Saturday 11 April 2009

The weather had really changed from yesterday. A light rain was falling, and a mist shrouded everything, but at least there was no wind to speak of. The first bird on my list today, was a bedragled looking SWALLOW, sitting on the telephone line outside my house, It must have wondered why it had flown thousands of miles just to sit in this weather!

As expected in the conditions, birdsong was only a fraction of what it was yesterday morning, but some effort was made by ROBIN, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD and CHAFFINCH as I passed up ashes lane. A couple of yellowhammers were in the hedgerow by the wild bird crop, but the Reed Buntings have all dispersed now. Making my way throgh the small holding, the usual suspects were added to the list, BLUE and GREAT TITS, GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, as well as GOLD and GREENFINCH. I entered the gloom of the wet woods, and the drips from the trees were making me wetter than the rian had, strangley, the newly opened leaves seemed to glow in the half light of the woods. A WREN sang out loudly, and a MOORHEN was also heard somewhere out in the tangle, as was a JAY that squawked high up in an oak. One of the LONG TAILED TITS was seen by it's nest site, along the footpath that leads to the lake.

At the lake area, just a single MALLARD was on the water with 4 CANADA GEESE plus one one its nest, a SKYLARK sang out high in the mist, and at least one BLACKCAP was singing from the scrub area, with their fellow early migrants the CHIFFCHAFFS, also heard here were COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, and SONGTHRUSH. As I turned to go back, and head for the tree nursery, a SPARROWHAWK stirred all the passerines into a joint frenzy as it flew low over.

It was in the nursery that I had a nice surprise, as my next spring migrant had arrived, a WHITETHROAT (86), my earliest ever by a full six days, it sang loudly and I listened for a few minutes, wondering what the little traveller must have thought about the change in it's territory from last year, gone was all the shrubs and bramble, save for just a 6 ft by 2 ft bramble patch from which it was singing. After my fill of the energetic warbler I made my way over to migrant alley, but before I reached there, I heard a distant cuck - coo ! My first this year, but still not on my patch, how frustrating!

At Migrant Alley I scanned the Plough, and quickly found another, or maybe yesterdays WHEATEAR. The weather had by now cheered up a bit, and some warm sunshine broke through - briefly. A MEADOW PIPIT flew over as did 4 GREYLAG GEESE and a lone HERRING GULL. I made my way to the stream by the college, and was pleased to hear the lovely song of another WILLOW WARBLER coming from the small area of scrub around the student car park. A GREY HERON flew low over me as I walked the streamside, and I spotted two TREECREEPER on the trunk of an alder tree, chasing each other round it. The college grounds and gardens were full of the common birds, already seen today, but it was interesting to see a MISTLE THRUSH with a bill full of worms, no doubt for its hungry nestlings nearby.

I passed Migrant Alley on the way home, and could here a Green Woodpecker constantly alarming from the small copse there, I carried on walking, thinking it was probably upset by a Sparrowhawk, but then I saw a large bird of prey fly out, I got it in my bins and found it to be a COMMON BUZZARD, the first that has actually been seen 'down' on my patch. It is a measure of how frequently Buzzards are now seen, when I was actually a little disappointed with it, I thought I might have seen a Marsh Harrier or red Kite! The last bird of the day was a flyover KESTREL, to complete a trio of Raptors.
50 species were recorded walk today, the same as yesterday, and with a SISKIN in the garden a little later in the day 51 was the final tally.

Above is a Dunnock seen in the hedge at Migrant Alley, below is the Mistle Thrush, collecting food for hungry nestlings

Below is my first photo this year of a male Blackcap, a difficult bird to photo. this one was in the scrub headland to the north of migrant alley

here's a ROOK flying over the plough.

lastly, the invisible Wheatear. how well is that camouflged! ( its on the plough in the foreground honest!) you may see it if you enlarge the photo!


Simon said...

Well done with the Whitethroat!

EP Andy said...

Hi Warren

Just got back from a wander around my patch this afternoon and have heard a Cuckoo and it was coming from over your way. Certainly could see Hadlow tower in the background. Got my first Whitethroat today as well but well done on the Buzzard. Now just point it over towards me now please.

ShySongbird said...

Very interesting post again Warren and great photos, I enlarged the Wheatear photo and saw it straight away then went back for another look and had to hunt, as you say the camouflage was amazing!
Well done on hearing the Cuckoo, I didn't hear one at all last year.

lee said...

Well done Warren, As soon as i get one summer migrant to catch up with you , you get another maybe i will get a White throat tomorrow.E>P Andy you do get Buzzards frequently in your area , im not sure where your patch is exactly but i believe your in the golden green area if so you had two there yesterday and a Redkite at Hartlake bridge .

Ken. said...

Hi Warren
Pleased you managed to add another bird to your year list.
Whitethroat's are a lovely warbler. as for the Cuckoo, well it's getting nearer.Good day you had Warren.

Kelly said...

...what a nice day for you--lots of birds and six days early on the Whitethroat! I did see the camouflaged Weatear after I enlarged the photo. He was well hidden...cute bird.