Thursday 30 September 2010

The final patch visit of the month was undertaken in some calm, and at times, sunny weather, which made a change from recent visits!

I spent an hour around the lakes and scrub area, after passing through an almost birdless Wet Woods, it won't liven up in there until later next month. The Lake again had a GREY HERON fishing from the shallows, and once again there were plenty of MOORHEN, but there were fewer MALLARD today, and no Kingfisher or surprise Duck species to get excited about.

In the surrounding vegetation a decent size Honey suckle grows, and I spent a good 40mins watching the Tit species come and go, feeding on the berries and insects on the plant, I saw BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, COAL TIT and MARSH TIT all visiting the bush, I also heard Marsh Tit calling whilst trying to photograph another, so there are now two overwintering on my patch :-)

After getting some photo's I moved off over to Migrant Alley, via the Tree Nursery, seeing some of the normal run of the mill stuff, lots of JAYS and GREEN WOODPECKERS especially. Both KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK went over, but they were the only Raptors about today.

At Migrant Alley I again watched the MEADOW PIPITS, PIED WAGTAILS, LINNETS and SKYLARKS, but long looks around the fence lines didn't produce that late Chat or Wheatear. Very few Hirundines were about today, just one group of about 20 HOUSE MARTIN went over and only 2 SWALLOWS, whilst in the Greenhouse Complex Grounds a CHIFFCHAFF was found, the only other summer species left now.

With no additions to the Months list today, September finished on 73 Species, failing to beat last years september record total of 78, however this year was the second best September total. I think without the handicap of having to work, I may well of picked up species such as Reed and Sedge Warbler, Mute Swan, Lapwing, or Garden Warbler.

The Combined September list for the 9 years of recording is now on 89, the Curlew being the only new addition this year.

Below is the Marsh Tit at the Honey suckle

Then a couple of Coal Tit Photo's

Lastly a view through the very quiet 'Wet Woods'

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Heavy cloud produced dull and dreary conditions all day today, but at least it was mild and dry with little wind.

This afternoon after work I took a walk over to the maize stubbles via the Tree Nursery, where not much bird activity was noted, just the 'yaffling' GREEN WOODPECKERS and a gang of MAGPIES, with a couple of JAYS collecting Acorns. I scanned the Maize stubbles and saw much the same as yesterday, a flock of 20 or so MEADOW PIPIT, 30-40 ROOKS with their allies the JACKDAWS, and a smattering of WOODPIGEON.

A cock PHEASANT gave me a fright as it flew up in front of me, it also made the Roe Deer break cover from the small grassy area. I snapped a few photo's of him, and watched it bound away to the far corner of the field, where it always walks the fence line looking for an escape, however today it made its escape ! Incredibly, someone had removed the top strand of barbed wire, and the deer managed to leap to freedom - what a bit of luck ;-)

Roe Deer, off to wander the woods and fields again, after 5 months in the same field :-)

I left the Maize stubbles and had a look over at the lakes and scrub area, hoping for a Coot or Tufted Duck, or maybe even something rarer, but it was not to be today, although there were more MALLARDS than usual spread over the 3 lakes, 18 in all, and also an increase in MOORHENS, 9 were counted today. A GREY HERON was on the main lake too, and a KINGFISHER flew from here over to the ornamental lake, both not run of the mill species on my patch , so nice to see them.

Moorhens on the ornamental lake.

Around the scrub and lakeside vegetation, all the usual species were seen today, including : NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, MARSH TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST and BULLFINCH. Whilst wandering the scrub, a thrush flew over, it didn't call and I only got a high silhouette of it, could it of been the first Redwing of the Autumn ? It probably was, but probably is not good enough, and a better view will have to be forthcoming. A shame, as this would have been my earliest Redwing sighting ever, the earliest Redwing sighting currently stands at Oct 4th, achieved in both 2003 and 2009.

A very brief visit was had over at Migrant Alley, where nothing new was noted, more Meadow Pipits, 2 SKYLARK, and the usual PIED WAGTAILS and LINNETS, but a low flyover from a COMMON BUZZARD was a nice record. As I neared home a SPARROWHAWK was seen exiting my garden - I wondered where that had been all afternoon :-)

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Roe Deer. Still stuck in the Maize field. I wouldn't be surprised if someone went down and cut the fence to release it one afternoon :-)

There were a few more birds around this afternoon, not a great deal more, but enough to keep me interested for a couple of hours. I visited the Tree Nursery, Maize stubbles in the Pub Field, as well as Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Complex grounds.

To the south of my patch a large field was being Harrowed, which was attracting lots of Gulls, a few passed over my patch including HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL, and a possible immature Greater Black Backed Gull (see last photo) but I couldn't make my mind up on that one, a shame as they are a scarce species on my patch, plus it would have been a new one for the month.

These two LONG TAILED TITS were part of a larger flock that were feeding by the run off pool that is adjacent to the pub Field, with them were a few BLUE and GREAT TITS, as well as half a dozen CHAFFINCH

On the Pub Field Maize stubbles, 30-40 ROOKS were feeding, as well as 20 odd WOODPIGEON, approx. 18 MEADOW PIPITS were up and down, making it hard to see how many there actually were, then the inevitable SPARROWHAWK came over, but was seen off by the Rooks. Just before leaving for Migrant Alley this female PHEASANT flew up in front of me.

Below is the Sparrowhawk, it appears every where I go at the moment :-)

Over at Migrant Alley, it was a case of more Rooks, 20-30 more Meadow Pipit, 4 PIED WAGTAILS, 2 LINNETS and a mixed flock of around a dozen HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS. The only other summer species seen was a CHIFFCHAFF in the Greenhouse Grounds

Above: Immature Herring Gull, or GBB Gull hmmmmm..... it was big, but its wings are thin, that put me off of GBB.

Monday 27 September 2010

Above is the 'Main lake' next to the scrub area, its quite small and desperately needs some work doing on it !

This afternoon I paid a visit to the above lake and scrub area, just in case something rare had dropped in, maybe a Coot or Tufted Duck :-) , but no such luck today, just 4 MALLARD and two MOORHEN were on it. The smaller, more ornamental lake next to it however, had a KINGFISHER on it, which alighted on a branch just 10m from me, I zoomed right in on it and pressed the shutter, nothing! I had inadvertently knocked the switch and turned off the camera at some stage, by the time I had turned the camera on and re aligned, the Kingfisher had gone , BLAST IT !!!!!!!

A quick look around the Scrub wasn't too exciting, but some of the species not seen yesterday were easily viewable, including BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER and LONG TAILED TIT. A CHIFFCHAFF was also seen, the only one today.

I had a brief look around the paddocks and pasture at Migrant Alley, where MEADOW PIPITS, PIED WAGTAILS and LINNETS were seen, along with the many ROOKS and JACKDAWS, a STARLING flock of at least 250 birds was flushed up by a SPARROWHAWK. Over at the Tall Hedge bordering the Greenhouse Complex 2 YELLOWHAMMERS were seen, probably the same female and her offspring that I have been seeing for a few weeks now.

A Skywatch produced just 2 HERRING GULL, a KESTREL, a few local SWALLOWS and just 4 HOUSE MARTIN, as well as 4 SKYLARK that dropped into the pasture, giving that lovely trilling flight song.

The photo below is of one of the Yellowhammers in the Tall hedge, it was too dark really, but I tried :-)

Later on this afternoon I saw 2 Goldcrest in the garden, I managed this effort below.
As I was waiting for the Goldcrest to come into view, this female BLACKCAP dropped in - a very nice surprise, this may be the last one I see for some time now.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Another four hour full patch walk, the last one this month, took place in dark and dingy conditions, with a cold NW wind thrown in. I soon realised that I was not going to find anything new for the months list, as I was struggling even to find the most common resident birds!

As the chances of finding a migrant species decreases over at Migrant Alley, I start to turn my attentions to the Wet Woods, Lakes and Scrub area, and today I visited that part of my patch first. It was a dismal change of tactics, as I recorded just 11 species before reaching the lake, where I didn't fair much better, and by the time I left I had just 18 species in the notebook, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST and CHIFFCHAFF being the best of those.

The cold wind was more noticeable out on the Pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, but still a few SWALLOWS were hunting what insects could be found, 30-35 MEADOW PIPITS were in amongst the sheep, as well as 5 PIED WAGTAILS, 8 LINNETS and the usual mixture of Corvids on the paddocks. HOUSE MARTIN passage was pretty active, with various sized groups going over heading West, but the bird of the day goes to the SNIPE that flew in from the east, it tried to land in the ditch that runs along the NW border of my patch, but was seen off by the ROOKS, I wonder why they didn't like it ? This is the second Snipe to visit this month, a real scarce bird for my patch, so I was pleased to find it.

The only other noteworthy species seen were KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK, 22 flyover GREYLAG GEESE, and 3 GULL species, HERRING, BLACK HEADED and LESSER BLACK BACKED.

The morning ended up with just 40 species being found, with the likes of Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Coal Tit, long Tailed Tit, Bullfinch, and Treecreeper not being found. With just 4 short afternoon patch visits left for September, it will be very hard to add anything else to the months list, and it will probably remain on 73, but thats still the 2nd best september out of 9.

Saturday 25 September 2010

I was out for four hours this morning, on the penultimate full patch visit of September. The sun was out, and a clear blue sky prevailed for much of the morning, but a cool NW wind brought a flavour of things to come.

Despite the total of 45 species being recorded, there were in fact very few birds about, 10 of the 45 were recorded in singles, and of those species LITTLE OWL, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH and COAL TIT were heard only. HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL were seen flying over, as was KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD, so that didn't leave many species around to be seen in any numbers.

One species that was still numerous, was the hundred or so HOUSE MARTINS that fed over Migrant Alley, with them were 30 or so SWALLOWS, the latter are local breeders. These two species and the CHIFFCHAFF, of which five were seen and heard dotted around, were the only summer birds left on my patch, they are generally the last to leave.

A few LINNETS, MEADOW PIPITS and PIED WAGTAILS were also seen at Migrant Alley, and on the Maize Stubbles at the pub field, where incidentally the Roe Deer was still walking the perimeter. Over at the Lakes and scrub area the bird less theme continued, just a single MALLARD was on the water,while the scrub could only manage a party of LONG TAILED tits to keep me amused.

Above: Sparrowhawk. Below : Migrant Hawker Dragonfly

Friday 24 September 2010

Apologies to all ! Due to a whole set of circumstances, I couldn't get out onto my patch this afternoon, nothing serious, just one of those days :-)

All looks set fair for a full patch walk tomorrow morning though. :-)

Thursday 23 September 2010

Yesterday I walked home from work in a tee-shirt, today I walked home in a rain coat, thats probably the end of summer now!

As I walked home, I noticed the Maize crop in the 'Pub Field' was being harvested, so that was my destination straight after lunch. As soon as I got there I could see hundreds and hundreds of HOUSE MARTIN feeding on all the insects being thrown up by the harvesting. See Below. Not the clearest of photo's, but it does show quite a few birds, the sky was filled like this in every direction.

I picked my spot along the hedgerow, and watched scores of birds leave the maize and fly to the Hedge each time the harvester passed, when it moved off, they flew back out to the maize again. Most of these birds were CHIFFCHAFFS, but I also noted YELLOWHAMMER, CHAFFINCH, ROBIN, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, PHEASANT, DUNNOCK and BLACKBIRD. As I stood and waited for each pass of the harvester, hoping to see a Sedge or Reed Warbler, which I failed to do, I saw all the creatures that lived in the crop running for their lives. Predator and predated had no time for each other, their refuge was getting smaller by the minute, until finally they had to make a run for it, I saw 3 FOXES

scores of Rabbits
The harvester finally took the last of the crop, and all was quiet, the animals dispersed off into the countryside - apart from the Deer, this is the one that has been stuck in the field all Summer!

I gave the House Martins a good scan as they swarmed over the cut field, but didn't find a Sand martin with them, as I did, a KESTREL arrived on the scene, as did half a dozen PIED WAGTAILS and the first of the MEADOW PIPITS.
I turned my attention to the Hedgerow, and walked it 4 times, but all I found were Chiffchaffs, I must have looked at 50 of them, some more than once I dare say, but 50 would be a good approximation of their numbers.
I went into the Tree Nursery to walk the other side of the hedgerow, but couldn't find any other warblers except the Chiffchaffs. I walked the lines of shrubs in the nursery, but apart from the odd Blackbird and Robin, it was just more Chiffchaffs. Maybe there was a Sedge or Reed Warbler out there somewhere, but I couldn't find it, I gave the House Martins another good scan for a sand martin, but failed again, however I did see a SPARROWHAWK chancing his luck, it was severely mobbed by hundreds of Martins :-) and wimped off to the North.
It was certainly the day off the Chiffy today, and I had my fill of them this afternoon. However, come the beginning of March next year, i'll still be eagerly awaiting their return, and straining to hear that song - Chiff....Chaff....Chiff.....Chaff.....Chiff...Chaff :-)

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Tree Nursery with Greenhouses in backgound.

More fog this morning, so that took care of any bird sightings on the way to work :-) but again, once the fog had gone, it was another sunny and warm day.

This afternoons patch visit was a dull affair, I started by crossing the Tree Nursery (photo above) In here were GREEN WOODPECKER and a couple of MAGPIES. The nursery leads on to the next field, I call this Marchants field (below)

This was part of the Tree Nursery until last year. It has now gone over to sheep grazing, the trees in the background are the wet woods. Nothing at all was seen here, unsurprisingly ! When it was full of trees I had such goodies as Snipe, Woodcock, Reed and Sedge Warbler as well as a Firecrest one year. Before it was a tree nursery it was a rough weedy field in which Grey partridge frequented, a species now extinct on my pacth :-(

Next it was on to the Pub Field, with the Maize crop in it, which is shortly to be harvested. (below)

The footpath runs up the hedgerow for about 250m and on to Migrant Alley. To the left of this photo is the run off pool, there were a few Common Darters seen on it today, and 2 CHIFFCHAFFS in the surrounding trees. The hedgerow didn't have any goodies in it today, just BLUE and GREAT TIT, DUNNOCK, ROBIN and a WREN.
Over at Migrant Alley it was the same as the past two visits, Mostly Corvids, with the majority of these being Rooks (below) with small numbers of JACKDAW and the odd CARRION CROW amongst them. 5 SWALLOWS were over the fields, but not a single House Martin was seen today.
The only other birds of note here were two flyover Raptor species, the KESTREL and the PEREGRINE, as well as a single YELLOWHAMMER, and 8 MEADOW PIPITS. I think I need a change in the wind direction, to shake things up a bit on my patch, the months list has stalled completely!

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Ive Messed up today and put the photo's first.................

Below: Migrant Alley looking North.

Below: Is a view to the NE from my skywatching seat

Below: The track that divides the woods/Scrub at the Nothern end of Migrant alley, it also marks the Northern boundary of my patch

Below: The Greenhouse Copse
Below: A DUNNOCK from my garden, pity about the shaft of sunlight in the last two shots.

Dense fog this morning prohibited any bird watching on the way to work, but this afternoon, with just a few scattered clouds the day turned very warm and sunny.

A very similar afternoons birding to yesterday was had, I walked the Maize crop in the Pub Field, where 4 CHIFFCHAFFS, a couple of ROBINS, a DUNNOCK and a few BLUE and GREAT TITS were using the hedgerow. Once again a SPARROWHAWK came low over, and a few minutes later a COMMON BUZZARD did the same, with it's attendant mobbing CARRION CROW.

Migrant Alley was hot and still under the blazing sun, just 4 HOUSE MARTINS and two SWALLOWS were feeding over the paddocks and pasture, whilst in the grass at least 5 MEADOW PIPITS were hiding up. Two LINNETS, 4 PIED WAGTAILS, plus a GREEN WOODPECKER were the only birds with them, apart from the usual flighty ROOK flock comprising of around 60 birds.

A brief skywatch from my seat produced nothing at all, but again I heard the LITTLE OWLS arguing in the Greenhouse copse whilst I sat. Behind me in the Tall Hedge, 3 more Chiffchaff were seen, and two YELLOWHAMMERS, the latter birds being a female and the now almost independent young one. The only other bird to note, was yet another YELLOW WAGTAIL, which flew south as I was leaving.

Monday 20 September 2010

Nothing much happening around my patch today, this afternoons walk produced at least 5 CHIFFCHAFF flitting between the hedgerow and the maize crop at the Pub Field, but despite much scanning and waiting around, nothing was found with them. I was hoping for a Reed Warbler or Sedge Warbler to add to the months list, but the chances of finding these species diminishes with every day now, the latest date a sedge Warbler has been seen on my patch is the 22nd Sept, and the Reed Warbler's latest sighting date is the 10th Sept, but there is still a slim chance :-)

Over at Migrant Alley, both SPARROWHAWK and COMMON BUZZARD were seen on several occasions, using the warm thermals to get ever higher, giving them good views of the pasture and paddocks below, where dinner awaited, in the form of MEADOW PIPIT, STARLING, LINNET, or maybe a PIED WAGTAIL all of which were around in small groups. The local SWALLOWS were also feeding over the pasture, but the vast majority of HOUSE MARTIN seem to have moved off, only a dozen or so were seen this afternoon.

A LITTLE OWL called from the Greenhouse Copse, and a YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over the Greennhouses, calling all the while. Apart from that it was all very unremarkable today. I hope the migrant species havn't all gone through already, it's a long wait till the winter birds arrive !!

Sunday 19 September 2010

Early sunny spells gave way to progressively increasing cloud cover this morning, but it remained dry for the four hour patch walk.

Most of the bird activity was again centred around Migrant Alley today, the 100+ HOUSE MARTIN, which have been present all week in large numbers, were again whizzing about in the sheep pasture, along with the local SWALLOWS, 20-30 MEADOW PIPITS and 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS. A Skein of 19 GREYLAG GEESE went high over, the first Geese seen this month whilst on a full patch walk.

CHIFFCHAFFS were present in good numbers, the remnants of yesterdays invasion I suspect, 3 were in the Maize crop in the Pub Field, 2 were in the College Grounds, and singles were heard from cover in the Small Holding and Lakeside Scrub. The only other summer migrants left on my patch were 4 BLACKCAPS, 1 female was in a large garden on Ashes Lane, and a pair were seen along the College Stream.

The lack of Raptors, only the SPARROWHAWK was seen today, and Gull species, just the HERRING GULL was recorded, as well as not finding the likes of Treecreeper, Mistle Thrush and Pheasant, kept the daylist down to 43 species, but this is around average for a September day.

The Wet Woods and Lakeside Scrub area had the usual nice species, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, MARSH TIT and at least 6 BULLFINCH . Despite not finding anything new for the months list, it was still an enjoyable visit, not least for the number of Migrant Hawker Dragonflies that were on the wing.

Photo's today, A CARRION CROW on the fence line at Migrant Alley, not the best replacement for a Whinchat or Wheatear :-)

Below is a Cock HOUSE SPARROW

Lastly one of the many Migrant hawker Dragonflies that were around today

Saturday 18 September 2010

Above is the Sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, just before sunrise

A cold and clear start to the day, but once the sun was up, the day turned out to be one of those September days that you yearn for while in the depths of winter, warm, still, and peaceful.

Whilst jotting down all the common resident species, I kept coming across CHIFFCHAFFS, some singly, some in two's, others in small groups, a good percentage of them were giving some song too, obviously they had dropped in during the night.

Walking along the College Stream, I found a feeding flock of BLUE, GREAT and LONG TAILED TITS, more interestingly there were 2 female and a lone male BLACKCAP with them, as well as two GOLDCRESTS. In the College Grounds 3 MISTLE THRUSH were seen, and flyovers from HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULL were noted there. I made my way out to Migrant Alley, I had already passed through earlier, but nothing much was seen, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL being about the best bird, but by now it had warmed up a bit, and the insects were started to stir, MEADOW PIPITS and at least 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS were out in the sheep pasture, but not a single Swallow or House martin was about.

The second part of my walk gave me all I could expect at this time of year, both NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER were heard in the Wet Woods, and the MARSH TIT was feeding on it's favoured Honeysuckle berries that grow along the footpath that runs from the Wet Woods to the Lakes. On those lakes GREY HERON, MALLARD and MOORHEN were seen, I could hear COAL TITS now calling in the Scrub area, along with BULLFINCH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, the morning was made complete when the SPARROWHAWK came in low and fast, diving into the scrub.

The total of 44 species after the full patch circuit was a fair effort, but it was still early, so I had another trip over to Migrant Alley, as I hadn't recorded SWALLOW or HOUSE MARTIN, that was soon put right when I found a mixed group of around 75 feeding on the now swarms of flies that associate with the sheep. A group of Chiffchaffs were in a hedgerow that borders one of the large gardens and Migrant Alley, and scanning these I heard the faint song of my first WILLOW WARBLER (72) of the Month, I thought i'd missed out on this species for September! Moving round the fence lines of the pasture and paddocks I had hoped for a Whinchat or Wheatear, but they had moved on, however, I did find a female and young YELLOWHAMMER in the tall hedge, as well as a bird thats been more scarce than Wheatear or whinchat on my patch this year - a REED BUNTING (73) only the third one seen this year.

I took my skywatching seat, and watched the frenzy of feeding going on out in the sheep pasture, at least 30 Meadow Pipits were 'seep seeping' and the two YELLOW WAGTAILS were with them chasing about, the group of Swallows and House Martins seemed to be getting larger and they whizzed around the sheep, inches from the grass, as I scanned the Martins, I was pleased to see another SAND MARTIN with them, ive done well for this species on my patch this year!

One more species was added to the list as I neared home, no less than 3 COMMON BUZZARDS were up soaring over my house, very nice sight :-) Later whilst doing some garden maintenance, another Buzzard went over, this time being harassed by a PEREGRINE !

I had an afternoon wander over to my skywatching seat at around 13:00hrs, and added KESTREL to the day list, as well as seeing 5 more Yellow Wagtail drop in to join the Meadow Pipits, but apart from that nothing else was added, It was nice watching a few more Buzzards and Sparrowhawks up in the blue though :-)

53 species for the day -- an excellent result for a September day!

Above : Everyones favourite bird......a ROBIN

These two Butterflies were on the wing in the warm sunshine today. Below is the Comma and above the Small Copper

Whilst at my garden feeders the Nuthatch's are still hogging all the peanuts !

Friday 17 September 2010

Yet again the weather was fine and settled, if a little cool this morning, and it was frustrating to have to go to work!

Nothing much of note to see across Migrant Alley or the College Grounds as I walked into work this morning, although a MALLARD that flew over had me scanning it excitedly, any other duck species would be a good sighting on my patch :-).

On the way back home from work, I scanned the fence lines and posts and came up with just the one WHINCHAT, which I wont complain about. After lunch I was back out at Migrant Alley, and although I re-located the Whinchat, it got flushed up by some walkers and flew to the middle of the Sheep pasture, where it mixed with the MEADOW PIPITS. Moments later one of the farm workers drove round the fields, then drove all the way back again, then a dog walker came through!

All this disturbance was putting me out of my rhythm. I like to sit and watch, then stealthily move about, getting into the mood of the place, but today I just couldn't get into the swing of it :-( . A SPARROWHAWK that continually soared and hunted over the fields didn't help matters, and after an hour I gave up and headed off home to regroup, and dig out some enthusiasm.

A big mug of tea, and a sit in my garden watching the feeders, usually does the trick. I'll be out again early tomorrow morning :-)

In between sips of my tea I took these photo's of the Blue Tits.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Another bright start to the day, but showers moved in for the afternoon.

My walk into work across Migrant Alley had me finding one of the 4 WHEATEARS that were around yesterday, as well as a YELLOW WAGTAIL flying over. Looking for the Wheatear on the way home, I found a WHINCHAT, probably one of yesterdays birds, but the Wheatear wasn't seen.

As has been the usual routine for the past few days, I again went straight over to Migrant Alley after lunch, as this is the place where I might just pick up a new bird species for the month or even the year. Quite a few birds were about today, the most numerous being a flock of 200+ STARLING and 50-60 ROOKS, with a few JACKDAWS among them, not to mention the 100's of HOUSE MARTIN that were filling the sky. A large group were over the Maize crop, but whatever direction I looked in, House Martins were seen in good numbers. A scan of the nearest flock over the sheep pasture was well worth the effort, as a SAND MARTIN was seen amongst them, as well as the 30 or so local SWALLOWS.

A walk round the fence line was had, and once again I found 3 Wheatear in the sheep pasture, where were they an hour ago ? The Whinchat was feeding in with them, as well as a few PIED WAGTAILS and 8 LINNETS. Carrying on up to the north end of Migrant Alley, and passing through the scrubby wood, a BULLFINCH flew out of the mangled hedge, and a CHIFFCHAFF called from one of the young Oaks, a cock PHEASANT was also seen, with 2 hens in tow, they are beginning to show up again around my patch after a few weeks absence.

Turning back south, and towards the Greenhouse complex, two LITTLE OWLS called excitedly from the Greenhouse Copse, sounded like they were arguing over something :-) A SPARROWHAWK went over and put all the Starlings up, but a few rooks soon chased the predator away. I got to my Skywatching seat beside the tall hedge, which thank god is still tall, if a little thinner, and sat down to rest my legs, looking along the hedgerow I saw a COMMON WHITETHOAT pop up, a good sighting, as this is the latest date I have recorded this particular migrant, 4 days later than the previous latest date.

Another Chiffchaff was found in the same hedge, and behind it, in the Greenhouse Grounds, a flock of 13 GOLDFINCH were on some thistle heads, whilst to my left over on the sheep pasture, a flock of 40+ MEADOW PIPITS flew up, circled and dropped back down again, a notable size flock for my patch.

In all, a very pleasant couple of hours, depite a heavy shower trying to dampen my spirit :-)

Below is the Cock Pheasant.

I had good views of the Whinchat today, but still a bit distant for photographing it. The Wheatear remained well out in the pasture today though.

In one of the brief sunny spells, I was pleased to see this very well looking Small Copper in the Greenhouse Grounds

Another butterfly species still on the wing was this Speckled Wood, seen in the north end scrub.