There was a light frost, with that cold icy wind and grey sky again this morning, making it a less pleasurable visit than it should have been, I made a four hour full patch visit and kicked off the month with a species list of 46, but it comprised of birds more associated with January than April!
Leaving my house at 07:00hrs I quickly jotted in my notebook the likes of DUNNOCK, GREENFINCH, JACKDAW, ROBIN, CHAFFINCH, COLLARED DOVE, BLACKBIRD, CARRION CROW, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT and WOODPIGEON as I walked along Ashes lane.
Turning into the Tree Nursery the full icy blast of the wind cut through me, a PHEASANT called from somewhere amongst the remnants of the trees and shrubs, where WREN, SONGTHRUSH, and MAGPIE were also seen. The adjacent field of sheep pasture had 26 BLACK HEADED GULLS on it, along with 35 FIELDFARE, 13 REDWING and 40 STARLING, its not every year I get to record Redwing and Fieldfare in April.
I walked the manured Pub Field, where a flock of 40-60 ROOKS and 4 STOCK DOVES were foraging, but nothing more was added to the list until i reached Migrant Alley, where on the sheep pasture there were at least 250 Black Headed Gulls, with those were 3 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, at least 7 COMMON GULLS, 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and 3 HERRING GULLS, as I said earlier, more a winter spectacle than spring for my patch! A SISKIN flew over calling, as did at least 4 MEADOW PIPITS.
Heading into the College Grounds it was a quiet spring morning with virtually nothing singing, I noted down PIED WAGTAIL, HOUSE SPARROW, GOLDFINCH, GREEN WOODPECKER, MISTLETHRUSH, GOLDCREST, MOORHEN and MALLARD before walking back out to the north end of Migrant Alley to look through the wooded headland, where not a thing was added to the April list, there was me hoping for a Chifchaff or Blackcap! A search of the Greenhouse Grounds was made, but again nothing new here for the months list, but a SKYLARK was heard calling as it went over.
I stopped off for a snack at home, and ten minutes later was back out, walking through the Small Holding, I found just a JAY here for the mornings list, then on entering the Wet Woods I had a bit more luck, finding GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, LONG TAILED TIT and COAL TIT to bring the April species list to 40.
Next up was the lakes and Scrubby Woods, the former was home to, i'm pleased to say, the GOOSANDER pair again, pleased because ive not recorded Goosander in any April, that accolade also applies to the Mediterranean Gulls seen earlier,and brings the 12 year combined April list to 105 species - incredibly that's three quarters of the total patch species recorded! Anyway, also on the lakes I added COOT, CANADA GOOSE, and GREYLAG GOOSE, whilst in the surrounding Scrubby Woods, TREECREEPER and BULLFINCH wrapped up the species seen this morning.
So to kick off April I have 46 species on the board, the mean species total for the last 5 Aprils is 73, and the best April tally is 77, achieved back in 2011, so i've some way to go yet to beat any records :-)
I had a short afternoon visit over to Migrant Alley, as the sun had now appeared, - but just froze in that icy gale whipping across the fields, I did however discover that there were now 3 Meditterranean Gulls - a patch peak count :-)
|3 very smart looking Med Gulls - a peak patch count no less :-)|
|They battled it out for a couple of minutes|
|But no harm was caused to either bird|
|They parted and flew off - a score draw!|