Monday, 31 October 2016

The Greenhouse Copse - looking very Autumnal

After some initial mist and fog, the day became sunny and warm, tee shirt weather on the last day of October!

The weather was to be enjoyed this morning, but the birding was slow, not much of note was found, the best of what I recorded were a GREY WAGTAIL along Ashes Lane, a CHIFFCHAFF at the Greenhouse Grounds, a flyover REED BUNTING and the raptors that were seen, which were BUZZARD and KESTREL.

In the fine, warm weather, I watched a light passage of WOOD PIGEONS flying south, plus I recorded 3 butterfly species, those being Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White, a nice bit of summer returning  :-)

So October ended with a bird list of 70 species, 3 lower than the mean average total for the previous 5 Octobers and 7 off the record October of 2010, making it the 6th best October tally out of the 15 years of recording. One species was added to Octobers 15 year combined species total - the Lesser Whitethroat, taking it to 101 species, the 3rd highest combined monthly total, behind April (113) and August (102).

Lets see what November brings!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

This morning was gloomy, overcast and cloudy, with not a breath of wind.

I carried out the tenth and last full patch walk of the month, which was also the one hundredth full patch walk of the year, but there wasn't much to celebrate the event bird wise. The best on offer from the poor day list of just 39 species, were a pair of REED BUNTING at the Greenhouse Grounds, always a scarce bird here. The female KESTREL was also there, sitting up on one of the greenhouses, plus a dozen PIED WAGTAILS flitted around the place.

The sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley produced 20-30 MEADOW PIPITS of note, where a few SKYLARKS flew over, other species recorded only as flyovers this morning were SISKIN, BLACK HEADED GULL, HERRING GULL, COLLARED DOVE and FIELDFARE, without these, the day tally would have been just 33!

The best of what was recorded in the wooded areas of my patch were, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and BULLFINCH.

No chance with any photo's in the poor light, but I have a few images to brighten the post, these were taken yesterday, when I visited Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve.

Shoveler Duck


Canada Geese Touching Down



Wednesday, 26 October 2016

After a misty start this morning, some sunny spells developed, and in calm conditions it felt quite warm.

A visit to the lakes first thing didn't provide a Duck species for the months list, just MALLARDS and MOORHENS patrolled the water. The adjacent scrubby Woods was given a good look through, always a hope of finding a firecrest there, but not today!

I wandered over to the Greenhouse Copse to see if the STONECHAT was still around, which it was, very nice too, but it was too wary to be approached for photographs. As I sat on my nearby sky watching seat, eating my breakfast of a Banana and an Apple, I saw two LAPWING (70) fly over, nice to get 70 species for the month, but it's still a few short of the mean average tally for the previous 5 Octobers. BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were also observed hunting over the area.

The Greenhouse Grounds continue to be over managed, just the eastern side of it holds any habitat now, for how long I dont know  :-(

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

View of the main lake (taken a few days back)

This morning was dull, gloomy and overcast, however the four and a half hour full patch walk had some brighter moments, one was finding a MANDARIN DUCK (69) on the main lake, one to add to this months species list. Also at the lakes was a KINGFISHER, plus the usual scattering of MALLARDS and MOORHENS.

The adjacent Scrubby Woods was quite lively, top birds for me were LESSER REDPOLL, SISKIN, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, MISTLETHRUSH, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS, but all the other common regulars were also seen.

As I walked across the barron silage crop at Ashes Lane Fields, I watched small numbers of both FIELDFARE and REDWING pass over, plus a few HERRING GULLS and a lone BLACK HEADED GULL.

The Greenhouse Grounds were once again being subject to right battering, with large bits of habitat going under the chainsaw and brushcutters, so nothing was seen there, apart from the female KESTREL that looked on from its perch on one of the greenhouses.

I was pleasantly surprised to find yet another STONECHAT feeding along the edge of the Greenhouse copse, along with 2 YELLOWHAMMERS, that cheered me up a bit! A BUZZARD was seen sitting on one of the massacred hedgerows at Migrant Alley, where I saw a few MEADOW PIPITS, PIED WAGTAILS and SKYLARKS flying over.

A species total of 46 for the day wasn't too bad, thanks mainly to the habitat at the scrubby Woods, the Lakes, plus the flyover species. I noted not one Greenfinch today though, they seem to have been hit hard by the Trichomonosis disease again this year  :-(

Some late afternoon sunlight gave a short opportunity to try and photograph some garden birds, but there is relatively little visiting the feeding station at the moment, the Nuthatch is always good value though!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

This morning was clear and sunny, with a light NW wind, variable amounts of cloud slowly built up during the afternoon.

I made a visit to the lakes first thing this morning, but had no luck with any duck species there, just the usual MALLARDS ans MOORHENS on the water, although a CORMORANT flew over, it didn't visit. The nearby out buildings had a GREY WAGTAIL feeding around them, while at the adjacent Scrubby Woods I recorded SISKIN, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, REDWING, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER of note.

Walking over to the Greenhouse Grounds, across the Ashes Lane Fields, I watched 37 FIELDFARE fly SW, a few SKYLARKS and MEADOW PIPITS were also observed passing over. At the GREENHOUSE Grounds, another, or maybe the same Grey wagtail was at the water intake area, where I was very surprised to see a KINGFISHER visit briefly. The female KESTREL was perched up on one of the greenhouses, the only other raptor species seen today were a couple of BUZZARDS that were up soaring over Migrant Alley.

Later this afternoon I at last got the chance to use my camera, just a couple of shots of the garden GOLDFINCHES, but it was an enjoyable session  :-)


Thursday, 20 October 2016

In overcast, but calm conditions this morning, I undertook the 8th full patch walk of the month, in which the four hours produced a rather low tally of 42 bird species.

One new addition was made to the months bird list when a TAWNY OWL (68) was kindly pointed out to me by a cacophony of scolding BLACKBIRDS, CHAFINCHES and GREAT TITS, they had found its roost in a large leylandi tree at the Scrubby Woods.

Of the regularly seen species, Long Tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Pheasant, Buzzard and Stock Dove were missing today, as well as Linnet, most of the latter have probably moved out of the area for the winter now. Winter / Autumn arrivals continue, with LESSER REDPOLL, SISKIN, FIELDFARE and REDWING all recorded, but only as flyovers.

KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK represented the Raptors, BLACK HEADED GULL and HERRING GULL the Larids, as for the Summer species, just a single CHIFFCHAFF was found, this at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I was pleased to see a YELLOWHAMMER drop in.

Still finding photo opportunities hard to come by, what with poor light a few birds, especially at my garden feeders!

Monday, 17 October 2016

It was mostly cloudy this morning, but in the occasional sunny spells it felt quite warm. Showers fell around noon and into the afternoon.

I undertook a full patch walk today, where during the four and a half hour visit I recorded a good tally of 48 species, Pheasant was missing again as was Coal Tit, but all the other regular species turned out.

Two more new species were found for the months list, a YELLOWHAMMER (66) was watched as it circled around Migrant Alley, calling as it went, a little later a LESSER REDPOLL (67) also flew over, that also giving it's distinct call. Flyovers from CANADA GOOSE, HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL, LINNET, GREY WAGTAIL, SISKIN and FIELDFARE all helped the daylist along.

The three local Raptor species were all noted up hunting, the female KESTREL at the Greenhouse Grounds, two BUZZARDS up over the Wet Woods, and a SPARROWHAWK around the Scrubby Woods.

The lakes were disappointing - as ever- just a few MOORHEN and a couple of MALLARDS were present, as I left a CORMORANT dropped onto the main lake.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A short, late morning walk, around the farmland part of my patch, post the rain, was mainly done to get some exercise and fresh air, but the 90 minute visit added both GREYLAG GOOSE (64) and PHEASANT (65) to the months list, just goes to show you never know what each patch visit will bring, even a short one!

No Summer species were found, nor were there any Raptor species about, the Grey Wagtail seems to have left the Greenhouse grounds too, after a week or so of feeding there.

The October list is still way behind the mean average species count for the previous five years (73), but with half the month to go I might just add the likes of Peregrine, Lapwing, Yellowhammer, Lesser Redpoll, Tawny Owl or Mandarin Duck, even maybe something more exotic will be found, like Coot, Mute Swan or Tufted Duck  ;-)

Not much chance for photo's recently, at this time of the year I'm usually photographing the garden birds at my feeders, but these are few, due not least to the attentions of the local Sparrowhawk pair. I've not even had a Blackbird visit this month, House Sparrows have not visited since August!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

After a couple of mediocre patch visits, today I undertook a full patch walk, in mostly cloudy mild conditions.

During the 4 hour visit I found 42 bird species, a little below par, with the likes of Coal Tit and Long Tailed not found, also Pheasant, which still remains missing from the months list. I did however watch the first CANADA GEESE (63) for October fly over the lakes, pity a Greylag wasn't among them!

TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, SISKIN, MISTLETHRUSH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and STOCK DOVE were the pick of what was seen around the wooded ares of my patch, while around the farmland, unsurprisingly, very little was found among the dwindling habitat, most of what was recorded was flying over, this included LINNET, SKYLARK, MEADOW PIPIT, REDWING, FIELDFARE and SONGTHRUSH of note.

A small flock of around a dozen GOLDFINCH were at the Greenhouse Grounds, where there was also a couple of GREEN WOODPECKERS, a few PIED WAGTAILS, plus the only Summer species seen today, that being a CHIFFCHAFF.

KESTREL and BUZZARD were the only raptors seen, HERRING GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL were the only Larids.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

In some wet and cool conditions I carried out a full patch walk this morning, finding a total of 43 bird species in all, not too bad considering the rain. I'm still not finding the likes of Pheasant, Canada or Greylag Goose for the months list, normally all regulars, but I did add FIELDFARE (62) to the October list when a group of 20-30 flew over the Small Holding area, then, later, another flock of at least 100 flew over Migrant Alley, but not one called!

The GREY WAGTAIL was at the Greenhouse Grounds again, where I found just one STONECHAT, perhaps the other two will turn up again tomorrow! A few PIED WAGTAILS and MEADOW PIPITS chased about the placed too.

A KINGFISHER and a GREY HERON were visiting the lakes, but no interesting duck species were found there today. The Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods between them were good for CHIFFCHAFF, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and COAL TIT of note, but not a Treecreeper or Long Tailed Tit to be seen today, the latter were found in my garden later this afternoon however, with a group of 8 at the feeders, also the SPARROWHAWK paid a visit - as usual!

The only other raptor species seen this morning was BUZZARD, still no Kestrels about and there were no Swallows today!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

There was a little sunshine this morning, but also variable amounts of cloud rolling through from time to time on a moderate North wind.

Once again  I walked the farmland areas of my patch, the 3 hours I spent out came up with much the same as the past few visits, with the GREY WAGTAIL feeding at the Greenhouse Grounds, where there was also a CHIFFCHAFF present. The STONECHATS appeared again, this time all three were feeding along the hedgerow that forms the boundary between Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds.

I watched 5 SWALLOWS fly over Migrant Alley, where there were also flyovers, from GREY HERON, MEADOW PIPIT, PIED WAGTAIL, SKYLARK and SISKIN of note. Two BUZZARDS were up soaring, plus a SPARROWHAWK was hunting around the Ashes Lane Fields, but there was no Kestrels to be seen, they have been absent since the 7th Oct.

Grey Wagtail at the Greenhouse Grounds.

Monday, 10 October 2016

There were some good sunny spells this morning, with a light NE wind, making it feel warm one minute and cool the next!

I checked out the Ashes Lane Fields, Pub Field, Migrant Alley, the Greenhouse grounds and the associated Greenhouse Copse this morning, but didn't find too much different from yesterday, apart from a fly over LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL (61), which is a new species for the months list.

Most of the interest was around the Greenhouse Grounds, with a GREY WAGTAIL present again, as well as 2 of the 3 STONECHATS that I keep seeing  :-) A few GOLDFINCHES and LINNETS were feeding on the thistle there, plus 5 SWALLOWS fed around the Greenhouse Copse, where the only CHIFFCHAFF of the morning was also seen.

Plenty of SKYLARK, MEADOW PIPIT, and Thrush species were moving through, no Fieldfare yet though!

There is still the odd Common Darter on the wing, they find what warmth they can in the sheltered sunny spots.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Variable amounts of cloud blew across the sky on a cool Northerly wind this morning.

I again checked out the lakes first thing this morning, but just MALLARDS and MOORHENS were present, however 3 TEAL circled low over the main lake, but didn't settle on to the water. SISKIN were seen and heard around the banks of the lakes.

A check of the Greenhouse Grounds was made, where I found just 1 STONECHAT, a GREY WAGTAIL was also present again, plus the bonus of a REED BUNTING was had when one flew over calling loudly.

Maybe around a dozen SWALLOWS flew through, as did 2 HOUSE MARTINS, the only other summer species seen today was a CHIFFCHAFF in the Greenhouse Copse.

A pair of BUZZARDS were watched as they circled low over the Wet Woods, then through my binocular vision around 15-20 REDWING (60) were spied flying through, the first of the Autumn. Their arrival this year is bang on the 15 year median arrival date, looking at those dates, all fifteen first sightings are between the 3rd and 12th of October inclusive, they really are reliable thrushes !

Saturday, 8 October 2016

It was overcast and showery this morning, but quite warm in light winds.

I checked the lakes early on, but nothing of note there but for a CORMORANT, a few SISKINS were heard and seen in the nearby Scrubby Woods.

A walk through the Greenhouse Grounds was pretty quiet, just a GREY WAGTAIL of note. A scan out over Migrant Alley revealed flyover BUZZARD and GREY HERON, plus a few MEADOW PIPITS flew over calling, as well as half a dozen SWALLOWS passing low over.

The recently worked field by the Greenhouses had attracted a mix of HERRING GULLS, BLACK HEADED GULLS, 2 COMMON GULLS and 20+ PIED WAGTAILS.

In a later visit to the Greenhouse grounds just after mid day, I re found all three STONECHATS, they certainly weren't around yesterday or this morning, just goes to show multiple visits are worth while at this time of year  :-)

Friday, 7 October 2016

In cool, cloudy and calm conditions, I set off for another full patch walk this morning, during which I tallied up an ok total of 45 bird species in the 4 hours.

I added a couple of species to the October list, the first being a TREECREEPER (58), one was at last found at the Small Holding Area. The second species involved a bit of good fortune, as two LITTLE EGRETS (59) flew over the Scrubby Woods just as I happened to be looking up!

After not seeing any SWALLOWS yesterday, this morning I watched scores of them passing over, along with just as many HOUSE MARTINS, the only other 'Summer' species recorded today were a few CHIFFCHAFFS, seen around the banks of the lakes, moving through with a party of LONG TAILED TITS, plus a few BLUE and GREAT TITS and a couple of GOLDCRESTS.

HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL and COMMON GULL were found on the field next to the Greenhouse Grounds that was ploughed and harrowed yesterday, today it was seeded and had also attracted around 30 PIED WAGTAILS. A GREY WAGTAIL was also seen, that flew over the greenhouses, where both the male and female KESTREL sat, just one BUZZARD was noted today though, the only other raptor species of the morning.

I was surprised to come across a pristine female Southern Hawker Dragonfly at the Greenhouse Grounds, a species I've not encountered in October before.

Not a day for taking photo's, but ive got a couple of images left from Wednesdays walk.


Thursday, 6 October 2016

It was mostly cloudy this morning, with a brisk NE wind again, making it feel cooler than of late.

I was surprised to see that 2 STONECHATS had returned to the Greenhouse Grounds after the brush cutting brigade had diminished the cover there a bit more. Just a lone CHIFFCHAFF, which sang a few quiet phrases, was the only other Summer species recorded, not a single Swallow was seen this morning, I should get to see one or two more before the months end, as their median average last sighting date is the 9th Oct.

One of the sheep pasture fields beside the Greenhouses was being ploughed and then harrowed, only the second time I have seen this field ploughed, it was getting a bit weedy, but I suppose it will now be re seeded with the usual boring grasses, in the short time the ploughing provided feeding opportunities for a dozen PIED WAGTAILS, a couple of MEADOW PIPITS and a mixed flock of 20-30 Gulls, which appeared to be made up of HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS, but I spotted two COMMON GULLS (57) with them as well, a good tick for October  ;-)

A good search of both the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods for the months first Treecreeper proved unsuccessful, as did a search for the months first Pheasant, I'm sure they will be found eventually.

Autumn Chiffchaff, from yesterdays photographic efforts.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Another mostly sunny day, but with a gusty NE wind, making it feel a bit chilly out of the sunshine.

A full patch walk was carried out this morning, the final tally of bird species reached 41, a little below par, with the likes of Coal Tit, Stock Dove, Treecreeper and Pheasant not being seen, the latter two species still haven't been recorded this month, but at least I did add a couple of new species to the October list. The first of those was REED BUNTING (55) a single flew over Migrant Alley and over the Greenhouse Grounds, where a team of workers were using brush cutters, so nothing at all was seen there, I guess those Stonechats will have gone for good now!

The second addition to the months list was KINGFISHER (56), I watched one flew low across the ornamental lake, then 'bumbed' into it again as it sped over my head whilst I was in the nearby Scrubby Woods.

Not much else to report today though, apart from 2 pairs of SWALLOWS that flew over and a CHIFFCHAFF at the small Holding Area, these were the only Summer species encountered, plus the 3 local Raptor species of SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL and BUZZARD were about. A CORMORANT flew low over the lakes but didn't come down to fish, unlike this one below, the photo of which I took on Monday.

I liked the light in this image, the sun was just catching the top of the bird.

A few minutes later, the sun was fully on the bird

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

After a sunny start, variable amounts of cloud blew over on a stiff  NE wind.

Another walk around the farmland areas of my patch this morning proved interesting again, with most excitement coming from a flock of 30-40 BRENT GEESE (101, 53) that flew over Migrant Alley heading South east, nice tick for the year!

Once again a WHEATEAR was present at Migrant Alley, plus a look for the STONECHATS was successful, with two of the three seen yesterday found by the Greenhouse copse. MEADOW PIPIT passage continues, as does the SWALLOW passage, but there were just a a dozen at most of the latter, the odd SKYLARK also went through. A CORMORANT flew over, plus the male KESTREL and male SPARROWHAWK were seen hunting. As the morning warmed up, 5 BUZZARDS were seen up soaring together over the Ashes Lane Fields and my first STOCK DOVE (54) of the month flew over.

I couldn't resist taking another couple of images of the Stonechats  :-)


Monday, 3 October 2016

Clear skies, light winds and plenty of sunshine made for a very pleasant mornings birding today.

Autumn is here!

I carried out a four hour full patch walk this morning, finding a good total of 46 bird species, this despite not finding some of the woodland bird species, such as Stock Dove, Treecreeper, Nuthatch or Long Tailed Tit, nor did I find a Pheasant, all are normally regular on my full patch walks.

There were however, seven additions to the October list, with some real goodies, (for my patch) turning up, like the 2 TEAL (46) that were on the main lake, about time something turned up there! The months first CORMORANT (47) was also at the main lake, along with the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS. The first SISKIN (48) of the Autumn was heard, then watched, as it flew over the scrubby Woods, 9 days earlier than the 15 year average mean first sighting date.

Over at the Greenhouse grounds there were more surprises awaiting, firstly, a SNIPE (49) flew up from next to my Sky watching seat at the boundary hedge, but even more exciting was finding 3 STONECHATS feeding along the same boundary, occasionally making feeding sorties into Migrant Alley, I have recorded two together on my patch before, but three is a new peak count! A couple of CHIFFCHAFFS were also nearby.

Flyovers from a few SWALLOWS, a GREY HERON, small parties of both HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS,  lots of MEADOW PIPITS, plus the raptor species of SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL and BUZZARD, the latter of which there were 3, helped the days list along.

As I walked a circuit of Migrant Alley, I spotted a WHEATEAR (50) out on one of the paddocks, along with a lone LINNET (51).  later, as I walked homewards, the call of a LITTLE OWL (52) was heard coming from the Small Holding Area, three more for the October list.

Time spent with stonechats paid off, as I got a few decent images eventually........


Sunday, 2 October 2016

After a cloudy morning, the afternoon slowly improved to give sunny spells.

A look through the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods early on, only revealed BULLFINCH (40) for those resident, woodland patch species that are yet to be found. The lakes proved disappointing again.

A GREY HERON (41) joined the October list as it flew over the Ashes Lane Fields, where, along the drainage ditch there, a STONECHAT was seen, probably yesterdays birds that had relocated from Migrant Alley.

KESTREL (42) was added to the months list, the male was looking superb as it hunted around the greenhouse grounds in it's newly moulted plumage. Two BUZZARDS were the only other raptors seen this morning.

There were plenty of MEADOW PIPITS around Migrant Alley, some just passing through among the small numbers of HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS, while others dropped into the sheep pasture. A pair of GREY WAGTAILS (43) were watched as the flew over heading for the Greenhouse Grounds.

There were two more additions to the months list this morning, BLACK HEADED GULL (44), a single one of which flew over, and MISTLE THRUSH (45) two of which were seen in a garden along Ashes Lane.

So the October list moves on to 45 species, a long way short of the record of 77, set in 2010, and still a considerable ask to get to the mean total for the previous 5 Octobers, which is 73.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The first day of the new month brought some heavy and prolonged showers, the first proper rain we've had for 6 weeks!

Although I did a full patch walk, much of the time was spent sheltering from the rain, so the low day list of just 39 species wasn't too surprising, there were a few regulars missing, like Treecreeper, Bullfinch, Stock Dove, Pheasant, Linnet and Kestrel.

On the other hand there were a few surprises, the best being a STONECHAT (100) at migrant Alley, the 100th patch species of the year comes at last! Another surprise was finding a LESSER WHITETHROAT at the Greenhouse Grounds, the first ever seen here in the month of October, making it the latest record for my patch. There were also quite a few CHIFFCHAFFS at the Greenhouse Grounds, along with a BLACKCAP. SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS made up the Summer species still left here, seen as they flew over on passage.

A BUZZARD was sitting on a fence line at Migrant Alley, plus the male SPARROWHAWK was up hunting at the Wet Woods.

So 39 species to kick off October, lots to find yet ......hopefully!