Monday 31 December 2007

Great Tit

So the last days walk of the year has arrived. My aim to get 100 species for the year is still 2 short, so I went out to find the most likely of these, that elusive Redpoll, and maybe another new species. Well I got half of what I wanted! A walk around the lake produced a LITTLE GREBE , 99 for the year!!! this is only the second one ever for my patch, the last was back in March 2005. The walk round saw another 45 species, yesterdays missing ROOKS turned up, and a surprise bird for the month was a LINNET or rather a pair, feeding in some weedy ground at the college. This species always departs on the coming of winter, only to return in the spring, a ''local'' migrant, although I have had December records before, they are few. Also at the college, along the stream, feeding in alders was a flock of SISKIN, I estimated about 110. I stood examining each of them for that dratted Redpoll, but no, it just wasn't to be, although a TREECREEPER did pop up with them. The months total of 62, is a very good tally, the best December by 3 species, it could be bettered though, the total for all Decembers is 73, so there is scope for an improvement next year! A few more notes for 2007. The average number of species seen per month works out at 63, the best month was jointly held by April and Sept with 70. The lowest species total was Novembers 57. The Woodwarbler and Black Redstart I saw earlier in the year, were the only two new species for my patch this year, bringing the grand total to 116. Anyway, enough of the stats! tomorrow is a new year and I will be trying for that 100 harder than ever! Have a good new birding and wildlife new year everyone!!

Sunday 30 December 2007

This morning was overcast, mild and still, perfect conditions for birding. It proved to be so, as an excellent total of 48 species was recorded in the 3hr visit. The total could of been higher had the Coal Tit or even more likely the Rook (which had been seen every visit until today!) had put in an appearance. The more scarce species such as, MARSH TIT, YELLOWHAMMER, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK, GREY LAG and CANADA GEESE all showed today, the latter in a flock of 28, flying very low over the field below, which also held 2 GREY HERON and a PHEASANT - just visable to the sharp eyed among you.

One Of TheGrey Herons, Along The Hedge/Ditch
Pheasant In The Same Field

Water-Logged Woods - Home For Teal At This Time Of Year

Nuthatch - Foraging On A Gravel Drive.
Signs of spring were becoming evident, a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER drummed from a large oak, and a MISTLE THRUSH sang its rather melancholy song across the watery woods. Several BLUE TITS were displaying around one of my nest boxes. The TEAL had increased to at least 7, and SISKIN were flying over in singles, calling all the while. Walking to the farmland area a CORMORANT flew over, but once at migrant alley all was quiet - apart from a SPARROWHAWK that was gliding slow and low over the paddocks. I reached the the River Bourne, (just a stream really) behind the College and found at least 30 SISKIN feeding in alders, but infuriatingly no Redpoll!! I was consoled though, for as I stood chatting on my mobile to a birder friend (watching Redpoll 1km to the north) first a GREY WAGTAIL flew low over, then a LITTLE EGRET, probably the one seen a few days earlier. It flew low and alighted along the stream 100m off my I sit and write this, I glanced at the feeders, and a COAL TIT arrived! 49 for the day - great total.

Saturday 29 December 2007

It was bright and sunny for this mornings walk, but noticeably chillier. The heavy overnight rain had left its mark, with large puddles everywhere. I found myself scratching around a bit- where have all the birds gone? I managed 41 species but it was hard going. Three TEAL I found in the waterlogged woods were just about the highlight, and a lone YELLOWHAMMER that flew from migrant alley was the first since Dec. 8th. This species has really declined on my patch. In the first year of recording I found at least one Yellowhammer on 86% of my visits, by 2005 this had dropped to 69%. This year it has been seen on 64% of visits, with a peak count of just 12 birds. In 2002 a peak count of 60 birds was made! Away from the birds, I observed a WEASEL scampering away with a small rodent in its mouth, an unusual encounter.

Friday 28 December 2007

I didn't leave for todays walk round until 8:30, and this is probably the reason for the slightly lower tally of 39 species that I recorded. There was a highlight though, as a LITTLE EGRET flew up from the stream behind Hadlow College. This species brings the months total to 60, an all time high for December. The Little Egret was the 4th recorded on my patch this year, and only the 5th ever, and also has the distinction of being the first to touch down! I could do with this species on next years list.
Above, Is The Unlikely Location That The Green Sandpiper Was Discovered Last Week
Some Of The Manure Piles At ''Migrant Alley'' Ready For Spreading In March/April

Thursday 27 December 2007

I felt more human this morning, and so, set off out for a full circuit of my patch. i was on full alert for the most likely addition to the year list - the Redpoll- but alas, no matter how I tried to make every small passerine streaky brown with a black chin, and red forehead, one did not appear. However it was still a worthwhile trip out, 44 species did want to be seen and noted down, a KINGFISHER flew across the lake, just a small piece of colour, on a grey day. Four different parties of LONG TAILED TIT were located, one of them partying along with TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, and GOLDCREST. As I walked through migrant alley, I saw that manure piles had been recently dumped in one of the larger sheep fields. No doubt ready to be spread, and then ploughed into said field, probably in late April for a Maize crop. This is good and bad - good, as the piles attract migrant birds down to feed on the insects in March/April. Bad as any Skylarks nesting in that field will be ploughed in! Today though, it was the haunt of 70 odd ROOKS and 100 or so STARLINGS, with a few JACKDAWS. Haunt was the right word, there's nothing more eery than the sound of a mixed corvid flock in winter, especially in the dim light. on the far side of the field was a female SPARROWHAWK, it was minding its own bussiness on a fencepost, until 3 JAYS decided to taunt it, I watched for some minutes as they all played ''Touch the accipiter and scarper''

Wednesday 26 December 2007

After contracting the winter vomiting virus on sunday night, xmas was a dismal affair! More important though, I couldn't get out to do any birding until today, and that was curtailed half-way round! I did find that FIELDFARE numbers were down on recent weeks, and REDWING had increased slightly, preferring to feed on lawns, and in the college grounds - the hedgerow berries must now be running low! Now the frost has retreated, the Lapwing flocks move back to where they came, taking the chance of finding another golden plover with them. With just 5 days left in the year I hope to be out during them all, trying to get the final 2 species needed for the big 100 total!!

Sunday 23 December 2007

The Enemy Lurks!!

It was clear and frosty this morning, but the mist and low cloud rolled in about 11.00am. In direct contrast to yesterdays dire visit, today was a real cracker. 47 species were recorded. 96 LAPWING fed/rested on pasture and autumn sewn cereal fields, along with 34 BLACK HEADED GULL. An orchard along cuckoo lane held a large number of FIELDFARE and REDWING, as well as at least 34 SISKIN. The main excitement for the visit was provided by a SNIPE, which flew from the stream behind hadlow college, swifly followed by a KINGFISHER. The snipe was only the 3rd sighting this year, but it is not seen every year, so it was a good addition to this months list. Even this sighting was put into the shade somewhat by the next bird on the list - a GREEN SANDPIPER, only the fourth for my patch, and the first since Feb. 2004, this flew from a drainage ditch, right alongside the road going through the college, quite a remarkable place to find one. This species now takes the yearly total to 98, equal to last year, these two years have the highest species total of the 6 years recording. The months total is now on 59 also a joint high with last year.

Early Frost

Saturday 22 December 2007

Another Albino Squirrel

The fog and frost relented this morning, but everything was wet, dripping and murky. Not surprisingly, it turned out pretty poor for birds. Only 37 species were recorded, with two more added later in the garden, COAL TIT and NUTHATCH. The best of the bunch were the 20 or so LAPWING, thinly spread over migrant alley, and two small groups of SISKIN.

Friday 21 December 2007

Today was certainly a garden watching day, the fog and frost reduced visability to a mere 30m. The frost remained all day, whilst the fog only began to clear around 3: 45. The first thing I did on arriving home was to go out and break the ice on the pond, a move which the STARLINGS and BLACKBIRDS appreciated straight away, a steady flow of visitors used the water all afternoon, it was most likely the only unfrozen water for a distance. It was noticeable that there were fewer BLUE TITS using the feeders, has the frosty weather started to take its toll on the smaller birds? Also, only one visit from a single GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was recorded, whereas for a few months now, at least two birds have remained '' glued '' to the feeders all afternoon. ROBINS were more in evidence, five of them held a truce, and fed together on the dropped fat, however war broke out soon enough and endless persuits followed around the garden.

Tuesday 18 December 2007

It was less cold today as I walked home from work, and again there was a flock of LAPWING at migrant alley, numbering 40 or so. After a quick bite to eat, and a cuppa, I headed off to the lake area via the waterlogged woods - which was virtually birdless, apart form a single pair of TEAL. At The lake it wasn't much better, just 2 MALLARD, but I heard 2 GOLDEN PLOVER fly over, I rushed out from under the trees, but they were nowhere to be seen, however a flock of 13 Lapwing were visable, ploding across the sky. Walking back an immaculate male BULLFINCH showed itself, atop a bramble patch.

Monday 17 December 2007

A cold North East wind blew this afternoon as I crossed migrant alley, it felt like it was cutting me in half! The last thing I felt like doing was taking my hands out of my pockets to scan the sheep pasture and horse paddocks. I was glad I did though, as the distant blobs I had spied were a flock of 68 LAPWING, around 200 STARLING, 45 ROOKS and 2 BLACK HEADED GULLS. I checked out the Lapwing for Golden Plover, but my eyes started streaming in the cold wind, or was I just upset cause there were no Golden Plovers?

Sunday 16 December 2007

Grey Squirrel

Songthrush At The Grounds Of Hadlow College

One Of The Lapwing At Migrant Alley

Sunrise Over The Waterlogged Wood

It was clear, with a slight frost this morning. A reasonable total of 42 species was recorded, amongst them a GREY WAGTAIL and a COMMON GULL both new species for the month. Two species not seen on the walk, but were on the garden feeders, were COAL TIT and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, taking the total to 44.A lone SISKIN fed in some Alders, along the stream, through Hadlow College, and it was in the grounds of the college that the Grey Wagtail was found. At migrant alley, some 50 Lapwing rested in the sheep pasture, with 34 Black Headed Gulls and the Common Gull.

Saturday 15 December 2007

This morning it was chilly and grey, and it was the first visit in December that I could give all morning to do my monthly tally of all the birds encountered. In all 815 birds, of 43 species were seen. surprisingly, the WOODPIGEON, with 80 individuals scattered around, wasn't the most numerous. This honour went to a flock of 108 ROOKS, feeding on the sheep pasture at migrant alley. At the other end of the scale were, MARSH TIT, TREECREEPER, SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL, COAL TIT and STOCK DOVE, all of which, singles were seen. The latter a new species for the month. A large number of BLACKBIRDS were around (57) and Plenty of LONG TAILED TIT (26).The sports field at Hadlow College held 23 BLACK HEADED GULLS, amongst them were 75 STARLINGS. The winter thrushes were scattered about, but FIELDFARE (66) and REDWING (10) was a good count. Three CORMORANT flew over the lake area, where a GREY HERON fished, one of four seen, and in the waterlogged woods the largest flock of long tailed tits (16) for the day foraged with their usual companions. It was disappointing not to find any Siskin, Brambling or that now infuriating Redpoll !

Thursday 13 December 2007

It was again a cool, but sunny walk home through migrant alley and apart from around 40 ROOKS, in the sheep pasture, it was quiet. In the garden, the usual suspects showed, except the wren - however a smart, male BLACKCAP was seen, a good species to find in December! I have recorded blackcaps in every month this year, on my patch, except November.

Wednesday 12 December 2007

It was all quiet across the sheep pasture and paddocks at migrant alley early this pm, so I decided to do a garden bird watch, as I have neglected the BTO garden birdwatch a bit this week. Plenty of BLUE and GREAT TITS dashed about, grabbing sunflower hearts, GOLD, GREEN and CHAFFINCH fed at the feeders with the odd HOUSE SPARROW, whilst half a dozen COLLARED DOVES picked up the spillings, with a DUNNOCK and two ROBINS. The fat blocks were dominated by the STARLINGS, but a COAL TIT did get a piece of the action. Apples spiked on the elder tree attracted a couple of BLACKBIRDS, but no other of the thrush kind. Later in the afternoon a NUTHATCH came to the sunflower hearts and a GS WOODPECKER had a go at the fat. I also spotted a WREN, the first in the garden this month (22nd species) it was carrying a large, bright green caterpiller half as big as itself! A single JACKDAW came in as dusk fell, picking at the dropped fat pieces. The only SPARROWHAWK attack was a failure, at around 3 o'clock. 17 species made use of the garden in the 2hours, and 11 further species flew over or were in the vacinity, the best being a lone CORMORANT, coming from the lake area.

Tuesday 11 December 2007

A totally different day, weatherwise, and whilst walking home from work, the sun warmed the air and a few passerines made themselves more obvious. A pair of COAL TITS called from a fir tree in the grounds of hadlow college, as did a GOLDCREST, and half a dozen REDWING fed in the paddocks with their scandinavian friends, the FIELDFARE, which were equal in number. An eagerly awaited winter sighting of 10 LAPWING, fed in the sheep pasture at migrant alley and as I watched over the fields a GOLDEN PLOVER dropped in like a stone, almost alighting with the lapwing, but it caught sight of me and flew off northwards. The latter species was the first record here since Feb 20th 2005. Another addition to the year list, 97 species now, could I possibly reach 100 species for the first time ? its gonna be a close run thing!

Monday 10 December 2007

Only a quick visit to the patch this pm, but it proved to be very profitable, as I found a female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. The 96th species this year. I watched it picking off items of food from an old apple tree for some minutes. Apart from a few GULLS and A GREY HERON this was just about the only bird of note.

Sunday 9 December 2007

Here It Comes!

Only an hour into this mornings walk, and it threw it down! So it was a retreat back home. Maybe if it cheers up a bit i'll go back out this pm. It was not a total loss however, as the first TEAL of the Autumn arrived, two males, in the now replenished waterlogged woods, nicely bringing the months total to 50. Just goes to show, persistance seldom goes unrewarded!

Saturday 8 December 2007

A 3hr visit around my patch this am was finished just as the heaviest rain started to fall. Early on it was dry and still, a couple of GREY HERON fed in the soaked wheat field and as I walked on to the golf course two GREY LAG GEESE were grazing the rough. The first this month, and the only sighting since September. Another new species for the month was a single SISKIN, feeding, where else, but in the alders. The Lake area is now quiet again after the landscaping works, and 3 CORMORANT fished on the larger lake, but there was little else there but a few MALLARD and MOORHEN, I don't think this place will hold quite the same attraction for the wildlife now. A party of LONG TAILED TITS were located in the waterlogged woods, with their attendent BLUE and GREAT TITS, as well as a couple of GOLDCREST and 3 NUTHATCH. Along the Bourne, a KINGFISHER darted through the college grounds, cutting off the bend in the river. The total species list for the day reached 44, quite a reasonable tally for Dec.

Thursday 6 December 2007

The rain held off for a couple of hours from 12.30ish onwards, but not much was seen on the walk home through migrant alley, apart from a couple of LBB GULLS - the first this month. Around 2pm I sat down at the bedroom window to see what would turn up in the garden. It was slow going due to the mild weather, and the SPARROWHAWK , which kept returning to the large evergreen overlooking the feeders. Numerous attempts were made to get its dinner, but all failed - I dont think it was really trying too hard! The recent strong winds have blown down the Honeysuckle covered trellace work that afforded much cover from the above accipiter, so now it has a clear run at the feeders! On the positive side a real rareity did enter the garden, a WOODPIGEON ! They don't often use the garden. Flyovers included a CORMORANT, another first for the month, No. 47 now. The target to beat for december is 59, could be difficult in this dodgy weather.

Sunday 2 December 2007

The weather wasn't too bad when I set out this morning, but by 10am it was throwing it down, forcing me to abandon my walk halfway round. 41 species were seen. To add to yesterdays list was - B H GULL, CANADA GOOSE, SKYLARK and SPARROWHAWK. As I was getting soaked by the driving rain, a flock of BH and HERRING GULL drifted over, clearly relishing the conditions!

Saturday 1 December 2007

The start of another new month, but today I split the morning between the wooded part of my patch, and my second TTV for the BTO atlas survey, which is NW of my patch. As I couldn't gain access to the TTV until 10.00am I spent the early hours scanning the woods, hedgrows and the lake. I found 39 species, none of which were particularly exciting - except maybe the MARSH TIT which was feeding in the waterlogged wood, this is the first December record of this species. I arrived at my TTV (TQ65A) at 09:50. and spent the next 2 hours walking the farmland and large wooded lake. The lake proved to be the most interesting - holding a female TEAL, 19 MALLARD and 25 MANDARIN DUCK. So this is where they all hide! no wonder I havn't seen them on my patch recently. A field of stubble held 19 SKYLARK and 4 MEADOW PIPIT and in one hedgerow 8 LONG TAILED TITS fed WITH 4 GOLDCRESTS and a few BLUE and GREAT TITS. It was interesting to see 5 GREY HERON feeding in a crop of winter wheat, they looked out of place !

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Just a brief, mid afternoon visit, to the lake today. I had hoped to find a Teal in the waterlogged woods or a Grey Lag Goose on the lake itself, but alas none of them showed up. As I scanned the Smallest area of water however, through the gloom, a brilliant blue blob appeared, as I focused in, it was of course the KINGFISHER. On the way back, 12-15 LONG TAILED TITS fed in a noisey flock, joined by the usual BLUE and GREAT TITS, but also present were NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, a couple at least of GOLDCREST and a confiding MARSH TIT, which I got within 6ft of. This latter bird is more than likely the one that comes to the garden feeders, just a hundred meters away (as the tit flies!)

Tuesday 27 November 2007

A couple of hours watching the garden this afternoon, saw the first SONGTHRUSH of the month come in. The apples I spiked on the trees worked for this species, all we need is some colder weather and the Fieldfares will be next! As the month ends, my records show that 22 species visited the garden, the best November total for the 6 years of recording, the previous best was November '03 and '05 with 21 apiece. The combined total for November is 26, so I may get another visitor this week.

Sunday 25 November 2007

It was alot warmer this morning, and reasonble numbers of birds were about for Novembers final full walk of the area. Two new species for the month were added -COMMON GULL, resting in the horse paddocks with 20 or so BH GULL, and KINGFISHER. The latter was seen during a brief afternoon visit to the lake, the first record since September.

Little Owl

44 Species for the day is a good day total for November, the monthly total looks like ending on 57, but I might just get a Teal, or that elusive Redpoll, on one of my shorter visits during the week, making a new November high.

Saturday 24 November 2007

All Quiet On The Golf Course

Dawn - a View From The Golf Course

It was still and frosty this morning. A 4 hour walk from 7am till 11am revealed 42 species. A pair of GREY HERON once again fed in a recently sown grass field, where a couple of BH GULL flew low and looked to join them, but thought better of it. FIELDFARE and REDWING were feeding along the hedgerow at the golf course. At the lake the heavy earthworks have at last finished, and another Grey Heron fished there, with 14 MALLARD keeping it company. A MARSH TIT called again, in the waterlogged wood - always a good find, but there were no teal yet. It was relatively quiet along the farmland, but a flock of 30-50 SISKIN fed in alders along the river Bourne, still havn't found a Redpoll this year!!

Wednesday 21 November 2007

A day off work today (man flu) enabled me to do a 5hr garden birdwatch. With all the feeders full, I sat down with a mug of tea at 11.00am. The MARSH TIT was a bonus bird, not seen in the garden since the 10th, it was joined by COAL, BLUE, and GREAT TIT. The GOLD, CHAFF, and GREENFINCH, made the most of the sunflower hearts. What they dropped was picked up by up to 21 COLLARED DOVES, a couple of ROBINS and A DUNNOCK. The fat blocks attracted a peak of 4 STARLINGS, a JACKDAW and a MAGPIE. The only BLACKBIRD to come in, used the pond, as did a GOLDCREST. It is a bit concerning that just one HOUSE SPARROW came in, no more the 30 or so that used to arrive. At one point there were 2 female and a male GS WOODPECKER, all on their own feeder. Late on, a NUTHATCH arrived at the sunflower hearts. Two attacks from the sparrowhawk were unproductive, the last at around 2:30. A good number of species for the day, with another 12 flyover, or in the vicinity of the garden. FIELDFARE and REDWING were only yards away in an apple tree, feeding on the fruit. The former of these two has never entered my garden, I think i'll stick some apples in the elder tree and see what happens.

Sunday 18 November 2007

There was a cool, moderate southerly wind this morning, making it difficult to hear any bird calls. It was also meant to be a wet day - it didn't rain until dusk - another crap weather forecast! The total species seen was 40, a reasonable tally for November. Plenty of winter thrush's were in the hedgerows again, and a fortunate encounter with a LT TIT flock gave me several species in one go, BLUE, GREAT and COAL TIT as well as NUTHATCH and GOLDCREST. Overhead BH GULL, Mixed with HERRING GULL continually drifted over in two's and threes. At least 2 KESTRELS hunted over the area, and the now usual SPARROWHAWK did the same. I went out again, for an hour, mid afternoon. The gulls had formed a flock on a seedling grass field - some 75+, mixed Black Headed an Herring. A couple of species not seen in the morning, both flyovers, YELLOWHAMMER and CORMORANT brought the total to 42 for the day.

Saturday 17 November 2007

It was a frosty start to the morning, with none of the forecast sunshine, in fact an hour out it started to rain! The usual common species were around, and a few winter visitors showed up FIELDFARE and REDWING fed in hedgerows in small groups, a small flock of SISKIN fed in alders by the river Bourne and a BRAMBLING flew over calling, as they do, a new species for this month, in fact a new species for November! It was disappointing to see that a section of hedgerow had been removed at cuckoo lane, and an access gate put in its place, I hope this doesn't spell the end for the rough grassland behind it.

Another Patch Of Habitat Gone ?

Later in the morning I went to do my bird atlas TTV at TQ64J. Only 26 species were recorded but, a good find of 70 SKYLARKS and a dozen MEADOW PIPITS fed in some stubbles, this cheered me up a bit, after having to endure a shotgun going off every few minutes, some tosser was pigeon shooting all morning, I passed by his hide, and the field was strewn with corpses, proped up on sticks to entice more pigeons to their doom. One last highlight of the day was another species not seen this month - a LITTLE EGRET flew over the greenhouse complex as I walked back home through my patch. Novembers total is now 55 two behind the high of 2002, and equal to 2003 and 2005. The species count for combined Novembers is 68, so there is scope to reach a new high.
PS. early this year I planted a single teazel in my garden, hoping to get the classic view of a Goldfinch feeding on it. Up to now it has stood on its own, being ignored, the finchs preferring the niger and sunflower hearts. However this pm I saw one sitting on the teazel head..........a small triumph, in my small garden !!

Thursday 15 November 2007

Well, it was back to my patch today. Having lost the morning light now, my sightings are confined to mid afternoon and dusk, with more emphasis on the garden scene. However a visit to the lake and wet woods between 2 and 3:30 was worth it just for the months first LITTLE OWL, Its bright yellow eyes following me as I walked just a few yards from its perch. I knew when I got to the lake it would be piontless to do any birding. The main reason for going, was to talk to the groundsman about the landscaping - and how long it was going on for. A track way was now being built around the lake so the owners could walk round it, time will tell if this creates any new habitat. I did ask the groundsman if he could see his way to planting some Phragmites reeds, he said he would, but we will see!

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Today was a little different - I went to my atlas tetrad, which is adjoined to my patch, just a little to the northwest. The area covers North Frith farm and golden stable wood.I walked through the farm buildings and then onto a track, with woods on either side,where I heard a GOLDCREST calling, as well as a G S WOODPECKER. The track opened out to a field with a hedgerow, a single BULLFINCH called here. A little futher along the track I entered golden stable wood, a mixed woodland with a lake, boggy areas and wide rides. There were some pretty impressive ancient trees, of beech and oak. These were real trees! With a huge girth, their massive limbs spread out above me, some, properly broken off, giving homes to a wide variety of wildlife. On the lake a few CANADA GEESE were resting, and as I watched these, 5 MANDARIN DUCKS came into view. I followed the lake around its perimiter, coming to a boggy spot - 2 more mandarin flew up and 3 TEAL swam away into cover, at the same time a KINGFISHER piped up and sat on a branch giving good views. I walked out into the woods for a small distance and wow! a WOODCOCK silently flew up to my left. A great tit was mimicking what sounded to me like a Willow tit, but I couldn't be totally sure, however amongst a roving tit flock was no less than 3 MARSH TITS all pitchoeing angrily at my presence. I was nothing less than ''blown away'' by this place. I only had a small amount of time and all too soon I had to leave, I stopped at a high point, which over looked ''Migrant alley'' and as I scanned the sky a PEREGRINE flew into golden stable wood - or more accurately- glided in. I was feeling pretty pleased with my 2 hours work, which was capped off by a calling little owl. Great Afternoon !!

Sunday 11 November 2007

Todays 3hr visit was much the same as yesterday. The feeding HERONS had added one to their number, and two species were seen that didn't show yesterday PHEASANT and CANADA GOOSE. The SISKIN flock had moved on, but 4 did fly over. A few B H GULL also few over with LBB GULL and HERRING GULL and 2 CORMORANT fished on the lake - as they did last sunday.

Saturday 10 November 2007

There's A Fieldfare In There Somewhere - Honest!

Blue Tit At One Of My Feeders
A fresh westerly wind blew this morning, but it was quite mild. During the 3 hr walk around the area 43 species were recorded. A group 0f 4 GREY HERON fed in a seedling field, and as I watched, 4 LBB GULL flew over, the first this month. A few FIELDFARE fed on the haws of a hedgerow that runs along the golf course boundary, they were accompanied by REDWING, SONGTHRUSH, and BLACKBIRD. At the lake it was quiet - as expected- but their were 15 MALLARD and another Grey Heron there. Nothing stirred in the now dry woods, so it was on to the farmland area, MEADOW PIPITS ''Tseeped'' and SKYLARKS danced across migrant alley, and a YELLOWHAMMER called as it flew over. Moving on to the college, and following the river, I scanned the Alder trees. feeding in them were approx 80 SISKIN, and a sprinkling of GOLDFINCH, but although I scanned through them I couldn't find the first Redpoll for the year. A male SPARROWHAWK flew beneath the feeding Siskin - carrying what looked like a Blue Tit- and all the birds took of as one, before settling down a bit further on.

Clearance Of a Ditch - And Anything Else That Got In the Way!

A Poor Attempt At Hedge Laying Along The River- By Hadlow College

Thursday 8 November 2007

The walk to work produced the first GREY WAGTAIL of the month, right at the south-western boundary of my patch, where the river bourne disappears under the A26. A usual place for this species. Also a strange ''churring'' call in the hedgerow at ashes lane caught my attention, I scanned for a while and found a GOLDCREST and a WREN, but I didn't think it sounded much like either. I didn't have time to look for longer, so I thought I would look on the way back home - unfortunately the bloody hedgerow had been massacred by a hedge ''trimmer'' and there was little to be seen.

Wednesday 7 November 2007

A sit at the bedroom window from 2pm to 4pm for some garden birdwatching today. The cooler weather brought in a peak of 9 BUE TIT, 4 GREAT TIT and 2 COAL TIT with them were 8 GREENFINCH, and 5 CHAFFINCH, but just a peak of 2 HOUSE SPARROWS. A couple each of ROBIN and DUNNOCK fed on the floor amongst the cover. The recently put out fat blocks attracted 4 STARLINGS, and a GOLDCREST picked at the dropped bits that were falling in the dense honeysuckle - as was a WREN the first of the month, in fact the first since August. A pair of BLACKBIRDS splashed around the pond, an unusual visitor so far this month, then they were joined by the goldcrest, which enjoyed a long bathing session. Another species to take advantage of the water was a WOODPIGEON the first this month. The niger feeder attracted a group of 5 GOLDFINCH, the sunflower feeders attracted, NUTHATCH and G S WOODPECKER, their spillings were collected by up to 12 COLLARED DOVES. Only one attempt from the SPARROWHAWK - a failed one - must be eating somewhere else!

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Not much about generally today, the walk to work was made enjoyable by singing ROBINS, SONGTHRUSH and a distant MISTLE THRUSH, whilst starlings were clicking and whistling on the rooftops. The walk home was punctuated with the odd group of gulls, mainly BH,one looked like a common, but I only got a couple of moments to look at it, I wasn't confident enough to count it. After a quick cuppa, and a snack, I headed off out to the small lake via the tree/shrub nursery and waterlogged woods. A male SPARROWHAWK went gliding past me, alighting in an oak, promptly emptying it of all the WOODPIGEON. A few MEADOW PIPIT flew up in front of me just before I entered the wood. At this time of year I expect to hear or see Teal on the wetter parts of the woods, but there's been so little rain the pools are drying out. At the lake the habitat destruction carries on - more trees felled - more bloody rhodadendrons! (however you spell it!) Only a few MOORHEN were present with around 15 MALLARD. Once the hour hit 3 o'clock, every thing went quiet, so I went home and spent an hour watching the garden feeders. 14 species were noted, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Sunday 4 November 2007

A mild and sunny morning, with just a light northwesterley breeze greeted me today. The four hour walk round produced 43 species - six that weren't seen yesterday, SONG THRUSH, GOLDFINCH, MARSH TIT, GREY HERON, STOCK DOVE and LAPWING. The Marsh Tit was only the fourth sighting away from the garden this year. On the lake two CORMORANT were fishing, until a fox flushed them off. Through the woods a small group of Tits fed, along with 3 TREECREEPER and 2 GOLDCREST. The November list is now on 50, so it will be getting harder to add any new species. The highest November total is 57 achieved in 2002, the lowest was 52 achieved in 2004 - the chase is on!

Saturday 3 November 2007

Collared Dove

A 4hr walk around the patch produced 44 species, athough two of those were only seen in my garden, MARSH TIT and surprisingly GOLDFINCH - not one was seen on the walk, also unseen was the songthrush, the first time this species has evaded me this year. All birds were counted, and as is usually the case WOODPIGEON was most common with 900 approx. This included a continual southerly movement, of which some I wasn't in a position to see. The most surprising species seen was a CHIFFCHAFF, probably the bird seen on 23rd of OCT. as it was in the same vicinity. A small flock of 6 SISKIN fed in alders and a CORMORANT flew over. These represented the best birds of the day. Quite early in the walk I heard what I thought was a blackbird in full song, when I located the source I found it was a STARLING expertly mimicking said turdus. (Apologies for picture quality!!)

Coal Tit


Friday 2 November 2007

Nothing stirred early morning on the way into work, but on the way home a flock of 7 LINNETS flew up in front of me at ''Migrant Alley''. These may well be the last I see this year, as they normally depart in late Autumn, with only an occasional sighting in winter ( 2 winters out of 6) A single SISKIN called loudly as it flew over, and a little way on a weasel scampered just a few feet ahead of me, before darting into cover. Once home I decided to try and get some pics of the garden birds, through my scope............what a disaster! they all came out blurred! I took off the scope and reverted to the camera alone. I took some shots of the habitat surrounding the garden, as well as the garden itself, which is very small. Tommorow will be the first full walk of my patch for the month, and as such, I will be counting all birds seen and heard, not just the species.

My Garden

View Of Habitat to The Front

View Of Habitat To The Rear

Thursday 1 November 2007

Felled Trees At One Of The Lakes

A short afternoon walk today, around the ''not so'' waterlogged woods and the lake area, produced 22 species - a start of sorts for the November list. Most of the usual common species were seen, and were duly entered onto the bird atlas web page. It was disappointing though, to see more trees being felled around the lake area, and thus causing more disturbance. The chance of seeing any passing wildfowl this winter are looking slim. I might have to change my route!
A View Of One Of The Lakes

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Todays walk into work was mildly more exciting, as there was a passage of WOODPIGEON going south. In the half hour it took me to walk to work, I counted over 1000 birds, in groups of 50 - 300. The afternoon was a case of enforced garden watching.I was awaiting a delivery. In two hours only 13 species visited the feeders, with such noteable exceptions as Starling and Blackbird. I have only had singles of the latter on 3 dates in October. One good thing - the Sparrowhawk didn't visit, if it stays away for any length of time the garden can get really busy.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

The walk to work didn't throw up any surprises. A few GULLS and WOODPIGEON flew southwest, and a flock of mixed corvids fed in the sheep/horse paddocks. A bush, in the Hadlow college grounds held a TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, GREAT TIT and DUNNOCK but I didn't really have time to scan it for anything else. The walk back was even quieter, so I decided, once home I would do a spot of garden bird watching. The feeders were busy with plenty of GOLD, GREEN, and CHAFFINCH as well as BLUE, GREAT, and COAL TITS. A single G S WOODPECKER fed on sunflower hearts and peanuts, a couple of NUTHATCH scuttled up and down the elder tree caching seeds in crevices. There were no new species for the month though, and it looks as though October will finish on a total of 25.

Monday 29 October 2007

I only got the chance to get out about 3:45, and dusk was upon me before I knew it. I went to migrant alley, and sat on the horse jump, overlooking the glasshouse complex. Its here I can sit and watch the PIED WAGTAILS come in to roost. I counted 60 going over my head, but there were more than that coming in from other directions. In the sheep and horse paddocks, MEADOW PIPITS were ''seep seeping'' around, and a Couple of SKYLARKS dropped down to join them. Around 40 B H GULLS and 4 HERRING GULLS, flew over going north.

Sunday 28 October 2007

Interesting Fungi Formation (Species Unknown)

A very quiet walk round today. A total of 41 species was seen, but it was hard work, as the actual numbers of birds were very low. There was a lot of Gull activity though, a continual movement of two's and three's of HERRING GULL and B H GULL with singles of LBB GULL and COMMON GULL -new species for the month, a larger group of 22 B H GULL did go through as well. Today was my 101st full walk round this year, and I should get another 20 in before the years end. Octobers species total is now at 63 - A record high for October.

Saturday 27 October 2007

Looking North through ''Migrant Alley''

The River Bourne Running Through Hadlow College

A Flailed Hedgrow Worthless as a Habitat or Winter Food Source

A ''Proper'' Hedgerow

An Albino Squiirel - a bit blurred !!

The weather for the day started as the previous few have - dull and cool. By the time I had finished the four hour circuit of the patch,it was sunny and warm. I took along a camera today, but as i'm yet to learn how to use it the pics are pretty ropey! I've put some on anyway. Birdwise I recorded 44 species, not bad for an october day, winter thrushes were much in evidence, as were GOLDCREST, there seemed to be one in every tree and bush. Flyovers included CORMORANT and a lone BRAMBLING, a few B H GULLS flew south along with 5 HERRING GULLS. I was a bit surprised to hear a SONG THRUSH singing - a bit early?

Friday 26 October 2007

I spent an hour or so searching the waterlogged wood this pm, in the hope of finding the first Redpoll of the year or maybe a LS Woodpecker, but I failed dismally. There were at least half a dozen GOLDCREST seen and heard though, and a TREECREEPER called whilst I watched a pair of NUTHATCH cashing away seeds in any tree crevice they could find.
A wander over to the lake was a quiet affair. A HERON fed under the overhanging trees at the waters edge, and 14 MALLARD splashed about noisily. A couple of COAL TIT called from the scrub behind the lake.
I met the groundsman who was felling the Hornebeam trees, and had a word with him, he promised to use some of the logs to create a couple of woodpiles, if I didn't hold the tree felling against him - Deal!

Wednesday 24 October 2007

No visit was made to the surrounding patch today, instead I did a 4 hour garden bird watch. From 1.30 - 5.30 I watched the comings and goings of 16 species as they fattened up for the Autumn. the best of the 16 were -: A pair of COAL TITS, a pair of NUTHATCH and a Pair of GOLDCRESTS. One of the latter spent some minutes bathing in one of the small ponds - quite a risky bussiness, as earlier the SPARROWHAWK had taken a GOLDFINCH doing the same thing.
Birds seen in the vicinity or flying over my garden were few, but included- ROOK, CARRION CROW, JACKDAW,WOOD PIGEON, GREEN WOODPECKER, MISTLE THRUSH, BLACK HEADED GULL and BLACKBIRD. Blackbirds don't seem to be coming back to the garden yet, after their usual abandonment in early August.
The total species visiting the garden for this October stands at 24, with the total for combined Octobers at 30.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

A cool, frosty morning with just a light easterly wind - good conditions for a few flyovers. It proved to be so, at least to start of with, as a lone CORMORANT flew to a small lake just off my patch. Thereafter it was all frustration! At the lake, a noisey chainsaw rang out as one of the large gardens bordering it had the groundsman felling the hornbeam trees, and putting in rhodadendrons! This is likely to go on for weeks, so finding anything on the pond will be a bit challenging to say the least.
As I walked through the waterlogged wood the chainsaw could still be heard, and nothing was seen there. I stopped off halfway round at my house, for a quick snack and drink and carried on to the tree nursery and farmland, where I picked up a few common species and suprisingly again found a WHEATEAR, probably the same one as seen at the weekend. Things took another turn for the better when a COMMON BUZZARD flew north, chased by a dozen crows, this upturn didn't last long! Hedge trimming had started, and a hedge destroying machine went round all the fields and tracks, how annoying. Then I found a freshly dead badger on the road, only the second record of badger here (the other was at least alive!) it wasn't going to be my day! There was a small consalotion as I neared home - a CHIFFCHAFF was found, the first since 11 oct, I wonder if it will over winter?
Todays total was a surprising 44 species, none new for the month though.

Monday 22 October 2007

It was chilly and grey when I set off for an afternoon walk over part of my patch. I spent 90 mins or so walking to the small lake via the tree nursery and waterlogged wood. Nothing of much note was seen, but G S and GREEENWOODPECKERS called, ROBINS sang all over the place and the odd MEADOW PIPIT flew up. At the lake a GREY HERON was feeding along with the usual half dozen MALLARD and and few MOORHEN. On the way back BULLFINCH could be heard, and overhead 5 B H GULLS flew north.

Sunday 21 October 2007

Another sunny morning, not as many birds about today though! 44 species were seen and once again the WHEATEAR was relocated, thus making today the latest autumn sighting for this species. a CORMORANT flew north, not a very common sighting here, and it was quickly followed by a flock of 50+ FIELDFARE. A MARSH TIT fed at the Garden feeding station, but there was no sign of the Brambling.

An excellent morning was had today, with 50 species beeing seen. The highlights were - a superb male STONECHAT, one of several seen this autumn, this is usually a really scarce migrant on my patch. Also a WHEATEAR, another migrant, but a regular one in spring/autumn- this individual was the latest Autumn observation in the six years of visiting my patch. The good run of migrant sightings continued with a pair of SISKIN, found feeding in an alder, with half a dozen Goldfinchs.I arrived home to find a pair of BRAMBLING at the garden feeding station (part of my patch). This was the first Autumn sighting of this species for my patch, only previously being recorded in feb, March or April, it was also only the second record for my garden, the last was in 2002.
The total species for this October is now 61, an October high - joint with last year. The total for combined Octobers stands at 74.