Thursday, 16 May 2013

Fog At Migrant Alley
A dense, cold and damp fog, worthy of any November day shrouded my patch this morning, but at least it wasn't raining and windy!
Lots Of Fog At Migrant Alley
In the conditions, I was surprised to record 35 species on my walk over to the College Grounds via the Greenhouse Complex, Migrant Alley then back home.

If the Spotted Flycatchers had arrived at the College Grounds this morning then I didn't see them  :-) However, if they do now turn up this spring, it will be the latest arrival date for the 12 years of recording here.

I did see see a few interesting bits and pieces in the fog, there were 6 LESSER BLACK BACKED Gulls with 3 HERRING GULLS on one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, while on the college sports pitch a pair of BLACK HEADED GULLS were feeding. Another successful MOORHEN nest was found, containing at least 3 newly hatched young. A TREECREEPER was heard to sing, as was a GOLDCREST and a COAL TIT, the only summer birds heard though were the CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP.

I was home by 08:30hrs, and had some tea and toast while awaited the fog to lift, which 20 mins later it had, but only into a low, dull and misty cloud, good for seeing flyovers I thought, so I went over to my seat for a sky watch. A good move, as it took just 5 mins for me to see a lone LAPWING (64) go over, the first this month, however just 10 mins later, I was absolutely gobsmacked when I found myself watching a fantastic HEN HARRIER (96,65) flyover! It was of course being mobbed by crows, which helped me spot it, and I got some short but exciting views of the female bird as it went over, it was too high for the camera, and it wouldn't focus on it for that important record shot, but I am well happy with that sighting, this is the second year running i've had a female Hen harrier over Migrant Alley, last years was on the 23rd June.

I carried on my skywatch until 11:30hrs, recording a SKYLARK, 6 HOUSE MARTIN, 5 SWIFT, a pair of MALLARD, a SPARROWHAWK and two BUZZARDS, the first WHITETHROAT was finally heard to sing from the Greenhouse Grounds at 10:10hrs!

Before heading off to the Scrubby Woods and Lakes, I went home and put my 300mm lens on the camera with the extension tube, as the day had warmed up nicely and I thought a few flutters might be out. A MISTLETHRUSH was singing loudly when I arrived at the lakes in the now sunny conditions and the COOT family were seen well, showing off 3 well grown youngsters, 8 CANADA GEESE were also present, one pair had 3 young, having lost one already. 4 GREYLAG GEESE were seen but no young were present, and the feral BARNACLE GOOSE was also on the water.

I sat down in the sunshine and listened for a while at the Scrubby woods, where the 50th species for the day was heard - a drumming GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, the 51st revealed itself soon after, when the GREEN WOODPECKER flew past, then a TURTLE DOVE did likewise, great to see there is still one at least around here, the JAY heard squawking in the dense woods made it 53 species for the day, after such an unpromising start, not bad at all  ;-)

I spent the next hour chasing the likes of Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White, Large White, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and Green Veined White Butterflies, but the only species that I got any photo's of were the Green Veined White, probably because they had other things on their mind than me, if you see what I mean  :-)
Green Veined White - mating
Green Veined White
Green Veined White
By 15:00hrs I was back on my sky watching seat, enjoying the warm sunshine as much as anything, but I also added four more species to the daylist, bringing it to a massive 57 species, they were KESTREL and HOBBY, which flew over, a LITTLE OWL calling from the Greenhouse Copse, and lastly, a very nice to see flyby CUCKOO(66) I might not be hearing them anymore here, but at least I get to see the odd one fly past! 

Despite the huge daylist, and the addition of Hen harrier to the Year list, my challenge to get to 100 species before the 17th of May, the quickest ever, failed - by 4 species. Oh for those Spotted Flycatchers, Garden warblers, and Sand martins, all of which could and should have turned up by now, and maybe I could have got a Redstart, or Black Redstart at a push! At least the months list is moving up the rankings, at 66 it's now in equal 7th place with May 2006.


Marc Heath said...

Month, Monty, Monty. Shame you didn't get any shots. Very nice butterfly shots, very pleasing to view.

Stephen Mills said...

Well done with the Harrier mate.Lovely butterfly shots.

Warren Baker said...

I did think Monty Marc,
But it was more likely a hen. My views weren't the best, it was going away a quite high, the white rump was the best ID hint.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

No hen harriers round here anymore. 'They' ve seen to that!
Have you signed the petition, it should be way of 40,000 now not struggling to 5,000

Nice flutters btw



Warren Baker said...

Thanks Steve,
Ive a bit still to learn about the macro side of Photography. The background in todays shots was a bit distracting I thought ;-)

The hen harrier was just awesome. One in the eye for the Game estates!

Warren Baker said...

Hi Davyman,
Yep signed the petition. Not that we should have to, the birds are already meant to be protected !

David Turner said...

Well done getting a Hen Harrier, especially at this time of year, and lucky you still having at least one Turtle Dove on your patch :-)

I'm off to Norfolk for a week so I'll look forward to catching up with your blog next week. Hope you have a good week :-)

Adam said...

Hi Warren - my first though was Monties - a few kicking around at the mo.


Warren Baker said...

I would have tried to make it a Monties if I had better views. It was going away from me when i saw it - as these things generally do!

Greenie said...

Warren ,
Monty or Hen , still a very good sighting .
Still time for Sp.Fly , saw first House Martin locally yesterday .