Tuesday 31 August 2010

Thick fog shrouded Migrant Alley as I walked through it to get to work this morning, but I did spot a small bird flitting up the hedgerow in front of me, which turned out to be a LESSER WHITETHROAT, a bird on passage no doubt.

This afternoons visit was a productive one. I returned to Migrant Alley, as I had already noted 2 more WHINCHAT and a WHEATEAR whilst walking back through from work, I was hoping to find maybe a Redstart had dropped in with them, and so give me the one more species I needed to make this month the best ever for species recorded, but it failed to show up :-)

Anyway I cant complain at 2 Whinchat and a Wheatear! Great records for my patch. As well as those two passage migrants, I also found a SEDGE WARBLER in the Greenhouse Complex, this could have been the one in the Boundary Hedgerow I saw yesterday afternoon, either way it's only the third one seen this year, all in this month, and made up a brilliant trio of visiting migrants - well happy with that. :-)

Well the last visit of August was a good one, and reflected the month as a whole, here are some August stats.

Species recorded - 78 joint best ever monthly tally ( equal with Sept 2009)

The combined species total for all Augusts is now 84. A much more realistic total than the 77 I started with, which put it in last place, now it's in joint 5th place with July.

Birds recorded this August and not in previous Augusts were -
Little Egret, Egyptian Goose, Marsh Harrier, Coot, Lapwing, Greenshank, and Tawny Owl.

The August mean species count is now 65.9, showing just how good this month was.

Photo's today are: The Wheatear................

...............and below, the Wheatear again, with his travelling companions the Whinchats. Quite something to get them all together like this! If you click on the photo and enlarge it, you can appreciate the exquisite markings on the Whinchats back, - even thought the photo is pretty rubbish.

Also the the Sedge Warbler.

Oh! Of course the SPARROWHAWK, it wouldn't be the same if one of these didn't come over :-)

Monday 30 August 2010

I only had two hours out on my patch this morning, but it was quite a productive time - eventually!

I left at 06:30hrs in cool and windy but bright conditions, and headed for the College Grounds via the Greenhouse Complex and Migrant Alley. I don't think i've seen my patch so deserted, even of people! The only birds seen or heard were the hardy resident species, like WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN and BLACKBIRD, there was a single CORMORANT seen flying over as I passed through Migrant Alley, but that was the highlight.

As the sun rose a little further in the sky, the temperature lifted, if only slightly, but the wind still had a bite, and it was good to get in the shelter of the trees and bushes at the College Grounds. Here there were some birds about, but not in the numbers seen on recent mornings, just the 3 CHIFFCHAFF were of any note. As I left the College Grounds I passed the College Stables, where a HOBBY flew over, but there were no Swallows about yet for it to chase. I spent the final 40mins of my time walking a circuit of the paddocks and pasture of Migrant Alley, where things picked up markedly. A LITTLE OWL was heard calling from the nearby Greenhouse Copse, a YELLOW WAGTAIL went over, and the KESTREL was seen up hunting over a nearby large Garden. A bit of sky scanning revealed four more Yellow Wagtails heading south, and a SPARROWHAWK gliding low over to the College Grounds. The most unexpected sighting of the visit however, was a LITTLE EGRET (78) seen flying low over the Greenhouse Complex, the first here since Feb. The August monthly species total of 78 has now reached the joint highest tally of any month recorded, along with Sept last year.

The sighting of two more WHINCHAT, probably two of yesterdays three birds, was a bonus, as were the two more Hobbies flying over just as I started to leave.

I managed an hours walk this afternoon around 15:00hrs back over at Migrant Alley, but was disappointed not to find the two Whinchat, this was made up for somewhat when I flushed out a SEDGE WARBLER from the same fence line, a scarce passage migrant on my patch, but the second one this month.

I'm back to work tomorrow, so i'll have just one afternoon visit left to try and find that one species needed to attain the highest monthly species tally ever recorded on my patch. :-)

Below is one of the Whinchat, but once again I couldn't get anywhere near it.

The rest of the photo's today were taken in my garden, the first two are of Juv. GOLDFINCH'S

Below is a MARSH TIT which refused to come out of the shadows
Lastly, A GREENFINCH, one of over 50 that visit the feeders now ! This one was taking a drink after eating all those sunflower hearts. :-)

Sunday 29 August 2010

It's back to the cool, cloudy and dull conditions again! This didn't help with bird sightings, and first thing it was very quiet, just 17 species were recorded as I walked Ashes Lane, the Tree Nursery, the Pub Field and most of Migrant Alley, the best of those being a GOLDCREST calling along Ashes Lane.

The Whinchat seemed to have gone from its usual fence line, but as I came to the end of Migrant Alley and walked past the College Stables, a WHEATEAR was spied on one of the stable roofs, the next best thing to a Whinchat :-)

Moments later a HOBBY came through, and chased the SWALLOWS around the paddocks, things were livening up as the temperature rose a little. Entering the College Grounds I saw that the feeding flock had returned again, mostly BLUE and GREAT TITS, but at least 5 CHIFFCHAFF, 4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, (2 Juv), 3 Goldcrest, and a COAL TIT were seen.

A walk back through Migrant Alley to check out the fence lines for 'Chats' proved friutless, but I saw a CORMORANT go overhead, and 35 LINNET plus around 20 GOLDFINCH'S were in the boundary hedgerow.

The second part of my walk over to the lakes and scrub area, was of mixed fortune, a GREY HERON was fishing at the side of the main lake, 13 MALLARDS and 4 MOORHEN were all that was on the water. In the scrub it was good to find two GARDEN WARBLERS and a few BLACKCAPS, but not one Whitethroat was seen here, or anywhere else on my patch today. The SPARROWHAWK made itself known, as it does most mornings over the lakes.

With 43 species on the list, I decided to have one last check of the paddocks and pasture at Migrant Alley, on the way, as I walked through the Tree Nursery, I recorded KESTREL and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL going over, and a STOCK DOVE flew out of the field.

At Migrant Alley I scanned the fence lines again, but again saw nowt, until I walked the final field boundary that divides the paddocks and pasture from the Greenhouse Complex, along here I saw a small bird fly up in front of me and alight on the hedge, right next to another small bird, they were both WHINCHATS ! Blimey, two more! Migrant Alley has come up with a Whinchat fest this Autumn :-) As I watched the Chats, two SKYLARK flew from the pasture, bringing the mornings species tally to 48.

An afternoon visit to the same hedgerow to relocate the Whinchat, and maybe get a photo, was well worth the effort, as I found not 2 but 3 of them!! I had all three in my binoculars at the same time :-) But still couldn't get near enough for a photo though. I also recorded a SAND MARTIN hawking insects over the pasture with the Swallows, that species and a MARSH TIT seen in my garden later took the daylist to a nice round 50. However there were some glaring omissions from the list today, the Common Whitethroat as mentioned, as well as Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, and Teecreeper.

I took a few photo's but they were dire, the light was poor enough as it was, but this young Spotted Flycatcher insisted on staying in the shadows as well.

A Skein of CANADA GEESE going over the Greenhouses early on.

I took a few Garden photo's this afternoon, the top two are of the NUTHATCH

The next two are of the Blue Tit, they are everywhere at the moment

Below Four Blue Tits and a GREAT TIT are finishing off the nuts

Saturday 28 August 2010

For the first time in what seems like weeks the sun was shining for my patch walk this morning, and although there were no surprises for me, it was a pleasant enough walk round.

At Migrant Alley, a WHINCHAT was still present, and a YELLOW WAGTAIL was flushed from the paddocks by a dog walker, moments earlier a HOBBY had gone streaking through, a great sight in the azure coloured sky.

In the College Grounds the recently recorded feeding flock had dispersed, but a few CHIFFCHAFF were still around, as well as a COAL TIT feeding with them, three MISTLE THRUSH were at the very top of a large lime tree, a species not seen very often this month, also a TURTLE DOVE flew from an Oak, and carried on southwards. Just before I left, I saw both PEREGRINES noisily chasing about above me.

The Tree nursery had little to offer today, common species such as WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, and GREEN WOODPECKER popped up here and there, maybe the SPARROWHAWK that was overhead had something to do with that :-)

Over on the lake just the usual MALLARD and MOORHEN were on the water, with a lone CANADA GOOSE, but the lakeside scrub and vegetation held a few warblers, those being BLACKCAP, GARDEN WARBLER, WHITETHROAT and a few more Chiffchaffs, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and BULLFINCH were also seen.

Just two Gull species flew over today, BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL, which helped the days tally on to a creditable 50 species.

In the welcome sunshine, the butterflies made their appearance, much bedraggled by age and the recent poor weather, but this Small Copper still looked very colourful

Below: The Whinchat at Migrant Alley. It doesn't allow any kind of approach, and it's difficult to get any photo's of it.

Below: A couple of GOLDFINCH feeding on Alder cones, this will be a good food source for them over the winter months.

lastly a couple of Photo's from my garden, top is the BLUE TIT, then a Female Bullfinch that has been visiting with the male for some weeks now.

Friday 27 August 2010

The patch walk this morning was called off after 2 hours. The driving drizzly rain, and cool temperature had all but the most hardy of birds take to deep cover. To add to this there was a road crew in the College Grounds using a pneumatic drill ! The only bird of any note was a female SPARROWHAWK that broke cover from the boundary hedgerow, between Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Comlpex Grounds, right where I wouldn't want one!

I got home and checked the weather forecast, which said that by midday, 'sunny spells' would develop for our area. So around noon I set off for a couple of hours of skywatching over at Migrant Alley. I passed the female Sparrowhawk again, she has found this boundary hedgerow good for birds, just as I have !

Still waiting for the 'sunny spells' I decided on a quick walk round the paddocks, and it wasn't long before I had found another WHINCHAT, possibly one of yesterdays, this is the fourth day in a row I have recorded at least one Whinchat on the paddock fences, I'm being spoilt rotten :-) I reached my skywatching seat just as the rain finally stopped, and within a few minutes the heavy lead grey sky turned to just light grey - thats as good as it got, Sunny spells my ar*e!

The next two hours proved very rewarding, first birds noticed were the HERRING GULLS, small flocks moved NW, inolving around 23 birds of mixed ages. The local SWALLOWS had finally come out to feed and were zipping inches above the sheep pasture, five HOUSE MARTINS came from the south east to join them, and a lone SAND MARTIN had tagged along with them, always a good species to find on my patch. The KESTREL was soon on the scene, hunting over the Tree Nursery, then onto the Greenhouse Grounds, where a flock of 15 LINNET, and 8 GOLDFINCH scattered into the Tall Hedge.

A large flock of Corvids were seen to the south east of my patch, and scanning through them I saw a large Raptor being harrassed by them. The raptor broke away and headed my way, I kept watching it until it finally became evident what it was - a MARSH HARRIER (100 77) ! WOW!! What a magnificent bird to have on my patch, and to reach the 100th species for the year with it is quite uncanny, for it was in 2008 that the Marsh harrier brought up the 100 in that year! Only 3 records of Marsh Harrier have occurred on my patch, one in 2008, one in 2009 and todays one.

A few more birds of lesser note were seen during the remainder of the visit, a TURTLE DOVE flew over, headed NW, two GREY HERONS also flew in that direction, and a pair of HOBBIES toyed with a ROOK directly overhead. The sunny spells never did appear, but I had forgotten about the poor weather after seeing that Harrier :-)

As well as the 100th species being reached for the year, the harrier brings the August total up to 77 species, 7 better than the previous best August total set last year, I put this down to the increased visits ive been able to put this month.

These photo's are the best I could get of the Marsh Harrier, but I had better views through my bins :-)

Below is my 'skywatching' view to the NW
This is the 'skywatching' view to the SE

Thursday 26 August 2010

A very different morning this morning, heavy dark clouds hung in the sky, and the wind brought in pulses of drizzly rain. Most all of the visiting birds seen yesterday had gone, and not a Gull was seen in the sky, very unusual.

There was still some part of the feeding flock in the College Grounds, though much reduced, just 3-4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, a minimum of 3 GOLDCREST, plus a few BLUE and GREAT TITS.

I had walked Migrant Alley earlier to get to the College Grounds and seen no sign of any Whinchat, but typically a KESTREL was seen, could of done with that yesteday, anyway, walking back through Migrant Alley on the return route I once again discovered a WHINCHAT, was this one of the two seen yesterday, or a new one arrived ? I wonder! A last scan of the fields and paddocks before leaving had me finding a TURTLE DOVE sitting on the power lines, I hope one or two stick around for the September list :-)

Over at the lakeside scrub just a few remnants of yesterdays mass bird invasion were left, these were all found in one Elder tree, made up of 3 BLACKCAPS and a GARDEN WARBLER, the latter is always a treat on my patch though.

That was about it for the morning visit, apart from meeting a SPARROWHAWK on the footpath on the way back home, I disturbed her as she was devouring a COLLARED DOVE, most of it was finshed up anyway :-)

Considering the conditions this morning, the daylist of 42 species wasn't too bad, Whinchat and Turtle Dove are always great birds to see.

I had an afternoon visit around 13:30hrs, over to the paddocks at Migant Alley, where I refound the Whinchat, and added BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL to the daylist, as well as 4 WHITETHROATS in the Greenhouse Complex grounds, I didn't see a sign of one this morning! A dull hours skywatch was brightened up when I scanned the fencelines again, and found that there were two WHINCHATS, at least one of them must be a new bird! This year is going down as the best ever for Whinchat passage, and we've not got to September yet.

The only photo's taken today were of the GREENFINCH'S in my garden. There were at least 45 on the feeders!

There are 11 on/around the feeder, and another 11 below it, with 6 on the smaller feeder and even more in the Elder tree, more still were drinking from the ponds

Wednesday 25 August 2010

An enjoyable six hours were spent out on my patch this morning, and despite not adding to either the month or year list, just about every species of bird I could expect to see turned up, plus a few unexpected ones!

The feeding flock in the College Grounds kept me busy for half an hour, trying to sort out all the different species. There was no way an accurate count of of all the birds could be made, as they were flitting through the Oak trees and chasing each other around, but I reckon minimums of 4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, 8 CHIFFCHAFFS, 3 BLACKCAPS, 2 TREECREEPER, 10 BLUE TIT, 10 GREAT TIT, 4 ROBIN, 6 CHAFFINCH, 4 GOLDCREST and a dozen LONG TAILED TITS were involved.

Walking back to Migrant Alley via the College Stables there were 30+ SWALLOWS on one of the buildings rooves, with half a dozen HOUSE MARTIN. At Migrant Alley there were indeed Migrants, a TURTLE DOVE sat on a fence line, and two YELLOW WAGTAILS came up from the paddocks, unseen until their call gave them away, better still, there were another two WHINCHAT on the fence posts, incredible! Also flyover CORMORANT was seen flying over the Greenhouse Complex from where I stood.

The Tree Nursery run off pool had attracted a few birds, mostly Blue and Great Tits, Robins WRENS and DUNNOCKS, but a fresh looking GARDEN WARBLER was also feeding deep in the vegetation. It was good to see a GREY WAGTAIL on the muddy remnents of the pool, not least because it made up the trio of Wagtails, its a rare day indeed that all 3 species are seen on the same day.

The lakeside scrub area was unbelievably busy today. I was watching a large feeding flock comprising of of four Tit species, as well as Treecreepers, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, Chiffchaffs, and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, when another feeding flock came through, this was made up of Garden Warbler, Blackcap, COMMON WHITETHROAT, LESSER WHITETHROAT, WILLOW WARBLER, BULLFINCH, Chaffinch, GREENFINCH, plus all the more common resident species, the whole place was just dripping with birds. I spent an hour scrutinizing every berry laden bush, but I couldn't find anything new for the year list. An amazing experience, most of these birds had arrived overnight, and i'll be lucky to see most of these species tomorrow..

A quick scan of the lake to try to relocate yesterdays Coot was had, but it seems to have moved on already, but there was a GREY HERON seen, as well as the usual MALLARD and MOORHEN. As I moved off for a second visit of Migrant Alley, all the birds in the scrub started to alarm call, all that activity had attracted the attention of a SPARROWHAWK, inevitable I suppose. The Sparrowhawk had taken my daylist to 55 species, and I was thinking maybe I could reach 60 ?

That possibility put some extra energy into my step, and I entered Migrant alley for a second visit. I straight away found the two Whinchat, and was delighted to find a WHEATEAR had joined them, blimey, it's almost unheard of to have Whinchat, Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail on the same morning - fantastic though! just a few minutes later I was treated to a pair of HOBBIES flying low over the pasture chasing the Swallows, I really was getting to see everything today! I now had 57 species :-) A skywatch was in order, so i went over to my seat, pondering what species I could expect to see. I had not seen Skylark, Pheasant, Black Headed Gull or even a Kestrel, a species that is seen almost daily, where was it today?

The skywatch produced the BLACK HEADED GULL, 4 went over headed west, just two more species to find, but within minutes the rain started, light at first, and I held out for a while, but it grew duller and duller and the rain got heavy, driving me home, I never did get out again, the heavy rain persisted all afternoon, maybe i'll get out this evening. :-)

The photo's today are really terrible !

Below is a Willow Warbler

and below is about all you ever see of the Garden warbler !

These are the Swallows and House martins on the building at the College Stables
now the sharp eyed among you may just spot the two whinchats on the top run of barbed wire :-) try clicking on the photo to enlarge it.

If you didn't see the whinchat you've no chance with the Wheatear! It is sitting on the right hand fence rail, just where the fence from the right joins at 90 degrees. These pics were taken at the footpath that runs through the center of Migrant Alley.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Back on my patch today after yesterdays treat, and it started pretty slowly. There was nothing much about early in my walk, except a HOBBY, which flew over Ashes lane, the 6th bird species on the list. The only other summer birds noted were a WHITETHROAT, a few CHIFFCHAFFS and the local SWALLOWS around the College Stables.

Around 200 GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE flew over Migrant Alley, in large mixed flocks, and as I watched, I heard, then picked out two YELLOW WAGTAILS going over low headed S. things were slowly picking up.

After a drinks break, I made my way over to the lakes and scrub area, adding STOCK DOVE, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and LONG TAILED TIT to the daylist before reaching the lakes. A scan of a large Willow tree proved worthwhile, as I found two LESSER WHITETHROATS, a BLACKCAP and a possible Garden Warbler, but only a poor and brief view was had of it, before I lost sight of it. The Lesser Whitethroats were the first since Aug 1st.

A scan of the lakes was initially disappointing, with the usual MALLARD and MOORHEN seen there, but I was well happy to then see a COOT (76) swim out from the overhanging trees, the first Coot here since March 27th, a real scarce visitor, and a most welcome addition to the August list.

After having done a full circuit of my patch, I had accumulated 43 species, but I had time for another quick scan of Migrant Alley, where I had a small group of HERRING GULL fly NW, as well as finding some HOUSE MARTINS that avoided me this morning, I checked them as they circled round the sheep pasture and found a lone SAND MARTIN with them, a nice migrant species for my patch, however not as nice as the WHINCHAT I found on the fenceline! This is the fourth one this month, I had only one last August. Happy with that I made my way home for an early lunch.

I was out again at around 13:00hrs, back over at Migrant Alley for a skywatch, I stayed for a couple of hours and watched the Whinchat through my telescope to pass the time, as little else was seen. Just a KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and a SKYLARK were to join the list, making a round 50 for the day, which ended up pretty good all in all :-)

Today's photo's are:

Above and below: one of the Lesser Whitethroats.

Below is a Swallow

lastly, almost the star of the day - the Coot :-)

Monday 23 August 2010

There wasn't any pittswood patch visit today. I had a day off and visited Dungeness RSPB reserve :-) .

Back to normal tomorrow !

Sunday 22 August 2010

Another grey, dull and drizzly morning, brightening up briefy around noon before rain spread in for a few hours.

A species total of just 41 was recorded today, in a little over 4 hours, there were some glaring omissions, like Sparrowhawk, Pheasant, Skylark, Mistle Thrush and even Songthrush, and just one species of Gull was seen going over, that being a HERRING GULL.

There were still some good birds seen though, one being a YELLOW WAGTAIL at Migrant Alley that was just seen before being driven off by a dog walker. Another good species was a GARDEN WARBLER, a migrant bird that was feeding in a willow by the now dry run off pool at the Tree Nursery, only the second one recorded this month.

Two feeding flocks were seen today, one at the College Grounds again, which consisted of the four Tit species, GREAT, BLUE, LONG TAILED and COAL, as well as TREECREEPER, CHIFFCHAFF and GOLDCREST, however I couldn't find any Spotted Flycatchers with them. The other feeding flock was at the scrub by the lakes, this one included all the above species, but also had NUTHATCH with them.

The only Raptor species seen was a KESTREL, hunting in it's favoured Greenhouse Complex area, but later in the afternoon whilst watching my garden feeders a HOBBY zipped through. Also a very noteworthy flock of CORMORANT went over in 'V' formation, 14 in all, this is the biggest flock i've ever recorded here, making the dayist up to a more respectable 43.

No sign of That 100th species for the year though, last year I had the 100th species in May! In 2008 I got it in October, so somewhere in between would be very nice for this year.

I did manage some photo's today, taking advantage of the 20 minute bright spell :-)

Below is a Probable Brown Argus, but it may be a female Common Blue!, it flew off before I got a look at the underwing :-)

This however is certainly a Common Blue, they are looking a little worn now.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Normal service has been resumed, and a four hour patch walk this morning took place in grey, damp and windy conditions. I was hoping to add that one species needed to get to my patch target of 100 bird species for this year, alas it didn't show, it will take a scarce migrant species such as Redstart to take that honour, but maybe a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker will show, or something as mundane as a Partridge or Ring Necked parakeet..........

Anyway, this morning was a bog standard visit, 49 species showed up for me, the highlights being HOBBY, GREY WAGTAIL, CORMORANT and and a TAWNY OWL that called from the Wet Woods. KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK put in their almost daily appearance and the MARSH TIT was seen, also in the Wet Woods.

The best part of my walk was finding a mixed feeding flock in the College Grounds. Three well foliaged Oaks, and a line of Fir trees, over numerous shrubs, were full of activity, at least 7 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS ( most Juvs) were seen, along with BLUE, GREAT, and COAL TITS, also at least 2 WILLOW WARBLERS, 4 CHIFFCHAFFS, 2 TREECREEPERS a family of GOLDCRESTS, a family of BLACKCAPS and a mass of LONG TAILED TITS ! It was quite something to stand amongst them, listening and watching, at times they were totally ignoring my presence and coming right up to me, I had left my camera at home, but the light was so dreadful i wouldn't have got very good pics anyway.

Not much else happening, the lakes and scrub were really quiet, which is frustrating, as there are plenty of Elder and Blackberries waiting to fatten up any passing warblers :-)

I'll be back at it again tomorrow - that 100th species is beckoning, I can feel it !

Friday 20 August 2010

Carrying on from yesterdays post, and my chase to find 60 species on my patch in a day, well I managed a 90min trip over to the Greenhouse Complex and a circuit of Migrant Alley, from 18:45. With just 4 species needed to be found, I had four possibles in mind, Little Owl, Grey Heron, Turtle Dove and Pheasant.

I checked the bushes and brambles in the Greenhouse Grounds for a Garden warbler or Lesser Whitethroat, but only Comon Whitethroat was seen, with a few WREN, ROBIN, and BLACKBIRDS. The circuit of the paddocks also drew a blank, so I started to watch the sky, and listen out for Owls and that Pheasant that had eluded me all day. A KESTREL flew over, as did a few HERRING GULLS, and the evening procession of flocks of CANADA and GREYLAG GEESE took place at the usual time. It was geting darker and I realised that the Pheasant wasn't going to call, and the Turtle Dove wasn't going to fly over, but maybe the Grey heron would. Just about 19:30 a LITTLE OWL called from the Greenhouse copse, 57 for the day, but thats where it ended, not a bad day tally at all, and a most enjoyable attempt at finding the '60' .

Today there was only the briefest of visits, as I was out all day on a trip to Hampshire. I was back by 16:30, and spent 40 mins checking the fields and paddocks at Migrant Alley, I found no Migrant Species, but a KESTREL was up hunting, and more frustratingly a TURTLE DOVE flew over and a PHEASANT was seen in the Greenhouse Grounds !!

A couple of photo's from last evening:

Geese going over

and dusk over the Greenhouse Complex.

Thursday 19 August 2010

I had all day to myself today, and so I did what I love doing best, birding my patch - all day :-)

I decided I would try and record 60 species in a day, a feat only ever achieved once in the nearly nine years of recording on my patch, here's how I did, you better have a cup of tea ready this may be a long post :-)

I left at 06:30, in foggy conditions, which didn't bode well, and the list started agonisingly slowly, WOODPIGEON, BLACKBIRD, PIED WAGTAIL, ROBIN, GREENFINCH, JACKDAW, BLUE TIT, CARRION CROW, SWALLOW and CHAFFINCH all went on the list as I walked down Ashes Lane, and walking through the Greenhouse Complex I only added WREN, GREEN WOODPECKER and WHITETHROAT. Entering the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley was just a wall of fog, but directly above I could see blue sky. Walking around the fencelines and hedgerow, only ROOK, LINNET, and STARLING were added to the list, I was not going to get 60 species at this rate, not even 50!

I came out of Migrant Alley, and recorded COLLARED DOVE and HOUSE SPARROW whilst passing the College Stables, but as I neared the College Grounds to walk along the Steam, a bonus species in the form of two HOBBIES were seen flying low over. Along the stream things livened up a bit as the fog started to lift, both NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER were heard, and a CHIFFCHAFF sang, while overhead a group of HOUSE MARTINS wheeled about. I crossed the stream into the College Grounds, and was pleased to get SPOTTED FLYCATCHER on the list, at least 6 were seen, two families again. Nearby GOLDCREST and COAL tit fed in a tall fir tree and a MOORHEN called from one of the small ponds.

I still only had 27 species on the list, where I would expect around 35 by this time, it wasn't looking good. I left the College Grounds and went back through Migrant Alley which was now clear of fog, but there were no Whinchat or Wheatear today, both species that I could have done with, however 4 more species did turn up in quick order, all flyovers HERRING GULL, GREYLAG and CANADA GOOSE, but best of all a YELLOW WAGTAIL, a scarce passage migrant, a good one for the list!

Walking the final length of hedgerow at Migrant Alley, I was trying to find a Dunnock of all things, should have seen one ages ago, when I heard an unusual call coming from the direction of the ditch over at the NW boundary of my patch, I stood still and listened, again it called, this time obviously in flight, once again it called, and I picked the bird up in my bins as it flew off to the SW, the bird was a GREENSHANK ( 128, 99, 75) !!!!!! A patch tick !!!, I was utterly elated at this find, any wader is a bonus on my patch, but this is one that I never thought I'd see here - a most definite bonus bird for the day list !

As I feverishly sent text to all my birdy mates, I could here one of my favourite birdsongs coming from the Greenhouse Copse, a WILLOW WARBLER, another migrant Species, things were looking up, 60 species might just be possible today. Two SKYLARKS flew from the sheep pasture, and GOLDFINCH, MAGPIE, SONGTHRUSH, GREAT TIT and YELLOWHAMMER were recorded in the boundary hedge of the Greenhouse Complex and Migrant Alley. The next species was the 40th for the morning, a SPARROWHAWK that flew over the Greenhouses. Two more species were added as I neared home for my mid morning break, a Flyover BLACK HEADED GULL and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

I was back out after ten minutes, and walked over to the Lake and scrub area, via the Wet Woods, in which another good species for the list was found, a MARSH TIT, good because it's the only one on my patch :-) Also i the woods a JAY and BULLFINCH were seen. On the lakes 15 MALLARD were dabbling around, and in the scrub a couple of BLACKCAPS were seen, a STOCK DOVE was good to get on the list, I don't see them everyday. Other than that I was disappointed by the scrub area, no Long Tailed Tit, Garden warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and still no Dunnock!

I finished the full circuit of my patch, by walking through the Tree Nursery, then up the side of the maize crop in the pub field, which produced just a KESTREL for the day list. As it was only 11:45 I decided another trek round the paddocks would be my best bet, the list was on 49 so i had still a lot of species to get, and not a lot of usual birds were left, just Long Tailed Tit and that Dunnock!

I knew the boundary Hedgerow held Dunnocks, so i walked up and down it until finally DUNNOCK was found, number 50 :-). I then sat on my seat and watched for flyovers for 15 mins. A good move, as both MISTLE THRUSH, and SWIFT were added to the list, which was now in rarley visited figures 52! This was incremented by one more when a COMMON BUZZARD went over, just creeping into the north of my patch.

Hunger now set in, and at 12:30 I went home for lunch, adding no more species on the way, 53 species in 6 hours was looking quite good, 60 was beckoning. As I ate lunch I thought about what species would make up the 7 more I needed, Long tailed Tit should surely be found, a flyover Lesser Black backed Gull, a Peregrine perhaps, Grey Heron and Cormorant may go over, and possible Lesser Whitethroat and Garden warbler might be found with another visit to the lakeside scrub.

An hour later I was back out, I did another quick trip around Migrant Alley, and bingo, straight off, a LESSER BLACK BACK GULL went over, followed 5 mins later by a PEREGRINE, thats the FIFTH raptor species for the day, a feat in itself ! Just 5 more species to go now, and a trip over to the lakes and scrub to find a Long Tailed Tit was in order. I didn't need to wait long, and got more than I had bargained for, at least 15 LONG TAILED TITS were in the lakeside vegetation, and with them were a whole host of other species Willow warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Goldcrests,Treecreepers, and most frustratingly a possible Wood Warbler, this would represent just the second record ever for my patch, but the vegetation was so dense I got just fleeting glimpses of it, and despite following the flock for some 40 mins, couldn't locate it again.

I spent another half hour searching for a possible Garden warbler or Lesser Whitethroat but failed, and with the list on 56 for the day, I decided to go and have some tea, and write out this blog post. I will resume my search for the 4 species needed later this evening, and let you know how I did tomorrow!

Even if I fail to reach 60, today has to go down as one of the top ten birding days on my patch ever :-)

Photo's for today :-

Foggy spider web first thing
Below one of three Hobbies seen today

Below one of two Kestrels seen today, this one was keeping away the Whinchats at Migrant Alley :-)

Next a Wren
and next a song Thrush

and another Juv. Robin

lastly a Sparrowhawk

Wednesday 18 August 2010

I've finished work for a week now, so I was straight out on my patch this morning. The weather was dry and partly sunny with a westerly breeze, and I headed off to Migrant Alley in hope of a Migrant species. My hopes were realised almost straight away, on the first scan of the fence rails and posts I spotted a WHINCHAT, the second in 3 days, that's exceptional ! On moving closer for a possible photograph, I was gobsmacked to see another one fly up from the paddock to join the first bird, how happy was I !!!!

Well that set the day up nicely, especially as moments later a HOBBY came streaking through, sending up 30 or SWALLOWS. Also coming through on their daily circuit were hundreds of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE, passing over in small noisy flocks.

The SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were again seen in the College Grounds, and close by them GOLDCREST and COAL tit were feeding, also a MISTLE THRUSH went over, one of only 4 sightings this month.

On the return Journey both KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were seen over Migrant Alley, but the Whinchats were nowhere to be seen, workers had turned up to mend the broken fence rails and flushed them off.

Very little was noted over at the Lakes and scrub area, it was extremely quiet there, it took me ages just to find a BLACKCAP, and BULLFINCH !

I decided to return for a skywatch back over at Migrant alley, by now it was 10:30, but it did prove worth while, as 3 TURTLE DOVES went through, 2 CORMORANTS went over high up, scores of HERRING GULLS and a SINGLE BLACK HEADED GULL. The YELLOWHAMMER I have been seeing carrying food over the past week or so dropped into the Tall Hedge beside my seat, and was seen to be with 2 recently fledged young, Nice to see.

Around 12:30 I left for something to eat, but was back at Migrant Alley for a quick walk round an hour later. I was pleased to find another or one of the Whinchats again, and got a distant photo, I also recorded 2 SKYLARK in the sheep pasture, but another good species was to turn up as I walked home through the Greenhouse Complex - a REED WARBLER, my second this month, it was seen chasing a GREAT TIT, then disappearing into dense cover.

What a great days birding :-)

Photo's today - below a BLACKBIRD ruffled up to catch the early sun.

Below is one of the Whinchats

I also saw a few Butterflies early on, this Small Copper was outshone by the Ragwort I think !
Below is a pristine Red Admiral