Sunday, 1 September 2013

Today was set aside for my patch challenge of trying to find 60 bird species in a day, something i'll be doing on the 1st of May and the 1st of September every year, the last attempt earlier in the year,on May1st ended with 52 species being found, could I do better than that today?

Lots of things have to come together just right to have any chance of finding more than 50 species on my patch, let alone 60. The weather is one of them, and that was just perfect, with high cloud cover and little wind.

I left my house at just before 06:00hrs, and headed off down Ashes lane towards the greenhouses, along the lane I found SWALLOW, WOODPIGEON, GOLDFINCH, ROBIN, GREENFINCH, COLLARED DOVE, BLUE TIT, WREN, CARRION CROW, MAGPIE, and JACKDAW, then whilst turning into the Greenhouse Grounds I watched a HOBBY chasing the Swallows, good to get  this species on the list and so early too  :-)

The Greenhouse Grounds was given a thorough search, with not that much being found, but CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKBIRD, STARLING, CHAFFINCH, WHITETHROAT, DUNNOCK and PIED WAGTAIL were added to the list. I crossed into Migrant Alley and immediatley added HERRING GULL and GREYLAG GOOSE as they flew low over the sheep pasture, the ROOKS were already feeding on the paddocks, as was a GREEN WOODPECKER, two LINNETS were perched on the fence lines, then another great bird to find on the patch challenge was found futher along the fence - a WHEATEAR  :-)
Wheatear at Migrant Alley
The Wooded Headland to the north of the paddocks were virtually bird less, only a GREAT TIT was added to the list here, and walking the Bean Fields behind the headland was just as quiet, but flyovers from two BLACK HEADED GULLS, 15 MALLARDS, and another good species for the patch challenge, 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS all helped the list along

I had made my way back down to Ashes lane, and was about to cross the Ashes lane field, when I was startled by a LITTLE OWL that flew from the hedge and alighted in a fir tree in a private garden, I got a distant photo, and left it in peace, another good species for the patch challenge, number 30 :-)
Little Owl
Little Owl
Crossing the Ashes lane Field to get to the Wet woods only provided a JAY and a STOCK DOVE for the list, and the Wet Woods only a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, but on reaching the Lakes and Scrubby Woods things looked a bit better again, when I heard a KINGFISHER on the Ornamental pond, a quick scan didn't locate it, I only found MOORHENS and a few more Mallard. In the Scrubby Woods, GOLDCREST, BLACKCAP, SONGTHRUSH, COAL TIT,  BULLFINCH, and yet another good species for the patch challenge, a SISKIN were all found, the 40 mark had been reached, but it was frustrating to see a whole gang of birds scolding the Tawny Owl roosting place in a Leylandi, but I just couldn't find the Owl in all that dense foliage  :-( Another Yellow Wagtail flew over calling as I looked for the Owl.

Leaving the Scrubby Woods, I re entered the Wet woods and straight away heard, then saw, a pair of NUTHATCH, however, the Treecreeper, or the Long tailed Tit I was hoping for weren't found. I moved on into the Small holding, where a SPARROWHAWK flew over, plus 18 CANADA GEESE. A dozen HOUSE MARTIN circled low over, but once again, I was able to add another great find to the list when a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was found, just as I was leaving the Small Holding to get onto the western end Ashes lane, this was where the last sighting of Spotted Flycatcher was had back on August 18th. I walked the lane to head home for a drink and snack, and on the way found HOUSE SPARROW and KESTREL, plus yet another Yellow Wagtail flew over calling as it went.

After my drink break I headed back over to the Scrubby Woods, as I still needed to find Long tailed Tit and Treecreeper for the list, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL flew over on the way, a fortunate find  :-)  Much listening and scanning of the Scrubby woods finally provided me with a TREECREEPER, number 50 for the day, but still no Long Tailed Tit, for that I headed back over to the Wet woods, and after half an hour there, I came across a feeding flock of Blue and Great Tits, as well as two more Treecreepers, and at last a few LONG TAILED TITS were found with them  :-)

I now had 51 species for the day, still nine short for the 60, but the likes of Yellowhammer, Skylark, Mistlethrush, Buzzard and Pheasant had not been seen yet, all birds that may be found with any reasonable confidence over at Migrant Alley, so thats where I went :-)

I was successful straight away when I got there, as three immature PHEASANTS were seen running off along the hedgerow, just 8 more species needed ! I took my seat at Migrant alley and scanned the sky for forty minutes, and was rewarded with a BUZZARD, 7 more needed! After a further half hour sky watching, I just couldn't locate that Skylark, so headed off into the Greenhouse Grounds, in the hope of finding a migrant warbler, that didn't prove fruitful, so I took myself along to the Ashes lane Field, maybe a Skylark would fly over, or a Yellowhammer. Neither did, but I was not too disappointed, as I found a WHINCHAT, and another Wheatear no less! Just 6 species left to find!

Another hour was spent searching the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley, but the Skylark, Mistlethrush and Yellowhammer were never found, at 18:00 hours after 12 hours in the field and finding 54 species, I gave up, and headed home for some food, I was starving!

The 60 species in a day had eluded me again, but it was a close run thing I think, so many scarce species for my patch showed up today, and it was the ''semi' regulars of Mistlethrush, Skylark, Yellowhammer, and Grey Heron that really let me down, and if I had just seen that Tawny Owl and had the Barnacle Goose fly over with the Canada's, as it has done the past 2 days, that would have been the 60 up!

Still, I'll have another try on May 1st next year  :-)


Anonymous said...

You`ll end up with a nervous breakdown with all these challenges you set yourself, Warren. LOL :-D

Warren Baker said...

I'm already a nutter!