Sunday 28 February 2010

The expected storm system came in overnight, the winds were not as bad as forecast, but the rain was! Below is a photo of the fields to the front of my house, totally waterlogged.

The rain eased from very heavy, to just plain heavy around 08:30, so I thought I'd venture out for a quick trip to the lake area - as todays full patch walk was called off.

On the way there the rain came on strong again, and I just kept going, head down, trying not to step into one of the large muddy puddles that had formed in every hole, dip or hollow. The wet woods were now just one big pool, which had overflowed onto the footpaths, I had no choice but to wade through the ankle deep water and was thinking maybe I should have stayed at home!

Anyway, upon reaching the lake, which was now as full as I have ever seen it, all I got for my efforts was a CORMORANT, and the COOT, now on it's 7th day stay. After a quick scan of the lake edges, I squelched off back home - a frustrating last day of a frustrating month.

Much of the day was spent watching the garden feeders, and quite a few birds were making use of them. Best of the bunch were the pair of SISKIN, and the returning BRAMBLING.

Below is a photo of the 12 port feeder, crammed with hungry birds, with more waiting for their turn. Not a very clear photo, it was almost dark!

The month ended with a total of 60 species being recorded, the 3rd highest of the nine years, so it wasn't entirely disappointing. However, the combined total for all nine February's is now 79, so maybe a few more species could have been anticipated. On the other hand the mean species total for february is 59. In all, a very mixed February.

Saturday 27 February 2010

The penultimate full patch walk for february took place this morning, and it didn't start too well. First thing this morning it was throwing it down, but by 07:00 it eased off and finally stopped just after, it remained dry but dull for the remainder of the day.

It was a good visit compared to recent days, with a days list of 47 species. Everything turned up that was expected, except a NUTHATCH, but that was seen in my garden later this afternoon, so 48 species was eventually reached.

It was still a bit disappointing not to find some of the ''missing'' species that have graced my patch in previous February's, i'm still lacking the Meadow Pipit, Little Owl, Kingfisher, and Grey Wagtail, all are not uncommon in Feb. Also species such as Snipe, and Reed Bunting may have been found, although they are less common.

So what was about today ? Well, it was nice to see 3 raptor species, the PEREGRINE that flew over Migrant Alley, and over to the Tower, the KESTREL that was back hunting around the Greenhouse Complex, and a SPARROWHAWK hunting thriough the Wet woods. The 'Winter Thrushes' have diminished greatly over this past week, only a small flock of 16 REDWING were seen on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, with just half a dozen FIELDFARE, they seem to be leaving us early this year, the mean last 'recorded date' for Fieldfare is the 30th Mar. and for Redwing it's the 31 of Mar, so there should be the odd few around for another month or so yet.

Over at the Lakes, the COOT remained into it's 6th day, only 4 more days and it will be the longest staying Coot on my patch ever :-) There was also a single CORMORANT fishing on the main lake, that made a nice change from the MOORHEN, MALLARD and CANADA GEESE that are normally there, and indeed were there today.

The usual suspects were found in the Wet Woods and various other bits of habitat, including TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, two singing SISKIN, both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS and two different LESSER REDPOLLS - one at the Migrant Alley Alders, and one at the College stream Alders.


The last February visit may well be a short affair, as a storm system is moving in, but i'll try anyway :-)

Photo's today come from my garden, it's still too dull really for photo's, but the new camera does a good job.

Above and below: BLUE TITS


This DUNNOCK pic was looking good, but the feeders hanger got in the way! It looks like the curl of the hanger is in front of the bird, but its actually behind it.

The colouful finch's were abundant as usual, below is the male CHAFFINCH

A couple of GOLDFINCH

Lastly a Male GREENFINCH

I also had a visit from a Male Sparrowhawk, the first to visit the garden this year - species number 25 to do so.

Friday 26 February 2010

No rain today - hooray! However the weekend will be very wet and very windy - Doh!

This morning, walking into work, a lone LAPWING flew up from the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, this winter has been the poorest so far for lapwing on my patch. Past winters have provided me with good size flocks, 100+ was not an unusual number to be found at Migrant alley, however this year the most seen on the sheep pasture there is just 2! Small flocks of 30 -50 have flown over but did not come onto the fields. Most of the reason for this is the increase in dog walkers, with loose roaming dogs :-(

This afternoon actually provided some brief sunny moments, but a gale force, cold wind took away any warmth that was provided. The walk over to the lakes was frustrating, as the noise of the wind drowned out any bird calls, only the most obvious of birds were recorded GREEN WOODPECKER in the Small Holding, along with numerous BLUE and GREAT TITS, 6 MALLARD, 4 MOORHEN and two GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS in the Wet Woods and the usual MAGPIES and JAYS scurrying about.

I checked the lakes for the COOT and was pleased to see it still there, day 5 ! Will it beat the record of 9 days ? It seems to like the ornimental lake owned by the large house, the smallest 'top' lake had 12 CANADA GEESE on it, but the main lake had just 2 Mallard and 3 Moorhen. Looking at the water levels they are higher than I have ever seen them, this might attract a Goosander down - I hope!

As the weather was relatively ok, I paid a visit to Migrant Alley, in the hope of adding a Meadow Pipit to the months list, but none was found, however as I scanned the NW edge of my patch, along the wet ditch, I saw a LITTLE EGRET (60) drop in, nice ! I thought i'd sneak round and get a photo of it - as they don't often land on my patch, but low and behold a bloody dog walker with 3 loose dogs got there before me. The Egret flew off and seemed to alight in a tree behind the Greenhouse's, once the dogs had gone, it flew back down into the ditch, I decided that it didn't need to be disturbed again, and settled for the record shot I got of it as it flew back down into the ditch.

So one more for the February list, and with two full patch visits left, the months species total reaches 60, the 3rd best February tally so far, still 7 behind last Feb's record total though.

Below: the Little Egret - it was a long way off!

Above and below: The now very Wet Woods, just looks perfect for a Teal - maybe this weekend ?
Another photo of the main Lake, empty again :-( The ''top'' lake lies just behind the row of trees, the ornimental lake is to the right.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Early this morning as I walked to work, I was priviliged to see one of the PEREGRINES flying low across Migrant Alley, no doubt after a Fieldfare or Redwing, of which there are far fewer of since the weekend.

Well that's it for today!! I got home from work, had something to eat, and the moment I stepped out the door big dark clouds rolled in and heavy rain fell, so I was out just long enough to scan the lake area and come straight back. In that 35 mins I got soaked!
It wasn't really worth my effort either, the tree surgeons were working in the adjacent garden, they had turned their attention from taking off small deadwood, to chopping down a sycamore, the lying bastards! They told me all they were doing is taking out dead wood. I noticed their truck had Hadlow College signage on it, is nowhere safe from the chop and burn policy of this so called ''Land Management'' education facility!
After all that chainsaw noise, all I saw on the lake were 9 MALLARD, two MOORHEN and my old friend the COOT, which is now going for the record stay on my patch, which at the moment goes for the Coot found on the 19 Dec. 2008 which stayed for 9 days.

This poor birding month seems to be getting no better, have you ever had the feeling everythings against you?? Or am I just pissed off because of the weather? I think it's time I dug out some of those happy pills again!!

Wednesday 24 February 2010

The rain stopped for a few hours this afternoon, and I even had some flashes of sunshine, the temperature was a balmy 10c, no more burning cold fingers!

I spent 2 hours over at the lake area and around the Wet woods, and saw not much that was different from yesterday. Again the LONG TAILED TITS provided the entertainment, and they were abley supported by the COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS.

On the lake I was well happy with seeing the COOT for the third day in succession, with it were a dozen MALLARD and a few MOORHEN. Overhead, a CORMORANT flew low over, only the second record this month. The only raptors seen were a pair of SPARROWHAWKS, the male of which was seen later zooming through the wet woods.
Above: My Coot! I looked at last years records for coot, and saw that one turned up on the 23rd Feb. Just one day later than this years bird turned up, maybe it's the same bird ?

Below is the scene that greets me 90% of the time when I look over the water - nothing on it!

Looking back at last February, I see I was posting the Celendine in flower (below) by the 27th.
By the 21st I had seen my first Bumble bee! No chance of that yet, but there was an increase in small insects today, I even saw a small moth....spring is coming, it's just a bit late ;-)

Tuesday 23 February 2010

It remained dry today, that is until I finished work, when it started throwing it down with rain, sleet and snow. They say your bad luck and good luck even themselves out over time - well I'm due some good luck - big time!

Not deterred by the wintry mix of precipitation, I thought i'd just whizz over to the lake area, check it out, and whizz back again, however once I got to the lake the rain petered out, so I hung around for longer. Despite much searching and scanning of the lakes the only thing seen was the COOT, how often can I say that! It seems strange to see a Coot swimming across the water, not a common species here at all. I didn't expect to see much anyway as the tree surgeons were still working in the nearby garden.

After I had convinced myself the was nothing more to be seen on the water, I headed for the Wet Woods and spent the next hour giving the place a thorough searching. I found the MALLARDS on the large pools, at least 6 of them, but it was hard to know how many were there in the dense tangle of fallen trees and branches - lovely habitat! A couple of MOORHEN made there presence known with their loud calls, but it was all quiet really, until I found the feeding flock of LONG TAILED TITS. About 15 flitted all around me, some high up in the canopy, some as low as a foot from the floor, I stood, watched and listened for at least 20 mins, and amongst the flock I located a GOLDCREST, two GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, 4 SISKINS, and 4 TREECREEPERS, but it was hard to tell how many of the latter, there seemed to be one on every tree trunk I looked at, there could have been as many as eight!

Whist watching the feeding flock I thought I heard a Teal call, I was sure I did, so off I went, and walked round the edge of all the pools which is as large as half a soccer pitch in all, but again after much searching I couldn't locate a Teal, there are just too many good hiding places amongst the branches, I did however see Goldcrest and Treecreepers again, but they were more than likey the same ones seen earlier.

After an hour or so it got too gloomy to see much, and the cold was getting to me, so i squelched off back home along the muddy footpaths, hearing a STOCK DOVE sing on the way, for only the second time this year.

I reached home with still an hour of feeding activity left at the garden feeders, and as I watched all the finch's clamouring for sunflower hearts, a lone male Siskin dropped in, probably the same one as ive been getting all month, the BRAMBLING also dropped in again - very nice, this no doubt is certainly the same bird I keep recording in my garden, lets hope in stays into March, it would be a nice addition to that months list.

Above: The Brambling. I was amazed at how well these pics came out as it was almost dark, and I'd forgotten to turn on the stabilizer on the lens.........

Monday 22 February 2010

It was back to work today, in pouring rain, and the walk home 5 hours later was in pouring rain!

In such conditions an afternoon patch walk would yield very little, except maybe at the lake area, so I got the wet weather gear on, and trudged my way through the muddy footpaths, which actually had become small streams in places! The Wet Woods were as wet as Ive seen them, many of the pools had merged into bigger ones, but as much as I looked I couldn't locate a Teal on them, they are normally quite frequent visitors from Jan - early Apr, but not this year, all that was seen were 4 MALLARD and 5-6 MOORHENS.

As I walked the footpath that runs along to the lake area, the large garden to the right had a team of Tree surgeons working on the large Oak trees that pepper the front lawns of the house - no doubt employed to ''tidy'' the dead wood off, the very best bits of the tree for little creatures at the bottom of the food chain - I dispair at the ignorance of the landowners around here. :-(

Anyway, It seems they will be there all week, so with the noise of chainsaws the lake looks like it will bear little. However, today it did bear fruit, in the form of a COOT! My second this month - I am blessed! The Coot didn't seem to mind the chainsaw racket, but then they dont get phased by much. Nothing else wanted to hang around though, and it had the lakes to itself.

I didn't hang about in the cold and wet for long, there wasn't much about, just the normal TREECREEPERS, COAL TITS, LONG TAILED TITS and calling BULLFINCH'S.

This weather looks set in for the week, so photo opportunities will be few, boy am I looking forward to spring now!

I would like to draw your attention to a new blog that will be interesting. Its all about the birds and wildlife of Sheppy - the island just off kent. Ive got a link to it in my side bar - its called ''Letters From Sheppy''

Sunday 21 February 2010

The last of my quartet of full patch walks took place in abysmal conditions, after an initial frost, the cloud piled in and rain started to fall, making it cold, wet, and miserable. It seems no two consecutive days are the same at the moment, however, looking at the forecast for the next few days thats about to change, as all the days will be wet and cold. :-)

Despite all the gloom a good selection of species were seen - 43 in all, mostly ones that have been seen on the previous 3 visits, REDWING and FIELDFARE in their hundreds on the pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley, where a GREY LAG GOOSE flew over, small groups of BULLFINCH at both the Greenhouse Complex and the lakeside scrub, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER were all seen in the Wet Woods, which was being terrorised by a pair of SPARROWHAWKS, also a KESTREL was hunting around the lake area, the lake itself being frozen over and was home to just a single MALLARD.

I did find a couple of species to add to the total obtained during my 4 holiday visits, a YELLOWHAMMER, which flew over, as I was trying to photograph the LESSER REDPOLL in the same line of Alder trees as yesterday, there were in fact two now, and 11 LAPWING that were feeding in a field just off the west end of Ashes Lane, with them were 3 COMMON GULLS, and 33 BLACK HEADED GULLS.

The Yellowhammer and Lapwing took the total count to 55 species for the last 4 days, a good result considering some of the weather conditions, and the fact it's taken me all month to get to 59 species!

Whilst at home later in the morning, I was keeping an eye on the garden feeders and was pleased to see the return of both BRAMBLING and SISKIN, better still whilst eating dinner, I noticed a flock of 100 or so STARLINGS in tight formation wheeling in the sky to the front of the house, putting my plate to one side, I looked out, and saw the reason for the starlings evasive tactics, a PEREGRINE was stalking them! It eventually broke off and flew low right over the house - nice.

So in the end, the patch produced 46 species, not too bad for a miserable day!

I tried to get a photo or two but the light was so dire, here's a couple that didn't come out as bad as the rest! Above - Garden Siskin. Below: Lesser Redpoll

Saturday 20 February 2010

Just for a change, the day dawned bright and sunny, but with a hard frost - i'll take that after the recent days i've had to endure!

A four hour walk of my patch produced 42 species, of which the highlight was finding the first LESSER REDPOLL (58) of the month, it was found feeding with half a dozen GOLDFINCH that were in the line of Alder trees that forms the boundary between Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Complex. It was also good to see a couple of SKYLARKS at Migrant Alley, the first seen since 13th.

Over at the lake I found it to be 3 quarters frozen over, but on the remaining patch of water 10 CANADA and 7 GREYLAG GEESE were seen, as well as just 4 MALLARD and two MOORHEN. All the usual suspects were found in the scrub and Wet Woods, COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLCREST but not the Treecreeper!

3 Raptor species were seen, the first was an early sighting of a SPARROWHAWK flying low and fast over the Tree Nursery, but the other two were seen later in the day as I was scanning the sky from my bedroom window, the KESTREL, over the Greenhouses, and the other was a new species for the month a COMMON BUZZARD (59) which was being mobbed by 15 ROOKS!

The two afternoon additions brought the daylist to 44, a respectable tally for a February day,.

The sunny frosty conditions were ideal to try out my new camera, and I took quite a few photo's
Above: BLACKBIRD, and Below: ROBIN. Common species, but very photogenic.

Below: A classic frosty PHEASANT photo

Below: Is an attempt to capture the Lesser Redpoll but it was never in full view.
Below: A LONG TAILED TIT - which had unfortunately lost it's tail!

Below: One of the hundreds of FIELDFARE that were on every open field, along with their allies the REDWINGS

The next two photo's are of BULFINCH'S, they were seen in their usual habitat around the Greenhouse Complex

Early morning sun piercing the woodland gloom

The last photo is of some of the Oaks that I have applied to have tree preservation orders put on. Yesterday I had confimation that the orders have been served! Brilliant!!!!!

Friday 19 February 2010

I thought the weather was meant to improve today, however as I left for my full patch walk this morning it was cold, and drizzling, with the odd flake of snow.

I was out for 3 hours today, and recorded 41 species, 7 of those were not seen yesterday, the first being a pair of GREY LAG GEESE that flew over Migrant Alley early on, the KESTREL was back hunting over the Greenhouse Complex and another was hunting over the lakeside scrub, as was a SPARROWHAWK, neither of these species turned up yesterday. A field of grass just off the west end of ashes lane had 32 BLACK HEADED GULLS on it and with them was the fourth species that was not seen yesterday - 3 COMMON GULLS, a good number for my patch, another Gull species, LESSER BLACK BACKED was seen flying over, not had one of these since the 7th.

A good number of finch's were feeding in an alpaca enclosure, adjacent the small holding, in all around 40 GREENFINCH, 18 CHAFFINCH, and 9 GOLDFINCH were feeding on the floor, they were probably eating the seeds of the Hornbeam trees which overhang the enclosure. It was interesting to see a flock of BLUE TITS with them, I counted 24, strange to see bunches of Blue Tits feeding from the floor! Whilst watching this lot, a STOCK DOVE flew from one of the nearby pear trees - didn't see one of those yesterday, and a little further on a PIED WAGTAIL was seen, the final species from this morning that didn't show yesterday.

On the lake I was disappointed not to see the Tufted Duck, I thought it may have stayed the night, but no, so it was back to watching the MALLARDS, CANADA GEESE and MOORHENS!

Another short 40 min trip out to the Lake area was had this afternoon, and I found a few more species that weren't picked up this morning, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT and NUTHATCH all were found as I passed through the Wet Woods, as well as two SISKIN in a Pine tree situated on the bank of the lake, where were they yesterday ? I decided I would check out the top lake again, just to make sure nothing had dropped in since this mornings visit, it had, but it was only 3 Greylag geese and 7 more Canada Geese, as I walked back past the main lake I saw an odd looking duck out in the middle of the water, I raised my bins and was pleased to find it was a drake MANDARIN DUCK (69 57) Yes! Another good species for the year list, it took me until the 2nd of November last year to get the only sighting of this colourful Duck, when 3 turned up. Not as rare as the Tufty, or the Coot in fact, but still a difficult species to find on the patch lakes!

At the end of the day I had a good tally of 46 species, 9 that were not seen yesterday. Over the two days, a total of 49 species was recorded, so things are definitely looking up!

Above: A GREEN WOODPECKER, this one was on the college sports pitch

Above: A FIELDFARE, plenty of them about today, but they will soon be off north to breed.

Above: The drake mandarin duck - nice!

Today I managed to pick my new Camera and lens up -a Canon 50D with a 70 -300 stabilized zoom lens. I took a couple of garden pics just to check it all worked ok, and it does!


Thursday 18 February 2010

I was determined to get out early and find some of the bird species that are missing from the February list, such species as - Meadow Pipit, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Little Owl, Lesser redpoll and a few more that should have turned up by now!

As I left the house at 06:50, things seemed in my favour, no rain or wind, just a slight frost and an overcast sky, a SONG THRUSH sang in the distance, and a ROBIN did the same from nearby. I set off down ashes lane and saw the regular CHAFFINCH and HOUSE SPARROW, whilst a WOODPIGEON flew overhead and three JACKDAWS called from the chimney pots of a large country house. Both BLUE TIT and DUNNOCK were added to the list before I went into the tree nursery, where, apart from watching the LINNETS leave their roost, it all went very quiet.

Below is the view from the tree nursery, over to the wet woods, the empty field is Marchants field, last year it was part of the nursery.
I carried on through the tree nursery and the only birds added to the list was a distant calling PHEASANT and a flyover FIELDFARE.

Out of the nursery I followed the hedge, and scanned the sheep pasture to the right of it, where a flock of Fieldfare and REDWING were seen feeding, around 100 birds in all, the hedgerow provided just BLACKBIRD, MAGPIE, a MISTLE THRUSH and a CARRION CROW which 'cawed' from the top of a tree. A very poor start to the walk, plus it was begining to get very misty.

I got to Migrant Alley and NOTHING at all was added to the list! the mist had rolled in and viewing was restricted to the immediate vacinity. I made my way to the stream and grounds of the college, where at least I did pick up some more common species, COLLARED DOVE, GREAT TIT, WREN, LONG TAILED TIT, STARLING, GOLDFINCH and BULLFINCH, plus a low flying MALLARD and a few BLACK HEADED GULLS on the sports pitch. The walk back across migrant Alley, heading back home for a drink break provided just one more species - a flyover HERRING GULL. At the halfway point I had totted up just 26 species, at least 10 short of the norm, the day wasn't going as I had planned!

The second half of my walk was not much better, GREENFINCH was added to the list with JAY, they were seen in the small holding, but the only species added in the wet woods was a MOORHEN. As I reached the lake rain started to fall, and as it splatted on the iced up water, I scanned the lake and found nothing, I didn't bother with the smaller top lake, instead I decided to march off home and wait for the weather to clear up. I had just 29 species on the list -terrible!

An hour later the rain had eased off, so back out to the lake I went, to finish the walk, the camera stayed at home, it was just a lump of dead weight in the murky conditions This time I found my first GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER of the day as I passed through the wet woods again. Nearing the lake I could hear CANADA GEESE - they weren't there earlier, just the two had dropped in. I walked round to the top lake, hardly a lake really more of a large pond, and found another 10 canada geese, I scanned through them and got the surprise of the year so far, amongst them was a lone female TUTFED DUCK (68, 56) fantastic! This is a real rare bird for my patch, I have only ever recorded this species once before when two flew over Migrant Alley back in December 2006, so this is the first ive recorded on the lake area. What a great addition to the year list, I have recorded the likes of Black Redstart and Firecrest more than I have Tufted Duck :-) - and i'd left the camera at home -doh!

The rain started fall again, but I was bouyed by the excitement of my Tufty, and went around the scrub to see what was about. I added NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, and COAL TIT to the list, but that only brought it to 35 species. I decided to have another walk around the wet woods to try and find a Treecreeper, as I was leaving a GREY HERON flew in to the main lake, and a GREEN WOODPECKER was seen on the lawn of the large house just before the woods. On entering the woods, it was cold, wet, and quiet, I walked on and listened, and finally heard what I wanted to hear, a flock of Long Tailed Tits, this meant the chance of a treecreeper. I quickly located the Tit flock, and with them was the obligatory TREECREEPER - two in fact, plus the MARSH TIT and another Goldcrest for the day.
So the day list ended on 40 species, a respectable tally, but none of the species mentioned at the beginning of this post wee found, but the Tufty made up for that!

Above: This fox was hunting around the Greenhouse complex, it made one of those comical 'pounces' but didn't get what it was after.

I came across these two Blackbirds, also in the grounds of the greenhouses. I have seen birds fighting before, but these two were really going for it, I got so close to them I could of picked the up! After a few photo's of them I split the quarrelsome pair up, and they went on their way, none the worse.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Above and below: Siskin
below : Bullfinch
Below: Sparrowhawk

Above: the first garden crocus showed itself today, things are on the change!

A more different day from yesterday could not be had. After a slight frost, the day dawned bright and sunny, and stayed that way all day.

This afternoons walk was a sheer joy, the sun shone and the temperature rose to 9C, alot of the common birds were in full song, GREAT and BLUE TITS, ROBINS, CHAFFINCH, SONGTHRUSH, DUNNOCK and even a BLACKBIRD. Those that weren't singing were calling vigorously, making for a great sound as I walked over to the lake area. Whilst checking the water, and finding 6 CANADA GEESE, 8 MALLARDS and 4 MOORHEN, I could hear a NUTHATCH calling and a MISTLE THRUSH singing. The MARSH TIT was located in the adjacent scrub, along with COAL TIT and TREECREEPER, however the sight of a SPARROWHAWK gliding slowly over soon had the place in silence!

I wandered off across to Migrant Alley as well today, and sat in the sunshine on my favoured horse jump, whilst lapping up the warmth of the sun, I saw another Sparrowhawk fly over, being chased by a BLACK HEADED GULL that was squealing like a little girl in a playground, it seemed to move the hawk on pretty promptly though! Also seen was the KESTREL that hunts around the Greenhouse complex, the first sighting here since the 8th. Walking back, I checked the alder trees and large Blackthorn bush that are in the greenhouse grounds, a pair of SISKINS were in the Alders, and five BULLFINCH in the Blackthorn.

Nothing much of note today, but it was good to get out in some decent weather, I'm off work for the rest of the week, so some intense patch watching will be had, lets hope this weather holds!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

It rained from dawn 'till dusk today, and the worst of the rain was reserved for the afternoon, so I gave up on the idea of a patch walk, and stayed in to watch the garden feeders.

It was so dull and dank I had difficulty seeing the birds at the end of my garden, where most of the feeders are situated, a distance of just 40 feet away. There was, from what I could see, plenty of activity going on this afternoon though, mostly from the common garden species, BLUE TITS peaked at 14, but many many more of these birds visit during the day, GREAT TITS dont hang around the feeders for long, and only peaked at 4 birds, but again, I wouldn't be surprised if 15-20 different ones visited over the afternoon. COAL TITS peaked at two, not so many of them around the local vacinity.

The finch's arrived in small gangs, 14 CHAFFINCH'S, 13 GREENFINCH'S and 5 GOLDFINCH'S all fed together, but even these colourful birds didn't do much to brighten the garden with their wet plumage. The once common HOUSE SPARROWS have been coming back to the garden in bigger numbers since the Sparrowhawk ceased to dine here, a peak of 9 came in today, but thats well down on the 30-40 birds I used to get 5-6 years ago.

On the ground, a peak of 5 BLACKBIRDS fed, with two DUNNOCKS, and two ROBINS making awkward forays to the tube feeders, the COLLARED DOVES, of which there were 7, just ate everything, they are now adept at using all the feeders! Another once abundant bird in my garden - the STARLING was represented by just two birds, they hung from the peanut feeders, but if I put out fat I could get up to a dozen.

The less common birds, but still regular visitors, that used the garden today included; WOODPIGEON, JACKDAW, MAGPIE, a pair of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS and a pair of NUTHATCH, the only scarce bird to visit was a lone male SISKIN.

All very nice, but i'm not going to find any new patch species for the month or the year in the garden!

I thought I try the 50D camera out in the dire conditions, if I could get a half decent photo today, then it would go a long way to making me part with the cash to buy one. Well I was very impressed, the following shots were taken through a rain splattered window, with the ISO set to 2000 allowing a shutter speed of just 100, thats how dull it was! I think the results are quite good, just think what could be acheived if the light ever improves!

Above is a Robin
Above: Great Tit, below: Blue Tit

Lastly, a full house at the 12 port feeder, mostly Greenfinch, but there is a Goldfinch, and a Great Tit in there!