Wednesday 30 June 2010

This afternoon I paid the final visit of the month to my patch, I walked the Tree Nursery, Pub Field, and a circuit of Migrant Alley. It was another hot and humid day, and as such, not a lot could be expected, but you never know, so it's always worth getting out :-)

The only songsters heard were the COMMON WHITETHROATS, two pairs in the Tree Nursery and a pair in the boundary hedge separating Migrant Alley from the Greenhouses. Other than that I had to make do with a few SWIFTS, SWALLOWS, and HOUSE MARTINS feeding on the plentiful insect life that the hot weather is producing. A single SKYLARK was seen over the fresh cut silage field, maybe looking for its now destroyed nest site? Both KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were seen hunting, as has been the case all month, in fact the Kestrel has been seen on 24 dates this month, and the Sparrowhawk 14. Out of interest, the other recorded Raptors this month were seen as follows: Hobby 6 dates, Peregrine 4 dates and Buzzard twice.

June has been a good month for the number of bird species recorded, the total of 68 is the best June tally out of the 9 so far recorded, and easily beats the average number of species seen in this month, which is 63.4. One species, the Stonchat, was a first sighting for any June, taking the combined June total to 83 now.

The halfway point in the year has now been reached, and my quest for 100 species by the years end has reached 95, It may seem easy to get just 5 more species in the next six months, after getting 95 in the previous six, but I can promise you it will take some doing :-)

Tomorrow is the start of a new monthly list, the total to beat is 69, set back in July 2007, now that will take some doing! July's total doesn't often exceed Junes total, in fact it has only done so in 3 of the past 8 years, but that record July haul of 69 back in 2007 beats all the June totals, thats how good a month it was!

Well thats enough of the boring stats! Here's todays photo's - not that they are much to look at :-)

A rather poor effort of the Kestrel, I should have been round the other side of it, with the light :-)
Below is a real treat, not one, but a pair of BULLFINCH on the graden feeders. Its not often you can get these birds onto tube feeders, or into the garden for that matter!

Tuesday 29 June 2010

A LESSER WHITETHROAT was seen in Ashes Lane as I walked to work this morning, the first recorded since early this month, where do they hide ?
Crossing Migrant Alley the SWALLOWS were again queing for the water trough, four SKYLARKS chased around the uncut silage field, while five BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over low and slow, looking great in their breeding plumage, ive learned to appreciate these Gulls, most of my sightings are in the Autumn /winter period, when they have lost their hoods, and look quite different.

Whilst walking back home I saw that the silage field had started to be cut, barely a month after it's first cropping, such is the speed of it's growth after being heavily fertilized, unfortunately, modern farming being totally out of sinc with nature, means that for a second time any Skylarks nests will have been destroyed. Years ago there would have been just one cut, in mid to late July, giving time for the ground nesters to breed.

I went back over to watch the grass silage being cut after I had refuled with something to eat and drink, and despite the showery weather this morning, it had turned out hot and humid again, sapping any energy I had left after a hard mornings work :-) I didn't get any further than my skywatching seat, and spent a couple of hours looking out for anything that might be attracted to the insects put up from the mowed grass.

The first things to arrive were the Swallows, shortly followed by a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, then later, two more joined it, with a HERRING GULL. Higher up around 20 SWIFTS circled round, whilst 2 pairs of PIED WAGTAILS made the most of the winged prey, ferrying to and from the Greenhouse Complex where they nest, they must be on second broods now. A mixed flock of ROOKS, CARRION CROWS and JACKDAWS came down after the Tractor had finished, these were all put up by a Passing SPARROWHAWK. The local KESTREL got in on the act, hoverring over the cut field, but soon moved off after finding nothing mammalian.

This Lesser Black backed Gull came near enough for a photo.

The Sparrowhawk didn't really come near enough though, but I took a photo anyway
Walking back home, I saw this nice looking Large Skipper - rude not to photograph such a good looking specimen!

Monday 28 June 2010

Nothing at all to report from my patch today, it was hot and sticky as I walked into work, and very little was seen, apart from the SWALLOWS at the leaking water trough again.

I walked home from work and it was even hotter and stickier! The only living things seen were a flock of panting ROOKS at Migrant Alley!

I got home, and tried to cool off indoors with a long ice cold drink, whilst waiting for it to cool down outside. I finally went out at 16:30hrs, and it was still baking under the sun, I got as far as a walk around the Tree Nursery, before having to find a shady place to sit and skywatch, which produced a single BLACK HEADED GULL. A few Butterflies flitted by, Meadow Browns mostly, but Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, and both Small and Large Skipper were seen, but i was no way chasing them about for a photograph in the heat :-)

I may take a walk out this evening, if it cools down ! i'll report back tomorrow.

I managed a photo of this Hedgehog that visits my garden, it's old ''one eye'.

I also saw this Juv. HOUSE SPARROW - interesting because of it's beak deformity.

Sunday 27 June 2010

It was hot right from the very start of my 4 hour walk this morning, even though I was out at 05:45Hrs the sun was strong, and energy sapping. Once again I had to be back for 10:00Hrs, so it was a bit of a rush round.

The first sighting of the day was a pair of BULLFINCH'S at the garden feeders, it seems the female has learned how to use the tube feeder now, - there'll be a whole flock of 'em come the winter :-)

It immediatley struck me how quiet it was this morning, not many birds called or sang, just the odd WREN, WOODPIGEON and COLLARD DOVE, but the WHITETHROATS were singing their scratchy little song as if they had just arrived from Africa.

Four SKYLARKS chased over the uncut silage field at Migrant Alley, where a family of SWALLOWS were taking a drink from a leaking water trough, and again the TURTLE DOVE 'purred' from it's perch atop a power pylon. Much of the walk provided the same species as yesterday, with the exception of a KINGFISHER, seen on the College Stream, and a YELLOWHAMMER that gave some brief song at the scrub along the north end of Migrant alley, only the second one recorded this month.

The second part of my walk over at the lakeside scrub, provided me with the usual suspects, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, JAY, BLACKCAP, however two species not seen yesterday appeared on todays list, the LONG TAILED TIT and a family of CANADA GEESE on the water.

I made my way over to the Tree Nursery and sat down for some skywatching, the daylist was on 45, average for late June, but the addition of flyover CORMORANT, GREY HERON and 3 BLACK HEADED GULLS, which were seen amongst a procession of HERRING GULLS all going NW, made the list to 48. At that point I had to be getting back home, but the real treat of the day awaited me, when just yards from home, I heard a rapid ki-ki-ki-ki above me, I looked up and saw a PEREGRINE diving at a HOBBY -an awesome sight, and one that made the daylist to a round 50 - well good!

Photo's taken today - SWALLOWS on the fence by the leaking water trough.

A young CARRION CROW atop an Alder tree

Also more Roe Deer photo's. This animal can't seem to find it's way out of the Maize crop in the 'Pub Field'.

Do I get out this way.........
......or that way....

Below is the only Common Blue Butterfly seen today

and this Beautiful demoiselle sat for a nice photo

As did this Common Blue Damselfly

Saturday 26 June 2010

I was out at 05:30 this morning for the penultimate full patch walk of June, an earlier start than normal as I had a full schedule this morning, and had to be finished for 10:00.

The fine weather continues, and by 07:00 the heat of the sun could already be felt, by which time I had racked up all the most common species to be found along Ashes Lane, the Tree Nursery, Migrant Alley and the College grounds. There was no sign of yesterdays young Stonechat in the Tree Nursery, but in the adjacent 'pub field' I saw another Roe Deer ( or the same one as last week).

A HOBBY was seen chasing SWALLOWS around the College Stables, then they ganged up and chased it back! SWIFT and HOUSE MARTIN were also seen around the College Grounds, as was one of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, which called noisily. A TURTLE DOVE sang from the very top of one of the power pylons at the north end of Migrant Alley, and below it in the scrub, CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP sang. Only two Gull species flew over a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and a HERRING GULL.

Over at the lakeside scrub, the few of the missing regular species were added to the day list, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GREY HERON, KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK, and COAL TIT, bringing the days tally to a creditable 47. Whilst there I noted my first fledgling Blackcaps for the year, 3 were being fed by both parents.

Here's the Roe Deer again, It took me ages to sneak up throught the wet dewy grass to get a photo of it, one sound of the lens motor and of it went, but it stopped and turned for one last curious look at me .

There were relatively few butterlies seen, mostly Meadow Browns, but Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Small White, and this Large Skipper were also about.
This Orchid was in the Scrub area, the owners of which tell me is a Fragrant Orchid, well I take their word for it, I'm not good on Orchids :-)

Friday 25 June 2010

Once again it was a sticky, humid afternoon, and it would have been easy just to put my feet up, and sit in the garden sipping a cool drink - but that wouldn't find the birds!

So off to the lakeside scrub I went again, and although I didn't find a large mixed feeding flock, like yesterday, there were lots of small family parties feeding in the tree canopy, mostly BLUE and GREAT TITS, but TREECREEPER and NUTHATCH were also heard, but not seen. There was still a bit of song going on from TURTLE DOVE, BLACKCAP, SONGTHRUSH and BLACKBIRD, as well as the occasional DUNNOCK and CHIFFCHAFF. I could hear the call of BULLFINCH'S, and tried to find some fledged young just to confirm breeding, I couldn't locate any, but i'm sure they have bred.

As yesterday, I then made my way to the run off pool in the Tree Nursery, where I found that the MOORHEN there has 5 young not 3 as i had thought, the MALLARD was also there with her 3 youngsters. Damselflies were back with a vengence, Blue Tailed, Common Blue, and Azure Blue were all seen, and a Broad Bodied Chaser sat still long enough to be photographed.

I was hot and sticky when I left the pool, and instead of going over to Migrant alley, I sat down on an old seat in the Tree Nursery, and skywatched from there. This proved a good move, a small bird seen 50 yards away, was perched up on the top of one of the shrubs, I supposed it to be ''another'' Chaffinch, but I was well pleased when I got my bins on it and found it to be Chat, a Whinchat or stonechat I thought, either would be a right result for my patch. I got within about 30 yards of it, and snapped off a photo, but despite half an hour of trying, I couldn't get any nearer to it. I finally lost it when it flew off, somewhere into the 10 acres of shrubs!

I did however get enough of a view to confirm that it was in fact a STONECHAT (95,68). The confusion was caused by it being a young bird, it was still mostly in it's speckled Juv. plumage. A great patch sighting, and one that inches me towards my 100 species for the year target, just 5 more needed!

The monthly species total also goes up one more, and takes the record from June 2008. The 9 year combined June total gets a boost, to 83 now, as Stonechat has never been recorded in this month before, it is usually seen in Oct ( in 3 years) with one July and one Nov. sighting.

Above and below, Stonechat. A long distant shot that I cropped and zoomed in, so it's not very clear!!

Other photographs I took this afternoon were of this Male Broad Bodied Chaser..........
..............and two of the three Mallard ducklings from the run off pool.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Another hot and sticky afternoon, it's not so much the heat I dont like, it's the humidity, it makes you sweat just to breathe!

I spent two hours around the lakeside scrub area, and was surprised by just how much activity was there. Song from BLACKCAP and TURTLE DOVE rang out strongly, but the event that had me mesmorised, was a mixed feeding flock of at least 50 birds, maybe even double that, as I just couldn't keep tabs with all the young GREAT TITS, BLUE TITS, LONG TAILED TITS, COAL TITS, CHIFFCHAFF, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, and even a couple of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS that joined the throng.

I stood and watched in awe as they filtered through the sun filled canopy around me, all constantly calling, some came quite close, and I was like a kid in a sweetshop with the camera, no sooner had I decided on one shot, a better prospect would pop up, and I'd miss them both! Most just never stayed still long enough, whizzing around me like moths!

The moment was broken when a SPARROWHAWK came through, and successfully took one of the Tits, after that all the birds moved off elsewhere, and I couldn't locate a single one!!

GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY, KESTREL, DUNNOCK, WREN, ROBIN, COLLARED DOVE BLACKBIRD, and SONGTHRUSH were also seen, what a great little place this is for birdlife.

I only had a short time at the Tree Nursery and Migrant Alley, and noted a few Butterflies around the flowering shrubs, Red Admiral, Peacock, and at leat 6 Small Tortoiseshells, a single worn Common Blue and loads of Meadow Browns in the rough grass areas. A short skywatch over Migrant Alley only gave me a HERRING GULL and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL.

Out of all those photographic opportunities, the only one I got was this LONG TAILED TIT, and that was into the sun :-)

Wednesday 23 June 2010

I had just 45 mins out this afternoon, I succumbed to the football ! Well, I can't miss an England match can I.

I went back over to the Tree Nursery and run off pool, the sun was burning hot, and hardly a thing was moving, but I found a couple of butterflies to photograph. Bird wise there, the only ones I heard and saw were a family of calling WRENS, a couple of scolding WHITETHROATS and overhead 4 SWIFTS, plus a family party of SWALLOWS.

On the run off pool, the family of MALLARD swam off into cover, but a MOORHEN with a second brood was quite bold, and allowed some pics. Not one Damselfly was seen - perhaps it was too hot for them ?

Small tortoiseshell and Common Blue Butterflies

Here's the Adult MOORHEN...........
.........and here's one of here just hatched young :-)

This Rabbit looked up to see what was going on, why don't they get hot in that fur coat ?

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Above and Below: Juv. GREAT TIT from my garden

Below is the Male Broad Bodied Chaser

Below is a Holly Blue Butterfly

Lastly the verbena ''type'' shrub, which the Butterflies were all over this afternoon
As you can see ive managed to put the photo's on before the text - doh!

The fine, warm weather continued today, and it was a pleasure walking to work without a hat and fleece. The warm morning brought out the song in a few birds, including COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, and BLACKCAP, all heard in the College Grounds, plus SKYLARK and TURTLE DOVE at Migrant Alley, while WHITETHROATS were singing along ashes Lane and in the grounds of the Greenhouse Complex.

By the time I got out this afternoon, much of the sunshine had gone (as usual !) but it remained very warm and bright, the only birds left singing were the Whitethroats along Ashes lane.

I did the same routine as yesterday - two hours in the Tree Nursery looking for Butterflies, but I also checked out the run off pool at the far end, where I found a Male Broad Bodied Chaser, plus a few Damselflies, Blue Tailed, Common Blue, and Azure Blue. Whilst trying and failing to get pictures of the Damsels, I was kept under close scrutiny by a female MALLARD and a MOORHEN, both had young with them.

I had quite a good session with the Butterflies in the Tree Nursery, finds included ; Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Peacock, Large Skipper and most surprising at least 10 Small Tortoiseshells, there were hardly any of this species two years ago. All the above Butterflies were found flying around some Verbena 'Type' shrubs (see last photo). I had no luck at all photographing them, as they wouldn't keep still, when they did, another butterfly would come along and an aeriel battle would ensue!

Not much else happening on the bird front, just the normal KESTREL up hunting, and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL were noted going over.

Monday 21 June 2010

Not for the first time this year, the cold, damp, dreary weekend soon faded into memory, as Monday morning dawned warm, bright and sunny....someones 'avin' a larf !

I got out at around 14:00hrs this afternoon, just as it was clouding over - grrrrr.. , but it was still bright and warm. The birdlife was very subdued, not unusual for a June afternoon. I spent most of the two hours I was out walking the perimeter of the Tree Nursery, both WHITETHROAT and CHAFFINCH were feeding youngsters, the odd DUNNOCK, ROBIN, BLACKBIRD and SONGTHRUSH scurried around under the Laurel shrubs as I tried to find some butterfly species.

I managed to find a few damsels as well as Butterflies, here are a few photo's of my afternoons work, better enjoyed by enlarging the pics.

Below is a Burnet Moth, I can count five spots on each wing, so it must be a Five Spot Burnet Moth right ?

Below is a spanking fresh Meadow Brown Butterfly, must have emerged today

Also about was this Common Blue Butterfly

Damsels seen included this Common Blue.............

.....also this White Legged Damselfly

Back home in the garden, many more birds were seen, they are devouring the food at an alarming rate now! Newly fledged Finch's, Tit's, Sparrows and Blackbirds are turning up all the time.

Above is a GOLDFINCH, and Below is a Juv. BLUE TIT

Sunday 20 June 2010

I thought yesterdays patch walk felt Autumnal, but today was even worse! More cloud, more wind, more cold, and no bright spells!

The 3 hour visit was a gloomy affair, and this mornings list was 9 species down on yesterdays, with a poor, 44 species, but at least I found a MISTLE THRUSH over at the College Grounds, one I didn't get yesterday.

There were few, if any highlights, a GREY HERON flew up from the Stream that runs adjacent to the College Grounds, the KESTREL was up hunting around the Greenhouse Complex, and a few songsters were heard at the Lakside Scrub, namely CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT, and TURTLE DOVE. Some regularly seen species such as Pheasant, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk, House Martin and Long Tailed Tit were all unseen, in a patch visit best forgotten! Just one 'confirmed breeder' was added to the patch breeding list - SWALLOW, 3 freshly fledged young sat on an outbuilding roof in one of the large gardens along ashes lane.

It's mid-summers day tomorrow, the longest day, so i will look forward to some summer weather :-)

Only one Photo was taken whilst out on my patch, this WOODPIGEON, collecting nest materials.

The GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER below, is a Juv. that visited the garden

Lastly, the BULLFINCH was back at the sunflower hearts early this afternoon, but the light was still awful for a good pic.

Saturday 19 June 2010

Another full patch visit took place today, a four hour walk, in cloudy, cool conditions with a stiff northerly wind, but a few short lived brighter spells were had from time to time, more akin to October weather than mid -summer!

Despite the weather, a great total of 53 species was recorded, and that was without a sniff of a Mistle thrush or Sparrowhawk, two species that are normally regular on the list.

The three flyover GULL species, HERRING, LESSER BLACK BACKED and BLACK HEADED helped enhance the daylist, as did the CORMORANT, which went over Migrant Alley, where a new species for the month a LAPWING (67), also flew over, alighting briefly on a horse paddock before continuing on it's way. This brings this months bird species level with the best ever June tally, can I find one more new species for the month ?

Another nice species for the day which is not regularly seen, was a TAWNY OWL, one was seen hiding out in an evergreen tree, at the Lakside Scrub area, only found because two JAYS were tormenting it, screeching loudly to give away its presence to me.

Most of the summer migrant species sang, but in fewer numbers, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT, TURTLE DOVE and what might be the last CUCKOO this year was heard, the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was calling at the College Grounds.

Three more species were added to the patch 'confirmed breeding ' list - MAGPIE, WREN and Whitethroat were tending recently fledged young.

A few photo's were taken this morning, despite the dull weather. This Muntjac (?) deer was a real surprise, it was in the Maize at the Pub Field.
EDIT : The deer has now been Id'd as a Roe Deer :-)

Above and below - the Spotted Flycatcher, making the most of one of the few brighter interludes

Below: The Lapwing.

Here's a challenge for the more sharp eyed of you, there is a Tawny owl in there honestly ! Enlarging the photo may help pick it out !
Lastly, a real coup for my garden bird sightings was this BULLFINCH. It came in around 17:30, it was quite dark, so it's not a good photo, but it shows its on the feeder. Ive recorded them in the garden before, but never have I had one use the feeders - lets hope others catch on :-)