Saturday, 31 January 2015

In a thoroughly miserable patch visit this morning, in which rain, sleet and snow fell throughout, I failed to find any more new species for the Years/Months list. The at times very poor visibility made sky watching pointless, ruling out the most likely place to record a new year tick, and the lakes, the second most likely place, was mostly frozen over with a layer of icy slush  :-(

There were a few bits of interest about though, a TREECREEPER called from the Wet Woods, where about 15 CHAFFINCHES flew up from the leaf litter, I checked through the ones I could see for the possible Brambling, but of course it wasn't with them!

The lone COOT and MUTE SWAN pair were on the Ornamental lake, a BUZZARD flew over the Ashes Lane Field, very low, as it did yesterday, but again, it was mostly ignored by the half dozen REDWING and MISTLETHRUSH pair that were there.

The female KESTREL was at the Greenhouse Grounds, as was the GREY WAGTAIL, plus in the Greenhouse Copse the LITTLE OWL was seen, the first time since the 22nd. Out on the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley there were 57 BLACK HEADED GULLS, 3 COMMON GULLS, plus the regular ROOKS, JACKDAWS and WOODPIGEONS, but also, there was a mixed flock of STARLING, Redwing, and FIELDFARE numbering around 120 birds in all, hard to say how many of each due to the gloom and continual moving of the feeding flock.

So the month has ended on a total of 61 species and for the first January ever, does not contain Siskin! The combined species list for the previous 13 Januaries is 84, so there were quite a few more species that could well of been expected to be recorded, especially the likes of Lesser Redpoll, Mandarin Duck, Reed Bunting, Snipe and Linnet.

The 14 year mean average species total for January is 61, so I at least reached that, but the mean average species count for the previous 5 Januaries is 65. January 2015 has the lowest species tally since 2007, which had 57.

Just a few ROBIN images left in the blog folder now, hopefully the sun will return for next month!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Just a ninety minute patch visit was possible today, early rain and a mid morning appointment with the opticians limited my time out.

Not much was recorded, certainly no sign of any Siskins or Redpoll for the months list, if I don't see a Siskin this month it will be the first siskin-less January ever on my patch!

The MUTE SWAN pair were still at the ornamental lake, the female was checking out last years nest site, so these probably are the pair that bred here last year and will, hopefully, do so this year. A GREY HERON visited the main lake, but no other visitors were seen on the water this morning.

There was not much activity in either the Scrubby Woods or the Wet Woods, just COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH and GOLDCREST were seen out of the scarcer woodland passerines.

A COMMON BUZZARD flew low over the Ashes Lane Fields, but didn't upset the 30 or so REDWING there, or the MISTLETHRUSH pair that were with them, the male KESTREL was sat on a fence post as well, not to the liking of the dozen MEADOW PIPITS that mobbed it!

Only a few minutes were spent scanning the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, but little was seen, just a few BLACK HEADED GULLS and the corvid/WOODPIGEON flock.

With just one more visit left for January, it's looking like a pretty poor species tally will be achieved, the 61 species seen so far this January make it only the 8th best tally of 14 and the worst tally since 2007, which stood at 58.

Still a few images left from the 'blog folder' these were taken from my garden earlier this week  :-)



Coal Tit

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The threatened rain, sleet and snow showers never materialised this morning, instead there was a slight frost and some lovely warm (ish) sunshine, with a cooling, moderate westerly breeze.

With the conditions ideal, I set of for the last full patch walk of the month, taking a little over 5 hours to complete and finding a very good tally of 49 species, only Pheasant, Pied wagtail, and maybe Buzzard could have been expected to be added for the day list, but weren't.

I still didn't add anything to the month/year list though, but the lakes were unusually active, with 6 GOOSANDER (2 Males), being a pleasing find, also a pair of MUTE SWAN had turned up, maybe the ones that bred here last year ? A Pair of GREYLAG GEESE and a single CANADA GOOSE with the white ''farmyard goose'' were also present, as were the COOT, 6 MALLARDS and 4 MOORHEN.

White 'farmyard goose'

In the adjacent Scrubby Woods the sunshine streamed through the bare branches, enabling me to easily find the likes of TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, and BULLFINCH, however it all went very quiet when a apir of SPARROWHAWKS started displying low overhead!

In the Wet Woods more Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Long Tailed Tits were seen, along with JAY, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER, plus I snapped an albino Squirrel, but the sunlight hadn't reached this part of the wood unforunately, making for a soft image.

One of the two albino Squirrels that live in the Wet Woods

More highlights from the visit were :- 40+ REDWING that were in the Ashes Lane Fields, feeding with a lone FIELDFARE, the MISTLETHRUSH pair and a few STARLING, also, further along on the fields at least 30 MEADOW PIPITS continue to overwinter.

The GREY WAGTAIL was at the Greenhouse Grounds water intake area, and the male KESTREL was seen, fewer BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSHES, WRENS, ROBINS and DUNNOCKS were using the grounds, but there was a work crew present there today.

 Grey Wagtail at the water intake

The Little Owl wasn't at home in the Greenhouse Copse today, but as I crossed the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, I had SKYLARK and 3 CORMORANT fly over as I was checking through the BLACK HEADED GULL flock, which only produced a COMMON GULL with them.

The trilling calls of 5 YELLOWHAMMER were picked up as I walked along High House Lane and they were seen high up in the top of an Oak tree there. The last species on the list today was the HOUSE SPARROW, the usual 10-20 birds were found along Ashes Lane as I neared home.

I was hoping after finding the Mute Swans, White farmyard Goose, and albino Squirrel, that I could add to the white theme this morning by seeing a nice Little Egret flying over at some point, but only this big white thing flew low over!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Much of this morning was a complete write off, a strong, gusty NW wind brought in increasingly heavier rain showers, which had me abandoning my patch visit after only an hour or so.

I checked the lakes, which had nothing of note apart from the lone, long staying COOT, but with the noise of the wind rattling through the woods it was just impossible to pick up any woodland passerines.

Out on the Ashes Lane Fields the MISTLETHRUSH pair were seen again, and the overwintering flock of MEADOW PIPITS rose and settled again, hard to say how many but at least 15 were there.

The KESTREL pair were hunting around the Greenhouse Grounds and a COMMON GULL was out amongst the much smaller group of BLACK HEADED GULLS on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley. The NW wind may well shake things up a bit for the rest of the month, I might just squeeze in Lesser Redpoll or Siskin for the months list, hopefully it will remain reasonably dry out there.

Kestrel at the Greenhouse grounds - on one of the more benign winters days we had last week  :-)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

After spending two days indoors with a cold virus, I made a three hour patch visit this morning, what a relief to be out in the fresh air!

It was a very quiet visit though, with nothing much of note seen, but it was very springlike out there and once the early cloud dispersed some sunny spells were had, in which I heard song from SONGTHRUSH, DUNNOCK, WREN, ROBIN, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT and a very welcome GREENFINCH which sang from the Greenhouse Grounds, where a party of 4 LONG TAILED TITS were also found. The spring calls of both BLUE and GREAT TIT were also heard, as was the song/call of the STOCK DOVES from the Wet Woods, where at least 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS drummed.

The lakes were almost birdless today, only a single COOT, 4 MOORHENS and 4 MALLARDS were on the ornamental lake, the immature Mute Swan has moved off again, the main lake was devoid of water birds, but the small lake had a CANADA GOOSE and a feral White ''Farmyard Goose'', which wont be going on my year list, ( to the surprise of some readers!)

At least 30 MEADOW PIPITS were flushed up from the Ashes Lane Field by a SPARROWHAWK going low over, the female KESTREL was also on the border fence line causing even more panic among the airborne Pipits!

Over at Migrant Alley a COMMON BUZZARD flew low over the sheep pasture, putting up the 78 BLACK HEADED GULLS and the lone COMMON GULL that were there. I felt a bit rough again shortly afterwards, and sat down on my skywatching seat to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine and maybe get to hear a Siskin or Lesser Redpoll flyover, non did though, but I did see two single YELLOWHAMMERS and a single SKYLARK fly past as some compensation.

last evening, around 20:30hrs, I heard a TAWNY OWL calling from close by the back of my house, nice to hear  :-)

Still a few images left in my 'blog photo folder'......................


....and yet more of the Long Tailed Tits

Sunday, 25 January 2015

I awoke this morning with a burning throat, fuzzy head and a streaming nose ..........I felt crap! No patch visit for me today!

I did take the chance to catch up on the action at my garden feeders though, where a good mix of species came in to feed, 20 in all were recorded. The most numerous species being the BLUE TITS, which at any one time 15-20 could be viewed, GREAT TITS, COAL TITS and LONG TAILED TITS mixed with them from time to time. Finches were not as numerous as they normally are at this time of year, with peak counts of just 6 CHAFFINCH, 7 GOLDFINCH and 2 GREENFINCH.

Only two Long Tailed Tits came in today

Disappointingly, only one HOUSE SPARROW was seen, but the regular skulkers were in the borders, with WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK and a SONGTHRUSH picking up the fallen bits of suet. There was a peak of five BLACKBIRDS, 4 STARLINGS and 4 COLLARED DOVES, with 2 NUTHATCHES, 2 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, 2 JACKDAWS, 5 WOODPIGEONS and a MAGPIE all being seen as well.


Another Dunnock



Notable flyovers included 5 CANADA GEESE, a MUTE SWAN, a SPARROWHAWK and a few small parties of both REDWING and FIELDFARE.

Hopefully my symptoms will relent somewhat tomorrow and I will feel like getting out!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Overnight rain washed away any remaining frost, but the morning proved to be sunny and mild.

Another full patch walk was made, where a just about average 44 species was recorded, with no less than two of those being ticks for the year list  :-) As expected, they were found on the now ice free lakes, when 4 CANADA GEESE (60) were finally added to the 2015 tally,  with them was the BARNACLE GOOSE (61) not seen my old friend here since November! The icing on the cake was seeing a female GOOSANDER on the small lake, plus the COOT had reappeared again on the Ornamental lake  :-)  I took some distant record shots....................

Canada Goose - year tick  :-)

The feral Barnacle Goose makes it onto the 2015 year list, it's 7th year!

Female Goosander

Just about everything turned out in the Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods, the best being GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, JAY, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREEN WOODPECKER. I spent quite some time trying to get a decent Treecreeper image, but they prove to be very difficult subjects, here's my best efforts!



Out on the farmland part of my patch were the 25+ MEADOW PIPITS that were on the Ashes Lane Fields, with those were the MISTLETHRUSH pair, 8 REDWINGS and 28 STARLING. The GREY WAGTAIL was at the Greenhouse Grounds today, but the KESTRELS weren't there, they were only added as I walked home, when the pair flew over high.

On the Sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, the flocks of ROOKS, JACKDAWS, WOODPIGEONS and BLACK HEADED GULLS, with 2 COMMON GULLS, were flushed up into a swarming mass of 300+ birds, the culprit was a BUZZARD, which I watched get mobbed by the majority of the mass of birds, despite this, the Buzzard flew over and just nonchalantly pounced on a Woodpigeon, how the pigeon didn't see that coming I will never know!!!  The Buzzard made the kill and sat on it, but was pestered so much it flew off, however 15 minutes later, when the field had cleared, it returned for it's prey  :-)

A much better visit today then, with two species added to the year list, taking the 2015 tally up into 8th place out of 14. The January total of 61 is just one species below the 14 year January mean though, and 4 below the mean for the previous 5 January's.

Friday, 23 January 2015

There was a hard frost this morning, with patchy cloud drifting over the area from time to time, at least the frost has hardened most of the mud!

 Patchy cloud, that always seemed to be where the sun was!

I was out for over six hours today, but found nothing new for the year/months list, it is still very much ''as you were'' for the time being, especially as the lakes were frozen over, it will be there that I am likely to find the next new species for the year, either there, or a flyover.

A few good species were seen today though, a flock of at least 25 MEADOW PIPIT were on the Ashes Lane Fields, along with 2 MISTLETHRUSH, 6 FIELDFARE, 8 REDWING and 40-50 STARLINGS.

The Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods were attracting plenty of GOLDCREST, they were seen along with COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, and NUTHATCH, the latter were giving their spring 'wee wee wee'' calls, making it sound quite springlike, especially when they were joined by singing GREAT TIT and STOCK DOVE, plus the GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS drumming. The GREY WAGTAIL was also in the Wet Woods, I spent ages waiting for the combination of it to come nearer and the sun to appear, but neither happened at the same time  :-(

I got just three shots of it in the end as it fed on the surface of the iced over pools of water, this being the best of a bad bunch!

A male SPARROWHAWK was seen hunting over the area on 3 separate occasions, the only other raptors today were the KESTREL pair at the Greenhouse Grounds, where another pair of Long tailed Tits were seen, as were another 2 Bullfinches. Migrant Alley was good for BLACK HEADED GULLS again, with them were 2 COMMON GULLS, plus the usual Corvid flock and the WOODPIGEONS.

Half an hour before sunset, I was looking out at my garden feeders and noticed a small Goose or large duck flyover, unfortunately the only view I got was a silhouette of its rear end as it flew into the sunset, could of been a Shelduck or a Goosander, i'll never know, but it was certainly a year tick missed, as well as a ''seen from house'' tick as well !

Female Kestrel at the Greenhouse Grounds - obliging as ever, pity the male isn't as tame!

She looks so much more photogenic on a tree than on the Greenhouses, I took some images of her there as well though, plus a few other birdy photo's, which will keep the blog going for a few posts  :-)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

After not getting out at all yesterday, due to other commitments, I was eager to get out this morning despite the pretty cold and grey conditions.

I spent 4 hours out, getting round to do a full patch walk, in which a total of 41 species were recorded, a couple of species short of what could be expected on a January visit, missing species such as Nuthatch, Skylark, Pheasant and Coot were all probably out there though, I just didn't see 'em!

Nothing new was added to the year list, I cant believe I still await my first Siskin or Cananda goose! However there were still some nice species to see. I had good views of plenty of GOLDCRESTS in the Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods as well as the Greenhouse Grounds, at least 8 birds being present overall. The GREY WAGTAIL was at the Greenhouse Grounds, as were the KESTREL pair, I watched the female catch, then eat, a vole. The LITTLE OWL sat in the Greenhouse Copse where 4 REDWING were seen feeding in the leaf litter.

Early in the walk, 4 YELLOWHAMMERS flew over the Ashes Lane Fields, then moments later a SPARROWHAWK did the same, putting up a dozen MEADOW PIPITS and the MISTLETHRUSH pair that were feeding with a dozen more Redwing, the only FIELDFARE seen today were 4 flyover birds.

LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS as well as the mentioned Goldcrest were all noted around the Scrubby Woods and lakes, but nothing was on the water to excite :-(

A party of a dozen, maybe 15 CHAFFINCHES were feeding in the Wet Woods, this time of year is the only time I see Chaffinch flocks, away from my feeders that is, I always scan through them just in case there is a Brambling among them.

Not much else about today, this afternoon brightened up slightly, allowing for some garden photography, not really light enough for best results though.........

Coal Tit

The above two Coal Tit Shots are probably among the best I have, just a shame it wasn't sat on something more natural, things rarely happen just right in wildlife photography!


This Woodmouse was scampering around the ivy, where it's target was a seed feeder

Despite it being early afternoon, it brazenly sat out on the feeder scoffing the sunflower hearts

I'll not begrudge it a good feast though, for who knows, it may well end up as dinner itself for the local Kestrel or Owl  :-)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

There was a hard frost this morning, which rapidly lifted as cloud drifted over just before dawn. Around 10:00hrs there were some short lived sunny spells....a bit of a bonus!

Once again, as yesterday, there was a gathering of half a dozen REDWING on the Ashes Lane Fields, they were with 30-40 STARLING, 2 MISTLETHRUSHES and 18 MEADOW PIPITS.

I wasn't expecting anything on the lakes, I knew they would be frozen over, but I was very pleasantly surprised when I found a male TUFTED DUCK (59) on the main lake, it was sheltering under the overhang of the bankside trees where the water was still free of ice, this is a real scarce bird species on my patch, a very pleasing find indeed  :-) A GREY HERON sat in a bankside tree, the only other visitor to the lakes.

I walked back through the Wet Woods, where I saw a BUZZARD skillfully fly through the tangled branches of the trees, I also saw a GREY WAGTAIL on the pools of stagnant water and spent over an hour trying to photograph it, but despite getting reasonably close to it, the light was awful, very frustrating! Whilst I was trying to secure a reasonable image of the Grey wagtail I heard NUTHATCH, COAL TIT and TREECREEPER call, as well as seeing GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS chasing about, the former have started to drum in earnest now, also around 15 CHAFFINCHES were feeding among the leaf litter.

I spent a couple of hours out on the fields and around the Greenhouse Grounds, not seeing anything too exciting, flyovers from 3 single YELLOWHAMMERS, a lone SKYLARK and another Buzzard were had, plus 100+ BLACK HEADED GULLS were out on the sheep pasture, 3 BULLFINCH were a good sight to see at the Greenhouse Grounds where the KESTREL pair continue to find plenty of prey.

Despite lots of blue sky, the sun stubbornly remained behind what cloud there was, this image of the Grey Wagtail in the Wet Woods was about the best of the 94 I took! High ISO's and poor shutter speeds just dont make for nice images  :-(

I watched it flicking over the leaf litter, under which it found several morsels 

Grey Wagtail

Monday, 19 January 2015

There was a slight frost this morning, but it was overcast, with poor visibility, especially early on. I decided to do a full patch walk and in the four and a half hours I was out, 45 species were found, although none were new for the year list, its proving to be a very slow start this year, my total of 58 species is the joint tenth lowest January out of 14 so far.

It was good to see a few REDWING and FIELDFARE on the pasture at the Ashes Lane Fields, only half a dozen of each, but more than most days this winter, with them were a pair of MISTLETHRUSHES and 8 MAGPIES.

The COOT was back on the ornamental lake, maybe it had never left and was just well hidden, the immature MUTE SWAN and 4 MALLARDS were with it, as well as a few MOORHENS. A GREY HERON was on the main Lake, but nothing else was there, or on the small lake.

LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, plus GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were all seen in the Scrubby Woods, as were CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, BULLFINCH and GREENFINCH, the latter species being the first to be seen away from my garden this year, incredible how this finch species has declined here  :-(

A BUZZARD was seen taking off from the Small Holding area, but nothing much of note was seen on the rest of my walk until I reached the Greenhouse Grounds and the associated copse where the LITTLE OWL was seen, the grounds of the greenhouses had the female KESTREL and singles of GREY WAGTAIL and PIED WAGTAIL present, plus a couple of MEADOW PIPITS.

Flyovers from YELLOWHAMMER and STOCK DOVE were noted as I watched the BLACK HEADED GULLS out on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, a pair of LAPWING were a bonus, but they didn't stay long, as the college students were on the adjacent sports pitch today, a place that itself used to be frequented by Lapwings when it was farmland :-(

There was a short bright-ish spell around midday, so I attempted to get some garden bird images, but it wasn't really light enough, here's the results of an hours work...............

Coal Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Great Spotted Woodpecker