Saturday, 14 September 2013

Another grey and dark morning, but at least it stayed mostly dry and not too windy.

I undertook a full patch walk this morning, deciding to start with the lakes and Scrubby woods area via the Small holding and Wet woods, rather than the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley as I normally would at this time of year.

The visit started off in usual fashion, recording mostly the common and regular patch species as I walked Ashes lane towards the Small Holding. Singing ROBINS, WOODPIGEON, JACKDAW, STARLING, CARRION CROW, HOUSE SPARROW, BLUE TIT, BLACKBIRD, MAGPIE, and flyovers from SWALLOW and HOUSE MARTIN as well as a skein of 12 GREYLAG GEESE were the first dozen species to show.

Not too much was seen at the Small holding and Wet Woods, but the Scrubby Woods had a few Warblers feeding on the plentiful Elder and Blackberries, at least 2 BLACKCAPS were seen as well as 2 CHIFFCHAFFS, plus a WHITETHROAT, I dont normally see this species here, but they do occur on migration.

Scanning the main lake, a MALLARD swam into view, then three more ducks appeared from the overhanging branches, and these were real rarities for my patch, TUFTED DUCKS (104,69) ! Three females no less, this is a really good species to record on these normally empty lakes, just the third record in 12 years, very pleasing for me  :-) A KINGFISHER was seen on the Ornamental Lake, but apart from a few MOORHENS there, nothing else was found to excite. A pair of COAL TITS chased about in the lake edge, and both NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER called, a GOLDCREST was seen and two immature BULLFINCH were also noted here.

Making my way across the Ashes lane field to get to Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds I watched 4 MISTLETHRUSH fly over, shortly followed by a SPARROWHAWK, and it was while watching that, I heard a BUZZARD call from higher up.

Reaching the Greenhouse Grounds I found the KESTREL pair on the roofs, and two more Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff were seen in the scrubby grounds. As I crossed into Migrant Alley I had a shock, all the hedges had been flailed to bits! Even the sheep and horse eaten, half dying dilapidated lines of Hawthorne ( I hesitate to call them hedges) had been bashed and flailed to bits. The two best hedges, those that border the Greenhouse Grounds, haven't been cut for years but these had also been cut to a third their size, luckily these hedges are on the Greenhouse side of the fence so Hadlow College could only cut up to that, the other side has been left untouched thankfully. Not only had the hedges been butchered, but also the nettles and field margin below them had been slashed down to ground level. I feel for the countryside if the College teach their students this kind of land management, all the fruit that those hedges held - the winter larder for the wildlife - has been wasted!

I did a circuit of the Fields and Paddocks, the best find there was a flock of 20 or so LINNETS, and a flyover GREY WAGTAIL, around 24 SWALLOWS that fed over the sheep pasture were joined by 2 SAND MARTIN. A check of the Greenhouse Copse ( even the College side of that had been flailed!) was made, and three more Chiffchaffs plus a WILLOW WARBLER were found there, taking the days tally to a very good 49 species.

On the subject of the hadlow college, their application for a free school on the sheep pasture (green belt land) went to the Borough Council for consideration on Thursday evening. To cut a long story short, it was on the point of being refused permission, with some really scathing attacks from some the council members, when in steps a senior figure and informs the Council that it would be foolish to refuse permission outright, as the application would go to appeal and the government minister would in all probability over rule the decision, they were basically being told how to vote! The council stuck to their guns somewhat, and the proposal has been deferred, so to give the college a chance to re submit the plans for the school, hopefully placing it elsewhere, what happens now ? Who knows, we'll keep fighting though!

The weather kept the camera at home today, but i've still got a few of those Migrant Hawker photo's I took on Thursday left!
Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker


Alan Pavey said...

Tufted Duck is a nice addition to the year list Warren, only had 3 records here in 16 years.

Marc Heath said...

Great set Warren, lovely colours on the Hawker. Well done on the Tufties.

Phil said...

Lovely aerial MH shots Warren. I know just how hard it is to get them at all, let alone that good.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

The hedge flail must be one of the most ill-used tools in the world after chainsaws. Nightmare - how on earth do these people get away with teaching such shoddy practices?
Feel for you Bud



Mike H said...

Nice MH shots Warren not easy to get sharp. Well done.

Chris said...

I run a blog for Smestow Valley LNR. I have started a nature network to protect our patches and coordinate wildlife surveys. Please could you e-mail me at and I can send you more information. Thank you. Regards, Chris Millward

p.s best shots of dragonflies I have seen on blogs so far!!!