Saturday 31 July 2010

The last full patch walk of July happens to fall on the last day of the July, all neat and tidy :-) Unlike the weather this morning! A fine wetting drizzle fell for much of my walk, so the camera stayed at home.

In the conditions, it was to be expected that the birding would be slow, and so it proved, but I persisted in my attempts to add to the July list, and was more than happy when I found a GREY WAGTAIL (63) on the Stream that runs adjacent the College Grounds, it was right where I cross, then can you believe it, a KINGFISHER (64) flew in, settled only feet from me, then flew off again giving it's high piping call, I don't think I would have got a photo even if I had the camera, it was there and gone in a flash.

Also of some note this morning was a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, in it's usual territory at the College Grounds, it was carrying small items of prey, indicating nestlings, I wonder how the first brood fared ? I only saw them twice. Two vocal KESTRELS were seen at Migrant Alley, but there was no sign of yesterdays Wheatear there.

In the Wet Woods a couple of Juv. SPARROWHAWKS were seen up in a large oak calling for food, but, unsurprisingly nothing else was around, I had to wait until reaching the Scrub and Lakes area before finding a feeding flock, this consisted of TREECREPER, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, but no Nuthatch this morning.
BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF were also seen, feasting on Blackberries, and the now ripening Elder berries, they will be rapidly putting on weight for there journey south. On the lake just 4 MALLARDS, 2 MOORHEN and a GREY HERON were present.

A quick Afternoon visit over to the paddocks at Migrant Alley, was uneventful, apart from adding SWIFT and YELLOWHAMMER to the daylist, taking it to 48.

A few stats for this July :-

Total Species 64, the joint fourth best July with 2004.
July average species recorded is 63, so that was just passed.
Combined July species total remains on 84, as no new species were added.
The year list remains on 95, still 5 more to get for the 100 target for 2010.

The only photo today was taken this afternoon in the Greenhouse Complex Grounds, an obliging Small Copper

Friday 30 July 2010

Another ''on the way to work'' bit of bird news, a PEREGRINE was seen sitting on top of the electricity pylon at Migrant Alley this morning. I suspect the Turtle Dove had no say in having his songpost taken over :-) Around 35 SWALLOWS were mobbing the Peregrine, which just looked on as if they were pesky flies!

This afternoon, after a particularly hard mornings work, I felt pretty tired, (at least i've now got the next week off) and I only managed to drag myself over to my skywatching seat at Migrant Alley, there I sat, watching and waiting, and almost nodding off at times as the the hot sun beat down. Not a single raptor was seen to go over, just a single immature BLACK HEADED GULL and two HERRING GULLS gave any interest. Behind me, in the tall hedge, a DUNNOCK and ROBIN were calling, and behind that, in the Greenhouse Complex Grounds a WHITETHROAT was scolding. An hour later it began to cloud over, and the wind got up, making it feel fresher, giving me the energy for a quick walk round the horse paddocks before going back home. This turned out to be a fortunate decision, for as I scanned along one of the fence lines, I spied the first Autumn WHEATEAR (62), to visit Migrant alley, this is an early one! The only other July record of this welcome Migrant was back in 2003, when an exceptionally early bird turned up on the 12th.

That takes the months total to 62, a much better total than I thought I would get a week ago ! This month now moves on to joint 5th (out of nine) in the July rankings.

The only photographs I took were of this Holly Blue Butterfly

.............and this Bank Vole that was below my garden feeders

Thursday 29 July 2010

After saying yesterday that I thought the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS had left already, I was instantly proved wrong, when two adults were seen in the College Grounds as I passed through on the way to work. Where have they been hiding ?

This afternoons walk took me to the lakeside Scrub, via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, the former had both GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER as well as a JAY, a familiar trio here. The Wet Woods were dark and silent, as is the way this time of year, but once I got to the 'proper' habitat, of the Scrub, it all changed.

Passing the Lake I saw 17 CANADA GEESE, a single GREYLAG GOOSE and two MALLARDS, a SPARROWHAWK went low over - the same tatty moulting female that I saw the other day. In the scrub area, I could straight away here the a BULLFINCH calling and a TURTLE DOVE 'Purring', a single BLACKCAP gave some song, and whilst looking up for Purple Hairstreak Butterflies I saw two HERRING GULLS go over. As I walked further along, a family group of Blackcaps were seen, feeding on the first of the ripening blackberries, with them was at least one COMMON WHITETHROAT, and, at last, a sighting of a GARDEN WARBLER (61) the first recorded since May!

A small feeding group of birds were seen in a large Oak, including TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, and GOLDCREST, but strangely not one Blue or Great Tit was with them.

After having my fill of the Purple Hairstreaks, I took a wander over to Migrant Alley for a skywatch, which gave me exactly the same birds as yesterday, KESTREL, HOBBY and another Sparrowhawk. Also a few GOLDFINCH feeding on the thistle seeds and three pairs of LINNETS associating with the Greenhouse Complex, where all the old raspberry canes have been thrown out.

Below is a photo of the Scrub area, showing some of the Willowherb, maybe a tempting place for a Marsh Warbler to visit ( In my dreams!)

I also took a photo of this young ROBIN, freshly into his winter red breast.

Below is a Treecreeper, this just about as good a view as I had of it and the other birds it was feeding with.

Back to the Butterflies again, and why not, they won't be aroung for ever :-)

Above and Below a Purple Hairstreak

Once again a Brown Argus was found

Also this Peacock Butterfly with attendant wasp.
This Red Admiral had seen better days, and was sunbathing on a fence post at the Greenhouse Complex Grounds.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

There was a bit more bird activity than of late, as I walked to work this morning. A dozen CANADA GEESE and two GREYLAG GEESE were on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, and around 25 SWALLOWS were feeding low over the paddocks. TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST and COAL TIT were all noted in the College Grounds, but the Spotted Flycatchers seem to have bred and gone already.

This afternoon I repeated the walk of yesterday, across the Tree Nursery, up the side of the Maize crop in the Pub Field and a short Skywatch at Migrant Alley. In the warm sunny spells, butterflies were once again the main attraction, with Common Blue, Brown Argus, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and both Small and Large Skippers seen whilst in the Nursery. All these species were again recorded in the small wildpatch at the Pub Field, with the addition of Small Copper.

A scan of the paddocks and sheep pasture at Migrant Alley didn't reveal any early migrant bird species, just the resident ROOKS and JACKDAWS resting on the fence rails, taking turns to have a drink from the horse trough. The skywatch here proved a little more interesting, as well as the usual HERRING GULLS, Swallow, PIED WAGTAILS and a few HOUSE MARTINS, three raptor species were encountered, first a female SPARROWHAWK spiralled past, then a KESTREL and just as I was leaving a HOBBY was seen.

Not a bad visit in all, for an afternoon session, but a change in the wind direction might liven things up a bit! Maybe next week :-)

Below is a break from butterfly photo's, this Juv. BLACKBIRD posed on the fence in my garden as I was leaving this afternoon.

Then it's back to the butterflies again :-) of which i'm sure you all know that below is a Common Blue

Next up a Holly Blue
Now after yesterdays mis- ID of a Brown Argus, today I can say this is definitely one :-)
Lastly a Small Copper, I don't often pay attention to the reverse side of these little grassland gems, but they look just as attractive, back or front!

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Another bird species for the July list appeared this morning as I walked to work across Migrant Alley, a PEREGRINE (60), about time one showed up, ive been seeing them all month just to the south of my patch. The July list now looks a bit more respectable as it hits the 60 mark, and goes up to 3rd from bottom in the July rankings.

This afternoon, only brief snatches of sunshine were had, as heavy cloud and light showers moved in, but it still felt very warm and humid. I decided I would walk through the Tree Nursery, up the side of the Pub Field maize crop and do a circuit of Migrant Alley.

The Tree Nursery was surprisingly good for Buterflies, considering the cloud cover, Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, as well as Red Admiral, and Brown Argus were all seen on the wing. Above me a SPARROWHAWK flew low over, quite how it managed to still be flying I don't know, it had moulted so many primary feathers!

As I walked up the side of the maize crop in the Pub Field, a large buterfly flew up, circled round, and settled back from whence it came, allowing me to id it as a Painted Lady, my first this year. A little further on, a small uncultivated patch of ground was alive with more butterflies, here at least 3 Small Coppers were seen to add to the already mentioned species.

A circuit around Migrant alley, and a half hour skywatch, was best remembered for the HOBBY that flew over, but other birds included the ROOKS, JACKDAWS and CARRION CROWS, a few WOODPIGEONS, a SKYLARK, 3 PIED WAGTAILS and two COMMON WHITETHROATS in the Tall Hedge by my skywatching seat. Few flyovers were noted, just LESSER BLACKBACKED, and HERRING GULL, also a STOCK DOVE. The local SWALLOWS were much in evidence, alot of them this years young, and higher up at least 30 SWIFTS were feeding.

Below is a photo of the small uncultivated area adjacent to the Maize crop, mostly long grasses and Thistles, but good for butterflies. UNTIDY = WILDLIFE!
Below is my first Painted Lady Butterfly of the year

Next a couple of Small Coppers

A Common Blue

and 3 Brown Argus photo's - a male I believe. Or is it a female Common Blue! Is that a spot I see below the boomerang shape mark on the forewing ??
Edit: Thanks Greenie for confirming my suspicions, Female Common Blue it is :-)

Monday 26 July 2010

A slow old day today, with not much different happening around my patch. I did see both KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK this morning as I walked into work, and a TURTLE DOVE was singing from the north end scrub at Migrant Alley, but nothing was in the sky going over, apart from the local SWALLOWS. The walk home was even quieter, but a magnificent COMMON BUZZARD livened things up as it drifted low over the Greenhouse Complex and Tree Nursery.

This afternoon, a trek over to the lakeside scrub only produced the expected species, on the way I walked through the Small Holding where GREEN WOODPECKER, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and JAY were all seen in quick succession, and on entering the Wet Woods the only things noted were a TREECREEPER and a singing STOCK DOVE.

On arriving at the lake, a quick scan showed me 2 CANADA GEESE, 4 MALLARD and 3 MOORHEN, whilst in the adjacent scrub it was very quiet, the most notable call was that of the BULLFINCH, however, after only seeing 1 MISTLE THRUSH all month, it was a relief to see a flock of 7 fly over !

In the cooler cloudier conditions, there were fewer butterflies on the wing, only the Whites, Gatekeepers and a single Purple Hairstreak were seen.

Photo's today come from my garden, where activity even here seems to have dropped of somewhat.


Sunday 25 July 2010

A bit of a change from watching my patch today, as I had a ringing session over on our site a mile or so to the south of my patch. The weather was a bit of a let down, the very light winds that were promised became much more noticeable, not good for ringing as the nets get blown around!

We did manage to ring 20 birds though, they were:

Blackbird 3
Blackcap 2
Blue tit 2
Chaffinch 1
Chiffchaff 3
Dunnock 1
Garden Warbler 1
Long Tailed Tit 2
Robin 4
Wren 1

We also re-trapped a Blackbird, a Blue Tit and a Chaffinch. The Blackbird was oringinally rung by us in June 2007.

After a well deserved sunday roast, I spent 90 minutes walking around Migrant Alley, to look over the Paddocks and sheep pasture for an early migrant, none there yet, but I did see a SPARROWHAWK go over with it's sunday dinner, better a still, a LITTLE OWL (59) called from the small copse that lies behind the Greenhouse Complex, the first recorded this month.

On the way home I took a brief look at the hedgerow in the Tree Nursery to get some butterfly photo's,

This Common Blue looked very fresh

Whilst below, is a possible Essex Skipper, Any one agree ? ( click on photo to enlarge)

Saturday 24 July 2010

I only had just under 4 hours to get round my patch this morning, so it was a bit rushed. Even so, I don't think I missed much, I was really scratching around to find the birds. A total of 46 species was an average tally for late July, but the numbers of birds seen was very low, of those 46 species I did record, a third were heard only.

Some regular species were missing from todays list, Sparrowhawk and Pheasant were two, but also the Mistle Thrush, only 1 of which has been seen all month. The best of what I did see/hear were: 1 YELLOWHAMMER, 1 TURTLE DOVE, 1 SKYLARK, 1 KESTREL, all at Migrant Alley. WHITETHROATS in the grounds of the Greenhouse Complex, and in the Tree Nursery, plus a couple of BLACKCAP in the Lakeside Scrub. On the main lake there were 18 CANADA GEESE and a single GREYLAG GOOSE with 3 MALLARD and a few Juv. MOORHENS.

With only 7 days left in July, it doesn't look like any records will be set this month, the 58 bird species recorded so far this month is the joint lowest July tally with that of 2004.

Species like Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Peregrine, or Little Owl, are still a possibility to join the list, maybe Mandarin Duck or Tawny Owl, with the outside chance of coming across a migrant Chat or Wheatear over at Migrant Alley, so there is still some hope :-)

There weren't many butterflies about early on, but the ones that were seen I phtographed, below is a Speckled Wood

My recent visits wouldn't be the same without a Purple Hairstreak Photo :-)

..........or two..........

As I was waiting for an engineer to call, I had some time to kill, so took these photo's from my garden

Above: Juv. Blackbird. Below the Male BULLFINCH, the female also came in with him. They are both looking vert tatty now :-)

Below more Greenfinchwith a Juv. Goldfinch

Lastly, you may remember me posting a photo of the one eyed Hedgehog, well last night he was back - with a friend. They were tucking into chicken and sunflower hearts. I'm amazed that they have survived the nightly crossing of Ashes Lane, twice i've seen a car pass right over 'old one eye'

Friday 23 July 2010

None of the forecast showers affected my patch today, and it was mostly sunny and warm. I decided to pay a visit to the Tree Nursery first off this afternoon, to check for butterflies, and boy were there some!

The place was alive with them, I walked the hedgerow and was gobsmacked by the sheer numbers and species I saw, this is what our countryside must have been like 100 years ago. A field margin full of colourful wildflowers and hundreds of colourful butterflies, ive never experienced anything like it before! I wont go on anymore, i'll just leave you with the photo's I took, but if all our hedgerows were put back they way they were, and all the sheep removed, our countryside would be a paradise, as seen below.

Above: a patch of Mayweed - this amount is a scarce sighting in itself!

Above a Meadow Brown and below 4 photo's of a Common Blue

Below is a Holly Blue

Even this Purple Hairsreak wa seen - normally a woodland species.

Below; a couple of Brown Argus photo's

Next a Small Copper

below is a Peacock

Then a couple of Small Skipper photo's. ( or are they Essex Skipper ? as suggested by Jason, if so this would be a lifer butterfly for me! )
Edit: They were indeed Essex Skippers, a new addition to my patch butterfly list, and a lifer! Thanks Jason, Derek and Greenie for you help.

Next up a Speckled Wood

next a Gatekeeper

Then a Green Viened White

Next a Small White

Lastly not a Butterfly, a Burnet Moth, it looks just as good :-)