Tuesday 30 November 2010

Much of this afternoons walk was carried out in a snowstorm, however, it was wet snow and didn't settle on the ground, and it actually felt a bit warmer than the last few days.

I walked over to the Lakes again, as usual passing through the Small Holding and Wet Woods, the sprinkling of snow from the previous night was thawing quickly, and everything was dripping, so I was getting doubly wet!

Unsurprising in these conditions I saw not a single bird until I reached the lakes and scrub area, where the feeders in a nearby garden were attracting plenty of CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH as well as BLUE TIT and GREAT TIT. As I watched, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, COAL TIT and MARSH TIT came and went. I finally had to take some shelter from the now very heavy snow shower, and whilst under a large oak tree I could hear NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER and GOLDCRESTS calling, I also watched a flock of mixed LESSER REDPOLL and SISKIN wheel in to a silver birch tree, some 20 birds were involved. After ten minutes I thought about calling it a day, but then a real bonus came along - a flyover CURLEW (68) , what a fantastic bird, I picked it up calling at first, but then got onto it as it flew SW, this is only the second Curlew record for my patch, the other was recorded in the September just gone, a new November species record is set !

I made my way over to Migrant Alley and the sheep pasture, hoping to find my first Golden plover for the year, but although there were around 40 LAPWING, out on the grass, and also two decent size flocks flying over, both with over 60 birds in them, the Golden Plover wasn't going to show up. Scanning the Pasture I also found 44 SKYLARK, the largest flock here for years, also 5 STARLINGS and 7 MEADOW PIPITS were seen before it got too dark to see.

So the Curlew makes this November the best ever in terms of species recorded, (68) 5 of those species have not been recorded in any November before, the Curlew obviously, but also Firecrest, Woodcock, Goosander and the patch tick Wigeon. The combined November total for the 9 years is now 83, and the mean number of species seen for November is 58.3.

Bring on December!

Monday 29 November 2010

Out again on my patch this afternoon for the penultimate patch visit of November, and just one more new species for the month and I will have equalled the best November total which was achieved back in 2008.

It was a quite a bit warmer than yesterday, the frost was coming out of the ground, making for a muddy walk over to the lakes, on the way I received a text, - 5 Waxwings seen not far from Hadlow, and heading my way! With this in mind I scanned every bird I saw, but alas no Waxwings for me :-(

There were lots of other birds about though, enjoying the warmth of the weak sunshine, a party of LONG TAILED TITS were in the Wet Woods, as were two NUTHATCH and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, 6 SISKIN fed in an Alder and a TREECREEPER was heard, but went unseen.

Over at the lakes the water was still frozen after the recent frosts, and a GREY HERON stood on the ice, waiting patiently for it to thaw :-) One or two MOORHEN were around the fringes but no ducks were seen. I took a stroll round the Scrub area, seeing DUNNOCK, ROBIN, BLACKBIRD, REDWING and plenty of BLUE and GREAT TITS as well as the MARSH TIT and a singing COAL TIT, the next bird I saw was a real bonus for my patch - a WOODCOCK (67) it flew up from cover and dropped back down again a little further on. This is a real scarce bird on my patch, not recorded until Jan. 2009, but has now been seen in Jan this year, as well as this last sighting, it seems to take very cold weather to get them to visit me. The record November total has now been equalled!

I had time to visit the Pub Field before dusk fell, and was pleased to find 10 LAPWING on the Maize stubbles, but apart from those it was all quiet, until a PEREGRINE came across, chasing a WOODPIGEON, which escaped by inches after dropping down and weaving amongst the busy traffic on the nearby A26, clever bird ! Thats only the second record of the Peregrine on my patch this month.

A KESTREL was up hunting around its preferred haunt, the Greenhouse Complex, as I walked home, but that was it for today. Just one more visit for November - and one more new species needed for both the best November tally and the best yearly tally - a Waxwing would just do nicely...........

Above: The patient Grey heron

Below the Peregrine over the Pub Field

Sunday 28 November 2010


Another sub-zero patch visit this morning produced a surprising 46 species, surprising because there were very few birds about, especially early on.

Gulls featured strongly though, with BLACKHEADED, HERRING, LESSER BLACK BACKED and a COMMON GULL all seen flying over, other flyovers of note were a few SISKIN, all in ones and two's, a pair of YELLOWHAMMER, and three LINNETS, which I assume came from the roost site in the Tree Nursery, where 9 MEADOW PIPITS and 14 PHEASANTS were seen later.

Very few 'winter' Thrushes were seen, just a single REDWING in the Tall Hedge at Migrant Alley, and a single FIELDFARE in the College Grounds, although a flock of 8 Redwing did fly over, as did a flock of 15 Fieldfare.

By the end of the first half of my walk I had a good total of 36 species in the book, probably the best birds for me were the two LAPWING that dropped onto the maize stubbles at the pub field..

The second half of my walk started at 09:15hrs, and the temperature was still sub-zero, once again numbers of birds were low, that is until i got to the frozen wastes that were the lakes, here there is a line of leylandi type trees, protected by a thick line of Brambles. As I neared the dense cover I could here two JAYS screeching, as I stopped and watched, they were joined by at least 5 BLACKBIRDS, then I noticed a whole load of birds including CHAFFINCH, GOLDCREST, SONGTHRUSH, NUTHATCH, MISTLETHRUSH join in the fun, obviously they had found an Owl at roost, probably a Tawny, but the cover was to dense to see. I stayed and watched for a few more minutes, and was surprised to see 8 Siskin, then 4 LESSER REDPOLL drop in, they didn't mob, but just seemed to enjoy being with the other birds, even the MARSH TIT turned up to the party, it gave a few scolding 'pitchoo' calls and then left :-)

After that little encounter not much else happened, a KESTREL was up hunting over the Greenhouses, seen as I walked home, and a GREY HERON flapped slowly over Ashes lane.

A note from my Garden Feeders, where a Lesser Redpoll was seen taking sunflower hearts, this is the 35th species this year to come to the garden feeders, and the 24th this month. The joint best yearly species total, and the joint best November total for the garden, so it seems i'm on the cusp of breaking lots of records this year........now a Waxwing in the garden would see them all fall !!!

Saturday 27 November 2010

Above: Frosty Tree Nursery.

This morning it was a joy to be out, a classic frosty winter's day, in which I spent 3 and a half hours out on my patch, collecting 44 species of birds.

The very first bird in the note book was a flyover LESSER REDPOLL, its harsh double call easily pierced the freezing thin air, I dont think they have ever taken poll position on the note book before :-)

It was reasonably quiet first thing around the Greenhouse Grounds, Migrant Alley and the College Grounds, with just 22 species being found, most of those common residents, but seen along with them were the odd REDWING, SISKIN, and FIELDFARE, three BULLFINCH'S were a nice sight in the College Gardens. The pub field had 8 LAPWING on it today, but only stayed until the first dog walker flushed them up, the last they needed in these conditions :-( The Tree Nursery had 18 PHEASANTS feeding on the old seed heads found in the rougher areas, as well as a pair of GOLDCREST, few DUNNOCK and 5 MEADOW PIPITS. Walking homewards along Ashes lane, I saw both Siskin and BRAMBLING on the same branch of an Elder in the Greenhouse Grounds.

After a quick snack I walked the Small Holding, Wet Woods and Lake area and back out through the Tree Nursery again. A LITTLE OWL was sitting on a fence in the Small Holding, and some of the usual woodland species were active in the Wet woods, including TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and another pair of Goldcrest. The footpath leading out of the woods to the lake area had a small flock of LONG TAILED TITS, with them was a COAL TIT that was singing loudly. The lakes were all frozen over, as expected, and all that was there was a MOORHEN, although three MALLARDS dropped in as I walked the scrub area. The last birds on the list were found in the Tree Nursery as I neared the end of my walk, a flock of GOLDFINCH flew in, a GREEN WOODPECKER bounded away through the shrubs and a KESTREL flew over to the Greenhouse Grounds, also flying over were 38 GREYLAG GEESE.

Nothing new for the month or year list, but a nice day to be out none the less. Another frosty one tomorrow!

Above and below the Little Owl

Friday 26 November 2010

A stroll over to the lakes this afternoon, in very pleasant sunny, but chilly conditions, revealed that the water had a thin layer of ice across it, and not a thing was seen. The MOORHENS had moved to the nearby garden, and were picking up spilt food from the feeders, while the feeders themselves seemed very busy with CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, COAL TIT and NUTHATCH all whizzing around. A group of Alder trees had at least 12 SISKIN feeding in it, and across from them, in a tall silver birch, at least 5 LESSER REDPOLL were seen - much better than yesterday.

I didn't stay long, as the sun was already diving westwards, I went over to the Maize stubbles in the pub field, where 9 BLACK HEADED GULLS were feeding, and the only FIELDFARE of the afternoon was seen, which posed briefly for a Photo, the only other notable bird here was a flyover KESTREL.

The briefest of visits to the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley and its boundary hedgerow with the Greenhouse complex, was of interest, 2 MEADOW PIPITS, and a SKYLARK rose from the pasture, and the hedgerow not only had the usual DUNNOCK, WREN, ROBIN, and BLACKBIRD, but also a SONGTHRUSH, a REDWING and the overwintering CHIFFCHAFF, which gave me good views, and looked to be in very good health despite the frosty weather :-)

The light was good enough for a few photographs today. Below is one of the Black Headed Gulls
Below is the only Fieldfare of the afternoon

Below is a view into the sun, whilst standing in the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley. The sun lit up all the strands of spider webs, showing that there must be plenty of spidery food there.

Thursday 25 November 2010

I left home this afternoon for my usual patch visit, which is now down to just 90 mins as the light diminishes earlier and earlier, with the idea of finding a patch year tick, and so giving me the best yearly tally for the 9 years of record keeping on my patch, it would also boost the November tally, so equalling the best ever November total...............

Things rapidly went down hill from there :-) . In the chilly NW breeze and overcast sky, birds were at a premium, I walked from my house, along the lane, through the Small Holding and Wet Woods, finding along the way a JAY and a MAGPIE - that was it!!!!!

Where have all the birds gone ? I reached the lake, and scanning the water found just one pair of MALLARD, this was truly an abysmal state of affairs, never in the 9 years have I known it as quiet as this! I sat down and waited, watched and listened, a GOLDCREST was finally heard to call, and 15 JACKDAWS went over headed North, a MOORHEN showed itself as it quickly swam across the lake, but that was it.

I'd had enough, I wasn't even going to get something new for the week let alone the year. I headed off over to the Greenhouse Complex to check the Raspberries, and found - nothing, not a thing was interested in them, must be all the sprays that were put on them! I checked the boundary hedge and found just ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, DUNNOCKS a WREN and two GOLDFINCH, no sign of the overwintering Chiffchaff today.

With the wind dipping its icy fingers down the back off my neck, I realised i'd be better of watching the garden feeders for the last 45 mins of light that remained, but even here things were a little quiet, best birds were the COAL TIT, and pair of NUTHATCH. Things must get better than this for the weekend!

Wednesday 24 November 2010

After work this afternoon I made my usual visit to the lake area, checking out the Small Holding and Wet woods on the way. To say it was quiet would be a vast understatement! The only birds showing were a group of finch's and Tits seen in the Small Holding, and these were birds flushed from my garden feeders by the SPARROWHAWK!

Not a sound was heard in the Wet Woods, and the footpath leading to the lakes had just a few BLUE and GREAT TITS about, the lakes themselves were devoid of birds apart from 2 pairs of MALLARD and a pair of MOORHENS, the whole area must have been disturbed earlier on. I didn't waste time here, the light was already going, and so walked on over to the Tree Nursery, but it was just as quiet here, only 3 MEADOW PIPITS of note.

In a last attempt to find something of interest for the day I went over to the Greenhouse Complex Grounds and the hedgerow dividing it from Migrant Alley, here at least there were a few birds, mainly DUNNOCK, ROBIN, BLACKBIRDS with a WREN, but also a small group of 7 GOLDFINCH'S, I also heard the CHIFFCHAFF call, in exactly the same place as I saw it on the 19th, but I couldn't see it.

Below is a CHAFFINCH that was seen in the small holding

Below is a nice bit of Waxwing grub! Now the poly tunnels have been drawn back the fruit is exposed. There are 30 rows of raspberries each 100m long - thats 3km of ripe red raspberries, surely if a Waxwing is to visit my patch it will be here !!!! Dont tell me, they dont eat raspberries :-)

Tuesday 23 November 2010

I started to feel a bit better this morning, and after a leisurely 'Greenie' style breakfast I went out for 45 mins, more to get some fresh air than anything, - I havn't been out since sat. morning!

Whilst having breakfast I looked over the garden, and I once again had brief but good views of the FIRECREST, as well as at least 14 BLUE TITS, 5 GREAT TITS, 8 CHAFFINCH'S, 6 GREENFINCH'S, 11 GOLDFINCH'S, and 15 COLLARED DOVES. Three ROBINS chased around, and 2 DUNNOCKS kept low under the vegetation. A single BLACKBIRD came in and fed on one of the apples I had spiked to the elder tree, but HOUSE SPARROWS and STARLINGS were thin on the ground, with just 2 of each.

The 45 mins I spent out on my patch during mid morning wasn't a serious birding attempt, as I said I just wanted some fresh air. I visited the lakes which had nothing unusual to report, 8 MALLARDS on the main lake and 6 MOORHEN spread between the smaller lakes. I walked back through the Tree Nursery where I flushed up 6 MEADOW PIPITS and two PHEASANTS, while overhead two flocks of 12 HERRING GULL went over.

Back home I spent the day watching the feeders on and off, and added NUTHATCH x2 , COAL TIT , JACKDAW x3 , WOODPIGEON x2 , MAGPIE x2 , JAY , GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER x2 , and of course the SPARROWHAWK, which made many fruitless attempts to make a kill. Later on towards dusk, I was scanning the leylandi type tree where I last saw the Firecrest, I thought i'd found it again but it was just a GOLDCREST :-) Goldcrest and Firecrest both in the garden on the same day - brilliant :-)

A scan of the fields to the front of my house as it grew dark revealed a KESTREL, and then 16 LINNETS wheeling around, no doubt getting ready to drop down into the Tree Nursery roost site.

Should be well enough for work tomorrow :-( then an afternoon patch walk.

Above, a now scarce garden visitor in any numbers, Starling

Below: The Sparrowhawk

Monday 22 November 2010

Another 'lost' day as far as visiting my patch today, as I am still suffering from this bug, so it was a day of garden watching again, which is unlikely to bring me a new species for the month.............or is it ?

During the morning nothing different from yesterday visited the feeders, but there was an increase in COLLARED DOVES, 17 now fought over the sunflower hearts. Again 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS all visited at the same time, at one point having a 3 way scrap as they all met in my Elder tree.

Early this afternoon, the COAL TITS, NUTHATCH'S and JACKDAWS arrived, as well as the MARSH TIT, which hasn't been in for a few days, however, the undoubted highlight for the day, was seeing a fabulous FIRECREST (109, 66) picking off insects from my now leafless Honeysuckle, what a superb bird to have visiting my garden! I did have one visit back in October 2006, and thought it to be a one off never to be repeated event, by how wrong I was - fortunately.

So not only did I get a new species for the months list, but also for the year list! This now stands at 109, the joint best ever with last year. The months list is now just one off the best November total of 66 achieved back in 2008. As soon as I can get rid of this virus the better - I need to get out there again.

Below are a couple of very poor photo's of the fantastic garden Firecrest, I had to take them through the double glazing :-)

Sunday 21 November 2010

Unfortunately, I felt a bit under the weather this morning, a throat like I'd been eating sand all night and a 'hungover' type head ( no I don't drink!) so I didn't venture out this morning. I did harbour thoughts of a later visit, but I didn't feel any better by lunch time, so the day was lost :-(

I did spend some time watching the garden birds though, and although nothing unexpected was seen, I enjoyed good views of the 2 NUTHATCH, 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, 2 JAYS and a COAL TIT, that were all busy feeding together, plus all the common Tits and finches. Peaks of 16 GREENFINCH, 7 CHAFFINCH, 13 GOLDFINCH, 13 BLUE TITS and 4 GREAT TITS were recorded, along with just singles of DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD, WOODPIGEON and MAGPIE. Two ROBINS chased each other about, and just 2 each of HOUSE SPARROW and STARLING were seen, how times have changed, once it would have been all Sparrows and Starlings :-(
Of course, every time the number of birds got to 40-50, the SPARROWHAWK would come crashing through, he must watch the birds build up from some vantage point nearby. I didn't see him catch anything today though.

Hopefully this bug ive got will be a short lived thing, and i'll be ok for a patch visit tomorrow.

The sun appeared briefly- very briefly, and allowed the following photo's.

Great Tit

Collared Doves, there were 9 crammed on this seed tray at one point !

Saturday 20 November 2010

Typical for a November day, it was grey, cold and bleak for this mornings patch visit, but still the SONGTHRUSH was heard singing loudly, the first bird of the 43 species seen today, these were hard fought for however, with long stretches of of my walk totally birdless.

The vast majority of the birds were seen around the Lakes and Scrub area, with most of the woodland species turning up, COAL, BLUE, GREAT and LONG TAILED TIT were feeding in a loose flock, and with them were NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER. Two SISKINS dropped in to the top of a Silver Birch tree whilst I watched the feeders of a nearby garden, where the only GREENFINCH for the day was recorded.

The grey sky was ideal for picking out flyovers - but there were few, two single REDPOLL and two YELLOWHAMMER were the only ones of note. Other sightings of some interest were the 64 BLACKHEADED GULLS on the College Sports Pitch, and a mixed group of Thrushes in the Tall Hedge at Migrant Alley, including FIELDFARE, REDWING, BLACKBIRD and SONGTHRUSH.

Most of the rest of the day was spent watching the garden feeders, where it was excellent to see 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers together on various feeders, as well as the NUTHATCH, COAL TIT and a GOLDCREST, making up some of the 19 species that visited.

Not a good day for the camera, but I did try to get some photo's from the garden, below is the Coal Tit

And a male CHAFFINCH

Friday 19 November 2010

At last a bit of sunshine was had for this afternoons patch visit, the fog had just about cleared, and everything was dripping wet and sparkling in the Wet Woods.

Dripping wet and sparkling :-)

A party of LONG TAILED TITS were in the woods, but not alot travelled with them, just a few BLUE and GREAT TITS. GOLDCRESTS called from the well wooded gardens either side of the footpath that leads down to the lakes, where the normal resident MALLARDS and MOORHENS were the only things seen on it. A pair of BULLFINCH were seen and heard in the scrub, as well as NUTHATCH, more Goldcrest, and a few SONGTHRUSH'S.

I didn't stay long at the lake area, and moved on to the Pub Field, stopping off to look at the small drainage pond on the way (below)

Here there was another party f Long Tailed Tits, again with a few Blue and Great tits, with WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK all washing in the shallower waters edge. I always check this pool when it's got water in it, just in case something nice has dropped in - but it rarely does, just once a couple of Snipe were recorded, and once a Green Sandpiper.

In the adjacent Pub Field the maize stubbles had attracted 24 BLACK HEADED GULLS, but no amount of checking them could turn one into a Med Gull :-) There was still a bit of light left, so I made a quick trip around one of the sheep pasture fields and down along the Boundary hedgerow that separates it from the Greenhouse Complex. I recorded quite a few birds here, 2 SKYLARK and 4 MEADOW PIPIT flew up from the sheep pasture, the Tall hedge had a few BLACKBIRDS, plus 3 REDWING, a Songthrush, and more interestingly the CHIFFCHAFF, this is no doubt the one I saw here on the 13th. 4 FIELD FARE and a PIED WAGTAIL flew over, as did lone SISKINS and REDPOLLS.

As dusk fell I walked up ashes Lane to wait for the LINNETS to come into roost at the Tree Nursery, and 24 obliged. Not as many as the 100 or so seen last year, but more could join them later in the winter - but they better hurry, the work crew are removing the trees and shrubs quite quickly now!

I went a bit mad on Robin photo's, but as the blog's been short of photo's recently, it doesn't matter :-)

I caught the Robin by surprise and made it 'Jump' :-)

Below is a nice female Blackbird that sat and posed nicely in the fading light.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Just an hour was had out on my patch this afternoon, much of that was spent in 'dusk like' conditions, and so not much was recorded. As usual the MALLARD and MOORHEN were on the lake, but so was a KINGFISHER, that brightened the afternoon up a bit! A few of the common woodland species were heard or seen - COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST and NUTHATCH being the best of those.

3 GREEN WOODPECKERS were feeding on a large lawn, next to the Small Holding, and flyovers from SISKIN, FIELDFARE and REDWING were all there was to get excited about this afternoon. By 15:00hrs I was back home, and needed to turn the lights on to make a cup of tea!

Oh well, these are the challenges that need to be met at this time of year. At least I have been able to finish my Butterfly page off, click on the page at the top right of the side bar or here to see it. If these gloomy cloudy days keep up i'll have to do a dragon and damselfly page !

EDIT at 16:33: Just heard a LITTLE OWL (65) calling from the large gardens around my house, something for the months list at last :-)

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Not much at all to report today, it barely got light at all, and by 15:30hrs it was dusk!

5 LAPWING that flew over Migrant Alley as I walked home from work were a nice treat, as was getting good views of a KESTREL sitting atop an Alder tree in the greenhouse Grounds. After a sandwich, I was out again by 14:00hrs, and it was under dark, rain threatening clouds that a dismal visit of the Lake area was made. The same 8 MALLARDS and 6 MOORHEN were on the water, and the same flock of a dozen or so SISKIN were in the same alder as yesterday, also the same as yesterday were a flyover LESSER REDPOLL, and the odd FIELDFARE, REDWING, SONGTHRUSH and MISTLE THRUSH moving around. No sign of a mixed feeding flock was had today, the most notable birds were GOLDCREST and BULLFINCH, at least 8 of the former were spread between the Small Holding, Wet Woods, and Lakeside scrub Area. With 5 weeks still to go before the shortest day, its proving to be a real challenge to find much at all in the afternoons now, but I'll keep trying :-)

PS. I have adde a new page to the blog. This will show the photo's of all the Butterflies I have recorded in Pittswood. You can access the page from the top of the sidebar. I will add more and more pics over the next few days - something to do in the dark evenings !

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Ring Necked parakeet

Ideal birding conditions This morning, sunny, and frosty with little wind, unfortunately I had to work, and for the second day in a row, by the time I had finished the cloud had started to roll in.

So it was with the light diminishing fast that I once again visited the Lakes and scrub area, checking through the woods on the way for that Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, no sign of one though, just its larger relative the GREAT SPOTTED. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, along with the Golden Plover, are just about the only new year species that ive got a reasonable chance of finding, it would be great to get both, and so set a new record year list!

Onwards to the lakes, and it was, as is usually the case, a disappointment, just 12 MALLARDS and 4 MOORHEN were on the water, but the place had been disturbed already, I can usually tell by the lack of spider webs hitting my face as I pass along the footpath, and the fact that the Woodpigeons have already been flushed.

Whilst scanning the water and bankside Vegetation, I could see and hear a small flock of SISKIN flying around an alder tree, also a LESSER REDPOLL went over calling. FIELDFARE and REDWING called as they flew from one part of my patch to another, and that other large thrush, the MISTLE THRUSH was seen, 3 in fact were having a dispute at the top of a large Oak.

The only real excitement for the afternoon came as I was walking through the scrub, looking for, but failing to find, a feeding flock of Tits to photograph. After whinging yesterday about the lack of visits from the tower falcon, the PEREGRINE (63) at last paid a visit, it was the male judging by its size. As it flew low over the tree tops and out of sight, I heard the raucous call of a RING NECKED PARAKEET (64) coming from the direction the Peregrine went, the Parakeet had obviously seen the Peregrine and was not very happy !

Those two species take the months total to 64, which is in joint second place with last November and just 2 behind the record November set in 2008. Looking back at what was seen last November, there were 7 species seen which have not yet been recorded this November, Little Grebe ( which I haven't had this year at all), Little Egret, Mandarin Duck, Coot, Snipe, Little Owl and Blackcap, so it could yet turn out be a very good month!

Monday 15 November 2010

View into the Wet woods

Broken cloud and sunshine was on offer today, but by the time I left work it was mostly cloud !

Unfortunately most of the places I visit on my patch had heavy disturbance this afternoon, even the lake area was disturbed by a training crew from Hadlow College, god knows how they have wangled their way into the large garden adjacent to the lakes, slash and burn was the on the agenda again. I caught one of the louts ( sorry students) sneaking into the neighbouring area, but he soon shot off when I challenged him.

Anyway, i did look at the main lake just in case, but all that was on it were 11 MALLARDS. With workers in the Tree Nursery and around the Greenhouse Complex I sought refuge in the Wet woods, a most dark, damp and inhospitable place for most people :-) I spent 90 mins checking the upper canopy, desperately looking for that Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but I dont think i'm going to add it to the list this year. I did stumble across a nice big mixed feeding flock of birds though, I found at least 4 GOLDCREST, two TREECREEPERS, a NUTHATCH, a MARSH TIT, a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and a whole load of BLUE, GREAT and LONG TAILED TITS, which proved uncountable due to there constant moving around. Of course, with all that noise and movement it didn't take long before a SPARROWHAWK came zipping through, but the big female missed everything - this time :-)

It got dark very quickly, and I reluctantly had to head off home, it was only 15:45 ! I just hope there is less disturbance tomorrow.

I did get some pics of the birds in the feeding flock, just not the species I was after, but above is a Great Tit and Below is a Blue Tit.

I took this photo of the tower as I walked home, it must be 500m away or more, but if you click on the photo and enlarge it (songbird !) On the right hand side of the tower, in between the middle and top wires is the Peregrine, which refuses to fly over my patch ( whilst i'm there) and so get onto the months list !!

Sunday 14 November 2010

I was expecting rain first thing this morning, but it was a dense fog that caused the problems, then as that cleared a couple of hours later, the rain set in for the rest of the day !

So it was hard going to find much of note this morning, the highlight though was hearing two BRAMBLING (62) calling loudly as they flew low over the Lakes area. On the water itself it was back to normal, just 16 MALLARDS and 8 MOORHEN were seen, they were being observed by a perched KESTREL, as well as me. Whilst wandering through the Wet Woods, looking for that elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, I was serenaded by a MISTLE THRUSH, its clear loud song penetrated the dense woods, as it practised it repertoire for the coming spring from the highest point in the canopy.

Also in fine song were two SONG THRUSHES, they were heard in the college grounds, where they out performed the chattering of a group of REDWINGS that were feeding on fallen crab apples, with them were 5 FIELDFARE and at least 8 BLACKBIRDS. A little further on, a lone LESSER REDPOLL was feeding in a silver birch tree, a good bird to see on my patch.

Once the fog had lifted, I added a few flyovers to the list, 35 GREYLAG GEESE went over Migrant Alley, SISKIN flew over in ones and two's and four LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS went high over, only the second record of this species for the month, BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS were also seen going over at regular intervals.

There were some regularly seen species missing today, Greenfinch, Coal Tit, Long Tailed Tit, and Sparrowhawk, all eluded me, but I caught up with them all, apart from the Long Tailed Tit as they visited my Garden Feeders later in the morning, there were in fact two SPARROWHAWKS hunting in my garden, one of them was an old friend that I havn't seen since last winter, it was the individual that had been ringed from a garden down the lane from me 7 years ago, I thought last winters severe weather had done for him !!

No photo's today, in that gloom, not a chance !!!

Saturday 13 November 2010

This morning was dull and cloudy, but at least the wind had dropped out. To the west of my patch the sky was clear and blue, the above photo shows the extent to which the brighter weather reached, never getting to Pittswood.

I spent the first two hours after dawn visiting the lake area, as I passed through the Small Holding on the way, 14 female PHEASANTS were seen, along with 4 finch species BULLFINCH, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH and CHAFFINCH. Walking through the Wet Woods, I saw that the pools of water have began to appear again after the recent rain, maybe if they continue to fill, a Teal might be recorded here later in the month. Just GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, TREECREEPER and a flyover LESSER REDPOLL were recorded here today though.

I quickly added more woodland species as I walked the footpath to the main lake, NUTHATCH'S were calling from the large Oaks, and lower down a flock of LONG TAILED TITS were feeding with all the associated GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, COAL TIT, MARSH TIT and GOLDCREST.

The initial scan of the main lake proved fruitless for anything exciting, just 8 MALLARDS, 4 MOORHEN and a GREY HERON were seen, but a few minutes later, as I walked between the main lake and the ornamental lake, I heard a double splash, looking round onto the main Lake I saw that the two GOOSANDERS had returned, superb!

One of the Goosander.

A scan of the small lake provided two CANADA GEESE for the day list, and whilst I walked the nearby scrub 3 FIELDFARE flew over

The second half of my patch visit, to the Tree Nursery, Pub Field, Migrant Alley and the College grounds proved to be interesting for the months list, 4 GREYLAG GEESE (60) flew over the College Grounds and a CHIFFCHAFF (61) was seen in the hedgerow that divides Migrant Alley from the Greenhouses, this must be an overwintering bird rather than a very late summer departure, so i may well see it again, either way its a good bird to bring the months species list to 60 :-), and takes this Novembers list into third place of nine.

In that same hedgerow I found a flock of 16 GOLDFINCH with 4 SISKIN joining them, as well as more Blue and Great Tits and a little more unusual a Treecreeper.

48 species were seen in the four hour walk today, a good total for a November day. Looks like another wet one tomorrow though :-(

Above: some of the 33 Canada Geese that flew over Migrant Alley

Here's an attemted shot of the Chiffchaff :-)

Friday 12 November 2010

The rain moved in just as I left work today, and a brisk SW wind was blowing, making it an uncomfortable afternoon visit to my patch. There were plenty of birds about though, and as I walked through the Small Holding, a varied feeding flock of passerines moved through from the adjacent large gardens. I counted at least 6 GREAT TIT, 8 BLUE TIT, a MARSH TIT, a TREECREEPER, two SISKIN, two GOLDCREST and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER. Further along two GREEN WOODPECKERS were feeding on a large lawn.

All was quiet and still in the Wet Woods, I'm hoping yet to find a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in here for the year list, although time is running out now. The footpath leading from the Wet Woods to the lake area had more Blue and Great Tits, plus another two Goldcrest, but by now the rain had increased in intensity, making it difficult to see much. I reached the main lake via the most wooded bank, and through the trees I caught glimpses of a duck with lots of white on it, my pulse quickened, as this was not going to be a Mallard ! I looked through my bins a saw not one, but two female GOOSANDER (59), an excellent record for November! In fact this is the only November record of Goosander I have for my patch, they are a very scarce visitor here, just a few sightings over the winter months are all I am treated to, in the years 2004, 05 and 06 none were recorded at all. The combined November tally for the nine years has now reached 80.

I couldn't get to the smaller lake without flushing the Goosanders, so I didn't check it this afternoon - no doubt there was a Tufted Duck on that one :-). Most of the next half hour was spent under the cover of an out building that affords a view across the main lake, where 8 MALLARDS 6 MOORHEN and a little later a GREY HERON were seen. A pair of BULLFINCH, and yet another two Goldcrests were seen in the bankside vegetation, and flyovers from SISKIN and REDPOLL made for an excellent, if a bit wet, visit today.

Thursday 11 November 2010

For the second time this week the weather has been just too bad to get out onto my patch, strong winds and heavy rain battered the area all day today, the rain did stop late afternoon, but by then it was too late to get out.

I did however get to add a couple of species to my months list, firstly a TAWNY OWL (57) was heard hooting at 01:30 last night, and secondly a LESSER BLACKED BACKED GULL (58) flew over my house as I watched the garden feeders, where activity was several curtailed by not only the strong winds, but also persistent SPARROWHAWK attacks. Only short forays by COAL, BLUE and GREAT TIT were recorded, with just one brief sighting of both NUTHATCH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

At least the months species list has been kept ticking over, 57 is the mean total of species recorded for November. The weather doesn't look promising for tomorrow, but i'll have to wait and see :-)

Wednesday 10 November 2010

The weather relented for today, and long sunny spells were the order of the day, so I could at last resume my afternoon walk over to the lakes.

Just before reaching the small holding is a drainage ditch, about the size of a tennis court, and after a few rainy days it fills with water, before draining away over a few days, as I pass it, I always check it out, mostly its been disturbed long before I get there, but today there was a GREY WAGTAIL feeding around the leaf strewn edge, not a common bird on my patch, so a nice record.

On passing through the Small Holding I saw the resident GREEN WOODPECKERS, plus a few GREAT and BLUE TITS, with a pair of vocal GOLDCRESTS, but more of a surprise was finding a Red Admiral Butterfly, sunning itself on a fence post.

The only thing of note in the Wet Woods was a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, and a calling TREECREEPER, two more Goldcrest were seen as I left the Woods and walked the footpath to the lakes. On the water today were, 8 MALLARD, 5 MOORHEN, a GREY HERON and a CORMORANT, nothing new there for the month, but it was better than most days :-) After checking the surrounding trees and scrub, and finding COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH and a flyover YELLOWHAMMER, as well as another Red Admiral, there was still enough light to walk over to the Tree Nursery and Pub Field, unfortunately a work party was in the Nursery, something that will happen more often than not now that the rain has softened the ground and trees can start to be dug up.

The Pub Field maize stubbles were full of WOODPIGEON, and JACKDAWS, no sign of a Golden Plover for the year list, but I still live in hope. A lone BLACK HEADED GULL went over, as did several parties of STARLINGS, 3 FIELDFARE, and the odd GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, MEADOW PIPIT and PIED WAGTAIL. By now dusk was falling, so I walked along Ashes lane and waited by the roadside adjacent the Tree Nursery to see if the LINNETS would turn up to roost, which they did, I counted 16. As I waited for them to settle down, I thought I heard the distinctive call of a Lapland Bunting, it just called once, but with the Linnets in the air calling, and traffic zooming past, plus a noisy aircraft going over, I frustratingly have to put it down as wishful thinking, pity that would have been a real class bird to add to the patch list !

The sun was out, so the camera was out!

Above is the Red Admiral ( the one from the Lakes area)

Below is the CORMORANT as it left the Lake ( look at the blue sky too!)

Lastly, if you can see it amongst the leaves is the grey Wagtail

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Nothing to report today, two SPARROWHAWKS fought over the best position to ambush the birds at my garden feeders, I 'll have to suspend feeding for a while !

I did try and visit the lake area this afternoon, but was driven back by monsoon like rain :-(

With better weather forecast for tomorrow, I should be out again :-)

Monday 8 November 2010

As feared, the weather took a turn for the worse today, rain and strong winds right up till dusk put pay to any meaningful birding. I did however brave the elements this afternoon after work, just to check the lakes out, I needn't have bothered though, just 3 pairs of MALLARD and 6 MOORHENS were on the water.

It was already dusk-like at 14:45hrs, so I reluctantly gave up and headed home, at least I could spend some time stripping down the garden feeders and dis-infecting them. Walking home through the Small Holding I bumped into a flock of LONG TAILED TITS, with a pair of GOLDCRESTS with them, at least I saw something of interest :-)

Whilst at the kitchen sink scrubbing the feeders, I saw a ''blob'' in the tree at the end of the garden, it turned out to be the SPARROWHAWK, as ever it sat and waited for something to turn up for supper, giving me the chance for some sort of photo. It was practically dark when I took these photo's, its amazing how bright the camera makes it look, although I have tried to clean the images up a bit.

More rain is forecast tomorrow, but i'll wait to see if I can get out or not.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Great Spotted Woodpecker at garden feeder

Thanks to all, for the many comments made on my blog, I always enjoy reading them, keep them coming !

Well this mornings full patch walk was always going to be less exciting than yesterdays, no patch ticks this morning :-) I did expect maybe one new species for the months list though, as Lesser Black Backed Gull, Greylag Goose and Little Owl have yet to be recorded, but i'm confident they will be seen at some point this month.

There were still some good birds about on my patch this morning, both SISKIN and REDPOLL were heard flying over the Tree Nursery, where I also saw a YELLOWHAMMER fly low over, more interesting was the the small flock of 20 LAPWING that flew across Migrant Alley, heading south, this flock however was dwarfed by the thousands of WOODPIGEON that were going over high, large formations were seen headed south west for the whole of the 4 hours I was out.

Of the winter thrushes just 2 FIELDFARE were recorded, but raptors were represented a little better, with two SPARROWHAWKS, a KESTREL and a COMMON BUZZARD all out hunting.

Over at the lakes, it had all gone quiet, probably as a result of the many nearby firework parties that were had overnight, just 4 MALLARD and 7 MOORHEN remained, but whilst I was recording the likes of MARSH TIT, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, and NUTHATCH, 2 CORMORANTS dropped in and started to fish.

Not a bad count of 45 species seen today, however tomorrow may well be a write off looking at the weather forecast, a storm is about to hit us, hopefully it will pass while i'm at work, and allow an afternoon visit :-)

Saturday 6 November 2010

Below: View along the eastern edge of the Wet Woods, Looking North, over the tree Nursery and Greenhouses.

The weather had changed this morning, gone was the wind, and the grey skies had cracked open to allow some sunny spells. The improvement in the weather brought about an increase in bird activity, my pencil was kept busy from the off, with all the common early morning species seen or heard, those being ROBIN, WREN, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD, and BLUE TIT, more surprisingly was a KESTREL that sat atop a tree along Ashes Lane.

17 CANADA GEESE were on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where both winter thrushes, REDWING and FIELDFARE were seen flying over. A flock of at least 8 SISKINS fed in an alder along the College Stream, and in the College Grounds GOLDCREST, and BULLFINCH were seen close up, but avoided my camera.

The second part of my walk provided me with much excitement today, the visit to the lakes was particularly pleasing as I recorded a patch tick ! Amongst the 44 MALLARDS and 7 MOORHEN on the main lake, was the first WIGEON (132, 108, 53) to visit my patch, great to have a different duck on the water at last ! I took some poor photo's of it, the sun had gone by now and I was in deep cover so as not to flush it, but it is at least a photographic record for my archives :-)

Whilst celebrating my good fortune, I noted TREECREEPER, MARSH TIT, COAL TIT and LONG TAILED TIT all feeding along the bankside vegetation, but a more scarcer visitor was found in the nearby garden, my first LESSER REDPOLL (54) of the month was seen coming down to drink from the sheltered pond there.

As I still had time, I took another walk over to the Tree Nursery and Migrant Alley, which proved worth the effort, for as well as adding MEADOW PIPIT and SPARROWHAWK to the days list, I saw two MUTE SWANS (55) fly over, not a common sighting on my patch at all, this is the 7th month from 11 that they have been recorded, all single sightings. One more addition to the months list was had later in the morning when 4 COMMON BUZZARDS (56) were seen from my bedroom window as they soared high over Migrant alley. A much more interesting day today, it makes me wonder what I miss on the weekday mornings I spend at work :-(

Above: The Wigeon - star bird :-)

Above: some of the Canada Geese that were on the Sheep pasture at Migrant Alley

Below is a view up the Hedgerow that divides the Tree nursery and the Pub Field maize stubbles.

Below: My skywatching view from my bedroom window, looking North