Sunday 31 October 2010

The final visit of October, and the last chance to try to find a new species for the month, and so equalling the best ever monthly total of 78...........

Well it all went pear-shaped from the off, a light but persistent rain fell, and within 90 mins I was back home soaked through! However, I did get over to the lake area, where it was pretty busy, compared to normal, and I found 4 CANADA GEESE, a GREYLAG GOOSE, 13 MALLARDS, 7 MOORHEN and a KINGFISHER, the latter being just the 3rd seen this month.

The drips coming through the trees were more wetting than the actual rain, and finding any small passerines in the conditions was difficult, but a feeding flock, containing all 5 Tit species, a NUTHATCH, two GOLDCREST and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER made for a cheering sight. MISTLE THRUSH, and REDWING were noted going over as I walked home for a change of hat and coat.

An hour later I was back out, and it was still raining, I walked over to Migrant Alley, and found at least 75 BLACKHEADED GULLS on the paddocks, and on the adjacent College Sports Pitch, where 5 HERRING GULLS and two COMMON GULLS were also seen, the latter is a good species to find on my patch. MEADOW PIPIT, PHEASANT, PIED WAGTAIL and ROOK were the last birds to enter the notebook, which was now soggy and almost unreadable, so once agin I retreated back home to dry off, what a let down the last four visits of the month were :-( I felt sure I could muster up just one more species for the month.

Having said that though I cant complain, this October has been a fantastic month, the species total of 77 has completely eclipsed the previous best October species tally of 68. No fewer than five of the species seen this month were totally new for October, those being - Swift, Whinchat, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, and Ring Ouzel, the last two species being patch ticks !

The combined list for all nine Octobers is now an impressive 90, and the mean number of species seen for October is 63, but this rises to 67 if only the last 5 years are taken into account. The first few years of watching my patch were undertaken whilst working full time so monthly totals were a lot lower.

The year list is now on 107, two below the best ever year, (set last year) and patch ticks so far this year have reached 4. So November is going to be a tough month if i'm to keep the momentum going, the target for November is 66, set in 2008, last year I managed only 63. The mean number of species seen for the last 8 Novembers is 57.

Saturday 30 October 2010

Above: Looking south over the maize stubbles at the Pub Field

Below: Looking west over the Tree Nursery

I was out just before dawn this morning, and conditions were as far removed
from yesterday as could be, gone was the wind and heavy low cloud, now replaced by mist and clear skies.

In the twilight of the dawn, ROBINS, DUNNOCKS and BLACKBIRDS were heard calling, JACKDAWS and MAGPIES cackled noisily, and an early bit of song was had from a WREN and a GOLDCREST. Overhead I could just make out small groups of BLACK HEADED GULLS, with a few HERRING GULLS, gliding in to alight on the College Sports pitch.

The day list grew as the sun rose, and the fact there were many more birds around than yesterday, made it a more enjoyable day. Common resident species such as BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, PIED WAGTAIL, STARLING and WOODPIGEON were very numerous, where were they all yesterday ?

A GREY WAGTAIL feeding around the manure heap at the College Stables was only the second sighting of this species for October, and a brief sighting of a REED BUNTING in the Tree Nursery was another bonus bird for the morning, a CORMORANT that flew low over was the third in as many days, but they are not seen this frequently very often.

Over on the Lake I counted 14 MALLLARDS, but their numbers were swelled to more than 40, as I watched small parties fly in and splash down, they were coming from the south, where the sound of shotguns could be heard. I scanned each party as they came onto the water, but was always disappointed that no other species of duck were with them, a chance missed for that new monthly species !

A few more nice species were seen before ending my 4 hour walk, three SISKINS dropped in to a conifer tree on the bank of the lake, both COAL TIT and MARSH TIT called not far from there, and a GREY HERON floated across the sky, dropping down onto the shallowest part of the lake. Three small parties of FIELDFARE were seen going over as I neared home, and just as I thought I'd had a a raptorless day, the SPARROWHAWK flew from the Greenhouse Grounds. Just one day left now for October, and the best ever monthly total of 78, only reached in two other months, looks to remain intact, but who knows, tomorrow I might just get lucky :-)

Above: The Grey Heron that dropped down into the shallows


A few other things took my interest this morning, one was this albino Squirrel. Ive seen it a few times recently, but have only just managed to get near enough for some kind of photo.

Also of note was a Hawthorn bush with some flowers on, normally known as a May tree, as that's its normal flowering time.

Friday 29 October 2010

I rather optimistically took my camera out this morning, thinking it would brighten up shortly after dawn. How very wrong! It barely got light at all until around midday, and then it was only marginally better, it was like one of those short December days.

The dull weather was reflected in the bird activity, I really struggled this morning, and it took all of the five hour visit to find just 38 species! There was no way I was going to find any new visitors to my patch today, given that the local birds all seemed to have moved off for some reason.

It would be hard to find a highlight for the visit, but I suppose the two calling REDPOLLS that flew over the lake area would have to be it. A most disappointing morning.

An hours break for lunch back home, had me staring out into the garden while I munched a sandwich and drank my tea, then I noticed what was undoubtedly the bird of the day by a long chalk - a male BLACKCAP. It was feeding on one of the apples that I had impaled in my Elder tree, ( this was to attract a passing Waxwing, but a Blackcap will do!)

After lunch I had a couple of hours out again, checking the lake and scrub area, and the Tree Nursery, but not a lot had changed, just 4 more species were added to the daylist A CORMORANT that was on the lake, a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER that was in one of the nearby Oaks, and both MISTLE THRUSH and SPARROWHAWK that flew over the Tree Nursery.

43 species in 7 hours is truly abysmal, i'll not beat the all time monthly species total with days like this ! Only two days left to achieve it now.

Thursday 28 October 2010

View Looking West, From My Skywatching Seat At migrant Alley

Having the day off work today meant I could spend the entire day out on my patch, well almost! I spent 3 hours out from 07:15, two hours from 11:30, and another two hours from 14:30hrs. Most of the day was cloudy, with the odd glimpse of sunshine early on, but that soon vanished and the days visit ended with a light shower.

The 7 hours produced 46 species, all of which were found on the 3 hour early visit, but unfortunately none of them were new sightings for the month. However some nice species were recorded, 3 REDPOLL flew over calling whilst I crossed the Tree Nursery, and SISKINS were heard going over early on as I walked the Lakeside Scrub, these are both good species to find in October for my patch. A GREY HERON was fishing on the lake and a CORMORANT circled, as if to come down and join it, but thought better of it.

GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE also flew over, small flocks heading in various directions were seen. BLACK HEADED GULLS were dropping onto the College Sports field, gathering to a total of 47 before being disturbed, but only 3 HERRING GULLS were seen today.

MEADOW PIPIT, SKYLARK, PIED WAGTAIL and FIELDFARE were seen in small numbers at Migrant Alley, but there were no Mistle Thrush or Redwing seen today, and only one SONGTHRUSH was noted.

All the woodland birds that frequent my patch were found, not something that happens every visit, GREAT, BLUE, COAL, MARSH and LONG TAILED TIT, as well as BULLFINCH, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, with TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS
all being easily viewable, which was great for the three SPARROWHAWKS seen today, the only other raptor seen was a KESTREL.

Another days holiday tomorrow, so another full days birding :-) but October days are running out, and I still need that one more new species if I am to equal the best ever monthly tally.

It was too dull for photo's really, but I snapped this Great Spotted Woodpecker at my nut feeder.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

It was dull and drizzly all morning, and it was still dull and drizzly when I left for my afternoon walk, but as I neared the lakes the cloud started to break up and a few sunny spells were had for the rest of my walk - pity, as I had decided against taking the camera.

There were plenty of birds about, especially around the well wooded lake edges, where, as I scanned fruitlessly for a different duck, I was suddenly surrounded by the cheerful calls of LONG TAILED TITS, about 14 flitted all around me, with them were the usual gang of COAL TIT, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, NUTHATCH a ROBIN and a TREECREEPER, which dropped down into the shallow edges of the water for a bath, never seen that before :-)

I finished scanning all the lakes, and came up with just MALLARDS MOORHENS and a GREY HERON, so moved on to the scrubby lake surroundings where I found a couple of BULLFINCH and 3 GOLDCREST, I spent ages tracking down the high pitched calls of the latter, in the hope of finding a Firecrest, but it wasn't to be. I looked over the nearby garden that has the feeders out and saw the normal GREENFINCH, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH DUNNOCK, COLLARED DOVE and lots more Tits, as well as a KESTREL that came in to survey the area, but the smaller birds saw it as no threat.

I left without finding that 78th species for the month, but still had the Tree Nursery to look through and Migrant Alley to visit. The former was full of BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, and STARLINGS all on the Laurel Berries, with Dunnock, more Great and Blue Tit and a surprising total of 14 PHEASANT, which all flew up and settled down further into the field.

Migrant Alley had plenty to see, the boundary hedge that separates it from the Greenhouses provided cover for more Blackbirds, Thrushes, Dunnocks, more tits, and a flock of 23 Goldfinch that were up in the Alder trees. On the paddocks and pasture, more Starlings were feeding, a few SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPIT occasionally flew up, called , and dropped down again and 8 PIED WAGTAIL were chasing about amongst the sheep. Overhead BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS went over, an off my patch Buzzard was seen heading NW and of course a SPARROWHAWK was also seen, this one was a big female, as it went over it flushed up a mixed flock of FIELDFARE, REDWING and Starlings from a field just off my patch, and they all came streaming over my head chattering and squawking, agitated at being made to leave their feeding activities.

So I didn't manage to find that species to get the best ever monthly total, but i've got the rest of the week off work, and the weekend to go yet :-)

Tuesday 26 October 2010

The quest to find the new species for this October stalled somewhat this afternoon. I manage to get out for 90 mins, but the weather had completely changed from yesterday and it was raining, with a strong SW wind.

I did manage to visit the lake, but again, disappointingly, only found MALLARDS and MOORHENS there. Plenty of woodland birds were seen or heard, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, GREAT, BLUE, COAL, MARSH and LONG TAILED TITS as well as TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and GOLDCREST.

The rain was getting progressively heavier, so I headed for the Wet Woods for some shelter, hoping whilst there I might get exceptionally lucky and find a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, I didn't of course, but a GREY HERON was seen on the last remaining muddy pool.

With the trees now starting to allow the rain through, I tried a visit to the Tree Nursery and maize stubbles at the Pub Field, but whilst I found 21 BLACK HEADED GULLS on the Stubbles, nothing but the STARLINGS were in the nursery. I was now getting cold and wet, and the wind was blowing the rain into my binoculars, so an early end to my visit was had.

No photo's today, the weather put pay to that, but as wet and cold as it was, it still wasn't as uncomfortable as those summer days when it was burning hot and airless ;-)

Monday 25 October 2010

This afternoon, after work, I set out in brilliant late Autumn sunshine, to see if I could find one more new species for the month, so as to equal the best ever months species total of 78, a task that will be very difficult to achieve, especially on an afternoon visit. The most likely species to add to the months list will be a duck, and that would be a Mandarin Duck, or maybe an outside chance of a Coot, but I have never recorded an October coot before. So with those two species in mind I visited the lakes.

On the way, 3 GREEN WOODPECKERS were seen in the Small Holding, and a couple of female PHEASANTS were also seen there. The 'Not so' Wet Woods was home to a party of LONG TAILED TITS, with BLUE and GREAT TITS amongst them, I also heard MARSH TIT, COAL TIT and TREECREEPER calling as I passed.

I reached the lake and could hear a couple of NUTHATCH'S calling, but I was eager to scan the water for that elusive 78th species, I checked the main lake, then the ornamental lake then the small lake, peering into all the dark spaces created by the overhanging branches, but alas, no 78th species, I hung around for an hour in the hope of something dropping in, but I was clutching at straws really :-) I did get to see a pair of BULLFINCH'S, and another party of Long Tailed Tits as i waited in vain though.

The 78th species may come, if at all, in the form of a flyover, maybe a Little Egret, or a Marsh Harrier or Red Kite, now i'm getting carried away ! So it was with renewed optimism that I set out for the Tree Nursery and Migrant Alley, for a skywatch at both those points. I saw BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, a few single SKYLARKS, 2 MEADOW PIPITS, 2 flocks of 30+ FIELDFARE, two flocks of 15+ CHAFFINCH, numerous WOODPIGEON, ROOKS, and JACKDAWS but nothing to add for the months list. As I was leaving for home, this SPARROWHAWK flew over, I swear it was winking at me !

I took a couple of photo's of the garden birds when I got home, just to brighten the page up a bit :-)
Top is Coal Tit
Middle is Blue Tit

Bottom is the ROBIN

Sunday 24 October 2010

A late record from yesterday evening, but a good one, was hearing a TAWNY OWL (77) hooting, it called from the Wet Woods at 19:30.

Below are a couple of Garden pics taken this afternoon. The first is of the Red Admiral, the second is of the GOLDFINCH'S at the Garden Feeders

The feeder is further away from my window now. Ive had to move it into cover to make it more difficult for the Sparrowhawk :-)

Back to this morning, and conditions couldn't have been more different from yesterday, it was calm and clear with a touch of frost.
The first bird on the list today was a GOLDCREST, its high pitch calls easily pierced to crisp air, just one of 6 seen today. I walked the Tree Nursery, Pub Field, Migrant Alley, the College Grounds and back home for a halfway drink, recording all that was expected, 37 species in all. Notable ones were again hearing the call of a REED BUNTING as it flew over the Tree Nursery, a LESSER REDPOLL that flew over the College Grounds, and a SISKIN that dropped down into an Alder tree, also at the College Grounds. For the 2 hours it took to complete the first half of my patch, a continuous stream of WOODPIGEONS went high over heading south, involving many hundreds of birds.
The sunny conditions continued on into the second half of my visit, through the Small Holding, Wet Woods, Lakes and scrub area. Just 5 more species were added to the day list here, NUTHATCH, and LONG TAILED TIT, plus GREY HERON, MALLARD and MOORHEN on the water. Three more species were seen as I walked home across Marchants Field and the Tree Nursery, all of them Raptors, first the SPARROWHAWK - late today :-) , then the KESTREL hunting over at the Greenhouses, lastly a pair of COMMON BUZZARDS that were up high over Migrant Alley.
45 species for the day is a good tally for late October, and 51 species for the weekend is a fair reflection on my patch. The Tawny Owl seen last evening brings the months list of 77 within touching distance of the best monthly count ever, which at the moment goes to the August just gone, and the September of last year, both had 78 species recorded.
A few more photo's were taken this morning; Below is a PIED WAGTAIL at Migrant Alley

Next is a flight of GREYLAG GEESE that went over the Tree Nursery early on.

Below is a shot of one of the groups of Woodpigeon that streamed over for most of the morning ( click on photo to see them a bit better)

Lastly a photo over the College Stream ( actually the river Bourne) you can make out the far bank, which some ''Management experts'' have totally cleared, depriving birds and animals of a place of refuge and nesting opportunities for next spring.

Saturday 23 October 2010

It was 07:20 before it grew light enough to get out this morning, and although heavy threatening clouds hung low overhead, it remained dry for my 3 and a half hour visit.

It was hard to pick out any bird calls with the strength of the wind, making the early visit to the Lakes via the small holding and Wet Woods uninspiring. MAGPIE, CARRION CROW, DUNNOCK, WOODPIGEON and ROBIN were quickly on the list, but incredibly just 2 more species were added before reaching the lake, one was PHEASANT, a gathering of 14, only one being a male, were seen in one of the large gardens adjacent to the small Holding, with them was a MOORHEN - 7 species!

At the lakes there were fewer MALLARD than yesterday - just 9, with about the same number of Moorhen. A WREN called loudly, and a BLACKBIRD alarm called, also two BULFINCH'S softly called, all from the Scrub. A TREECREEPER was heard, along with COAL TIT, MARSH TIT, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT and GOLDCREST with only glimpses of them had in the gloomy light, but at least the wind was dropping out.

A check of the feeders in a garden next to the lake, had more tit species feeding there, as well as a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREENFINCH'S, a SONGTHRUSH flew over, a JAY screeched from way over in the Wet woods, and as I left a flock of 9 GOLDFINCH dropped in.

I headed over to the Tree Nursery, through the Sheep pasture in Marchants Field, where a CORMORANT was seen flying over high, as were HERRING GULL and SKYLARK. I stopped for a few minutes when reaching the Tree Nursery, and had a listen and skyscan, STARLINGS dropped down on to their favoured laurel berries, a few CHAFFINCH also dropped in and 5 MEADOW PIPITS flew up, a STOCK DOVE went over and the last of the PIED WAGTAILS flew from the Greenhouse roost, and dispersed into the surrounding fields. The first small flock of BLACK HEADED GULLS were noted going west, further small flocks went over for the next 2 hours, numbering at least 60 birds.

I made my way over to Migrant Alley via the Greenhouses, checking the boundary hedgerow. In it were at least 14 BLACKBIRDS, a mix of Blue and Great Tits, Robins, Dunnocks, and Goldfinch, and then my old mate the SPARROWHAWK flew in, made a grab at a finch - missed and carried on across the sheep pasture and paddocks, as a result nothing but ROOKS were seen as I walked over to the College Grounds.

Here I added COLLARED DOVE, GREEN WOODPECKER, NUTHATCH, which is not usually seen here, and the first JACKDAW of the morning to my day list, better late than never! The colony of HOUSE SPARROWS were seen at the stables, where overhead a GREY HERON headed towards the Lakes and a pair of GREYLAG GEESE flew over headed in the opposite direction, taking the days species total to 40.

Another check of Migrant Alley proved fruitless, so I headed over to the maize stubbles in the Pub Field, a scan of the stubbles and a check of the hedgerow that leads me back to the Tree Nursery only gave me one other species for the day, a REED BUNTING, a very welcome sighting on my patch, as they are very scarce here. My final act of the walk was to once again pass through the Tree Nursery, and in doing so added a MISTLE THRUSH to the list as well as FIELDFARE, 13 of them dropped in to a well stocked apple tree in a private garden. 43 species for the day was more than I expected at the outset of my walk, and although nothing new was added for the month or year lists, I enjoyed every moment of it :-)

No Pics today - too dark :-(

Friday 22 October 2010

Everything has settled into its place on my patch now, what I've got is what I'll keep, until the next change in the weather and wind direction.

My walk over to the lake this afternoon was brightened by seeing no less than four GREEN WOODPECKERS feeding on a large lawn on one of the gardens adjacent to the Small Holding, one of which was just about close enough for a photo.

I passed through the Wet Woods, which, by the way, are almost bone dry, limiting the chances of finding a Teal here. There was nothing at all seen or heard in fact, which is very unusual, but as I came out the other side of the woods and headed for the lake, the SPARROWHAWK (below) floated overhead - that explains the lack of birds in the woods!

The lake had MOORHENS and MALLARDS on it, no surprise there, but each had increased in numbers since yesterday with 11 of the former and 18 of the latter, something might just turn up with them soon :-)
The KESTREL was again hunting around the nearby garden, and was seen to fly off with a small mammal, but not much else was seen with all that Raptor action around.
I headed for the Tree Nursery, and sat down on a stile for half an hour, watching and listening, with the result of seeing a few of the resident species, WRENS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSH with MAGPIE, WOODPIGEON and 8 Hen PHEASANTS. Two JAYS and a BLACK HEADED GULL were best of the flyovers.
In all, a pleasant enough 90 min walk, but i'm looking forward to getting out for a morning visit - despite the rainy forecast!

Above one of the Hen Pheasants

There was still enough light when I got home to take a photo or two of the garden visitors - below are a couple of GOLDFINCH photo's

Thursday 21 October 2010

Above is yesterdays Bumble bee on the garden Scabious, there were also lots on the daises too.

Back to today, and everything is very much staying the same on my patch, migration has come to a halt, and is for the most part over now. My hope for an addition to the month or year list will lie on seeing a duck species on the lake, or something nice flying over.

So it was off to the lake again this afternoon to try my luck, but alas, it was MALLARDS and MOORHENS again, with a GREY HERON thrown in today. Around the bankside vegetation a couple of NUTHATCH collected and ate seeds, and a GOLDCREST was calling, but I didn't locate a feeding flock today. A nearby garden had a KESTREL fly down and sit amongst the Marigolds, a strange site :-)

It then flew up and did some proper hunting.

I checked the Tree Nursery, but it was all SONGTHRUSH'S and BLACKBIRDS there again, however the Maize stubbles in the adjacent Pub Field had a tractor harrowing the field, so a quick scan of that was had. 15 BLACK HEADED Gulls were feeding on the disturbed soil, as well as a few PIED WAGTAILS and about 30 STARLINGS, but no sign of that Mediterranean Gull for the year List :-)
I'm needing to get out for a morning full patch visit if i'm going to have a chance of finding anything new - roll on saturday :-)

Above is one of the Nuthatch seen by the lake
Below is the Grey Heron seen on it
The day wouldn't be the same without the SPARROWHAWK :-)

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Two hours were spent out on my patch this afternoon, in sunny but cool conditions, with a wind that had more than a little hint of winter about it.

It was hard going today, but there was the odd interesting species recorded, initial scans of the lake proved fruitless for anything but MALLARDS and MOORHENS, but as I left the area a CORMORANT dropped in and immediately started to fish, so I stealthily moved away, so as not to disturb it.

Yesterday the woodland birds were not seen at all, and I supposed they were in a feeding flock elsewhere, well today I found the flock in the Wet Woods, and it contained all that was expected - GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER and GOLDCREST, 30 - 40 birds were present, but as much as I tried I couldn't find anything new for my patch in amongst them :-)

The Tree Nursery was much the same as yesterday, SONGTHRUSH'S, BLACKBIRDS and DUNNOCKS were amongst the shrubs, and STARLINGS were feeding on the Laurel berries, 4 female and 1 Male PHEASANT were seen today though.

Lastly a visit to the hedgerow separating the Greenhouses and Migrant Alley, was made, as well as a 30 minute skywatch, the hedgerow held no surprises for me, more Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Blue Tits and a few GOLDFINCH, but the skywatch had some interest, a KESTREL was up Hunting, as was the now obligatory SPARROWHAWK, and a lone SWALLOW flew low over heading SE, the do seem to be hanging around this year! Other than that it was just BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, the odd single MEADOW PIPIT, and two SKYLARK of any note.

Whilst I was eating my lunch, I saw that a Red Admiral had returned to the Daises that grow in my garden

After my walk I heard the MARSH TIT calling in the garden, and managed some photo's of it.

Lastly, I was going to put a photo of a Bumble bee on one of the Scabious flowers that are still flowering in my garden. But blogger has said no more images can be uploaded for the next two hours due to maintenence ! I'll put it on tomorrow :-)

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Two LINNETS had returned to Migrant Alley, they were seen with 4 GOLDFINCH'S as I walked home from work this afternoon, nothing else had changed there though.

This afternoon, in cool showery conditions, I paid a visit to the Lakes and scrub area. Once again the lakes were populated only by MALLARDS and MOORHENS, and little was observed around the bankside vegetation or scrub, only GOLDCREST was seen, all the other woodland birds were missing, I suspect they were in a large feeding flock somewhere, but I didn't find it ! What was noteworthy though was a small flock of 7 SWALLOWS, they dropped down out of a shower cloud, and headed south, todays sighting is now my latest date recorded for this species. Oh! and of course, a SPARROWHAWK was soaring up above :-)

Moving on to the Tree Nursery, things continued in the quiet mode, 7 SONG THRUSHES flew out of the Laurel bushes as I walked the row, as did 2
DUNNOCKS, 8 BLACKBIRDS, a BLUE TIT and a GREAT TIT. The STARLINGS continue to feed on the Berries, but in smaller numbers now, just 25 were seen today, whilst there a SISKIN flew over, calling as it went.

A visit to the hedgerow dividing Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds only produced more Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Blue and Great Tits, and a couple of ROBINS. 18 more Siskins flew over, 3 MEADOW PIPIT were seen out in the sheep pasture, along with 3 SKYLARK, but nothing more interesting than that. Other flyovers seen were BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL, KESTREL and the PIED WAGTAILS that use the Greenhouses to roost. Not a very inspiring visit today !

I took a couple of garden Photo's before a big shower came through this evening

Goldfinch above: and female CHAFFINCH below

Monday 18 October 2010

Back to work today :-( , and walking in at 06:45hrs I could hear, and just about see, skeins of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE heading north. The walk back home was not without some interest, a lone SISKIN flew over the College Grounds, and Migrant Alley had a flock of 18 GOLDFINCH in the paddocks, however the Linnets seem to have left my patch, none have been seen since last week, I wonder if they will use the Tree Nursery as a roost this year, as they have done for the past two winters.

This afternoon I had a two hour wander over to the lakes and scrub area, checking out the Tree Nursery on the way and ending up with a short visit to the Greenhouse Complex Grounds. In the very dull and still conditions very little was seen of any note, except for a lone REDPOLL (76) that circled over the lakes and dropped down into the scrub, giving that harsh 'chet chet' call all the while, no wonder it dropped down, a few seconds later a SPARROWHAWK came low over, why do they have to go everywhere I am ?

The visit was as dull as the weather but for that episode, and not a single summer visiting species was seen, I think thats it now for them, the odd swallow might pass over, but the vast majority are now en route to africa :-)

The Redpoll was the first seen since 11th April, and brings the months list to within two species of achieving the best ever total for any month, which was reached in September last year. I will be be very fortunate to add anymore species to October now, but looking at the accumulative total for the past 9 Octobers, species such as Black Redstart, Golden Plover, Marsh harrier, Barnacle Goose, Egyptian Goose, Teal, Grey Partridge, Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Snipe, Firecrest, Little Egret, Mandarin Duck, and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker are all there, but every one of them is a very scarce species on my patch !

Too dark for photo's today !

Sunday 17 October 2010

There were long sunny periods and long cloudy periods today, with a cool NW wind, but the clouds drifted in from the SE !

It was the same South Easterly upper air movement that brought some Visual Migration across my patch whilst I was out this morning. Groups of WOODPIGEON were seen going South early on, while most of the morning SKYLARKS and CHAFFINCH'S moved Westwards in small flocks. SWALLOWS moved through in good numbers, anything from just 1 bird, to flocks of 20 went over SW, on one occasion 4 HOUSE MARTIN were seen with them, this went on all day long, until it was too dark to see them at 18:00hrs.

Apart from the Vis. Mig. there were a few other interesting species seen this morning, my first GREY WAGTAIL (74) of the month was at the College Stream, and even better, the first RING NECKED PARAKEET (107, 75) this year flew over the Lakeside Scrub area, I was hoping I might get this species on my year list, I generally see one or two a year :-) This addition to the year list gives 2010 the second best species tally so far, just two behind the record total achieved last year.

I was very satisfied with the morning as I left to go home, but it got that little bit sweeter when I spotted a RING OUZEL flying over the Greenhouse Complex and alight in a large pine tree, where I lost it in the dense branches, this must surely be the same bird as I saw last Saturday. I spent quite some time this afternoon scanning the same area from my bedroom window in the hope of getting Ring Ouzel on my house list, but it didn't reappear :-(

Other good species seen this morning were 2 and 6 FIELDFARE, two groups of a dozen REDWING, a group of 18 SISKIN and 3 raptor species, SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL and COMMON BUZZARD. Yesterdays large influx of GOLDCREST had mostly moved on, just two were seen in the Tree Nursery, and another two in my Garden this afternoon.
A male BLACKCAP was also seen in my garden this afternoon, eating the last of the Elder Berries, maybe it's a continental bird that will stay for the winter ?

Photo's today are of a LONG TAILED TIT, one of 14 that were in the Tree Nursery.

Saturday 16 October 2010

A cool, and partly cloudy start to today's full patch walk, which gave me some interesting species from the 43 that were recorded. In the Tree Nursery there were a pair of GOLDCRESTS, just two of a surprising total of 14 seen this morning. Overhead, 8 REDWING then 6 FIELDFARE flew west.

Migrant Alley had what will surely be the last WHEATEAR of the year sitting on a fence line, also there, was what I thought would be one of the last SWALLOWS of the season, when a single flew over, but later this afternoon I saw at least 21 flying over from my house.

3 SPARROWHAWKS were circling low over the Wet Woods, which ensured everything around that area remained well hidden, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, and any kind of feeding flock went unrecorded with these raptors about. The lake area remained home for only MALLARDS and MOORHENS, but a late record of a CHIFFCHAFF was had in the bank side vegetation.

This Red Admiral was feeding on the Daises in my garden this afternoon, I'd hoped that by planting these late flowering plants that I might attract a late Butterfly.
Below is a COAL TIT. This one dropped down into cover when one of the Sparrowhawks came whizzing through the lakeside area
Below: One of the Fence Lines at Migrant Alley, not the one with the Wheatear on though, I couldn't get near that for a photo :-)

Friday 15 October 2010

Walking home from work this afternoon across Migrant Alley, it was much the same as yesterday, a few LINNETS were mixed in with a flock of 14 GOLDFINCH, whilst the ROOKS and STARLINGS shared the horse paddocks with them.

My afternoon walk took me through the Tree Nursery, I scoured the Shrubs and young trees and came up with 14 SONGTHRUSH, two GOLDCREST, 4 ROBINS, two CHAFFINCH, two GREEN WOODPECKERS, 5 female PHEASANT and a DUNNOCK. Overhead an untidy flock of 22 SISKINS flew towards the Wet Woods, and a while Later 4 FIELDFARE flew west, making their Chak-ak-ak call, an Autumnal sound if ever there was one. I also watched two female SPARROWHAWKS having a dispute over the Wet Woods.

The urge to visit the Lake came on, as it always does, and I walked across Marchants field and through the edge of the Wet Woods to get there, dreaming of a Tufted Duck or a Grebe, of course, they remained a dream, but i did at least see a GREY HERON with the resident MOORHEN and MALLARDS :-)

On the way back through the woods I watched a pair of both NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER in the same Sweet Chestnut tree, I got some close views, but it was far too dark to photograph them.

The only summer birds seen today were 8 SWALLOWS that flew over my garden at about 16:10hrs, these are the second latest seen on my patch, the latest being in 2002 when they hung around until the 18th, that was the year I began watching my patch. :-)

The weather was so dull today, photography was limited to these Pheasants in the Tree Nursery.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Almost feeling better today, so it was back to work :-( . It's still too dark to see anything on the walk in, and on the walk home just 4 SKYLARK and a mixed flock of GOLDFINCH'S and LINNETS were seen on the sheep pasture and Paddocks at Migrant Alley.

I only had an hour out this afternoon, as I was still a bit lethargic after my man flu, I walked over to the Lakes, not seeing anything at all in the Wet Woods and Small Holding that I passed through on the way, apart from a flyover CORMORANT.

The lakes had returned to their hum-drum normality after yesterdays exciting find, the Red Crested Pochard had moved on, and the MOORHEN and MALLARD had the place to themselves again, apart from a guest GREY HERON.

The bankside trees and vegetation had a few birds calling, the MARSH TIT being one, as well as two COAL TITS and a GOLDCREST. I didn't stay very long before moving on to the Tree Nursery, disturbing a SPARROWHAWK from a large Oak on the way. The Tree Nursery still has the flock of STARLINGS feeding there, the Laurel Berries are still in good supply and about 100 flighty birds were wheeling in and out of the bushes. Whilst I walked through I flushed up at least 9 SONGTHRUSH, which came out from cover at 100mph, and settled back down at the far end of the field. Overhead, the KESTREL was seen, and two BLACK HEADED GULLS flew south, more of a surprise was a single HOUSE MARTIN, then a few minutes later 2 SWALLOWS that were also observed heading south, both species being quite late sightings for my patch, their mean last seen date is the 8th Oct for Swallow and 7th for House Martin. One other summer species was recorded, the CHIFFCHAFF which was heard calling from the Greenhouse Complex I passed on the way home.

Photo's Today: Female BLACKBIRD

The Flock of about 100 Starlings over the Tree Nursery

Last: A shot across the tops of the Tree Nusery laurel Shrubs, looking SE

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, it seems to have helped shift this 'Man Flu' a bit, although I still felt a little rough today.

After spending nearly two days inside the house, I had to get out this morning, so around 11:00 I wrapped up warm and went for a walk along the lane to the Tree Nursery, its only 200m away so it could do no harm and the fresh air would help me feel better.

Whilst there, 6 PHEASANTS sneaked off into cover, a GREEN WOODPECKER flew out, and a KESTREL hunted over the far side of the field. The cool air felt so reviving, that my walk carried on, across Marchants field, where 14 MAGPIES were gathered, and above me a SPARROWHAWK was being mobbed by a CARRION CROW. I was nearly at the Lake and scrub area, so decided I would go and have a quick check of the water, which proved a most rewarding decision, for dabbling about with a couple of MALLARDS was a drake RED CRESTED POCHARD (131,106,72) a patch tick!!!! Well fortune certainly does favour the brave :-) . However it doesn't favour the lazy, i'd left my camera at home! This meant a 35 minute round trip to get the camera and photograph the new addition to my patch, and although it left me feeling pretty rough again, I think it was worth it :-)

Red Crested Pochard, the 131st bird for my patch, 106th for the year and 72nd for the month :-)

As I walked home to get my camera I had another piece of fortune, this was more expected though, two FIELDFARE (73) flew low over, the first of the Autumn. They were expected to turn up soon, but this is still the second earliest date I have recorded them, their mean arrival date is the 19 Oct.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Unfortunately, I ve been struck down with ''Man Flu'' , so was unable to get out on my patch today :-(

Normal service will be resumed as soon as :-)

Something local readers of this blog may be interested in :-

The first KOS indoor meeting of the season is this thursday, (14th) at Grove Green Community hall, Maidstone. The subject will be 'the Damsel and Dragonflies of Kent' by John and Jill Brook, their recent book on the subject will be available for purchase on the evening (£ 15 ish ). This year has been great for Migrants/Vagrants, so if you want to find out how to tell a Migrant Hawker from a southern Hawker come along. Also, one of the sites on Sheppy, where the dainty Damselfly was re-discovered in the UK after half a decades absence, will be revealed.
Doors open at 7.15 for a 7.45 start.
KOS memebers and non members welcome - Admission £2

Monday 11 October 2010

After all the excitement of the weekend, it was back to work today, so who knows what was missed this morning !

It was just light enough to see the start of some WOODPIGEON migration as I walked to work this morning, at least 150 birds were seen high up heading SW.
The walk home from work was all quiet, MEADOW PIPIT and SKYLARK were seen at Migrant Alley, but nothing more of note.

After lunch I paid a visit to the Lake and Scrub area, walking through the Small Holding and Wet Woods on the way, where just JAY, GREEN WOODPECKER, MAGPIE and a GREAT TIT were seen, oh how things have changed from the weekend :-).

On the lake, yesterdays Pochard had moved on, but at least there was a KINGFISHER there with the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS, as well as both CORMORANT and GREY HERON, making it relatively busy ! The bankside trees and vegetation had a mobile flock of LONG TAILED TITS moving through it, but nothing more interesting than two BLUE TITS and a Great Tit were seen with them. The scrub area had a couple of GOLDCREST calling, and a BULLFINCH was also heard. Whilst there I noted not only a Red Admiral butterfly, but also a single Small White and a COMMA.

I had a quick visit to the Tree Nursery, on the way back home, where the STARLINGS were finishing off the Laurel Berries, along with a few BLACKBIRDS and a SONGTHRUSH, but there were no migrant Redwings today . A KESTREL was up hunting over the Greenhouse Complex, but that was about it for today - back down to earth with a bump !

Above: The Cormorant on the Main lake. Below: a very old Common Darter