I headed off out this morning under a clearing sky, what a change! However it had rained heavily overnight, so there were pools of water everywhere, the first bird on the February list was a GREENWOODPECKER which was heard as I left my back door, that was quickly followed by, GOLDFINCH, WOODPIGEON, ROBIN, WREN, DUNNOCK, SONGTHRUSH, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, JACKDAW, MAGPIE, CHAFFINCH, COLLARED DOVE, BLACKBIRD and a flyover HERRING GULL all picked up as I walked along Ashes Lane.
Crossing the Ashes Lane Field a CARRION CROW 'cawed' from the middle of the grass field and a FIELDFARE was heard calling from an adjacent garden, a MISTLETHRUSH sang from the nearby Wet Woods, but it was the sight of a PEREGRINE zipping over head that put a spring in my step :-)
On reaching the lakes I added the long staying MUTE SWANS, as well as the more recently arrived COOT pair to my February list, the regular MALLARD and MOORHENS were seen, and the GOOSANDERS had now been joined by yet another female, that's 5 now swimming with the male, lucky fella! At least 1 pair of MANDARIN DUCK were seen under the tree overhang, and the KINGFISHER was making itself very obvious, flying across the water several times. A COAL TIT was seen amongst a flock of LONG TAILED TITS along the lake bankside, then BULLFINCH and NUTHATCH were heard to call from the Scrubby Woods.
I went down to check the garden feeders that are in the front garden of the owners of the Scrubby Woods, and as I scanned the flooded garden something scurried across the flooded track, I only saw it from the corner of my eye and only for a split second, ''Water Rail'', I thought, then dismissed it as wishful thinking, I've only ever seen one Water Rail ever on my patch, so it was unlikely.
I made my way back up towards the Wet Woods, then my phone rang, it was the owner of the house with the feeders in the garden, '' I think we've seen a Water Rail in our garden'' an excited voice said! I quickly scurried back to the flooded front garden, and to my surprise after just a few minutes, out pops a WATER RAIL (65) !! Fan-bloody-tastic! I sat and waited for a photo opportunity, a record shot would do, then as I had it in my lens, a Fox ran through and the Rail was gone again, how unfortunate was that! I waited again, whilst I did a SISKIN went over, then a SPARROWHAWK did the same, but after bit of a wait the Water Rail showed again, it was quite far off and in the shadows, but I got my record shot :-) Thanks for that call K & A, and thanks for letting me use your garden to get these photo's ;-)
|Water Rail, Only the second ever to visit my patch|
|The only previous record of Water Rail on my patch was in January 2005|
|Water Rail, the 120th species from 139 seen on my patch that I have a photo of|
My next addition to the months list didn't appear until I arrived at Migrant Alley, where a flock of ROOKS fed on the sheep pasture, and half a dozen MEADOW PIPITS flew up. Overhead a flock of Herring Gulls with a few BLACK HEADED GULLS and a single LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL went over, as did a CORMORANT, plus at last, a STARLING was added to the list!
My last stop was at the Greenhouse Grounds, where PIED WAGTAIL, HOUSE SPARROW, and GOLDCREST were found, a LITTLE OWL was seen at the adjacent Greenhouse Copse in it's usual tree. A short sky watch was had, where BUZZARD and STOCK DOVE brought the February list up to 44, then later in the day both GREENFINCH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER joined that list, they were seen at my garden feeders, making a good tally of 47 species for the first February outing, not bad at all, with some cracking patch species thrown in. :-)