Thursday, 31 October 2013

Moderate to heavy rain fell all morning, thwarting my efforts to find those two new bird species needed to set a new October record. I did try though, I visited the Lakes early on and found some visitors that would be welcome on next months list, especially the MUTE SWANS, they may well stay on, as may the KINGFISHER which has been here throughout October. A CORMORANT was fishing and as I watched it, 5 MANDARIN DUCK dropped in, 2 males with 3 females, a good record here in any month. Apart from that it was down to MALLARDS and MOORHENS, the former of which were present in larger numbers than recent visits, 28 were seen across the 3 lakes.

I was pretty wet by now, and took shelter under a nearby out building, where I heard BULLFINCH calling, and watched a few REDWING drop down into the Scrubby Woods, but I didn't stay much longer and made a soggy trudge home.

Early this afternoon the rain ceased, and I went over to my sky watching seat at Migrant Alley for a last ditch attempt at finding something new for the month. I looked through 30-40 BLACK HEADED GULLS that were on the sheep pasture, but thats all they were, a BUZZARD flew low over and put them all up, and 2 LESSER REDPOLLS flew over, lots of GOLDFINCH were moving around, and behind me in the Greenhouse Grounds, BLACKBIRDS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS, WRENS, BLUE and GREAT TITS plus a GOLDCREST were all busy, but alas I failed in my attempt to get any more new species for October.

October ended on 76 species though, a brilliant total for the month and the second best of the 12 Octobers recorded. Two of those species were new to any October - the Curlew and the Mediterranean Gull, bringing the 12 year combined October list to 97, the second highest, behind April.

There were some nice patch species seen during the month, some of them a little fortuitous, just me being in the right place at the right time, Little Egret, Golden Plover, Snipe and Ring necked Parakeet were all seen, as well as the already mentioned Curlew and Mediterranean Gull, the Ring Ouzel was just a fantastic find  :-) A Stonechat was a real bonus and the Reed Bunting was just the second this year, the only species that could reasonably be expected to turn up but didn't, was a Wheatear, they have visited me in 6 of the past 11 Octobers.

A new month and a new challenge beckons!

photo's today are of the STARLINGS at my garden feeders, taken yesterday, good old garden feeders!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The old shack in the Ashes lane Field, enveloped in fog
Dense fog first thing this morning took a couple of hours to burn off, thereafter the morning was pleasantly sunny and very mild.

Walking past the Greenhouse Grounds first thing, I heard a lot of alarm calls coming from there, CHAFFINCH, BLACKBIRD, BLUE TIT, even a HOUSE SPARROW was annoyed at something in the line of Alders, it turned out to be a LITTLE OWL, which flew off into the fog as I drew near to investigate.

I carried on over to the Lakes, via the Ashes lane field, passing the old shack (above) , I couldn't see much as I went, but heard MAGPIES chattering, and JACKDAWS 'chakking'  as well as a few SKYLARK calling as they flew over.

A mist was rising from the Main Lake, where a CORMORANT fished and 8 MALLARD dabbled under the overhang of the trees.
Misty Main lake
On the adjacent Ornamental Lake I was pleased to see the MUTE SWANS had returned, a few MOORHENS were also here, and the KINGFISHER obliged yet again, the Small lake had a few more Mallards and Moorhens, but I felt a bit disappointed at not finding a different Duck species for the October list  :-(

As the fog lifted, I encountered the likes of BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, JAY, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, and both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, all in the Scrubby Woods.
COLLARED DOVE at the Scrubby woods/ Lakes area
With the fog fully lifted I returned to the Greenhouse grounds, where only a dozen or so of the GOLDFINCH from yesterdays flock were seen, but the scrub and vegetation there was buzzing with DUNNOCKS, WRENS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, plus BLUE and GREAT TITS, a couple of PIED WAGTAILS sat on the Greenhouse roofs, along with a MEADOW PIPIT, and as I made my way to my sky watching seat, a flock of LONG TAILED TITS flitted past me.
Long Tailed Tit, pity it didn't look up!
I settled on my seat over looking Migrant Alley for a couple of hours sky watching, ever hopeful for that new species to add to the months list. I saw BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, plus just one LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, lots more Skylarks went over, mostly in singles, and few more Meadow Pipits also went past, a pair of BUZZARDS were up soaring, but only one KESTREL was seen today. A lone FIELDFARE was nice to see, the only winter thrush seen here for a few days now, but apart from the local ROOKS, CARRION CROWS and STARLINGS my vigil didn't deliver anything new for the month, so I still remain two species short of the record October tally, and with just one more day to go, it looks unlikely that I shall beat it  :-(

I saw a Migrant Hawker, and at least 5 Common Darter dragonflies as I sat in the warm sunshine, so early this afternoon, I came back with my macro set up and got some photo's
Common Darter
Common Darter
Common Darter
Common Darter
This may be a Ruddy darter, I cant make my mind up - anyone ?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

There were clear skies and a light westerly wind for much of this mornings 4 hour patch walk, a real joy to be out in some fine weather at last  :-)

I headed off over to the lakes first thing, I think it will be here that I stand most chance of finding something new for the months list, and although at least 4 MANDARIN DUCKS had returned to the main lake and the KINGFISHER was again seen on the Ornamental Lake, both good birds to get, I didn't find anything new for the October list. Whilst I was scanning the water I heard SISKIN, LESSSER REDPOLL, MEADOW PIPIT and SKYLARK fly over, all good October birds here. A CORMORANT dropped into the Main lake as I was leaving, joining the 10 MALLARDS that were dabbling around there.

I had a look through the Scrubby Woods for a possible Marsh Tit or early Woodcock, maybe even a Firecrest, but none of the mentioned birds were found, not surprising though, they are all very seldom recorded on my patch. I did find a few BULLFINCH though, the males looking fantastic in the morning sunshine, too far away for a photo though! GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, JAY, and a gathering of 3 noisy MISTLE THRUHES were also found here.

Not too much activity was seen was seen at the Pub Field, Ashes Lane Field or Migrant Alley, a couple of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS flew over, as did a couple of GREEN WOODPECKERS, all on the move to find food I suspect, a few more Skylark and Meadow Pipits also went over.

When I reached the Greenhouse Grounds I was surprised to see at least 60 GOLDFINCH fly up from the line of Alder trees there, the largest flock I have seen on my patch - away from my garden feeders!
 I also saw this Red Admiral Butterfly at the Greenhouse Grounds, not the best shot with my 500mm lens!
Tatty Red Admiral
I finished the walk off with a sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley, but I didn't find any new species to add to the October list - so I still remain 2 short of beating the record total. HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS featured most during my vigil, where it was good to see 3 raptor species up hunting, those being KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD, the latter was snapped as it went over being pursued by a ROOK. Several large flocks of WOODPIGEON were watched as they flew over high, heading south.
Rook and Buzzard
Here's a couple of Goldfinch shots from my garden feeders I took yesterday

Monday, 28 October 2013

There was heavy rain and gales during the night, but it dawned bright and partly sunny, although the wind was still strong and gusty at times.

It was the wind that made for a very frustrating visit, nothing could be heard above the roar of it through the trees, and most birds seemed to be hunkered down and keeping out of sight. My visit to the lakes was only noteworthy for the presence of the KINGFISHER and the absence of the Mute Swans that had been here for the previous 6 days.

I watched a couple of male BULLFINCH in their favoured Hawthorn bush, where I was fortunate to pick up a GOLDCREST deeper in. Apart from that there was nothing to see!

I tried my luck over at the Ashes lane Field, then the Pub Field, but it was very hard work in the constantly blowing wind, I fleetingly heard SKYLARK, MEADOW PIPIT and PIED WAGTAIL, their calls being drowned out by the wind, a BUZZARD flew low over, being chased by 3 JACKDAWS.

I had half decided to call it a day, but thought i'd have a sky watch over Migrant Alley, just in case something different got blown through, not much was in the air at all, a few immature HERRING GULLS went over, and a KESTREL was being harassed by some ROOKS, but then, in amongst a flock of 11 BLACK HEADED GULLS, I picked out a single COMMON GULL (76) my first of the Autumn, not seen one since April, so it was worth the sky watching effort after all  :-)

The Common Gull takes the months list to 76, just one behind the October record tally set in 2010, if this weather calms down I might just have a chance to beat that record !

This afternoon it remained windy, with some squally showers, but some sunny intervals allowed me to get some photo's from my garden feeders to fill the ''blog folder'' up, should keep the posts brightened for a few days!

Here's a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and DUNNOCK to kick off with  :-)
Great Spotted Woodpecker - the fat logs always bring them in  :-)
Managed to mess this shot up by chopping its tail off - Duh!
This Dunnock was sunning itself on the wall that's on two sides of my garden

Sunday, 27 October 2013

I had a guest with me for this mornings patch visit, welcome to Pittswood Simon! We met up at the Greenhouse Grounds at 07:00hrs, and headed over to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, via the Small Holding and Wet Woods. The early rain had cleared as we set off, but a strong gusty wind made conditions difficult, and hearing the calls of many birds was just not possible above the noise of the wind through the trees.

There was still enough of interest for the three hour visit though, a COMMON BUZZARD was in the seedling wheat field just off Ashes lane, as yesterday chasing worms! A SPARROWHAWK flew through the Small Holding, where a MISTLE THRUSH and a GREEN WOODPECKER were also seen, as well as a couple of screeching JAYS.

The Wet Woods was quite subdued, just a TREECREEPER being of any note here, a GOLDCREST was calling as we entered the Lakes area, where on the water were a dozen or so MALLARD, a few MOORHEN, a CORMORANT, but most pleasing of all the MUTE SWANS were still there, the KINGFISHER was heard two or three times, but went unseen.

Around the Scrubby Woods area, we had some good views of BULLFINCHES, and ticked off many off the more common species that we had not yet encountered, GREAT TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, DUNNOCK, and SONGTHRUSH being amongst them.

Out in the fields of Migrant Alley, the Pub Field and the Ashes Lane field, the full force of the wind was more evident, things were livened up when we watched three KESTRELS in territorial dispute, over the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, at one point one male had pinned another male to the ground, only releasing it after a good bashing!  SKYLARK, SISKIN, MEADOW PIPIT and PIED WAGTAIL were fleetingly heard as they got blown through the sky, but the only birds on the floor were ROOKS, WOODPIGEONS and JACKDAWS. A small party of LONG TAILED TITS were seen at the Wooded Headland.

The intended sky watch at the end of the walk was thwarted by rain, so we called it a day, having recorded forty species for the morning, which I was happy enough with in the conditions. :-) Thanks Simon for the company this morning!

Camera's were again left indoors  :-( so its to the 'blog folder' again for todays blog brighteners, of which all I have is a couple of Great Tit images from my garden, compare the colours on these two though, the second one has an unusual gold colour to its plumage.
Great Tit
Great Tit

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A very blustery patch walk this morning was cut short after a couple of hours, due to the persistent showers being blown through, not particularly wetting rain, but combined with the wind they made birding pretty much hopeless.

It was nice to see a BUZZARD feeding on worms in a seedling wheat field off Ashes lane, comical to watch it chasing about on the ground  :-) The MUTE SWAN pair were still on the Ornamental Lake, staying into their 5th day now, where yet another KINGFISHER sighting was had. On the main Lake 11 MALLARDS dabbled around, and a CORMORANT was fishing, but nothing else but MOORHENS was seen on the water today.

The LONG TAILED TIT flock happened to pass my way as I walked the Scrubby Woods, very fortunate, I wouldn't have found them otherwise, as the wind was making such a roar through the tree canopy, just a few BLUE TITS, a GREAT TIT and a GOLDCREST were picked out amongst them. A Hawthorne bush was being stripped of berries by 4 BULLFINCH and a couple of BLACKBIRDS, but the only birds heard above the wind were JAYS and GREEN WOODPECKERS.

Just the odd SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPIT passed over the Greenhouse Grounds as I searched them, 4 PIED WAGTAILS were up on the rooves, and a LITTLE OWL flew from a bush and headed towards the Greenhouse Copse. At least 22 GOLDFINCH fed in a line of Alders, and had at least 5 SISKIN among them. The KESTREL pair were again noted, and I could see 8 BLACK HEADED GULLS out on the nearby sheep pasture at Migrant Alley. The only winter thrushes seen today involved 3 REDWING that flew over, not much else went over though, just HERRING GULLS, not a very successful day!
Good job I've got a few photo's left from the Garden session I had on Friday, These HOUSE SPARROWS are not a frequent visitor nowadays.
House Sparrow
House Sparrow
House Sparrow
House Sparrow

Friday, 25 October 2013

Heavy rain early this morning made for another late patch visit, when it was still practically dark at 08:00hrs, at least with the change of the clocks this weekend the mornings will be lighter earlier, - just for a while anyway!

I was out for around 3 hours, visiting the lakes first off, where once again the MUTE SWANS took star billing, a real treat to have them here  :-) I was also treated to my almost daily sighting of the KINGFISHER as it flitted across the Ornamental lake. On the Main lake two CORMORANTS were fishing, then as I watched them a GREY HERON dropped in, that lot and the 8 MALLARDS plus a scattering of MOORHENS kept up the busier than normal scene for the lake area.

The adjacent Scrubby Woods was quite busy too, helped by the sighting of the LONG TAILED TIT flock which had been joined by BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, 2 COAL TITS, a CHAFFINCH, a TREECREEPER, a NUTHATCH and two GOLDCRESTS, a pair of BULLFINCH were also seen nearby, while overhead a MISTLE THRUSH and a couple of REDWING passed through.

I checked the Ashes Lane Field and the Pub field, plus had a circuit of Migrant Alley, but as was the case yesterday, most of the bird activity was from flyovers, which included HERRING GULLS, BLACK HEADED GULLS, a LESSER BLACKED BACK GULL, ( just the second record this month ), as well as a few MEADOW PIPITS and SKYLARKS.

The Greenhouse Grounds was full of DUNNOCKS, they were joined by a few WRENS and ROBINS, 4 PIED WAGTAILS sat on the greenhouse rooves, and a CHIFFCHAFF was seen in the hedgerow that forms the border with Migrant Alley, it was with another Goldcrest.

Not too bad a visit then, but nothing new for the months list, still a few days left yet though  :-)

With the light being so poor this morning the camera didn't get much action, but I have got a few images from my garden feeders to brighten the post, I took them yesterday  :-)
Dunnock at the Greenhouse Grounds
Chaffinch from my garden
STARLING on the garden wall
Superb adult GOLDFINCH

Thursday, 24 October 2013

As today looked to be just about the best for a while, weatherwise, I decided to get a full patch walk in this morning, I like to get a minimum of 10 full patch walks in a month, and today would be the 10th for October.

The first hour or so proved difficult, as dense fog plagued the visit, not for the first time this month  :-(  However by 09:00hrs the sky began to clear, and some long sunny spells were enjoyed, with temperatures up into the high teens, which brought out Red Admiral Butterflies and Common darters again  :-)
A foggy Small Holding first thing this morning
I visited the lakes first off, via the small Holding and Wet Woods, picking up a few of the common and regular stuff as I went, STARLING, WOODPIGEON, COLLARED DOVE, HOUSE SPARROW, JACKDAW, CARRION CROW, CHAFFINCH, BLUE TIT, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, BLACKBIRD, and STOCK DOVE were the first dozen species seen, in the that order, but only JAY and PHEASANT were added before I arrived at the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, a particularly poor tally, due mostly to the fog!

On the Ornamental lake, once again the MUTE SWANS were seen, a record stay for this species on my patch! A KINGFISHER was also present again, as were a few MOORHENS, the only MALLARDS seen were 8 on the Main lake and 2 on the Small Lake, nothing more exciting was on the water.

The adjacent Scrubby woods began to come to life as the fog lifted and the morning warmed up, with GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, SONGTHRUSH, and flyover SISKIN all recorded.

The second half of the walk, around the mostly farmland part of my patch, had little to offer for the days list that was actually on the ground, but flyovers from a pair, plus 4 single CORMORANTS, a few MEADOW PIPITS, at least a dozen SKYLARK, (mostly heard but unseen), a YELLOWHAMMER, a MISTLETHRUSH, and a few more single Siskin were all good species for here. A LITTLE OWL was seen on a fence post off High House Lane, a usual spot, and another called from the private garden along Ashes Lane, another usual spot :-)

Two BUZZARDS were soaring up above the Greenhouse Grounds, where the pair of KESTRELS were seen - in their usual spots! Forty Three species for the day was about par for an October day, nothing for the months list though, can I find the three more new species for this month to set a new October record?  Still seven days to go!

The female Kestrel decided she would sit for me today,
Sometimes she allows close approach, other times not
Normally if her partner is nearby, she will sit nicely, and he was
The male Kestrel rarely allows any sort of approach though
I thought i'd take a gamble, and later in the walk changed to my macro set up, hoping that a butterfly would sit for me, it didn't, but this Common Darter did  :-)
Common Darter
Common Darter, will this be the last of the Dragonflies this year?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Frequent heavy showers and a strong gusty wind meant a later start to my patch visit today, but I was still over at the Lakes and Scrubby woods by 08:45hrs, later in the morning some warm sunny spells made a pleasant change.

I was surprised to see the pair of MUTE SWANS still on the Ornamental lake, previous visits by this species have lasted no more than a few hours. A KINGFISHER sat tantalisingly out of camera distance on the same lake, and behind me, on the Main Lake, 11 MALLARD, a GREY HERON and a CORMORANT were seen, these with the scattering of MOORHEN made for quite a busy time - for these waters!

A walk through the Scrubby Woods, then the Wet Woods, in the unlikely hope of turning up a Firecrest or a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was made less likely by the noise of the strong wind through the trees, but I did find a troop of LONG TAILED TITS again, with them were the usual BLUE and GREAT TITS in small numbers, just 3-4 of each, and a couple of COAL TITS, a couple of GOLDCRESTS and a TREECREEPER.

Very little was noted out on the fields, or around Migrant Alley, the odd MEADOW PIPIT flew up, and just one SKYLARK went over, a few BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS also went through. The only birds of note around the Greenhouse Grounds today were the KESTREL pair, but it was interesting to see 3 butterfly species there, first a Comma, then a Small White, and last of all a Small Copper, I was also a bit surprised to see two Common Darters, just goes to show how unseasonably warm it is  :-)

Not much going on at my garden feeders still, I think we need a blast of cold to bring the birds back in!

The light was marginally better today, so I got some more Mute Swam Images.
Mute Swan
I could only take head shots
The birds come too close to fit in the view finder!
Mute Swan
Comma Butterfly, not a nice shot, but the 500mm lens isn't good for macro!
Common Darter, one of two seen soaking up the warm sunshine late this morning

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Rain throughout this morning made for another wet visit, but it was, at least, a remarkably warm day for mid October.

I made my way to the Scrubby Woods and Lakes first thing this morning, via the Small holding and Wet Woods, this will become the norm now that the chance of finding any migrant birds over on the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley begins to diminish as the Autumn passage comes to an end here.

There was at least some shelter from the rain under the canopy of the Wet Woods, which itself is beginning to refill with water now, so hopefully I might get a Teal drop in later in the year, in the mean time though its pretty dark and quiet in there, just GREAT TITS, GREAT SPOTTED WOOD PECKER, MOORHEN plus the odd WREN and DUNNOCK can be found.

On reaching the Scrubby Woods and Lakes, I gave the water on the Main Lake a scan, finding 12 MALLARDS, a CORMORANT and 4 Moorhen, plus a GREY HERON, then moving along to the Ornamental Lake I was given the real treat of finding a pair of MUTE SWANS (75), this is a real rare species to have on my patch, especially actually on one of the small lakes!  Fortunately I did have my camera today, but the light was so awful, I just took a few record shots. There was no sign of any Mandarin Ducks today, nor a Kingfisher, the smallest of the 3 lakes was checked, but nothing was on it at all.

The adjacent Scrubby Woods was pretty active this morning, a flock of a dozen or so LONG TAILED TITS were seen, with them were a TREECREEPER, a NUTHATCH, 2 COAL TIT and 2 GOLDREST, as well as a few BLUE and GREAT TITS. BULLFINCHES were heard calling, and a pair of MISTLE THRUSH alarm called as they went over, heralding the arrival of a SPARROWHAWK!

The rain got heavier as I moved out of the Woods into the Ashes lane field, then through the Pub Field and onto a circuit of Migrant Alley and a check of the Greenhouse Grounds, by which time I was pretty wet and miserable, especially as I didn't really find much, just the odd MEADOW PIPIT, GREEN WOODPECKER, and flyover HERRING GULL. The KESTREL pair were at their usual posts though giving good views. I was only out for a little over two hours in all, and the low species tally of 36 reflected that, but at least I did add Mute Swan to the ever growing October list, which at 75 is just two off the October record tally! Still plenty of time left to add something else, maybe a Common Gull, or another Duck species will turn up ?
Mute Swans - the 75th species for the month!
It was pretty dire light, but I got a few shots off
They were curious of me, probably after some food!
Mute Swan
Mute Swan