A short trip around the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley this morning, hoping to find a Wheatear, didn't provide me with one, but I did see my first SWALLOW (72,62) of the year fly through, fast and low.
A bit later in the morning I headed off to 7 Oaks wildfowl reserve in some lovely sunny weather, most noteworthy of sightings were the plentiful Blackcap and Chiffchaffs all singing away :-)
Fog initially shrouded the area this morning, but once it cleared I was able to enjoy the warm sunny conditions that prevailed for the rest of the 6 hour full patch walk.
Among the first dozen birds that were recorded, was a singing BLACKCAP (71,61), heard at the Greenhouse Grounds, a year tick for me! CHIFFCHAFFS were also singing, the 3 - 4 territories on my patch now being occupied by at least the male bird, but no other ''summer' species were found today.
Only the MEADOW PIPIT represented the winter species, small parties were noted heading NW throughout the visit. Of the regular woodland species only Treecreeper went unrecorded, the others which included MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, STOCK DOVE, GREEN WOODPECKER, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and NUTHATCH were all readily found today.
The MUTE SWAN pair continue their stay at the Ornamental Lake, but only MALLARD, MOORHEN and CANADA GEESE were found on the other two lakes, although a MANDARIN DUCK was seen flying low over them.
All three regular raptor species were recorded, a lone SPARROWHAWK, at least 2 pairs of BUZZARDS and the KESTREL pair.
Blackcap in the Blackthorn
This DUNNOCK was photographed in my garden at the weekend, it had found the sunniest warmest place to preen :-)
My penultimate full patch walk of the month was undertaken this morning, in grey conditions, with a cold NE wind blowing. The day list was a little disappointing, with a total after 3 and a half hours of just 41 bird species. Of the regular species, Coal Tit, Treecreeper and Bullfinch went unseen, but a nice surprise awaited me on the main lake when the first 2 EGYPTIAN GEESE (70,60) for the year flew in, an unusual species for my patch, but they do drop in from time to time, nice to get the 70th species of the year at last, plus 60th species up for March.
Not much else to report from this morning, the only spring arrivals so far are the CHIFFCHAFFS, the winter species were only represented by a lone REDWING.
In bright and breezy conditions this morning, I embarked on my 8th full patch walk of the month, where only 40 bird species were recorded, with the likes of Bullfinch, Treecreeper and Long Tailed Tit going absent, plus the Fieldfare and Redwings have left the area now. I should still get the odd one passing through my patch though, as the median average last sighting date is the 30th March for both species.
The MUTE SWAN pair continue to use the ornamental pond, the owners providing them with daily seed handouts - shame they had to take away the natural food, of pond weed and inverts in the first place, still, we mustn't have an untidy pond must we!
NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, CHIFFCHAFF, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, MISTLETHRUSH and STOCK DOVE were the pick of what was found in the scrubby Woods and Wet Woods.
Out on the farmland I recorded singles of YELLOWHAMMER and MEADOW PIPIT flying over, plus a few SKYLARKS were up singing, HERRING GULLS and BLACK HEADED GULLS also flew through, but despite a bit of sky watching I still didn't see the hoped for Grey Heron thats missing from the months list, normally such a regular species.
Just BUZZARD and KESTREL appeared for the raptor species this morning, reports of the Peregrine, seen at the nearby Tower at hadlow village promise a first sighting for the year for me???
Crocus' from my garden
Ladies Smock from my garden too, Orange Tip butterflies are not usually far behind the blooming of this flower :-)
Just 42 bird species were recorded during this mornings full patch walk, with Treecreeper and Bullfinch being the most notable absentees, the noise of the wind in the tree tops didn't aid with hearing their quiet calls!
The MUTE SWAN pair remain at the lakes, where just MALLARDS, MOORHENS and CANADA GEESE were also seen, a pair of MANDARIN DUCK circled the main lake, but didn't alight on the water. The nearby Scrubby Woods had at least 3 singing CHIFFCHAFF, but they were the only spring arrivals seen today.
Winter species were only represented by the now dwindling flock of of around 30 FIELDFARE, plus 7-10 REDWING that fed with them. KESTREL and BUZZARD showed for the Raptors, while flyovers from BLACK HEADED GULL, HERRING GULL, PIED WAGTAIL and ROOK helped the days list look a bit more respectable than it otherwise would have been.
Grey Heron and Little Owl still evade detection for the months list, two species that have been regulars on other march lists.
A couple of hours spent out at the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley proved worthwhile this morning, when I spotted a cracking male WHEATEAR (69,58) sitting on one of the fence lines. This is the third earliest record I have for Wheatear on my patch, following one on the 14th in 2009, and one on the 15th in 2008.
Not much else to report, bar the KESTRELS which hunted over the sheep pasture and Greenhouse Grounds, where a CHIFFCHAFF was singing.
The recent warm weather has brought out a few Butterflies, this Peacock was the 5th species of the year so far.
My sixth full patch walk of the month produced another good haul of bird species, 47 in all, but none were new to the March list, which still needs Grey Heron!
A COOT had arrived at the lakes, the second one this month, where the MUTE SWANS remain, plus a few CANADA GEESE mixed with the male MALLARDS, the females are presumably away on their nests.
A couple of CHIFFCHAFFS were singing from the Scrubby Woods, but I couldn't find either Bullfinch nor Treecreeper in there today.
Two MANDARIN DUCKS flew into the Wet Woods, watched as I passed through the Ashes Lane Fields, where there were at least 40 REDWINGS and 4 FIELDFARE as well as 2 MEADOW PIPITS.
HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL and SISKIN were recorded flying over Migrant Alley, the adjacent Greenhouse grounds were home as usual to the KESTREL pair and a few PIED WAGTAILS.
SKYLARKS once again were the only occupants of Bustard Hill, but a BUZZARD was also seen flying over, before diving into the Greenhouse Copse.
After yesterdays warm and sunny weather, during which a short patch visit didn't turn up much, my full patch walk for this morning was undertaken in much duller and damper conditions, this however didn't prevent me recording the highest day list so far this year, with 49 species being found.
The star bird for me was the humble CHIFFCHAFF (68,56) the first two of the year were seen in the Scrubby Woods, one in full song, there arrival is two days earlier than the 16 year median average first sighting date - migration has started! All the other regular and not so regular species were also found in the Scrubby Woods or in the Wet Woods, the best being, as always ; GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, SISKIN, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, STOCK DOVE, BUZZARD and JAY. The lakes were pretty poor as usual, but the MUTE SWAN pair were still present on the Ornamental Lake, plus a few CANADA GEESE were on the main Lake, a GREY WAGTAIL flew in to visit one of the nearby large gardens.
There was a mixed flock of 30-40 REDWINGS/FIELDFARE on the Ashes Lane Fields, where there were also a pair of MISTLETHRUSH, plus 4 MEADOW PIPITS had returned to feed there.
I added COMMON GULL (57) to the months list, when two were seen feeding with around 60 BLACK HEADED GULLS and a lone HERRING GULL on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, a fourth gull species was watched as it flew over, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL.
The KESTREL pair were seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I also saw a few PIED WAGTAILS, at least 3 SKYLARKS were to be heard singing over Bustard Hill, their usual haunt.
The morning started dull and overcast, but by 09:00hrs the sun came out, making it feel pleasantly warm, so much so that my first two Butterfly species of the year were seen, a SMALL WHITE and a SMALL TORTOISESHELL, very nice!
Birdwise, the full patch walk provided me with a quite good tally of 46 species, with a pair of flyover GREYLAG GEESE (54) and a flyover CORMORANT (55) both being new for the March list, which already has tallied up as many species as the whole of February!
Other highlights were the MUTE SWANS that have remained on the Ornamental Lake since their arrival on the 6th, plus the KESTREL pair at the Greenhouse Grounds mobbing a BUZZARD that dared to enter their territory. A lone LINNET was also seen at the Greenhouse Grounds.
A few REDWINGS remain on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, but no Fieldfare were recorded today, a few SKYLARKS sang on the silage field at Bustard Hill, where there were also at least 3 MEADOW PIPITS.
In brighter conditions this morning, my full patch walk yielded 45 bird species, with three of those additions to the March list, one being a year tick :-)
The new species for the year was the long awaited COOT (67, 51), the first on my patch since April last year! It was on the main lake, where another surprise awaited me - a pair of MUTE SWANS (52), these two species, plus the CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS and MOORHENS made for a nice change from the normally empty water!
The third addition to the March list was a GREY WAGTAIL (53) that flew across High House Lane as I was listening to the MEADOW PIPITS and SKYLARKS that were singing and calling on the adjacent 'Bustard hill'
Just the two raptor species were seen this morning, the female KESTREL at the Greenhouse Grounds, plus a flyover BUZZARD that was being tormented by a couple of CARRION CROWS. Other flyovers included a single YELLOWHAMMER, at least 4 SISKINS, BLACK HEADED GULLS and HERRING GULLS.
I noted a real lack of both REDWING and FIELDFARE today, seems they are heading off back home for the spring.
After the initial rain, I got round for a full patch walk this morning, finding a reasonable tally of 41 bird species, one of those being a year tick in the form of a male MANDARIN DUCK (66,50) which was first seen in the Wet Woods, but it flew out and alighted on the main lake, where, predictably, it was the only duck species to join the MALLARDS, MOORHENS and CANADA GEESE!
My walk was accompanied by the near constant calls of BUZZARDS, I think only two birds were involved, but they were very vocal today, the only other raptor species seen was the KESTREL, the pair of which were at the Greenhouse Grounds, where the female visited the nest box.
Plenty of FIELDFARE and REDWING are using the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley and the Ashes lane Fields/Pub Field to feed on, fattening up before their imminent departure. Not much else to report this morning, although it was nice to see a pair of LINNETS along High House Lane.
A visit to the lakes this morning, in blustery but sunny conditions, proved not to worth the effort, as nothing was on any of the 3 small lakes, bar the MALLARDS, MOORHENS and CANADA GEESE. I did however add SPARROWHAWK (45) to the months list, when one dashed through the Wet Woods as I passed through en route to the sheep pasture at Migrant alley.
It was at Migrant Alley that I added a further 4 species to the march tally, with a flyover MEADOWPIPIT (46) 3 flyover LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS (47) 2 flyover HERRING GULLS (48), plus bird of the month so far, and also a year tick, a MEDITERRANEAN GULL (65,49) that was feeding on the sheep pasture with a couple of dozen BLACK HEADED GULLS.
A lone YELLOWHAMMER was noted in one of the vegetative strips.....I mean to say....hedgerow :-)
With some sunshine this afternoon, I spent some time trying to get some images of the garden birds, but mostly I failed for one reason or another. I just got a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER image for my efforts, but I did get to see a JAY, the 28th species to come into my garden this year :-)
There were some bright spells this morning, but it clouded over rapidly, bring spots of rain by midday, not too bad a morning for the first full patch walk of the month. In all I recorded 44 species to kick the month off, hopefully I will be able to reach the average species tally for the previous 5 March's before the months end, which sits at 66, another tall order I feel!
This is what was recorded in order of appearance..........
Leaving the house and walking along Ashes Lane, I found ROBIN, COLLARED DOVE, HOUSE SPARROW, STARLING, WOODPIGEON, MAGPIE, DUNNOCK and WREN. Turning into the Small Holding I could hear the SONGTHRUSH singing and the MISTLETHRUSH doing likewise, GOLDFINCH, CARRION CROW, BLUE TIT, JAY, REDWING, STOCK DOVE, BLACKBIRD and GREAT TIT were also recorded there.
A couple of TREECREEPERS were watched as they fed around a rotten tree stump in the Wet Woods, but only GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GOLDCREST joined the days list from this area.
Coal Tit ( one from the archives!)
The Scrubby Woods added NUTHATCH, GREEN WOODPECKER, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH and SISKIN, plus 4 BUZZARDS that flew from their roosting place, calling as they went.
On the lakes, only the regular MALLARDS and MOORHENS were found, plus a few visiting CANADA GEESE.
Making my way out of the woods then across the Ashes Lane Fields and Pub Field, I picked up FIELDFARE and a couple of LINNETS, but nothing else was added to the months list on these fields.
The KESTREL pair were at the Greenhouse Grounds, where at least 6 PIED WAGTAILS were also seen. The adjacent Greenhouse copse had a bit of a treat awaiting for me, when 6 LESSERREDPOLL (64) were watched as they fed up in a mature Silver Birch tree - a year tick! A circuit of Migrant Alley added BLACK HEADED GULL, ROOK and PHEASANT for the March tally.
Nearing the end of the walk along High House Lane, I heard and watched a YELLOWHAMMER fly over and listened to the SKYLARKS singing over Bustard Hill, but no Meadow Pipoits were there today.