Monday 30 June 2008

The last day of June, the months seem to zoom past! I didn't record any new species for the months list today, but this June still turned out to have the best species list of any june, with a total of 67, beating the previous best of 64 set in 2005. The total for all junes is 78, with the average june total at 62. New species not recorded in this month before, were -: Willow Warbler, (just goes to show how lucky I was to have two on territory this year), Little Egret and of coarse Barnie the barn owl (or is it Tyto!). Despite setting new records for almost every month this year, I still have only got a year list of 88, some way to go to get that elusive 100.
Back to this afternoon, there were few birds to be seen, the usual LINNETS, WHITETHROATS and SKYLARK were in the tree nursery, where I also saw a Red Admiral butterfly, only the second this year. The small pool, adjacent to the tree nursery is rapidly drying out, but a family of MOORHENS still makes their home there, as does a mixture of damselflies. Over at migrant alley, I watched SWIFTS, SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS chasing insects, and a KESTREL make a poor attempt at trying to catch them while they did! A nice site, was a couple of fox cubs 'mock fighting' after being brought a freshly killed rabbit by the vixen.

Swift over migrant alley

This adult fox had just sighted a rabbit. Unfortunately it also saw me, and it went round the corner, to the left of this pic. I stood and waited, and out came a Rabbit from the left, swiftly followed by the fox. It went into the bushes to the right where I heard the rabbits last squeals. I the heard, the cubs yelping and barking as they fed.

a few minutes of waiting, and out bundled two well grown cubs, I just got a pic. of one before they were disturbed by a bunch of horse riders.

Fox Cub on the lookout!

Only the second record of Red Admiral this year

One of the Moorhens on the small pool of water next to the tree nursery

A pair of what look to be White legged Damselflies, the male clasping the female as she lays her eggs. In two years time they in turn will be adult damselflies.

Sunday 29 June 2008

There wasn't much change on my patch from yesterday morning, but of the 47 species recorded today, 5 of them were missing from yesterdays list , BLACK HEADED GULL, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, LITTLE OWL and SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, so 55 species for the weekend is pretty good going. The Little Owl was seen perched on top of the shack that the Barn Owl was in yesterday, I didn't look inside today, so Barnie may, or may not have been there. It was pleasing to see the Spotted Flycatcher in the college grounds, although no evidence of breeding was seen. A few summer migrants were still singing, LESSER and COMMON WHITETHROAT as well as CHIFFCHAFF, and a pair of BLACKCAPS trying to out-sing each other in the lakeside scrub, where a TURTLE DOVE came to the waters edge for a drink, I tried to get a photo of it but it was too wary, all my photo attempts were foiled today!
Butterflies were species were few, but scores of Meadow Browns were at the tree nursery.

A confirmation of some bad news for my patch was had when I met the farm manager of hadlow farm. A gas pipe line is going to be laid this time next year - right across Migrant Alley. There will be a 50m gash across my best bit of birding area, and the work is expected to last a year!
This could affect sightings such as, Wheatear, Yellow wagtail, Stonechat, Whinchat, Redstart and Black redstart, all have turned up in these fields. Winter flocks of Lapwing my also be affected, limiting the chances of a golden plover. I suppose I'll have to wait and see.

Saturday 28 June 2008

It's good to have all morning out on my patch, rather than just the half hours walk into work on weekdays, there is much more to see early on, rather than on afternoon visits. This morning, 4hrs from 06.30 produced 50 species, very little song was heard, 4-5 BLACKCAPS, 3 CHIFFCHAFFS, a short burst of LESSER WHITETHROAT, 2 COMMON WHITETHROAT, and at least one TURTLE DOVE was the effort from the summer visitors, DUNNOCK, SONGTHRUSH, and WREN joined in occasionally. The BARN OWL was again seen, I must admit I interrupted its roosting, it flew over to an oak tree, and as I sat and watched, it was back in the shack within 10mins, I won't disturb it at roost again, but I will go out at dusk sometime to see if its out hunting. At migrant alley an encouraging skywatch was had, a KESTREL, HOBBY, CORMORANT, and GREY HERON flew over, as well as two Gull species LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING. The usual SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS were also observed, but there seemed fewer swifts, surely they're not leaving already!
Butterflies were represented, by Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Small White, and at least 3 comma, I havn't seen these about for quite some time. A large dragonfly flew past - too far off to ID, and Blue damselflies were at the college pond, -Azure, Common, and blue tailed.

Barn Owl. Sorry Tyto I won't disturb you again.
Just look at those wing feathers.

This Skylark was singing loudly from the sheep pasture at migrant alley

Not as beautiful or as elegant as the Barn Owl, but this young Carrion Crow was being looked after by its noisy parents, they love it!

Stunning Comma butterfly in the sunshine

Anyone Know know what this Caterpillar will morph into. An Oak eggar ? or one of the Tussock moths ? Greenie, any ideas.

Friday 27 June 2008

The day started sunny and bright, but it clouded over by lunch time, and a few showers fell in the afternoon. There was little to note on the way in to work this morming, but at the college, it was noticeable that the SONGTHRUSH'S and MISTLE THRUSH'S were collecting small items of food, a second brood of young on its way, good news.
My afternoons walk around migrant alley, and the tree nursery was getting frustrating, their wasn't much bird action, and the only butterflies were meadow browns, but in good numbers. I was just going to call it a day, but my last ''clutching at straws'' stop, was to check the old shack in the tree nursery grounds, for an owl, never found one in 6 years............................when WOW!! A BARN OWL (88.117) flew out and landed in a nearby fir tree, just long enough to fire off a few pics, it only sat for a few secs, before flying off into the cover of an oak. What an excellent record, a patch first in fact (hence the purple font!) this brings the total species seen on my patch to 117, and the year list to 88. It such a mega feeling when you get a new species!
The only downside is the shack is going to be knocked down, the owners think its a liability, and someone will injure themselves. Sad muppets.

Blow are the shakey handed, over excited photo's of my first Barn Owl on my patch.

Thursday 26 June 2008

SONGTHRUSH, COMMON WHITETHROAT, SKYLARK and YELLOWHAMMER all sang as I walked along Ashes Lane this morning, and looking down at me from a telephone pole was a male KESTREL. Crossing the sheep pasture, and horse paddocks at Migrant Alley I looked up and saw 15 - 20 SWIFTS in the cool, clear blue, wheeling and and calling their excited high pitched screaming call. It will only be a couple weeks now, before these masters of the sky leave for Africa, and in another month most will be gone, so enjoy them now!
This afternoon, just as I was heading off out, I looked out into the garden and saw a CARRION CROW on the lawn eating some of the soaked bread I chucked out, a rare bird in my garden indeed, only 1 - 2 sightings a year!
I walked over to the tree nursery, and did a circuit of the boundaries, scanning the hedgerows (such as they are!) I was hoping for some different butterfly species but only found, Small White, Meadow Brown and a Large Skipper, a Yellowhammer was hanging round a particular spot, it could have a nest with young, I haven't confirmed breeding for yellowhammer yet this year, i'll have to keep a watch here. I had a quick look round Migrant alley, just a few PIED WAGTAILS and LINNETS in the maize crop, and flyovers from HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACK GULL, and a SPARROWHAWK, a bit early yet for a migrant 'chat' or Wheatear.

Large Skipper

Pied Wagtail

Wednesday 25 June 2008

I was scratching around from the off today! A very quiet morning, apart from two SONGTHRUSH'S around 50m apart trying to out-sing each other, great to listen to. Again the WHITETHROAT in Ashes Lane sang, and a couple of SKYLARKS over the maize crop did likewise, CHIFFCHAFF, and GOLDCREST were heard in the college grounds, where also a mixed partyof some 12 LONG TAILED TITS, and 4 COAL TITS, all this years young birds, were flitting from tree to tree.
This afternoons walk was ruined by continual shotgun fire, coming from just off my patch, behind the lake area, as a consequence, that side of my patch was barron. Why do these idiots only get a kick out of killing ? Its not even the shooting season, everything they kill will leave starving broods to die in their nests. if these blokes were put in a uniform, and sent to Iraq to fight a proper foe they would urinate thier pants! Enough of my ranting!!
I decided to chill out over at migrant alley and check out the water pool, a few damselflies were about and just one male chaser, also a Ruddy/ common darter that had just emerged from its case. Unfortnately its wings were damaged, the stem it was clinging to having been blown around by the strong wind. Sadly this darter won't ever ''dart'', it will starve.
On the adjacent sheep pasture i watched 20 or so SWALLOWS, mostly recently fledged birds, chasing insects, and generally enjoying themselvs on the wind, I took some photo's of them, but they don't do these magic little flyers justice!

A Doomed Darter

This Swallow was only just out of the nest, and was receiving food from an adult bird.
Below are my attempts at capturing the fun being had by them all

Tuesday 24 June 2008

A repeat of yesterdays weather and yesterdays birds this morning. WHITETHROAT singing in Ashes Lane, SKYLARK over migrant alley, and the PEREGRINE at his lookout post.
This afternoon I decided to go over to migrant alley for some skywatching, I was rewarded almost immediately with 7 LAPWING flying over, a bit tatty, as they were moulting flight feathers, but a welcome addition to the month list. A little later, and a HOBBY flew over, with two more over ashes lane as I walked home. Next up was a pair of KESTRELS, hovering over the newly cut grass field. After an hour or so I decided to visit the now diminishing pool of water, and again there were 3 male Broad Bodied Chasers, with 15 - 20 Azure Damselflies. I also saw a newt eft, and a water boatman. Such a mixture of life in a pool of water no more than 3 inch's deep. The lake at the other side of my patch holds much less life, but then, its got huge great carp in it which eat everything!

This Hobby flew right over my head!
It came back to check me out! ( poor pics, but you don't get much time with these birds)

A Kestrel also came to check me out

It also went right over my head

Broad Bodied Chaser (couldn't resist another couple of pics)

A newt Eft, better grow them legs quick, as the water is drying out rapidly!
Water Boatman, they swim upside down, just under the waters surface

Monday 23 June 2008

At last some summer weather, it makes the walk to work so much more enjoyable, and this morning there were more birds about. A COMMON WHITETHROAT was singing in the hedgerow along Ashes lane, and moments later the SWALLOWS alerted me to the male SPARROWHAWK, which drifted over, trying not to lose his dignity as half a dozen plucky Swallows chased him off! A SKYLARK was singing over the maize crop at migrant alley, where 4 HERRING GULLS effortlesly flapped westwards. GOLDCREST and CHIFFCHAFF sang from the college grounds, and a KESTREL sped over. Whilst walking through Hadlow village I could see the PEREGRINE sat on his lookout perch on the tower.
This afternnon I spent a couple of hours around migrant alley, and the watery ditch that runs up the NW boundary of it, and my patch. At the scrubby headland I recorded the first LESSER WHITETHROAT fledglings of the year, at least two were being fed by the adult birds. Most of my time was spent looking over a small shallow pool of water, where I found my first record of the year for Broadbodied chaser, and Ruddy Darter (I think!) There were 3 male chasers and a female, I watched the female dipping her ovipositor into the water shortly after mating with one of the males. A relentless battle between the males carried on for all of the time I was there. Also in the pool was a Beautiful damoiselle, but it was caught and bashed up by one of te chasers! At least 15 Azure damselfly's completed the scene. lastly as I walked back, hot and thirsty, my first Red Admiral of the year flew up from the maize crop, and landed on some nettles in front of me.

My first Red Admiral of the year

I have identified this as a female Ruddy Darter. Mainly because of the all black legs and the black markings on the thorax. Or does anyone know better?

Male Broad Bodied Chaser

Another Male Broad bodied Chaser

Female Broad Bodied Chaser, This is when she was laying eggs, dipping her ovipositor into the water. If you click on the pic. and enlarge it, you can see the powerful downdraft of her wings on the water!

Female Broad bodied Chaser at rest

All these shots are of Azure Damselflies

Sunday 22 June 2008

A cloudy and very breezy morning, and the walk round my patch was more enjoyable than yesterday, especially as the sun broke through around 08:00. What little song did reach my ears, through the noisey wind blown trees, was produced by WHITETHROAT, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, TURTLE DOVE and a GARDEN WARBLER. A LESSER WHITETHROAT was seen, and heard giving its scolding ''Tic'' ''Tic'' calls. Overhead, HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACK GULLS, were continually passing through, looking like they were enjoying the windy conditions, also a male SPARROWHAWK and a KESTREL were out hunting. The months first KINGFISHER was seen, flying from the small drainage pool adjacent to the tree nursery, I've not recorded this species here before, but the pool does dry up very quickly, the fact it is still full of water is testement to the amount of rainfall we've had this summer. Fledgeling birds were a feature of the morning, the first record of young COLLARED DOVE for the year was found in the college gardens, and three newly fledged SWALLOWS were at migrant alley, more GREENFINCH, Whitethroat, and MOORHEN young were also found.
Butterflies were represented by Meadow Browns, dozens of which were on the cut grass at the tree nursery, also Speckled Wood, and Large or Small skippers I can't decide which!

Large or small skipper?

Speckled Wood

Newly Fledged Collared Dove

Newly Fledged Swallow

Another Young MOORHEN

These thistles looked stunning in the sunshine, great for Butterflies, but I think their time is short, Hadlow college doesn't like scruffy old thistles, whats the chance of them being here come mid July?