Saturday, 31 August 2013

The last patch visit of August was a full patch walk, which lasted 4 hours, the first two of which were deathly quiet under the cloudy skies and chilly NW wind, the latter two hours, although undertaken in clear blue skies, were little better  :-(

Most of the migrant birds had moved on from the Greenhouse Grounds, only around 20 SWALLOWS were seen, with just 2 WHITETHROAT and a CHIFFCHAFF. A KESTREL was watching from the raspberry poles, and a SPARROWHAWK sat on the Greenhouse Roofs, maybe that was why everything had moved on! The Sparrowhawk hung around the area all morning, keeping away most of the regulars, only a few GOLDFINCH and GREENFINCH with one or two BLUE and GREAT TITS stayed around.

Migrant Alley was also harassed by the Sparrowhawk, and nothing at all was on the paddocks and sheep pasture, even the STARLINGS and ROOKS had retreated to the overhead power cables and pylons.

As I crossed the Ashes Lane field to get to the Scrubby Woods, 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS flew over, probably the highlight of the day ( that and the LONG TAILED TITS that have just visited my garden as I write this!)

In the Scrubby Woods I found 2 BLACKCAPS and another Chiffchaff, a GOLDCREST called, as did a BULLFINCH, a NUTHATCH and a COAL TIT. On the adjacent lakes just MOORHENS and MALLARD were seen.

Walking through the Wet Woods I added STOCK DOVE to the days list, plus a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, the final bird on my list for today was a GREEN WOODPECKER which was found in the Small holding, that brought the days tally to just 39 species, an incredibly low total for August! Things will have to improve massively if I'm going to achieve tomorrows challenge of ''60 species in a day'' I may not even reach the species count achieved during the first attempt of my twice a year challenge, which I  carried out on May1st, if things don't improve, that day brought me 52 species.

So this month ended with a species total of 71, which is the fourth best August tally out of twelve and two species less than the average August tally for the previous 5 years. There were 3 species found this August that have not occurred in any other, the Snipe, the Crossbill and the Nightingale, they bring the combined twelve year August tally up to 94 species. It was disappointing not to find a Turtle Dove, this is the first August that this massively declining species has not been seen here.

I hardly got to use the camera at all today, except for a few tatty butterfly shots, so here they are, plus a few more shots of the Reed warbler I found the other day  :-)
Common Blue
Small Copper
Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler

Friday, 30 August 2013

I decided that this morning I would only briefly visit the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant alley, then move on to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, there I would hope to photograph the Kingfishers  :-)

In the 90 minutes I spent visiting my patch early on, I did encounter some of those more exciting passage migrant Species that are at the top of the agenda at this time of year. A WHEATEAR was sat up on one of the Greenhouse rooves, as was a YELLOW WAGTAIL, of which another 5 flew over the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley.

At least three CHIFFCHAFFS were in the scrubby areas of the Greenhouse Grounds, along with at least 2 WHITETHROATS and 2 BLACKCAPS. A SPARROWHAWK made its almost daily rounds, putting up the SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS, of which their were barely 50 this morning, 2 KESTRELS sat perched on the raspberry support poles, not moving all the time I was there.

Not a bad short visit, tomorrow, being the last day of August i'll do a full patch walk, I may just get another new species for the month  :-)
Yellow wagtail (immature) on the greenhouse roof
By 10:30hrs I was sitting in the Willow Hide at Sevenoaks Wildlife reserve, waiting for a kingfisher to place itself on the provided perches. In all I was there for almost 3 hours, but I did finally get my Kingfisher photo's, as well as some of the Little Egret and Grey Heron that were there. A bit of a bonus for the visit was meeting Greenie, from greenie in the wild fame, he joined me in the hide and we clicked away together, getting some nice photo's, good to meet up with you again Greenie :-)
Little Egret
Grey Heron

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The early mist and low cloud this morning had began to break up by 09:00hrs, leaving another warm and mostly sunny day.

I spent the whole of the morning checking out the Greenhouse Grounds, Greenhouse Copse, Migrant Alley and the Ashes lane field, hoping to find a few more passage migrants, but this morning it seems, they had mostly departed.

The LESSER WHITETHROAT was still in the Greenhouse grounds though, with 2 COMMON WHITETHROATS and 2 CHIFFCHAFFS as well as the 20+ GOLDFINCH flock. Up on the greenhouse rooves over 120 SWALLOWS and 100+ HOUSE MARTINS were sat preening and chattering.

On the paddocks and sheep pasture at Migrant Alley the STARLING flock had shrunk to around 250, there were 4 LINNETS and a couple of immature GREEN WOODPECKERS seen, but they were the only ''fence sitters'' seen.

The Greenhouse Copse had a probable WILLOW WARBLER flitting about, but views were brief, as a  SPARROWHAWK flew through before I had decent views!

Approaching the Greenhouse Grounds for a second time, I watched a HOBBY put up all the House Martins and Swallows from the rooftops, and walking through the scrubby areas there, I found the only BLACKCAP of the day, as well as a BULLFINCH, plus a  party of 7 PHEASANTS, the first seen for two weeks.

Three or four sessions from my sky watching seat were had, and on one of those sessions I was accompanied by my lovely wife, which brought mixed fortunes, the reason being that as we sat, a WHINCHAT dropped into the top of the adjacent tall hedge, it was at the far end so I lent my missus my binoculars to view it, while I got another dodgy distant photo, then another bird flew in to join it, which looked like another Whinchat, but by the time I got my bins back another Hobby went speeding past, putting up all the hirundines again and that scared off the Whinchat (s), which were not found again despite much searching.

KESTREL and  BUZZARD made it a four raptor species day, and a lone SAND MARTIN flew south, but little else was seen on the sky watching sessions, just BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, not one Yellow Wagtail went over today, the first time for a week.
Another long distant Whinchat image, was there two ?
House Martin on the Greenhouse roof
BLACKBIRD at the Greenhouse Grounds
Moulting Chiffchaff

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I had to be out to meet a friend at 10:00hrs this morning, so spent from 06:15hrs until 09:30hrs out at the Greenhouses and of course Migrant Alley.

It was cool and overcast with the odd spit of rain on the light North wind, which moved the low lying mist across the fields. At first there was little to be found, but as the gloom began to lift, the birds began to show, GOLDFINCH started to flock and feed on the thistles at the Greenhouse Grounds, and were joined by a few GREENFINCH, the odd WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK flitted about the vegetation, and a KESTREL sat up on the greenhouse roof surveying all that went on.

I was on the lookout for summer migrants though, and the first to show were 2 CHIFFCHAFF, a few minutes later the 'tack' 'tack' of a BLACKCAP was heard, and a female bird was located, just a few seconds later the first of 2 WHITETHROATS showed up, then even better a LESSER WHITETHROAT popped up. I heard a GREY WAGTAIL fly over, and managed to locate it in the gloom, it was followed soon after by another one, and before the long the continued passage of the YELLOW WAGTAILS was observed, with at least 5 birds in the area, 3 of them alighting on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, the PIED WAGTAILS that sat up on the Greenhouse Roofs made it another ''three Wagtail species'' Day   :-)

Migrant Alley also had yet another WHINCHAT sat on one of the wooden fencelines, and a bit further along the same fence, two WHEATEAR were also sat, fantastic little trio  :-) Only the third Wheatear for August so far at Migrant Alley, but the 6th Whinchat, its normally the other way around  :-)

A short sky watch produced a flock of 32 HERRING GULLS, 2 BLACK HEADED GULLS, 2 GREY HERONS and the mass of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE. My time to leave soon came though and I headed off home. Nothing new for the months list today, but some excellent birds found none the less  :-)  hopefully I'll add one or two more new species for the August list in the final few days, it stands at 71 presently, making it the fourth best August out of 12 thus far.

I was back out this afternoon though, when the clouds had parted and some warm sunshine was to be had, I had my camera this time and tracked down the Wheatear for some photo's, they allowed me to approach to within 6 meters, but the Whinchat didn't want to have its photo taken and didn't allow any sort of approach. I also tracked down the Lesser Whitethroat, it was in the same bare bush as yesterdays Reed Warbler, that had gone, but the 2 Chiffchaff were still there feeding. I sat for nearly an hour waiting for the Lesser Whitethroat to show, and although it did return to the bush, it was too brief for a photo, I needed a hide! I did get a bonus as I sat waiting though, when a HOBBY came over and chased the flock of SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS around the sheep pasture  :-)
Wheatear! Always an 'icing on the cake' bird at Pittswood
A highlight in the year is finding Wheatear on the fenlines at Migrant Alley
They mostly always it and pose nicely too   :-)
Wheatear eying a snack :-)
One of the Chiffchaff in the bush that the Lesser whitethroat was seen in
Pity the Lesser Whitethroat didn't pose like these did
Still got a few Reed Warbler photo's from yesterday,  they're much rarer than Wheatear here
Reed Warbler from yesterday
Reed Warbler

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Lovely bright sunshine greeted me this morning and with a light NW wind it felt very pleasant indeed.

The pleasant weather didn't seem to bring out many birds though, and many remained hard to find, such as the Songthrush, which eluded me all day. The warblers were even more scarce than yesterday, with just 2 WHITETHROAT found at the Greenhouse Grounds.

Migrant Alley had the big STARLING flock feeding on it again, along with all the corvids, I scanned for Wheatear or Whinchat but only found these LINNET.
All the while I was at the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley I was hearing the calls or YELLOW WAGTAILS going over, I only picked up four birds against the blue sky, but many more went through. More obvious were the GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE going over in varying sized skeins, the BARNACLE GOOSE being with one of the Canada Goose skeins again.

I didn't spend too much time at the Scrubby woods and Lake area, as little can be expected to be added to the months list here, however, i did see a couple of BLACKCAPS and CHIFFCHAFFS, and heard the likes of TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH and COAL TIT all calling. I checked the lakes, little on them this morning but MOORHENS, 4 MALLARD and a few Canada Geese.

I decided to make my way over to the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant alley again, as this is where I am most likely to get a new species for the months list, or maybe even the year list. It proved a good move as I saw two WHINCHAT had arrived whilst I had been away at the Scrubby Woods, one Whinchat is fantastic here, but 2 is just brilliant!

They allowed no sort of approach, so I got what I could photo wise - don't laugh!
Two very distant Whinchat  :-)
I had a bit of a sky watch, as I usually do, and as i watched the HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS whizzing about, a MISTLE THRUSH flew past, just the second this month. KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD were all up hunting, and both LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING GULL went over.

Later in the afternoon I was back out at Migrant Alley, hoping to re find the Whinchat and maybe get a photo, but I could find them, however, whilst sitting on my seat I noticed much 'flitting' going on in the adjacent hedgerow bordering the Greenhouses, I checked it out, and found 2 Chifchaff, which gave me some good photo chances ( got some for later posts) but as I took the photo's I was very surprised to see a REED WARBLER (71) join them! Another excellent patch bird, I dont see them every Autumn  :-)

So I got my new species for the month after all, Migrant Alley is turning up a few Migrants now  :-)
Reed Warbler. I took over 60 photo's of this scarce patch bird
Not all were of much quality, as it kept flitting about, making focusing difficult
I quite a few acceptable shots though
Reed Warbler - I've got enough shots to put on later posts !

Monday, 26 August 2013

My full patch walk this morning was undertaken under leaden skies, which only started to open up as I finished the walk over four hours later.

The total species tally for the visit was a bit less than could be expected, 43 species reflected the quietness of the morning. The most numerous species were the STARLINGS, again there was a flock of around 4-500 birds on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where the second most numerous bird was also encountered, the SWALLOW, at least 60 were feeding low over the fields, joined by a dozen or so HOUSE MARTINS. The most exciting species for me today were the 4 YELLOW WAGTAILS that flew over, one of them alighting in the sheep pasture, but it was quickly mobbed by the Swallows, and it only stayed for a few seconds, - what have Swallows got against Yellow Wagtails! The GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE continue their morning commute southwards, and today the Canada's were joined by the BARNACLE GOOSE, back from visiting Alan's patch over at Sissinghurst   :-)

Warblers are getting fewer by the day now, the Greenhouse Grounds had 2 WHITETHROAT, 2 BLACKCAP and this CHIFCHAFF
There were 4 - 6 more Blackcap over at the Scrubby Woods, and 2 more Chiffchaff, but the best warbler today though was the GARDEN WARBLER seen along with some of the regular species like TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS.

LONG TAILED TITS were seen at the Small Holding, only the second record this month, around half a dozen were feeding with a small group of GREAT and BLUE TITS. JAY and STOCK DOVE were additions to the day list from here as well.

Once the sun was out, and I had refueled, I headed off back out to my seat at Migrant Alley for an hours skywatching, where within  ten minutes I had added all the missing raptors from the earlier walk, with 3 BUZZARDS, a SPARROWHAWK and 2 KESTRELS being seen, also at least 4 SAND MARTINS had joined the Swallows and House Martins, all of which seemed to want to sit in a sapling Birch tree, why ?  There were plenty of better and stronger places to sit!
House Martins, Not the best image, I had changed over to my 300mm lens
Wrong, lens, wrong light, wrong positioning, but it shows the action  :-)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The heavy overnight rain cleared early morning, but I decided to postpone the usual Sunday morning full patch walk, as tomorrow looks much more promising weather wise.

I only got out late morning today, when the sky started to clear and some warm sunshine appeared, but a strong NW breeze was blowing, usually a good direction to bring in migrants on my patch. I spent 2 hours before dinner, searching the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley, hoping to re find the Whinchat and Wheatear that were here yesterday, but both had moved on, in fact it was all very quiet, only the large STARLING flock remained on the paddocks and sheep pasture, along with the ROOKS and JACKDAWS. A SPARROWHAWK continually visited, which didn't help things!

At the Greenhouse Grounds, two BLACKCAPS and 4 WHITETHROAT were the only summer birds seen in the scrubby area, while on the greenhouse rooves a mixed flock of about 80 SWALLOWS and 20 HOUSE MARTINS had gathered, taking it in turns to mob the KESTREL that was perched below them  :-)

My intended afternoon visit was written off due to computer problems, I spent hours fruitlessly trying to find out why internet explorer is  ''not responding'' In the end I had concede defeat, and moved everything over to the firefox browser............anyway you dont want to hear all that!

I found a few Butterflies still on the wing in the Greenhouse grounds, surprising after the battering they took from 12 hours of rain!
Brown Argus
Brown Argus
Brown Argus
Brown Argus
Brown Argus
Small Copper
Small Copper

Small Copper