Sunday 31 May 2009

The last day of May, and my patch wasn't visited until 09:00. The reason being that I had to do my B.T.O. Breeding Bird survey, a kilometer to the south of my patch. Whilst there I bumped into the two Peregrines, they were sitting atop a powere pylon sceeching noisily. Also found two Little owls and a flyover hobby.

Once I had finished the survey, I decided I would take my telescope down to Migrant Alley and scan the fields and sky for a couple of hours. The May list had already reached a record high for any May, 72 species, but I was one short of equalling the all time monthly high set last December. I decided my best chance of getting that species was in the form of something flying over, hopefully a Common tern!

In the two hours I spent watching I recorded, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, HERRING GULL, GREY HERON, HOBBY, SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL as well as the usual SWIFT, SWALLOW, and HOUSE MARTIN. Away in the distance a Buzzard was soaring, but not on my patch. DUNNOCK, CHAFFINCH, LINNET, ROBIN, PIED WAGTAIL, BLUE and GREAT TIT all showed up, and the Corvids were their usual anoying selves - they kept rising up on the thermals, and soaring overhead, trying to pass as an interesting Raptor!

I gave up when it got too hot and bright, and I was getting hungry. The all time monthly list high, would stay at 73. Whilst at home hanging around for dinner, I was looking out of the front bedroom window, and saw some Gulls out on one of the Maize fields, I grabbed my bins, and found two MEDITTERANEAN GULLS picking up morsels from the field. They were probably the two recorded earlier in the month, a bit frustrating, they were a patch tick earlier in the month, now they don't even go down as new for the month!

A short walk over to the college grounds after dinner (with the lovely Joy, - my lady wife) did not get me my Common tern or any other new species for the month, in fact the highlight of the walk was the icecream we had from the college garden center.

Its been a good may though, with a patch tick ( med Gull) and a May first (sand martin). The grand total of species seen in combined Mays' is now 86, with a mean of 65 species bieng recorded for this month. Not forgetting the years target of 100 species was reached by the 17th!

Well, its June tomorrow, and the best June total so far is 67, set last year. So the chase begins again, but I think there is less chance of getting the 73+ for the all time monthly record.

The only Photo I got today was of this Male Broad Bodied Chaser, seen just before I had my icecream.

PS. It's 18:10 as I write this, so I might give the sky a look over later - just in case!!

Saturday 30 May 2009

Above is the view over the now treeless part of the tree nursery. This is what I looked over yesterday evening, as I sat and waited for dusk to fall. Quite a number of birds were seen - many more than an afternoon visit would have provided. Highlights were :- 2 CUCKOOS, a KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK, HOBBY and at least 4 flyby TURTLE DOVES, best of all I got a LITTLE OWL, the first this month, which called at 21:50, not a bad evening visit.

Back to this morning, and day dawned clear and warm, it then became very warm by 09:00. A total of 48 species was a little disappointing for a 4 hour visit, but I was back by 11:00, so Raptors didn't feature strongly on my list, just a KESTREL. I also missed Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, but they have stopped singing now and are proving pretty elusive.

The college grounds provided a few photo oportunities, when a group of SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS were sharing the resources of a muddy puddle, to build their nests. It was also at the college gardens that most of the singing was occurring, of the migrant birds BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF were vocal, the SONGTHRUSH, DUNNOCK, WREN, BLACKBIRD, and CHAFFINCH held up the residents side of things.

Not much was happening at Migrant Alley today, a SKYLARK was seen, and PIED WAGTAILS flitted to and from the Greenhouses, taking food to their fledged young, some LINNET families were seen around the paddocks - good to see they have successfuly bred. An hours skywatch produced just the Kestrel, 2 CUCKOO'S a HERRING GULL and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, as well as the Swallows, House Martins and SWIFTS zipping around.

The lake area, wet woods and small holding didn't add much to what was already on my list, just a couple of CANADA GOOSE families on the water, and a singing TURTLE DOVE.

Below are few Photo's of the shared puddle, used by the House Martins and Swallows. I particularly like the reflections in the water.

Below is a Chiffchaff
This Goldfinch below looked spanking in the bright sunshine

Not had a ROBIN pic. on here for a while, so here's a Robin!

lastly this Fox was chilling out in the early morning sun, loving the warmth! just look at the enjoyment on it's face!!

Friday 29 May 2009

A thick mist shrouded my patch at 06:30 this morning, so nothing was seen at all on the way to work! However, by the time I walked home it was hot and humid, with a bit of a breeze, I only got out for an hour, I'm saving myself for an evening visit, which if anything is noted i'll post tomorrow.

During my hour out I visited the vegetation that has grown up in place of the tree's at the nursery. I once again saw a female Common Blue butterfly, and also saw a White Legged Damselfly, my first this year. The best thing found though was an Immature Black Tailed Skimmer, I've only ever seen an adult male on my patch, so this can go in my photo gallery!

Few birds were noted in the hot conditions, but the nearby wet woods and large gardens were full of the calls of fledged TITS, ROBINS and THRUSHES, a KESTREL also flew over with prey. This year must be the best ever on my patch for breeding birds, looks like i'll have to up the sunflower heart order this Autumn!

Oh, and the painted lady butterflies were still coming through, groups of 3-4 came by every minute, if I stood and faced the breeze, they almost crashed into me.

Lets hope I get an Owl this evening, ive not got one on the may list yet.

Below is a female Common Blue Butterfly
Next is the White Legged Damselfly ( I hope!)
lastly this striking Imm. Male Black Tailed Skimmer

Thursday 28 May 2009

Back to work this morning, and as is always the case, the weather improved drastically. It was so warm when I left home at 06:45 I was in a teeshirt! Oh well such is life. I did at least add another species to this months list, when I saw a GREY WAGTAIL fly up the stream at the colllege, it seems ages since I added a species for this month.

This afternoon was very warm and humid, not an afternoon for finding birds. So I went over to the wet ditch to find some Odonata, but of course I kept an eye on the sky, just in case something interesting flew over, which nothing did, just a KESTREL.

At the ditch I found scores of Azure damselflies, some laying eggs, some mating, and some just chasing around, also there were Large Red damselflies, and a single Beautiful demoiselle with a couple of Broad bodied Chasers - doing what it says in their name ''chasing''.

I also paid a visit to to college gardens, on the way a CUCKOO flew over, and the Painted Lady butterflies were noted continuing their northward passage, but some were staying to feed, one sweet smelling shrub had 14 on it!

There was some bird song here, BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF, SONGTHRUSH, and BLACKBIRD, and I aslo saw my first GOLDCREST fledgling being fed by its parents. The good weather is set to continue tomorrow, so I might leave it until the late afternoon for my walk if its too hot.

Below is yet another Painted Lady photo. get 'em while the're here!
Also I found this Speckled Wood butterfly at the college
Below is my first male Broad Bodied chaser
While below is the female, she was laying eggs while hoverring over the water
below is loadsa azures!
With a couple here mating
large red was also around

Lastly this large hoverfly just kept buzzing me, I dont know what kind it is - anyone know ?

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Got back from my walk an hour ago, but I only spent 3 and a half hours out, partly because the rain came in and partly because I'm still suffering from this cold! I sneezed all the way round!!

Highlight of my walk was another RED KITE sighting, well worth hauling my bones out of bed at six this morning for that alone! It flew quite low over Migrant Alley, where also, the two local PEREGRINES were up and about. I never would have believed that I would have recorded these two species on my patch when I started watching it in 2002, let alone seeing them both on the same day, it's little things like this give me the enthusiasm to carry on recording, even when negative things sometimes happen to the habitat on my patch, and make me feel like giving up.

Other birds of note were a third Raptor species - a KESTREL, also over Migrant Alley, and the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was refound in the College grounds, with possibly another, maybe a mate ? I'll keep a close eye out. Migrant birds were not singing in the dull damp conditions, only 1 BLACKCAP and 3 CHIFFCHAFF sang, a CUCKOO called at the lakeside scrub and 1 TURTLE DOVE was seen flying over. Fewer SWIFTS, and swallows were seen, and just 2 HOUSE MARTINS, a pair, which have returned to one of the college buildings, and are showing signs of nesting there.

The day list reached a creditable 47 species, but had I stayed out a bit longer - and felt a bit better, I think a list into the mid-fifties could well have been on. Species such as Long Tailed and Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Greylag Goose, Sparrowhawk, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden warbler, were not seen, and maybe Hobby, or Black Headed Gull, might have shown up.

If the weather clears up I might go back out and try to find some of the missing species. If I do i'll put it on tomorrows post. I'm off now for some scotch and honey, a cold remedy recommended by a fellow blogger, thanks for that Greenie, oh wise one. :-)

Photo chances were at a premium this morming, it was so dull. but here's a newly fledged BLUE TIT begging for a morsel
Now don't laugh! below is a pic. of the flyover Red Kite. One for my records, What a bird!
Below is a PIED WAGTAIL on one of the huge diggers constructing the pipeline at migrant Alley, a good vantage point to catch insects from!

Lastly, the spotted flycatcher.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

I woke up this morning still feeling the effects of ''man flu'', and it was raining heavily outside, so I didn't get out for a full mornings walk of my patch, how frustrating!!

The rain stopped about midday, so I went out around 13:00. I just had a walk around Migrant Alley and the tree nursery. The latter was quite interesting, as where all the trees have been removed, grass and vegetation has started to come back, and I found quite a few butterflies. Common Blue (I think!) were seen, a first for my patch if it is, and many Painted ladies were still around, they were seen every few paces! I also found what I think were Silver Y moths here. Azure Blue damselflies joined the throng, flying about in the sunnier periods.

Over at migrant alley I watched the sky for raptors. KESREL and SPARROWHAWK flew over, and both the local PEREGRINES were seen, I also saw a large raptor far off to the SE, it could have been a Buzzard, but I have my doubts, I think it showed more signs of being a Red Kite, alas it never came nearer for a positive ID, another one gets away! HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACK GULLS came and fed on the maize crop for a while, and all the usual birds were encountered, SWIFTS, SWALLOWS, HOUSE MARINS, PIED WAGTAILS and LINNNETS being the most numerous.

More rain expected tomorrow, but it might reach here a little later in the day, so if i feel better I can at least get out early.

I love this photo, what a cracking little butterfly! Even though it is a bit worn, is it a female Common Blue, - Greenie - Dean ?
Below is what I believe to be a Silver y moth. I think they are migrant moths, and hve come up with the painted lady butterflies.
Here are two of the Painted lady Butterflies. They will be on everyones blogs I suspect!

Below is an Azure damselfly
The next pic is a Lesser Black backed Gull
this one ids a Herring Gull
This little Great Tit has just about worn itself out bringing up its nestlings. It will moult later in the year and be spanking new for autumn.

Monday 25 May 2009

I awoke at 05:30 this morning, with a burning throat, headache and dripping nose - another cold, the 2nd this month!!! So I rolled over and had my first lay in for ages.....well until 08:00 anyway.

By 08:30 I had to get out, I was bored stiff indoors. I got as far round my patch as the tree nursery, Migrant alley and the college grounds, but then it started to rain, making me feel even worse! What did I see for my efforts ? Very little, the highlight was the CUCKOO flying over Migrant Alley.

By midday the sun was back out, so I dragged my sorry bones over to my seat at Migrant Alley. A few SKYLARKS sang, and PIED WAGTAILS were on the maize field, 5 very high flying HERRING GULLS went over and another 4 CUCKOO'S were seen, flying in different directions, but they could have been the same bird I suppose. 2hrs later I gave up, my mind wasn't on the job, so i went home and spent the afternoon taking pics of my garden wildlife, until it clouded over at 16:00hrs.

Here's what I managed to photograph, without moving more than 2 meters from my chair!! No bird photo's today, thats a first!

Below are a couple of Large Red Damselflies

next a couple of Common Newt pics.
Ok This one I had to catch, to get it's photo!
This Comma Butterfly dropped in for a few minutes
Bees were on the Chives, I don't know whet type though
More bees were in the yellow flag iris
Lastly, the insect below looked a strange fellow, as it fed on Oxeye daisy

Sunday 24 May 2009

A repeat of yesterdays circuit of my patch, produced many of the same species, in the same places, right down to seeing two CUCKOO'S flying across the tree nursery in exactly the same place! The total day list made it to a very good 52, adding just one species that wasn't seen yesterday - a NUTHATCH. Another species that should have been on the list both yesterday and today was the Jay, it has eluded me all weekend.

Two more species were confirmed breeding on my patch, when I found a fledged TREECREEPER, and a family of fledged COAL TITS.

Other noteable sightings was my first photograph of a Toad, found in the college gardens, and a continual passage of Painted lady Butterflies, one passed me every 10 mins or so! There must be many thousands of these migrant butterflies if this passage has been repeated over the county.

Below is my first Toad Photo.

This Cuckoo below, has been giving me the run around for weeks, I have been after a decent photo of one for some time. Today I staked out it's normal calling perch ( getting stung by nettles and stabbed by thorns in the process.) I sat for half an hour, and was rewarded when it flew onto the power line above the scrub by the lake.

At first it kept preening, and wouldn't look up.

but I waited, and it eventually gave me some decent poses

Below is the fledged Treecreeper, shyly peeking out from the oak leaves
and here is one of the fledgling Coal Tits
None of the mentioned Painted Lady Butterflies stopped for a photo, so this Peacock Butterfly will have to do!

Saturday 23 May 2009

I was out by 06:00 this morning, and spent 4 hours walking my patch. The weather, for once, was warm, sunny and windless. For such ideal conditions, the birds weren't singing that much, but I suppose most are now on their territories, and settling down to breed.

The first 15 species were rattled off quick time, STARLING, COLLARED DOVE, ROBIN, WREN, CHAFFINCH, HOUSE SPARROW, WOODPIGEON, MAGPIE, BLACKBIRD and JACKDAW were all seen as I walked along ashes lane towards the tree nursery, in the nursery itself, GOLDFINCH, SONGTHRUSH, CARRION CROW, MALLARD and BLUE TIT were recorded. 3 STOCKDOVES flew over, and just a few seconds later, a pair of CUCKOO'S did the same, the female was giving her distinctive ''bubbling'' call. A BULLFINCH called from the perimiter hedegrow, where a YELLOWHAMMER sang, the only one on territory on my patch, sadly. The next bird up was a WHITETHROAT, and as I watched a SWALLOW zip over my head, I caught sight of a CORMORANT flying over, only the 3rd one this month. As I left the nursery, to head over to Migrant Alley, I saw the first fledgling GREAT TITS of the year.

Once at Migrant Alley, ROOK, SKYLARK, GREY LAG GOOSE, and LINNET were seen, while a CHIFFCHAFF called from the scrub at the northern boundary. A HERRING GULL went over, as I was watching the HOUSE MARTINS and SWIFTS.

I made my way along the stream adjacent to the college grounds, where I added BLACKCAP and a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, possibly a second bird for my patch, but it could have been the one ive been seeing for the past week. A DUNNOCK was seen, somewhat belatedly, as I went into the college grounds, and a GREENFINCH was feeding youngsters in a large shrub. I watched a pair of MISTLE THRUSHE'S 'alarming' at something, but couldn't see what was upsetting them. A COAL TIT was seen at close quarters, collecting food for nestlings, and the last bird on the list from the College grounds was a MOORHEN. I noticed more Great Tits as I left, young birds seemed to be everywhere today!

I walked back to Migrant Alley, via the scrub at the northern boundary, where I was priviledged to witness a family of Blue Tits leaving their nestbox. TURTLE DOVES were heard 'purring'' and a GOLDCREST was in full song. A KESTREL was hunting around the Greenhouse complex, as I passed, upsetting all the PIED WAGTAILS. I gave one last glance back over the fields, and into the sky, and I was glad I did, as I saw the PEREGRINE go low over.

After a quick snack and drink I walked over to the lake area. GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS were next on the list, then a singing TREECREEPER was heard in the wet woods, where the first Mosquitoes were seen, and felt, feeding on me! In the scrub area by the lake, a pair of LESSER WHITETHROAT were seen, and at last I added LONG TAILED TIT to the day list. A GARDEN WARBLER gave a short burst of song, the 50th species for the day, and number 51 was soon found, as the CANADA GEESE were on the lake.

I headed home, pleased with my day total, but after cutting the lawn and doing a few household chores, I went back out to Migrant Alley, to do some skywatching for an hour or so. I hadn't reached my seat, when I heard a Gull calling from above, I looked up and found it - mobbing a COMMON BUZZARD. I took my seat and soon found the days first SPARROWHAWK, making 4 Raptor species for the day, a good total for an inland patch, but it got better when a HOBBY was also seen - 5 raptors for the day! Very impressive! This brought the day list to 54 just one behind the record. I sat and watched for another 20 minutes, and the record was equaled, when a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL flew over, just ten minutes later a new record day list was set - a LAPWING number 56. What a good day!

Somethimg else seen during my skywatch was this fox, taking home dinner for the young 'uns.

Below is another BROAD BODIED CHASER, can't resist getting pics of these
A couple of young Rabbits were resting in some bramble, at the college grounds.
Below is the KESTREL that was hunting over the Greenhouse complex
This goldfinch took off just as i pressed the shutter !
Below is a Male Chaffinch that was singing from a telephone wire
Next is a Pic. of the fledged Great Tit.
Lastly is a bit of a blurred photo, of one of the Blue Tits leaving home for the first time.