Sunday 31 August 2008

The final visit of the month took place in dull, humid and at times wet conditions. A thunderstorm was raging to the south of my patch, but it didn't arrive overhead. The hunt for at least one more species new to the month, to equal the high of 71 achieved in April 2006 and again in April this year, was a failure. The day total only reached 40 species, conditions were just not with me.
There were some brighter moments birdwise, the BARN OWL was seen at its roost, and a YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over migrant alley.
A second visit later in the afternoon, mainly to migrant alley, was a successful one in the respect that I located 3 Yellow Wagtails feeding in the paddocks, also I added COAL TIT, SKYLARK and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL to the day list.

So Augusts species total ended on 70, an excellent total, and in itself is a record for August, easily beating last years high of 66. The combined total for all Augusts is 77, with the average figure for the month now 62.5. Four new species new to August were found - Reed Warbler, Common Tern, Barn Owl and Peregrine. I wonder what September will bring? The highest species total for the coming month is 70 - the chase is on!

The 3 pics. below are of the 3 Yellow Wagtails that turned up at Migrant Alley this afternoon.

Saturday 30 August 2008

This morning I had the good fortune to be able to help my local ringer, so no visit was made to the patch. We caught 25 birds in 4hours, the star bird being a migrant SEDGE WARBLER. Also of note were 5 Juv. BULLFINCH, nice to see local bred birds.
If you get a chance to help out a bird ringer I can really recommend it.

I'll be out early tomorrow morning for the final Aug. patch visit. I need just one more new species for the month to equal the highest monthly total ever recorded, 2 would be great!!

Above and below: The migrant Sedge Warbler.
Next is a Chiffchaff.Then a Common Whitethroat

Last of all one of the juv. Bullfinch

Friday 29 August 2008

A CHIFFCHAFF sang from the College grounds this morning, the first heard singing for quite some time, and probably quite likely one of the last. Also 5 MISTLE THRUSH'S flew from a fir tree, they have been scarce the in last few weeks. Not much else to report on my daily walk to and from work.
This afternoon's trip to Migrant Alley was abandoned on reaching it, the stable lass's were out with tractors and strimmers ''Tidying'' the fields, what for ? it's like vacuuming the garden ! I did however get a good view, and a couple of pics of a flyover HOBBY as I was coming home.
I made a cup of tea and did some garden birdwatching. I was alomost immediately visited by the first Chiffchaff to use my garden this year, species number 33 to do so. Other visitors included 2 COAL TITS, and a NUTHATCH - all in fresh plumage, and a not so handsome GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER still moulting it's head feathers. Flyovers noted were 2 CORMORANT, 5 HERRING GULLS and a GREY HERON, as well as the local SWALLOWS, now numbering 40 - 50.

The two pics below are of the Hobby, below them is the Nuthatch, then a Coal Tit (again!)

Thursday 28 August 2008

Same Weather, same birds! Everything seems to have come to a standstill migrant wise. This morning there were a few HOUSE MARTINS on the overhead wires at the horse stables, just a dozen or so, probably all local birds.
A trip round the tree nursery and migrant alley didn't hold any surprises, a COMMON WHITETHROAT, and 3 GREEN WOODPECKERS were at the nursery, along with the usual WRENS, DUNNOCKS and ROBINS. The hedgerow leading to migrant alley has plenty of blackberries and elder berries, but not much eating them! Just a lone CHIFFCHAFF was found. Migrant alley had the local flock of LINNETS, a dozen PIED WAGTAILS were very active, and I am sure I heard a YELLOW WAGTAIL call as it flew over, but I wasn't sure - the starlings on the power lines seem to be mimicking the wagtail calls! A large female SPARROWHAWK flew across the fields, and put up everything, ROOKS, Linnets, Wagtails, Starlings, all went into panic mode, the smaller birds went into the Maize crop for cover. A single CORMORANT flew overhead, as did a GREY HERON, but that was about it for today.

This pristine, freshly moulted COAL TIT was in the garden later on

One of the 100's of rooks going over

Above and below are a couple of Small White Butterflies, the only butterfly species seen today.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Dull was the weather, and dull was the walk in to work, followed by more dullness when I walked back home again!
I thought about doing a garden birdwatch for the afternoon, but the thought of maybe missing a migrant tempted me back out again. I walked through the tree nursery, and saw nothing but a GREEN WOODPECKER, the Barn Owl wasn't home, and the hedgerow leading up to Migrant alley had just a DUNNOCK in it. At Migrant Alley itself my hope of a migrant or two were not fourth coming. The cretin shooter was again blasting away, across the valley 300m away, I looked through my bins at where he had placed his decoy birds, and saw a pigeon, spiral down, the sound of the shot reached me a second or two later, the poor pigeon fell to the ground and flapped about for a minute or so, not quite dead. I hope the bloke has a fatal car accident on the way home. Harsh ? well we all have our own opinions.
Anyway, his shots put up, in my estimation, over 1000 Corvids. ROOKS, JACKDAWS and CARRION CROWS filled the sky, ive never seen so many! The only other birds of note today at Migrant Alley were the LINNET flock, the STARLING flock, over 100 strong, and a dozen or so PIED WAGTAILS. Lets hope things improve tomorrow, and this stubborn cloud breaks up a bit!

Mixed corvid flock. This pic shows just a section of them, I couldn't get them all in the frame!

At home I sat and watched the feeders for a while, just the usual Tits and Finch's and this colour ringed HOUSE SPARROW.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Back to work today, so there was just the half hour walk into work this morning to try and find some migrants. The paddocks and maize crop at Migrant Alley were quiet - just the usual PIED WAGTAILS, LINNETS and GOLDFINCHES. Much scanning of the fence posts and grass didn't produce any passage migrants, and watching the SWALLOW flock above, I couldn't see any Sand martin.
As I walked back across the area, 5hours later I found a WHEATEAR sitting on top of a fence post, things were looking up. I walked home and got my camera, thinking I would get some wheatear photo's. After much scanning of the fields i again found the Wheatear, but there was a little brown bird with it - another WHINCHAT ! It flew up onto the fence rail, and was promptly joined by another one!! Great stuff 2 Whinchat and a Wheatear. Migrant Alley was producing again!
As well as the 'star' birds, there was a now growing flock of linnets, 30 - 40 in all, alot of them were young birds, which is good to see. I spent most of the time out just watching and enjoying the 3 Migrant birds, and trying to get close enough for a decent photo, which i failed to do.

Blimey!! 2 Whinchats. I'm being spoilt rotten this month.
I could only get to within 30meters, so the pics aren't very good, but it will still be nice to go back and look at these on a cold Decemder evening.

Below is a shot of some the Linnet flock, which flew up in front of me.

Monday 25 August 2008

The excitement of the last few visits wasn't repeated this morning. It was a case of trying to find the resident bird species. Very few birds were seen, one of the few brighter moments was coming across a mixed species feeding flock, containing at least 8 LONG TAILED TITS, 4 BLUE TITS, 4 GREAT TITS, a NUTHATCH, a TREECREEPER and a COAL TIT. CHIFFCHAFF and COMMON WHITETHROAT were the only warbler species located, and on the raptor front just a SPARROWHAWK was seen. The BARN OWL was in his now 'usual' roost, but no Little Owls were found.
Migrant Alley was very quiet, just a few PIED WAGTAILS, mixed corvids, and the busy SWALLOWS feeding overhead. 45 species were seen, not too bad a tally for the day, the 3 species of gull and 2 geese species padded the day list out a bit!

Speckled Wood butterflies were the only species to brave the dull, windy conditions today
This Swallow probably can't wait to get back to Africa, and some sunshine!

An hour or so watching the feeders, and it was evident where most of the sunflower hearts were going. I had a peak count of 18 GREENFINCH!

Sunday 24 August 2008

A day trip to the beach prevented me from the usual patch walk today. However, I have just got back from a half hour walk round Migrant Alley, where a lone WHEATEAR was seen. Also there, were small flocks of LINNET, GOLDFINCH, and PIED WAGTAILS feeding in the paddocks. A group of 30-40 SWALLOWS and a few HOUSE MARTINS were overhead, and as I neared home, I again saw the PEREGRINE, soaring to the north, being mobbed by Swallows.
Normal sevice will be resumed tomorrow!!

Saturday 23 August 2008

The sun was out from the off today, and my recent purple patch of sightings carried on. The first half of my walk, as regular readers may know, is mainly wooded, the major habitats are the golf course hedgerow, the lake area, the wet woods and a small holding. At this time of year they take on a bit of a back seat to the second half of the walk, in which, I usually find passage migrants. I still do do the wooded part though, as I record species that dont occurr on the farmland, and always try to get a new high species count, for the day.
Today I did record my highest species count for a single visit. A total of 55 species were seen in a little over 4hrs. Amazingly it could have been higher, such species as Songthrush and Little Owl were not seen.
There were lots of highlights, the BARN OWL was at it's roost, a migrant WHEATEAR was at Migrant Alley, along with 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS - PIED and GREY WAGTAILS were also seen, the latter a new addition for the months list. Today was only the second time I have recorded all 3 Wagtail species in a single visit. Another good achievement, was the sighting of 5 species of raptor! SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL, HOBBY, BUZZARD, and PEREGRINE. The Peregrine was another months first, it hasn't been seen since the 15th June. I actully witnessed it thumping a pigeon out of the sky! It struggled to fly off with it, and the weight of its prey pulled it down into the sports field at the college. I couldn't see it from my view point, but it must of been interrupted, as a few seconds later it was up again, less the pigeon. The spectacle wasn't over however, as then a Hobby came down and saw off the Peregrine!
Its going to be quite a downer when things on my patch return to normal!!

This looks to me like an old female, common darter. my ID skills on dragonflies are still in their infancy!

This Starling above, has almost lost its Juv. plumage, just a bit of brow left on the head.

Another Wheatear at Migrant Alley. I can't resist getting a pic. if at all possible

One of the two Yellow wagtails at Migrant Alley. They aren't particularly yellow at this time of year, especially the young ones. (but they do wag their tails!)

I was fortunate to get a snap of this Lesser Whitethroat. They don't usually hang around to long.

The pics, below show 3 of the 5 raptor species seen today. top is a Kestrel, middle is a Hobby and the bottom is the Peregrine.

Friday 22 August 2008

Again it was raining when I left for my patch walk this morning, but it did stop after 20mins, thereafter it became bright and warm.
As yesterday, all the bird action was at Migrant Alley, and the tree nursery. It was in the tree nursery that I came across a patch of young trees with some bramble growing through it, it was only the size of a tennis court, but it was full of birds - BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, DUNNOCK, at least 4 COMMON WHITETHROAT, and best of all a newcomer for the months list a REED WARBLER. I managed a few pics of it, but they didn't turn out too good! This species is a really good record for my patch.
I checked the Barn Owl roost - no one home, and went on to migrant alley. As I was walking up the side of the maize crop, I felt in need of a pee! So I ventured a little way into the crop, I tucked my Bins and camera into my fleece and zipped it up so the wet leaves wouldn't get to them. As I stood there, a movement caught my eye - a SEDGE WARBLER, only a few feet away, and then it came even closer, I could almost of reached out and touched it! Alas by the time I'd finished my business, and fought to get my camera out, the bird had flown, blast! What a missed opportunity. Oh well, still a good migrant to have on my patch, I don't record them every year.
After such a fortuitous meeting, I carried on and scanned the paddocks in a positive mood, and found 2 more YELLOW WAGTAILS, no sign of yesterdays Wheatear though.
After a quick lunch, I was back out at migrant alley. A CORMORANT and a GREY HERON flew over, and in the scrub at the north end of the maize I found a LESSER WHITETHROAT. On returning down the other side of the maize, I found another, or the same WHINCHAT that was there yesterday, I got a few pics and left it in peace. A KESTREL hovered over the grass field, next to the maize, the grass was now getting it's 3rd cut of the year! As I took pics of the Kestrel, another Yellow Wagtail flew over and alighted next to the greenhouse complex.
It had been another excellent day on my patch, and I'd spent 7hrs out in the fields, but one more treat was instore - the first COMMON BUZZARD since June, was seen soaring nigh over Migrant alley just as I was heading home, making the day list up to 52 species, a brilliant total.

Above and below: Another Whinchat, or yesterdays bird?

Below is the Kestrel, Hovering over Migrant Alley

two shots of the Reed Warbler are below.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Overnight rain left everything dripping wet, so I started the walk with the farmland. I was almost immediately treated to a WHEATEAR in the tree nursery, only the second one recorded here, pleased with this find, and again seeing the BARN OWL at its roost, the day couldn't get much I thought! I was barely into migrant alley when the distinct call of a YELLOW WAGTAIL was heard, I watched it come over and alight in the sheep pasture, as I watched it through my bins, I could see the SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS flitting just above, and was pleased to again find a SAND MARTIN with them, 3 migrant species in 40 mins, great going! A few meters on and another migrant, this time a SEDGE WARBLER (93), I heard it in the Maize crop, but couldn't see it, I waited around for 20mins or so and finally got a brief look at it, excellent ! another species for the year list, this was turning out to be one of those special visits. I carried on my walk, along the stream and through the college grounds, picking up common resident species, and it was at the college another close encounter with a HOBBY was had as it dashed low through the trees. I came out of the college and crossed the sports pitch back on to migrant alley, and there I found another 4 Yellow Wagtails! I took some photo's and went along to the Maize crop, not only were there another 2 Wheatear here, but a also a WHINCHAT! Migrant Alley really came up with the goods today. Whilst watching and photographing the Whinchat, all the Swallows went crazy above me, I looked up to see another - or the same Hobby, just 5 mins later a SPARROWHAWK caused the same commotion in the swallow ranks. Another migrant not seen for a while was a lone TURTLE DOVE in the scrub at the north end of Migrant Alley. A day to remember on my patch!!

Above and Below. A Whinchat, I could only get to within 30 meters of it.

Below, is another Wheatear photo.

The next shot is of two wheatears, not very good, but I wont get many chances to photo two together!

Here's two of the four Yellow Wagtails I found in the horse paddocks

if you look carefully you can pick out 3 of the Yellow Wagtails in this photo below. They feed right up to horses mouth, grabbing any insects that are disturbed

A Hobby Below

And lastly the Sparrowhawk that followed the hobby through.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

This mornings walk round the patch was pretty dreary! I found it difficult to find even the most common resident birds, and the only Warbler seen was a CHIFFCHAFF. Some species put on a show though, there were 50 CANADA GEESE with a lone GREY LAG GOOSE, feeding in a recently cropped field of barley, (until the cretin shooter arrived) and whilst at the golfcourse, around 60 HERRING GULLS flew NW. The only other note worthy bird was the BARN OWL, tucked up in his roost (until the tractor arrived to cut and ''tidy'' the nearby fields)
I went out again this afternoon, from 13:00 unti 15:30. I sat over in the fields at migrant alley and witness a short spell of migration with 4 SAND MARTIN (3 and a single), 4 YELLOW WAGTAIL, and 3 SWIFT (2 and a single) . As well as these I added CORMORANT and BLACK HEADED Gull to the day list, which ended on 47.

Above: Pied Wagtail at Migrant Alley

Above: A pair of Ruddy Darters Mating

Above: A male Ruddy darter (having a rest!)