEESE, all battling it out for breeding rights, only two pairs will stay to breed, ( hopefully) there isn't room for anymore!  The pair of COOTS again fed busily, but just one pair of MALLARD was seen and just a single MOORHEN. The CORMORANT was back up in its Silver Birch tree over looking the lakes. Four BULLFINCH'S were seen in the Scrubby Woods, but with the rain turning heavier and the wind blowing hard, I didn't stay out long.

I made my way back home, via the Tree Nursery, where a SPARROWHAWK zipped over, and the KESTREL could be seen in the distance hunting over the Greenhouse Complex, two more Green Woodpeckers flew up from the shrubs, and five FIELDFARE were blown through on the wind.

The rest of the dark, wet and windy afternoon was spent looking over the garden feeders, looking and hoping for my first Brambling of the year to to turn up, but it wasn't to be, a pair of SISKIN was a nice sight though, and all the regulars made forays to the feeders, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, COAL TIT, WREN, and a pair of LONG TAILED TITS being the most noteworthy, oh, and of course the SPARROWHAWK, it made 3 visits, hiding up in the tree at the bottom of the garden, but I kept him on the move :-)

I hope for a better visit tomorrow - allegedly something more springlike is on the way, weatherwise,- so with that in mind ive dug out an image from last summer, just to get in the mood  :-)
Large White Butterfly - Summer 2011, cant wait!!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Early sunshine gave way to cloudy conditions for this afternoons patch visit, which was just 45 minutes long due to me having computer problems and spending half the afternoon trying sort them! Utter frustration as I expect you all well know  ;-)

Anyway, i only got over to check the lakes, as this is where I may just come up with something new for the 2012 list, but alas, it wasn't to be today. I watched the pair of COOTS, and saw the CORMORANT in its favourite tree again, three MALLARDS were on the water, and 4 more dropped in whilst I was there, two MOORHEN and a GREY HERON made up the water birds seen. Only the briefest of walks around the Scrubby Woods turned up a flock of LONG TAILED TITS, about 8 birds in all, with the usual hangers on of NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, and GOLDCREST. That was it for today, just run out of time!!

A couple of hastily snatched photo's from the garden were had, but in some poor light -
COLLARED DOVE.....again  :-)
Collared Dove

Monday, 20 February 2012

After yesterdays bird bonanza, this afternoon was bit of  a wake up call! It's never as good birding in the mid afternoon, but I still had an enjoyable couple of hours out  :-)

My usual visit to the lakes area was made, and here I found the two COOTS, looking for all the world like they will be nesting soon  :-)  I watched them feeding, diving down to get the water weed and bobbing back up with it. Only two CANADA GEESE, 1 MOORHEN and 3 MALLARD were present with them today.
Going under!
Almost got some !
A water weed snack !
Apart from watching the Coots, I had a look around the Scrubby Woods, here I saw BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, and a couple of REDWING, as well as a cock PHEASANT, and a party of LONG TAILED TITS with a GOLDCREST in tow.

I made some effort to visit the Tree Nursery and glance over the Pub Field, the Tree Nursery had only GREEN WOODPECKERS of interest - 3 flew up and bounded away to the nearby Oak tree, while the Pub Field was empty apart from 8 BLACK HEADED GULLS.

A skywatch over on my seat at Migrant Alley was a bit of a poor affair, just a single CORMORANT, 3 HERRING GULLS and lots more Black Headed Gulls were seen, as well as the usual mix of Corvids and the ever present WOODPIGEONS.

The Fieldfares seem to have stopped going through for the moment, might be an early departure back north for them this year, last year the last date one was recorded was on the 19th of March, but the mean last date is the 30th March, so I should see a few more yet :-) I note that in only 3 of the last 10 years I have found Fieldfares in April.

I spent half an hour in the garden this afternoon, trying to get some photo's at the feeders in the diminishing light - here's the results  :-)
I didn't have to wait long for this Nuthatch to come down
COLLARD DOVES are ever present in my garden
I took these Collared Dove shots aginst the light, but they came out acceptable  :-)
These GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER photo's were taken through the double glazing, they just dont let me open the window to get a shot of them, it might help if I clean the windows though!!
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Sunday, 19 February 2012

There was a slight frost this morning, and it felt cold in the NW wind, however this was accompanied by early sunshine, which felt warm in the more sheltered spots.
Small Holding area
It was the best full patch walk for a long time, I didn't find any new species for the February, or 2012 list, but just about all the species that could be found were found, an incredible 52 of them! The only species that has been around in the last few visits that didn't show today was the Common Buzzard.

An early visit to the lakes via the above pictured Small Holding and Wet Woods, started the ball rolling, with more the familiar species of WOODPIGEON, STARLING, JACKDAW, CHAFFINCH, COLLARED DOVE, HOUSE SPARROW, MAGPIE, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, WREN, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, ROBIN, GREENFINCH, JAY, CARRION CROW, GREEN WOODPECKER, 14 flyover FIELDFARE and even a small party of REDWINGS  :-)

On the Lakes there were the usual MALLARD, and the now resident COOT pair, 5 pairs of CANADA GEESE, 6 MOORHEN, and the CORMORANT sitting in its Silver Birch tree, with a GREY HERON below it at the waters edge, whilst there looking over the water, a STOCK DOVE sang, then more surprisingly a TAWNY OWL hooted.
Cormorant, this is the third morning running it has sat here  :-)

The surrounding Scrubby Woods provided sightings of all the scarcer woodland species, BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, NUTHATCH,  and LONG TAILED TIT, as well as the first DUNNOCK of the day. As I was leaving the area a PHEASANT called from nearby and a pair of GREYLAG GEESE flew over.
Long Tailed Tit
Long Tailed Tit again, nice to phtograph them away from the feeders

After that lot, there wasn't alot left to add to the list as I walked through the Tree Nursery, Pub Field and Migrant Alley, but flyovers from LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING GULL, plus KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK out hunting kept the list ticking over. The College Grounds was much quieter today, and here I added MISTLE THRUSH, which was with 8 Redwings, GOLDFINCH, PIED WAGTAIL, KINGFISHER, and flyovers from YELLOWHAMMER, ROOK and SKYLARK. On the College Sports pitch a group of 43 BLACK HEADED GULLS with 2 COMMON GULLS were seen.

My final destination was the Greenhouse Grounds, where in the adjacent Copse, I again found the LITTLE OWLS, this time I manged some photo's, a bit twiggy, but they were in deep cover.
Little Owl
Little owl
What a great morning out, on this my last visit of my holiday! Back to reality tomorrow, work beckons!