It was another cold one this morning, with a touch of frost. I was determined to find a new species for the year list today, and set out full of confidence. The first birds on the list were the usual ones, STARLING, CARRION CROW, COLLARED DOVE, ROBIN, HOUSE SPARROW, WOOD PIGEON, BLUE TIT, JACKDAW, GOLDFINCH, and GREENFINCH, all picked up along Ashes Lane as I headed for the tree nursery. Once in the nursery a couple of SISKIN flew over, a PHEASANT called from over at the Greenhouse complex, and a few LINNETS were leaving their roost sites in the laurels. SONGTHRUSH, REDWING and BLACKBIRDS were on the mud between the rows of trees and a WREN called from the fenceline just as a PIED WAGTAIL flew over. As I was leaving the nursery to walk up the hedgerow towards Migrant Alley, a CHAFFINCH was heard singing, the first time this year. Walking up the hedgerow, a MEADOW PIPIT flew from the sheep pasture, but the only species seen in the hedge was a GREAT TIT. I checked the Barn Owl roost - still not home, then watched half a dozen BLACK HEADED GULLS fly towards Migrant Alley, as I followd them in my bins, a couple of CANADA GEESE came into view, as they flew over the wet woods, the first this month. At Migrant Alley the FIELDFARES had started to come in, there were a couple of hundred on the sheep pasture along with 30-40 Redwing. A DUNNOCK called from one of the nearby gardens, and as I looked to find a SKYLARK that called as it went over, I saw a flock of 8 HERRING GULL high in the sky. I scanned the maize stubble and found a couple of MAGPIES and a MISTLE THRUSH, whilst the hedgerow on the other side of the field had a YELLOWHAMMER sitting on the highest twig.
Next stop was hadlow college grounds and garden, the stream was missed as it was still to high to cross. the next species on the list was a small flock of LONG TAILED TITS, 6 or 7 in all, but the star bird of the day was recorded a short while later when I found another FIRECREST in the college gardens, it was feeding in the flower borders, just feet from me, but as I went for my camera it flew up and over a tall yew hedge. I went off after it but despite much searching couldn't find it again, still, it was a very welcome addition to the February list!
GREEN WOODPECKER, MOORHEN and MALLARD were added to the day's list before leaving the college, and JAY and ROOK were found on the sports pitch. Re-crossing Migrant Alley a SPARROWHAWK was seen spiralling high, and 5 BULLFINCH were in the raspberry canes.
The secong half of my walk only added 5 more species, 6 REED BUNTING were seen feeding in the wildbird crop at the other end of ashes lane, along with the 30 - 40 Yellowhammers, a COAL TIT called from the small holding area, where I also managed to get that additon to the year list - A RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE (69), This is a seldom recorded species, I recorded just 2 sightings a single birds last year. The penultimate species on the list was a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, seen drumming on an old ash branch in the wet woods, and the last species to be recorded for the day was a GOLDCREST, also seen in the wet woods, the only one seen today. All in all, a good visit I think!
I had just an hour before I had to go out this afternoon to watch the garden, where I added NUTHATCH for the days list, and also got Moorhen on the list for the Big February Bird Count'.
Above a Fieldfare, and below a Siskin feeding on Alder cones.