Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Once again it was clear, crisp and frosty this morning, a proper winters day for the penultimate patch visit of the year.  :-)

Early this morning over Migrant Alley

A bit too early for most of the birdlife!

As the sun slowly rose, the first few BLACK HEADED GULLS started to drift in from the SW, I had brought my 100mm macro lens with me, so I took a few shots of the frosty conditions while I waited for the birds to wake up.

I soon moved on, making my way to the Lakes, via the Ashes Lane Fields, where a SKYLARK was heard as it flew over, but only 2 MEADOW PITS were seen there today.

Part of the Ashes Lane Field, not much habitat for birds.

I reached the lakes and found all 3 completely frozen over, apart from the ornamental lake that again had a small, ice free area of water kept open by the fountain. The immature MUTE SWAN, COOT pair, and 26 MALLARDS were crammed into the small patch of water, and 4 MOORHENS walked around the ice bound banks.

Of the scarcer woodland species, I found only JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST and BULLFINCH in the Scrubby Woods, it was here that I really kicked myself for not having my 400mm lens with me, as I had some good views of the male Bullfinch feeding on a frosty bramble patch.

One shot I've been really wanting to get, is of a male Bullfinch in frosty conditions, sitting feeding in the sunshine, well today everything came together.......except I had the wrong lens with me! It will probably a long time before I get this kind of opportunity again....blast it!!!  I at least got some sort of image, but ive had to crop it down hugely  :-(

After nipping home to change my lenses, I made my way back over to Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds to see if things had livened up there now the sun was up proper. It had indeed come to life, with 56 BLACK HEADED GULLS out on the sheep pasture, with them were 5 LAPWING, great to see this species here, it's not quite the sight of 500+ that used to feed here on winter days, along with 20-30 Golden Plover, but with all the disturbance here now I have to accept that this is the way it is now :-(  As I scanned the fields, I heard 3 single YELLOWHAMMERS go over, plus a COMMON BUZZARD flew low past the Greenhouses, but better still, a LITTLE EGRET flew through too, the second this month, I always do well to get this species on my year list, so two sightings in the same month is good going. I checked the Greenhouse Copse for the LITTLE OWL, which was indeed in it's roost tree, then walked through the Greenhouse Grounds, finding the KESTREL pair perched together, the female flew off as I watched, so i walked over to the tree where she was perched, where I was surprised to see she was next to a SPARROWHAWK!  Eventually she flew back to the Greenhouse roof, but the Sprawk mobbed here every move for some time before tiring of the game and flying off  :-)

 Sparrowhawk, pity I couldn't fit the Kestrel in the same frame.

I did get some more Kestrel shots whilst she sat on the greenhouses, I'll show them on another post


Derek Faulkner said...

A really nice set of "frosty dawn" photos Warren, made a nice change from the regular bird ones.
I really think you overdo the "not much habitat" bit - it always look really nice to me and you always conjure up some nice birds.

Warren Baker said...

Thanks for the kind words Derek :-)

As for the habitat bit.....well, to the human eye it's all aesthetically pleasing, but that doesn't suit much the wildlife !

Wilma said...

Great frosty shots, Warren.

Derek Faulkner said...

Oh I don't know Warren, I do believe that your breeding bird list and numbers has recently increased, something must be good about the patch.

Warren Baker said...


Ive gained a few new species, like Mandarin Duck, Pheasant, Kestrel and Mute Swan. (all in single pairs) But have lost species like Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Nightingale, Turtle Dove, Garden warbler, and probably Lesser Whitethroat.

The habitat here is shifting away from Scrub/hedgerow to pasture and over manged woodland, much the same as other rural parts of Kent.

Derek Faulkner said...

OK, you know your site best.