Friday, 31 May 2013

A massive Thank you to all of you who left the kind words yesterday, they were all much appreciated, what a kind lot of people there are out there, thank you  :-)

I was out for a little over 4 hours this morning, from 06:00hrs, my aim was to try and find some evidence of successful breeding in the local birds by finding their newly fledged young, however none were found, so nothing was added to the 13 species already confirmed as breeding here so far this year.

During my hunt for fledglings however, I noted an excellent total of 52 bird species, with one of those being new for the month when I managed to add a flyover CORMORANT (71), and in doing so brought the final May species total to 71. This is the joint 3rd best May tally for the 12 years, the same tally as 2010, the only real omission that could have been anticipated was the Garden warbler.

Three gull species were also recorded flying over, a good count for the end of May, they were HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL. A GREY HERON also flew through, and a SKYLARK drifted over in full song.

I saw the PEREGRINE taking food to the Tower at Hadlow village, while KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD - all local birds, hunted over the area. A LITTLE OWL was again seen on the Greenhouse guttering, until chased off by a pair of BLACKBIRDS.

Of the summer birds, WHITETHROAT, BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF gave some song, but it was well subdued in the cool and overcast conditions this morning, the only other summer birds seen were the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER at the College Grounds, plus the SWALLOWS and SWIFTS that hawked for insects over Migrant Alley.

PIED WAGTAIL on the manure heap at the College stables, ( I took this photo last weekend)
That was about it for this morning, but I did have a brief noon visit to the edge of the Wet Woods, when some warm sunshine had broken thorough, I was looking for Damselflies, and found lots of Azures, a couple of Large Reds, and a single White-legged, which whizzed off when it saw my camera, as did the first Beautiful Demoiselle seen this year, love to get another image of one of these lovely creatures.  :-)

I did get a few images of the Azures though.
Azure Damsel
Azure Damsel
Azure Damsel
Azure Damsel
Azure Damsel

Thursday, 30 May 2013

This morning I received the not unexpected, but still devastating news, that my dear old dad had passed away in the early hours.

Today, the saddest of days for me was compounded by another of those dreadfully cold and wet days that May has produced more often than not this year.

Not being able to focus on much throughout today, I found myself sitting in the rain at my sky watching seat, reflecting on what I do and why I do it, - that is, spending so much time out in the field away from the world.  I came up with the answer ''because it's what I love doing'' and that is how to spend your life - doing what you love doing, just as my dad did  :-)
Newly fledged ROBIN - new life  :-)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

There was a short window of dryer weather early this morning, before more rain arrived around midday, setting in for the afternoon.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear a LESSER WHITETHROAT singing along Ashes lane first thing this morning, maybe it has just arrived, if so, it is very late indeed, lets hope it sets up territory here.

I wasn't surprised to see both KESTREL and LITTLE OWL hunting around the Greenhouse Grounds though, their usual haunt, I even got a distant photo of the latter today  ;-)
Little Owl, giving me the 'wink' :-)
I had another bit of a surprise a few minutes later, finding a fourth species of Goose at Migrant Alley, along with the 3 usual suspects of 23 GREYLAGS, 14 CANADA and the feral BARNACLE GOOSE was an immature EGYPTIAN GOOSE (70) something new for the May list, bringing up the 70th species, in fact Egyptian Goose is new to the 12 year combined May list, which is at 93 now   :-)

I saw one of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER pair at the College Grounds whilst ticking off most of the regular stuff, but no more recently fledged young of any species were seen here today, I had to wait until I reached the Wet Woods for that to happen, when I saw a minimum of 6 duckling MANDARINS with the female bird, the third year in succession that they have bred there now  :-)

I added a few of the regular species that weren't seen earlier in the morning to my days tally as I looked over the Scrubby Woods and lake area, bringing it to an excellent 51 species, though if the rain had not halted the walk, i'm sure I would have been knocking on the door of the magic '60' tally, with the likes of Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Sparrowhawk, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Turtle Dove and Lesser Black Backed Gull all possible, with maybe Hobby or the Peregrine thrown in.

I checked up on the COOT family on the Lakes, the three young are continuing to do well, they had the water all to themselves as nothing else was about at all. A COMMON BUZZARD was seen very low over the Ashes Lane field as I walked home in the rain, I wonder if they are breeding somewhere on my patch ?

This afternoon, whilst looking out into the Garden, I was pleased to see the first  newly fledged GREENFINCH being fed by both parents, the 13th species to have bred successfully here so far this spring  :-)
First Greenfinch young of the year  :-)
just to brighten the post a bit, here's a few more of the photo's I took over the weekend  :-)
Large Red Damsel
Large Red Damsel
Large Red Damsel
Speckled Wood Buterfly

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

What a wash out of a day! After a wonderful weekend of wildlife watching, today it all came to a wet end with rain all day  :-(

Needless to say, I barely got out at all, but in a quick half hour dry interlude, I made a visit to the Greenhouse Grounds, where as well as seeing one of the KESTREL pair, and a LITTLE OWL sitting on the Greenhouse guttering, I recorded the first recently fledged SONGTHRUSH of the year, good to see they have produced youngsters.

Whilst stuck indoors, I kept an eye on the garden feeders, and was cheered by this handsome male BULLFINCH that turned up to feed on the various weeds on my lawn, a good reason not to join the masses and mow the lawn every Sunday!

Posts to the old Blog may become a bit sporadic over the next week or so. My elderly father was admitted to hospital today, and it seems he is coming to the end of his days, i'll do well to emulate his enjoyment for life, a real good bloke  :-)  it's him I can thank for my perseverance and dogged determination, these are the qualities he has passed on to me  :-)
Male Bullfinch - stunner!
Bullfinch - shame the light was so dire!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Another fantastic blue sky to greet me this morning, although there was a bit of a 'fly in the ointment' from 07:00hrs to 07:45hrs when cloud rolled in, before it burnt off again in the warm sunshine  :-)

Most of the 4 hours out this morning was spent around the College Grounds, Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds, although later in the morning I paid a visit to the edge of the Wet Woods to look for Damsels.

The LITTLE OWL was sitting on the Greenhouse Roof as I passed through the grounds there, also seen was a BLACKCAP and the WHITETHROAT pair that hold territories in the bramble thickets. A flock of 40-50 STARLINGS were using the boundary hedgerow that divides Migrant Alley from the Greenhouse Grounds, at least 30 of those were newly fledged, I reckon there were ten, maybe twelve families, a good start from them  :-)

Also at Migrant Alley was the mixed flock of LINNET and GOLDFINCH, along with the CANADA GEESE, GREYLAG GEESE and feral BARNACLE GOOSE. Another Whitethroat was heard to sing at the Wooded Headlands, as well as another Blackcap and a CHIFFCHAFF.
Greylags at Migrant Alley
My main reason for going to the College Grounds was to try and get a photo of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, its been hard to see recently but today I was fortunate to see both the male and female bird, although by now the cloud had rolled in and the light was poor, resulting in some very slow shutter speeds, I got a reasonable image in the end though.
Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher
An hour on my seat watching the sky produced 4 Raptor species - one of the PEREGRINES, one each of KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK, plus two BUZZARDS. Two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS also went over, as well as four HERRING GULLS, but that was about it really, apart from 4 HOUSE MARTINS that flew through.

My trek along the edge of the Wet Woods later in the morning resulted in a few Azure Damsels being found, and also a possible immature White-legged Damsel and the odd Large Red, the Large Red below was photographed in my garden yesterday  :-) I got lots of photo's for the 'Blog Folder' they should keep me going for when the weather turns again!
Large Red Damsel
Large Red Damsel
Large Red Damsel
Immature White-legged Damsel

 Immature White-legged Damsel
 I stole the idea of this pose from Mr. heath, (see his excellent blog, only I've not quite executed the image as well as he did  :-)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

For once it was an absolutely cracking May day, it even felt quite warm at 06:30hrs  :-)

In the sunshine this morning, I once again recorded an excellent total of 53 species, mostly the same as yesterday, but 4 species were seen today that weren't on yesterdays list, a PHEASANT, a female MANDARIN DUCK, which flew over to the Wet Woods area, plus a fantastic flyover PEREGRINE, as well as a new species for the month, a COMMON TERN (69) which flew low over the Lakes, a really good bird to get over my patch  :-) On the debit side of things, yesterdays Skylark, Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Black headed Gulls were missing today. Anyway the Common Tern takes the May list to 69 species now, which looks a bit better in the rankings, moving it up to 5th place out of 12  :-)
Flyover Peregrine, just managed to get the camera on it as it flashed over
Not as near as I would have liked, but good enough!
COMMON BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK made it four raptor species for the morning, they were all seen up hunting, two Gull species flew over, HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, and the 3 Goose species were again on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, 18 GREYLAGS, 19 CANADA'S and the feral BARNACLE GOOSE.

The SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was heard at the College Grounds, where a GREY HERON was seen flying from one of the small ponds. I also came across this Fox family enjoying the break in the weather  :-)
Fox and Cubs  :-)
In the warm conditions there were a few more Damsels about :-
Azure Damselfly
Immature Azure Damselfly
Azure Damselfly - eating lunch!
Azure Damselfly
I'll post some more Damsel images tomorrow. Ive still got these Butterfly photo's from yesterday to put on yet  :-)
Small White Butterfly
Small White Butterfly
Orange Tip Butterfly - I was annoyed at myself for not getting a more focused image of this lovely posed butterfly, I was in such a hurry to change my lens that I didn't set the camera right afterwards, - Doh!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

After yesterdays atrocious weather, this morning, although cold and breezy to start with, slowly improved as the morning went on, and the afternoon even saw some long sunny spells  :-)

First thing noted this morning was this Juv. WOODPIGEON, it was in my garden, another species to join the 'successfully Bred' list this year  :-)
Juv. Woodpigeon - First of the year.
I spent the morning session visiting the College Grounds, checking the Ashes lane field, Pub Field and Migrant Alley on the way, then stopping at the Greenhouse Grounds before heading off home for breakfast.

It was quite a good visit for the number of species seen, 37 in all, though none were new to the months list. Of the Summer birds, BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT and CHIFFCHAFF were all singing, and the SWALLOWS joined in with their cheery notes too as they sped over the area.

The mixed flock of Geese were again feeding on one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, they included 14 CANADA, 16 GREYLAGS and the feral BARNACLE GOOSE, at least 20 LINNETS were also in the paddocks, with a few GOLDFINCH mixed in with them.
Greylag Goose
Most of the 37 species were recorded in the College Grounds and Gardens, the best being the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, which was singing loudly from a lime tree, if you can call its high pitch 'sqeaking' a song! Also seen at the College today were the likes of COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS, HOUSE SPARROW, and PIED WAGTAIL. At least three SONGTHRUSHES are holding territory here too, hopefully all will produce some young :-)
Pied Wagtail
Song thrush
Recently fledged MOORHEN at the College Grounds
After some breakfast, I went over to my seat at Migrant Alley for a sky watch, allowing the day to warm up a bit before I went over to the lakes and Scrubby Woods, where I hoped for some Butterflies and Damselflies. My sky watch produced sightings of KESTREL, BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK, HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL, GREY HERON, SWIFT, and STOCK DOVE, while behind me the LITTLE OWL was again on the Greenhouse roof.

My visit to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods was partially successful, as I found my first Azure Damselfly for the year, just one though! Butterflies were few, with just Green Veined White, Small White and Holly Blue encountered, ( i'll post images of some those tomorrow). I added MISTLETHRUSH, LONG TAILED TIT, TREECREEPER, JAY, COOT,  plus, more excitingly a purring TURTLE DOVE, and a flyover singing CUCKOO to my day list, which ended on a very impressive (for my patch) 53 species  :-) I wonder if that will be the last Cuckoo I hear sing this year, they seldom sing in June on my patch.

The last bit of news for the day was seeing the first newly fledged ROBIN in my garden later this afternoon, species number ten to successfully raise young on my patch this year  :-)

Friday, 24 May 2013

I got out for just half an hour this morning, in what was probably the coldest, most miserable-est May day I have even known.
I got as far as the Greenhouse Complex, noting the LITTLE OWL was again sitting on one of the glass houses, but as I stared out over the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, the cold wind and rain sucked the enthusiasm from me and I headed off home again  :-(  The day got no better  :-(

Ive got just one photo left in the blog photo folder now, how poor is that!
COLLARED DOVE - taken yesterday

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A few bright spells, just after dawn, had me taking my camera out with me for todays patch visit, they soon disappeared though, and by 09:00hrs they were replaced by some short sharp showers, blown in on a cold NW wind.

It was noticeable once again, that the birdsong was much reduced compared to what an average May day would produce here. On leaving my house, I noted down STARLING, WOODPIGEON, JACKDAW, CHAFFINCH, SONGTHRUSH, BLUE TIT, CARRION CROW, BLACKBIRD, MAGPIE and WREN, all in quick succession, yes they all sang, or called, but only in singles, not the great mass of noise I'm used to hearing in late May.

WHITETHROAT and BLACKCAP were added to that list of singletons as I passed through the Greenhouse Grounds, where I got this distant shot of a LITTLE OWL on the Greenhouse roof.
Distant Little Owl, the fact it was out in the open so late in the day may mean it has young to find food for, fingers crossed!
 Setting off across Migrant Alley, I again noted the GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE on the pasture and paddocks, 14 of the former and 16 of the latter were seen, as well as the BARNACLE GOOSE tagging along with them. The 100 plus ROOKS, 20 plusLINNETS , with  a few GOLDFINCH mixed in with them and a few more Starlings were all out feeding on the fields too, at least 6 SWALLOWS were skimming around them all. The nearby Wooded Headland had a CHIFFCHAFF singing, as well as another Blackcap and Whitethroat, a pair of BULLFINCH were also seen flying into that area.
Some of the Canada Geese
As usual there were plenty of different bird species to be found in the College Grounds and gardens, but all few in number. The SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was heard but not seen, as was the case yesterday. PIED WAGTAIL, HOUSE SPARROW, LONG TAILED TIT, GREENFINCH, COLLARED DOVE, GREAT TIT, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, MISTLETHRUSH, MOORHEN, JAY, GREEN WOODPECKER and STOCK DOVE all appeared for the list, in that order, yes it took that long to find the likes of Robin, Dunnock and Great Tit!

As I normally do, I had a skywatch on the way back, from my seat at Migrant Alley, the 40 mins produced 5 short sharp downpours, but in between I noted a few SWIFTS, a GREY HERON, a dozen HOUSE MARTINS, most certainly just passing through, 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, 4 HERRING GULLS, a pair of MALLARDS, plus one of both SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL, those being the local birds, a possible hobby was seen very briefly, but it could equally have been one of the Peregines, my view was that short as it dived behind a distant tree line. The last bird on the list was a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, heard drumming from the Wet Woods, but no visit was made over there, or to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods today. Still, a good count of 44 species was made for the 4 hours I was out, covering just half my patch.

Later in the afternoon I attempted some garden bird photo's, still not much about though, but the visit of one young Starling made for some fun entertainment  :-)
The first of many Juv. Starlings to visit my garden this spring, I hope
Nice gob full of fat !
Still more needed !
Stuffed full and content, at last  :-)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The continued cool, dull and overcast conditions once again meant a camera-less walk over to the College Grounds this morning, and those same conditions are making for frustrating visits, as very little bird song is heard, and no chance of finding any Butterflies or Damselflies either  :-(

It was very much as yesterdays visit, with a couple of singing BLACKCAPS on their respective territories one at the Greenhouse Grounds and one in the large garden adjacent Migrant Alley, where a slight increase in the CANADA GEESE flock on the sheep pasture, 14 to 21 was noted, and also a slight increase in GREYLAG GEESE from 11 to 14. The 100 plus ROOKS were feeding around the geese, and in an adjacent paddock 22 LINNETS were feeding on Dandelion seed heads, with 20-30 STARLINGS probing for inverts around them. A COMMON WHITETHROAT sang from the Wooded Headland to the North of the paddocks.

The SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was heard, but went unseen at the College Grounds, also heard were GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, MISTLETHRUSH, CHIFFCHAFF and another Blackcap. SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, PIED WAGTAIL, and JACKDAW were all seen carrying food, however I have not seen any newly fledged young for these species as yet.

I left it until early afternoon to visit the Scrubby Woods and Lakes, as the forecast was for it to brighten up, so I took my smaller lens in case any Damsels or flutters were seen, however it didn't brighten up at all, it just got windy! Needless to say the camera didn't leave my shoulder :-(

I stayed for around 90 minutes, checking up on the COOT family, they are doing well, and looking over the water finding just a GREY HERON of note. BULLFINCH were seen, as well as more Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blackcap, and Chifchaff. GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS 'drummed' and GREEN WOODPECKERS 'yaffled', a fleeting glimpse of a TREECREEPER was had, and a pair of LONG TAILED TITS were seen carrying food, another species that will produce fledglings very soon now.

In all then, not a very inspiring day, but looking at the weather to come for later this week today might prove to be one of the better days! Looks like Friday i'll be staying in bed, ''wet snow on hills'' they said - it is Summer isn't it? I hope those fledglings don't come out just yet!

I snatched a couple of garden photo's later in the afternoon, having done the STARLINGS and Great Spotted Woodpeckers already, there was little else to photograph, its not very busy at the feeders at this time of year  :-)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Yet another dull and gloomy summers morning, with a cool wind thrown in  to dampen the spirits. I did the usual early morning walk over to the College grounds, not finding an awful lot on the way, a singing BLACKCAP was heard at the Greenhouse Grounds, where a KESTREL sat on the roof of one of the greenhouses. Another Blackcap sang from a large garden adjacent to Migrant Alley, and on the paddocks there, 11 GREYLAG GEESE and 14 CANADA GEESE were grazing, while on the sheep pasture at least 125 ROOKS were feeding, at least a quarter of those were young ones.

Arriving at the College Grounds I was straight away greeted by the calls of - at last- a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (97,68) a quick look through the foliage of an Oak tree soon revealed it, before it quickly flew off further into the Grounds, where I came across it a few minutes later, but no photo was obtained, as the light was so dull and dismal I left the camera at home. Lets hope between now and September that we get a sunny morning to grab some images of the Spotfly  :-)

Looking at my stats for Spotted Flycatcher reveals just how late this spring is, todays arrival is 10 days later than the 12 year Median average arrival date, and 6 days later than the previous latest date!

On my way back across Migrant Alley, I stopped for a half hour sky watch from my seat, the highlight of that was seeing a PEREGRINE fly across to the tower in the village, with a large item of prey, a SPARROWHAWK was also seen up high.

A check of the Lakes and Scrubby Woods was quite a poor affair, 14 Canada Geese were on the Water, with 8 GREYLAG GEESE and a single drake MALLARD. The COOT pair were on their own lake, feeding their 3 young, and 2 pairs of MOORHENS were skulking around the lake edges.

In the Scrubby Woods, fewer CHIFFCHAFF and Blackcaps are singing, a COAL TIT also sang, as did a GOLDCREST or two and both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were seen. I watched a pair of BULLFINCH feeding quietly in an old dying apple tree, easily the best looking birds seen today  ;-)

A surprise for the day was waiting as I got home, I reached my front garden and heard a TURTLE DOVE singing loudly from a large poplar tree 30m out in the field opposite my house, it's been a few years since I heard this species from my garden! Also this afternoon, the first newly fledged STARLING was seen with its parents at my feeders, 10 days later than last years first record, and 6 days later than 2011.

Down to the last few photo's in the blog photo folder now, at this time of year it should be crammed full! Just the rest of the Great Spotted Woodpecker and Starlings left. :-(
Great Spotted Woodpecker