Sunday, 31 January 2016

The month quite literally went out like a damp squib, the weather being grey, dreary, damp and drizzley.

There wasn't too much to brighten the final patch visit of the month either, the lakes had a pair of CANADA GEESE and a lone GREYLAG GOOSE present, as well as the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS.

As I sheltered from a heavier spell of rain in an out building by the lakes, I heard NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, MISTLETHRUSH and SONGTHRUSH singing or calling from the nearby Scrubby Woods, plus a 6 LONG TAILED TITS passed close by.

I noted a flock of 6 GOLDCREST in the Wet Woods, and as I crossed the Ashes Lane Field I heard a TREECREEPER singing, it wasn't hard to find, being in the only tree in the field!

It was good to see the female KESTREL back at the Greenhouses, even better, she was with the male bird and mating was observed, with any luck there will be another brood here this spring  :-)

Not much was going on at Migrant Alley, but 3 Gull species were on the sheep pasture, 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED, 7 HERRING, and 13 BLACK HEADED GULLS.

So the month ends with a species tally of 64, not a bad start to the year then, it's the joint 5th best January total from the 15 years of recording, joint with January 2014. No species were added to the cumulative 15 year January total which remains on 85, but the mean average for the previous 5 Januaries was reached, just!

I was back home by 10:15hrs, so at 10:30hrs I started my RSPB big garden bird survey, which proved to be more fun than my patch walk  :-)  In the allotted hour I recorded 20 species, pity House Sparrow was not on that list, here's what I recorded anyway.................

  1. Greenfinch - 5
  2. Goldfinch   - 7
  3. Chaffinch   - 11
  4. Lesser Redpoll  - 8
  5. Great Tit    - 4
  6. Blue Tit     - 6
  7. Coal Tit     - 1
  8. Dunnock   - 2
  9. Blackbird  - 3
  10. Songthrush - 1
  11. Wren          - 1
  12. Robin         - 3
  13. Goldcrest   - 1
  14. Collared Dove   - 2
  15. Jackdaw     - 1
  16. Magpie       - 1
  17. Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
  18. Nuthatch   - 3
  19. Starling     - 4
  20. Woodpigeon  - 1
The Sparrowhawk stayed away until this afternoon !

Nuthatch 3 together at the feeders was a good sighting

Saturday, 30 January 2016

A grey start to the day, but by noon the sky started to clear making for a much brighter afternoon, with a brisk westerly wind.

In the dull, damp conditions early on, I set off for the lakes, ever hopeful of finding a duck species awaiting for me, but as is mostly the case I was disappointed, only MALLARDS were present, with along with 3 CANADA GEESE and a few MOORHENS, but at least a GREY HERON was visiting and the overwintering KINGFISHER was glimpsed again  :-)

The hoped for Woodcock didn't materialise in the Scrubby or Wet Woods, but as I searched, I had the pleasure of listening to both SONGTHRUSH and MISTLETHRUSH singing loudly, as well as hearing calls from COAL TIT, GREAT TIT, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER and NUTHATCH, plus the drumming of a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

The Small Holding Area had a few birds present today, the best being 9 FIELDFARE and 7 LESSER REDPOLL, the latter being drawn to the area by my nearby garden feeders.

Over on the fields at Migrant Alley, there was a mixed flock of gulls, which contained 6 HERRING GULLS, 1 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and 17 BLACK HEADED GULLS. There were 4 MEADOW PIPITS also seen, probably some of the birds that have come over from the dozen or so at the Ashes Lane Fields.

Just 4 SISKINS fed in the Alders at the Greenhouse Grounds, which was again heavily disturbed, so little else was seen there, although flyovers from SKYLARK and BUZZARD were noted whilst I watched the Siskins.

I was able to top up the 'blog Photo Folder with a few images this afternoon, just the usual garden fare, but they brighten the posts, here's a few to kick off with..............

Coal Tit

Great Tit


Friday, 29 January 2016

In total contrast to yesterday, this morning was grey and gloomy, with spits of rain blowing through on a strong SW wind.

On a three hour patch visit, my quest to find a new species to add to the year / month list, again ended in failure, but I did find a few good patch birds in the process.

The lakes featured highly today, with 5 CANADA GEESE present, as well as 2 male GOOSANDER ( a female joined them later in the afternoon, as reported to me by a fellow birder, trespassing on my patch!) A lone COOT was also seen and a CORMORANT threatened to drop in but thought better of it, the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS made up for what was an unusually busy time on the normally baron lakes!

Out on the blustery sheep pasture at the Ashes Lane Fields, the dozen MEADOW PIPITS sprang up, gave their ''seep seep'' call, then dropped back down again, plus a BUZZARD flew low over.

There was much disturbance at the Greenhouse Grounds, the adjacent Greenhouse Copse and Migrant Alley, so little of note was found, apart from 5 SKYLARK that got flushed up, not seen that many here for some while and wont again now I suppose!

Reduced to a bit of sky watching, I took up my seat and hoped for something special to fly over, but in the end had to make do with a few BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, plus singles of GREYLAG GOOSE and YELLOWHAMMER, not very exciting!

I kept a few images back from yesterdays patch visit, knowing today would be rubbish camera weather........................

Meadow Pipit, on a battered hedgerow

Thursday, 28 January 2016

This morning saw a slight frost, with mostly blue skies and light winds, making it feel very pleasant out.

I used the decent weather to undertake the 10th and final full patch walk of the month, where I recorded a below par total of 41 species, missing from the list, of the species that have been around in recent visits, were - Coal Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Fieldfare, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, although the first two species mentioned were recorded in my garden this afternoon.

There were no new additions to the Year/Month lists, but at 64 species, it will be hard to find much more, maybe a Reed Bunting will fly over, or a duck species visit the lakes, or maybe i'll even find a Snipe or Woodcock that are so difficult to get on my patch!

Species of note that I did see today included a KINGFISHER at the lakes, 4 REDWING at the Ashes Lane Fields, where the LITTLE OWL was seen again along with 10 MEADOW PIPITS, plus the 10-15 SISKINS that are feeding in the Alders at the Greenhouse Grounds, these were joined by 4 GOLDFINCH and 2 GREENFINCH, the latter were heard giving their wheezy song for the first time this year  :-) Flyovers were few, but included a single SKYLARK, a skein of 4 CANADA GEESE plus a few BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS.

The Siskin were giving some nice views

But not always in the best light!

Rarely does everything fall into place in photography though!

As expected, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, STOCK DOVE, JAY, MISTLETHRUSH and SONGTHRUSH, along with the common regular species were all seen in the wooded parts of my walk. The only raptor seen today were two BUZZARDS up high over Migrant Alley.

This Songthrush was singing in the Alders, above the feeding Siskin

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Stormy winds and heavy rain throughout the day prevented much of a patch visit today. I did no more than walk over to the lakes,via the Ashes lane Fields and back, mainly just for a bit of fresh air!

I heard the MEADOW PIPITS fly up as I walked across the Ashes Lane Fields, but didn't hang about to count them as the wind was blowing the rain across the pasture in sheets, like drifting smoke. I looked up to see a CORMORANT battle westwards across the leaden sky, making little headway, but it didn't drop down to the lakes, just 2 CANADA GEESE and a few MALLARDS and MOORHEN were seen there.

Walking back through the Wet Woods, or rather, wading back through, I heard a TREECREEPER singing, plus I watched a pair of NUTHATCHES chasing around a large Oak tree, before a SPARROWHAWK came whizzing through at head height.

Tomorrow looks like a better day, hopefully I can find something to photograph, or better still add a species to the year/month list  :-)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

There was a strengthening southerly wind blowing this morning, which blew varying amounts of cloud across the sky, rain moved in for the day by 13:00hrs.

It was a rather dull visit birdwise, not much at all was noted on my 3 and a half hour patch walk. The best birds seen were a KINGFISHER at the lakes and the LITTLE OWL at roost in the old shack at the Ashes Lane Fields, where the dozen or so MEADOW PIPITS continue to find conditions conducive to overwintering there.

The female KESTREL was back at the Greenhouse Grounds, I watched her hunting by means of the more traditional way, that is by hovering, normally she sits on a high vantage point and waits for prey to appear.

A search for the first Woodcock of the year continues in the wooded parts of my walk, similarly, a search for the first Snipe of the year in the sheep pasture and ditches also continues, but i'm having no luck with either so far. I did see my first Bumble Bee of the year though and watched the Honey Bees around their hive at the Greenhouse Grounds, the first time they have ventured out this year, the small SISKIN flock of 12-15 birds continued to feed in the nearby Alder Trees, plus both SKYLARK and LESSER REDPOLL were heard flying over, other than that it's as stuggle to fill the blog post today, especially as I have no images left!

Tomorrow looks a total write off, if the weather forecasters are to be believed, which is not always the case, we shall see!

Monday, 25 January 2016

A very mild, windless morning, with long sunny spells allowed for a long full patch walk today.

The sun is creeping up above the horizon ever earlier now  :-)

The sky was seemingly ablaze at one point

Todays 4 and a half hour full patch walk yielded 42 species, a bit disappointing, when the likes of Bullfinch, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Redwing and Yellowhammer among others, were not seen today, when they were about yesterday!

The LITTLE OWL was seen at its roosting site in the old shack at the Ashes Lane Fields as I was taking the photo's of the sunrise, the half dozen MEADOW PIPITS were out on the pasture there too, along with a dozen FIELDFARE.

The pleasant morning was made more so when, as yesterday, plenty of species sang or called, from the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, including MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH and STOCK DOVE, plus the drumming of the GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, making it all very springlike.

The Treecreepers are proving quite a challenge to get a good photo of, but i'll keep trying  :-)

Over on the lakes there were no surprises, but the regular GOOSANDER trio of 2 males and a female were back, I took a few distant shots of them.......

The males are absolutely stunning

The females aren't too shabby either!

The rest of the walk was relatively quiet, the most notable species seen being ; 12-15 SISKIN at the Greenhouse Grounds, where the only LONG TAILED TITS were seen passing through, a couple of flyover SKYLARK, a flyover LESSER REDPOLL, a skein of 9 flyover GREYLAG GEESE and 3 BUZZARDS that were up soaring together over Migrant Alley.

One of the 3 Buzzards seen today, a bit distant!

HOUSE SPARROW. Now a notable species to see on my patch!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

This morning was dull, dreary and drizzly, but at least there was little wind and much milder temperatures.

The dank weather didn't prevent the further onset of spring being detected as I made my 3 hour patch visit this morning, the woodland floor in both the Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods is starting to green up nicely now, with song from MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK all ringing through the twiggy branches of the woodland trees. Spring calls from GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, NUTHATCH, STOCK DOVE, plus the drumming of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and the trilling of a flock of 10-12 LONG TAILED TITS made for a very pleasant soundtrack.

The LITTLE OWL was seen in the old shack at the Ashes Lane Fields for just the second time this month, as I stopped to get a view of it in my bins, I saw my first GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL (64) for the year / months list fly over, a good species to find on my patch.......... well, over it!

A SPARROWHAWK flew low around the banks of the now almost ice free lakes, where I was pleased to see not only the return of a KINGFISHER, but also 3 GOOSANDER on the smallest lake, 2 being superb males, but there was no sign of the Coot today, I reckon i'd swap a Goosander for a Tufted Duck at the moment  :-)

The female KESTREL was back at the Greenhouse Grounds, where just a few SISKIN and a single LESSER REDPOLL were in the Alders, along with a dozen GOLDFINCHES, nearby the GREY WAGTAIL was back to feeding on the churned muddy area, then further on towards the Greenhouse Copse 2 YELLOWHAMMERS were seen.

I had a bit of a sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley, but apart from a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, a few BLACK HEADED GULLS, two HERRING GULLS and a GREY HERON, nothing majorly exciting was seen.

No photo's today in the poor weather and the 'blog folder' has run dry  :-(

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Early frost and dense fog seemed to clear around 08:00hrs, but within the hour the fog returned with a vengeance, not clearing until around mid day.

In the poor conditions, most of the 44 species recorded were done so by ear, with very few species actually being seen and those that were, appeared as just single birds, the exception were of a flock of mixed winter thrushes that were on the Ashes Lane Fields, made up 70/30 in favour of REDWING over FIELDFARE, plus 15-20 SISKIN that fed in the Alders at the Greenhouse Grounds.

The highlight of the visit was re-locating the COOT over at the lakes, which were re-frozen again, but at least I did see, if poorly, all three regular raptor species of BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL hunting over various parts of my patch.

Calls from TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, GREEN WOODPECKER, and JAY were all heard in the wooded parts of my walk, plus a few single GOLDCRESTS were noted and a pair of LONG TAILED TITS, while the drumming of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was the only clue to this species presence.

Nothing much more of any real note was seen this morning, except maybe the LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL that flew over during the brief clearance of the fog.

The last of my 'blog brighteners' ......................... STARLINGS !

Friday, 22 January 2016

Rain this morning turned heavier as the day progressed, making for a very dull and dreary day.

A short two hour patch walk, in a return to muddy conditions, did have its rewards today, the best being the first COOT (63) of the year being seen on the partly thawed main lake, a hard species to find for my patch! The species total for this January now gets promoted to 6th place out of the 15 recorded, and is just one species off the average tally for the previous 5 Januaries.

There was a SPARROWHAWK hunting around the Scrubby Woods, where a couple of BULLFINCHES were seen flying through, plus at least 4 GOLDCRESTS a TREECREEPER and a NUTHATCH were recorded.

Around 50-60 STARLINGS fed on the Ashes Lane Fields, along with a few FIELDFARE, REDWING, a MISTLETHRUSH and a couple of SONGTHRUSH, plus the regualr half dozen MEADOW PIPITS were still around.

A look through the Small Holding provided a few CHAFFINCH and GOLDFINCH, with them were 3 LESSER REDPOLL, all birds that were no doubt in the area attracted to my nearby garden feeders

A BUZZARD flew over the Pub Field, towards the Wet Woods, but no Kestrel was seen today, she was probably tucked away in the nest box at the Greenhouse Grounds  :-)

Just a few 'blog brighteners ' left to show now, hopefully we will get some sunshine soon so I can replenish the photo stock !

ROBIN, enjoying yesterdays sunshine.

Chaffinch, stealing the Redpolls seed!

This BLACKBIRD wasn't shy, it also wanted some of the Sunflower seeds.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Another sharp frost this morning soon lifted under an overcast sky, but with virtually no wind it didn't feel too bad out.

I undertook a four hour full patch walk today, finding a slightly below par total of 42 bird species, with Greenfinch, Pheasant and surprisingly, Pied Wagtail all being unrecorded. I made a redoubled effort to try and find a Snipe around the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley and along the drainage ditch at the Ashes Lane Fields, plus more effort went into searching the Scrubby Woods for a Woodcock, but all my effort to find these species for this years list went unrewarded.

The best sighting of the day for me, by far, was the flock of 53 LAPWING that flew over from the North of the area, the most I have recorded here for some years. It was also good to see the three local raptor species up hunting, two BUZZARDS were in the Wet Woods, where a SPARROWHAWK was also seen, plus the female KESTREL was in one of the large gardens off Ashes Lane.

With the lakes still frozen, nothing but the MALLARDS were seen there, although a GREY HERON did fly low over before moving off. I managed to re locate the GOLDCRESTS that were missing on yesterdays walk, with a flock of at least 7 feeding in the Wet Woods, along with them were a pair of COAL TITS, plus nearby, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and a small flock of 4-5 LONG TAILED TITS were seen.

Only a single SISKIN was noted today, that being a flyover, of which the the same could be said for YELLOWHAMMER and MEADOW PIPIT.

A brief spell of afternoon sunshine allowed me to take a few 'Blog Brighteners' from my garden feeding station, where 13 LESSER REDPOLL were active, no wonder I didn't see any during my walk!

Half a dozen Lesser Redpoll clearing up the Sunflower hearts

Lesser Redpoll

Some of the breeding plumage is starting to show through now  :-)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Again, clear skies overnight gave a frost this morning, much harder than yesterdays though, but the up side of that were the sparkling blue skies and sunshine that were enjoyed all day  :-)

Frosty fields on part of Migrant Alley. The hedgerow marks the NW boundary of my patch area.

Panning round, slightly to the left, the trees on the left hand side are part of the Greenhouse Copse.

Before reaching the above views, I visited the Greenhouse Grounds, all the mud there had turned as hard as stone, but a GREY WAGTAIL was trying to find some morsel of food on it. Just a couple of LESSER REDPOLL and 4 SISKIN were also seen there. A YELLOWHAMMER was foraging along the sunny edge of the Greenhouse Copse, along with two PHEASANTS.

There were 100 or so BLACK HEADED GULLS out on the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, but I didn't find any Common Gulls or the Mediterranean Gull among them today. Walking back through the Greenhouse Grounds I saw the female KESTREL was back on her usul perch, the first time this week I've seen her there, plus a pair of BULLFINCH came down for a drink at the small run off pool, there was just enough unfrozen water at the edges for them to take what they needed  :-)

Ive got lots of images of her, but I cant pass her without snapping away, especially with the blue sky behind her!

She gave a stretch of her wings, then flew further along the roof to enjoy the warm sunshine.

The Ashes Lane Fields had nothing exciting for me, no snipe along the drainage ditch, only 4 MEADOW PIPITS and flyovers from a COMMON BUZZARD and a lone GREYLAG GOOSE were of note there. Approaching the sunny edge of the Wet Woods, I saw a dozen each of REDWING and FIELDFARE moving through the trees, before they flew off out onto the fields.

The Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods were much colder, as they are mostly in the shade, that probably explaining why little of note was found, the normal frequent sightings of GOLDCRESTS was down to just 2 individuals, but a pair of COAL TITS were watched displaying, and the NUTHATCH called.

The lakes were frozen from bank to bank again, so only the MALLARDS were seen, 8 of which sat in a huddle on the ice, waiting for a thaw, but it will take a day or two for the ice to completely go, even without any more frosts.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Clear skies overnight gave a moderate frost this morning, but the dawn brought with it cloudier conditions, which eventually cleared around 11:00hrs to give some pleasant sunshine.

I was out for just over 3 hours, most of that time was spent around the frosty fields looking for a possible Snipe, but none were found. I did however add a new species to the year / month list, when 2 LINNETS (62) were seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, a rare winter sighting, there were also a dozen each of SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL there.

Whilst at Migrant Alley, a skein of 9 GREYLAG GEESE flew over, plus as I scanned the 60-70 BLACK HEADED GULLS there, I picked out 3 COMMON GULLS, a MEDITERRANEAN GULL, and 5 LAPWING among them.

Over at the Ashes Lane Fields I counted 4 MEADOW PIPITS and had a flock of 10 FIELDFARE fly over, the only winter thrushes seen today.

All three lakes were frozen over from bank to bank, so there was nothing to be seen there, then a look through the Scrubby Woods for a Woodcock only gave me a flock of LONG TAILED TIT and a few GOLDCRESTS of note, plus a SPARROWHAWK, that was probably why not much else was seen there!

Once I got home, the sun decided to come out, so I at least was able to get some 'blog brighteners' from the garden feeding station this afternoon, that is in between visits from the Sparrowhawk!   :-)

There were three of these GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS fighting over the suet

Two were females

Pity the light hits my garden side on at the moment, give it a few weeks and the sun will be in better position for photographs

This BLUE TIT was the only visitor to my bird bath, I had hoped it would attract a few more species, it being the only open water around.

There are still a dozen Lesser Redpoll visiting

Plus at least one pair of COAL TITS. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

This morning was grey and overcast, with virtually no wind, it was milder than of late too.

I undertook a 4 and a half hour full patch walk this morning, finding 44 bird species, which is one or two more than the average for a January full patch walk, only Mistlethrush and Pheasant were not found that could have been expected today. On the other hand the 3 GOOSANDER, 2 CANADA GEESE and the GREY HERON that were on the main lake were not entirely expected  :-)

The three regular raptors all turned out this morning, a BUZZARD flew from the Wet Woods, the female KESTREL was seen after her two day absence, she was in a large garden off the Ashes Lane Fields plus a pair of SPARROWHAWKS were seen multiple times as they hunted over my patch.

There were a dozen MEADOW PIPITS on the pasture at Bustard Hill, maybe they were the ones from the Ashes Lane Fields, although there were still 4 on those fields as I walked through, plus a dozen FIELDFARE and 4 REDWING were also feeding there.

Noteworthy flyover species were few today, but included LESSER REDPOLL, SISKIN, and PIED WAGTAIL, while the Wooded areas of my patch supplied the likes of LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY and STOCK DOVE, as well as the regular common stuff.

Fewer BLACK HEADED GULLS and HERRING GULLS were feeding on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley today, but the ROOKS had turned out in force with at least 75 being seen, they will be pairing up ready to nest soon now  :-)

Back to my garden for todays blog brighteners, these were taken a few days back, just a few Tit species  :-)

This Coal Tit posed nicely, but briefly, allowing a few shots

The BLUE TITS use the same perch  :-)

Just lost the light for this GREAT TIT, but it's not too bad an image  :-)