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|
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 :-)
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 :-)