Monday 31 January 2011

The partly cloudy sky became clear and blue as I walked home from work today, the wind had dropped out, and it felt quite warm in the sun, ideal to try and find that one new species I wanted to beat the January record of 68.

I had just over two hours, and decided to cover as many of the habitats on my patch as I could. First up, of course, would be to make my way over to the lakes, virtually any Duck species would do!

On the way, the regular species were seen, a GREEN WOODPECKER and a small flock of mixed CHAFFINCH and GREENFINCH were in the Alpaca enclosure at the Small Holding, along with the numerous BLUE and GREAT TITS. In the Wet Woods I found two TREECREEPER, 4 GOLDCREST and two NUTHATCH, with a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER nearby, but they had broken away from the Long Tailed Tits today, which I couldn't find.

Nearing the main lake both MARSH TIT and COAL TIT were heard calling, but the call and song of SISKIN was the most obvious sound, I only counted 14 but it sounded like forty!

Scanning the main lake, then the ornamental lake, it became apparent I was not going to see a new duck species, once more it was a MALLARD and MOORHEN only zone, bah! I checked the smaller lake, which only rarely has anything on it at the best of times - I was not let down :-)

I gave the woody scrub area the once over, checking out two more Goldcrest, just in case they were Firecrest, but they weren't, and after seeing some BULLFINCH, and more Siskin I moved off over to the Pub Field and Tree Nursery. I checked out the BLACK HEADED GULLS on the Pub Field, and thats what they all were, no Med. Gull lingering with them.

The Tree Nursery had two PHEASANTS, and two MISTLE THRUSH, of note, but nothing much else, despite checking all the shrubs and young tree's. Finding that extra species for the month was looking very slim, and a last ditched attempt to find it was had over at Migrant Alley. More Black Headed Gulls were on the sheep pasture, with around 25 REDWING, 110 FIELDFARE, 34 STARLINGS and at least 50 WOODPIGEON. I had a forty minute skywatch, which was hopeless! However it felt good to be sitting in the warmth of the last bits of sun. I checked the boundary hedgerow with the Greenhouse Complex before going home, and found more Siskin, but a little bird flitting around in the bramble below them had me checking it out carefully - Bah! another Goldcrest ! :-)

So in the end I had to settle for equalling the best January species total, which is fair enough, considering the gloomy weather that was endured throughout!

A few January Stats:

Combined January species total for the ten years is now 80, with two species joining it this month, the Waxwing, and the Tufted Duck.

The mean total of species seen for January is 60.4 for the whole ten years, for the first 5 years it was 56.6, and the second 5 years it was 64.2, the increase in the mean is due to the increased visits in the later years, a mean of 67 has been achieved over the last 3 years though.

Photo's today are of Siskin - what else, they were everywhere!

Sunday 30 January 2011

This morning was the last full patch visit of January, so I was on the lookout for that one species needed to set the January record. The day started promising, with the sun rising into some clear sky ( below)

However, that was as good as it got, and cloud soon streamed in on the cold NE wind, although later, as I was finishing my walk, the cloud cleared again and it became sunny - typical!

I went over to the Lakes first thing, as this is where I may well find that one new species I need, a Coot would do, or a Mandarin Duck, maybe even a Little Grebe if I was extremely lucky, but I wasn't !! Only 3 MALLARD and 4 MOORHEN were on the water, but a KINGFISHER broke the monotony of seeing the latter two species when one flew across the main lake.

I spent an hour searching the lake side habitat and Scrubby Wood area nearby, and came up with all the species that could be expected here, notably NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, TREECREPER, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, and BULLFINCH.

I left the lakes area and decided to search the wet Woods, maybe i'd get lucky with a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but much scanning of the treetops didn't produce one, however, a feeding flock was located, most likely the one i've seen over the last few visits, the 6 Goldcrest were scrutinized carefully, but I couldn't turn one into a Firecrest. At least a dozen SISKIN were in the Alders here, and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was drumming, the sound of geese had me searching the sky through the twiggy tree tops, and a pair of GREYLAG GEESE flew over low, only the second record this month.

After failing to find Firecrest and LS Woodpecker in the woods, I walked over to the rest of my patch. Migrant Alley had at least 250 FIELDFARE on the sheep pasture, with fewer REDWINGS, I gave up trying to find the Redwings amongst them, it was just too cold in that wind, but there were at least 30.

The College Sports pitch had 33 BLACK HEADED GULLS on it, and the rest of the grounds helped the daylist along, with SONGTHRUSH, GREENFINCH, MISTLE THRUSH, and a KESTREL.

In a last ditch attempt, to find a new species for the month, I returned to Migrant Alley for a skywatch, as any new species would be likely to be a flyover. I stuck out the cold wind for 40 minutes, and recorded flyovers by HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACK GULL, SPARROWHAWK, YELLOWHAMMER, REDPOLL, PIED WAGTAIL and STOCK DOVE, but that one new species eluded me, maybe my short afternoon visit tomorrow will turn it up :-)

As it was the RSPB big garden birdwatch today, I did my bit and spent the allotted hour counting the visitors to my garden feeders, the results were :

Blue Tit - 10. Great Tit - 4. Greenfinch - 4. Goldfinch - 3. Chaffinch - 6. House Sparrow - 5. Dunnock - 2. Collared Dove - 6. Robin - 2. Blackbird - 3. Starling - 1. Nuthatch - 1. Marsh Tit - 1. Wren - 1. and Goldcrest - 1.

After the alloted hour, 4 Siskin arrived, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Woodpigeon, and 3 Jackdaws.

Later in the afternoon I went out to photograph some of the garden birds as the sun was out, with the following results.


Above and Below: Nuthatch

Blue Tit above, Great Tit Below

Chaffinch below

and lastly one of the 4 Siskins

Saturday 29 January 2011

The weather for today's full patch walk had reverted back to the dull gloom that January 2011 will be remembered for, this, combined with the biting cold wind today, made for an uncomfortable visit.

I spent 3 and a half hours out this morning, the penultimate morning visit for January, and I was eager to try and add a new species to the January list, just one more would equal the best January total of 68 species, achieved in 2009.

I started off along Ashes lane, and made my way over to the College Grounds, via the Tree Nursery, Pub Field and Migrant Alley. As usual on a cold morning it took time for the birds to show, but slowly they showed themselves, ROBINS, JACKDAWS, WOODPIGEONS, and BLUE TITS were the first found, with flyovers from COLLARED DOVE, CARRION CROW, and HERRING GULL, two LINNETS flew from the Tree Nursery roost, they were late! BLACKBIRDS and DUNNOCKS called from the shrubs, and a PIED WAGTAIL flew over the nearby Greenhouses.

It was all going as expected, until crossing the Pub Field I looked up and saw two MUTE SWANS (68) flying over from the direction of Migrant Alley, that will do nicely, January record equalled and two days left to go :-) Further along the Pub field I also had a KESTREL flyover and a MEADOW PIPIT, the latter has been distinctly lacking on my patch this year so far.

Crossing Migrant Alley the most obvious birds were the 120 plus BLACK HEADED GULLS, but a lone LAPWING was in amongst them, just the 3rd record of Lapwing this month. The College Grounds had the normal useful species to add to the day list, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, SONGTHRUSH, JAY, FIELDFARE and REDWING were all seen well.

The second half of the visit over to the lakes, was again noteworthy for the mixed feeding flocks seen. The first was in the Alpaca paddock, in the small holding, where a dozen each of Greenfinch, and CHAFFINCH were joined by a Redwing, but more incongruous was seeing 25 Blue Tits on the floor, the blue plumage really stuck out against the green turf, quite strange to see such a large gathering of tits on the floor.

Another mixed feeding flock was in the Wet Woods, this was the one I came across yesterday afternoon no doubt, it was a few birds smaller though, just one TREECREEPER and two NUTHATCH had joined the LONG TAILED TITS, but there were also still the 6 GOLDCREST at least, making for a good total of ten seen overall today. A dozen SISKIN were above in the Alders, but weren't associating with the flock.

Over on the lakes, just 3 MOORHEN and a lone drake MALLARD were seen, but the woody scrub provided me with good views of the MARSH TIT, a few BULLFINCH'S, feeding on sycamore keys, and two GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS chasing one another through the treetops. A CORMORANT was a good addition to the days sightings, it circled over but didn't alight on the water.

he light, as mentioned was poor, but I did take the camera out just in case :-)

This pair of Mallard were on the run off pool at the bottom end of the Pub field

The above WREN was at the College Grounds

Above are the Mute Swans, as they went off into the gloom

Later in the day i was looking over the garden feeders, which proved friutless, as this SPARROWHAWK spent most of the afternoon chasing everything :-)

Friday 28 January 2011

The cloudy, dull, damp conditions finally relented today, and my afternoon visit was made in some nice sunshine, a biting cold wind blew, but that was easily dealt with by a few extra layers of clothing.

I was pleased to see the return of a few finches as I walked through the Small Holding, a small flock of 5 GOLDFINCH and 7 CHAFFINCH were hanging around the Alpaca enclosure. On entering the Wet Woods, a GREAT TIT was calling, trying to mimic the Marsh Tit call, which it made a pretty good job of, and 3 pairs of MALLARD were on the flooded pits, but not much else apart from Grey squirrels were seen.

Walking the footpath from the woods to the lake brought the usual quickening of pace, but I needn't of hurried, the only thing on the water was a MOORHEN! I became aware of an increasing trilling, that got louder as I approached the woody scrub area, I looked up to find 8 LESSER REDPOLL in a Silver Birch, and at least 6 SISKIN in a conifer. I set to with the camera, but before I'd finished, more chirriping, whistling, ticking and allsorts of birdy calls was heard coming my way.

Birds! birds everywhere! I was suddenly surrounded by a large feeding flock, there were, conservatively, 20 LONG TAILED TITS, 6 TREECREEPERS, 4 NUTHATCH, 6 GOLDCREST, 2 COAL TITS, 2 MARSH TITS, 2 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, and 2 WRENS, but there were only a few BLUE and Great Tits, these would normally make up the bulk of such a flock.

I wasn't complaining though! Where have they all been ? This is more like what i'm used to seeing here! I think the fact that a respite in the wretched gas cannons has occurred, may have had something to do with it. For the next hour or so I joined the flock, moving with them slowly and stealthily, so as not to alarm them. Soon they became acceptable to my presence, not an alarm call was heard, in fact the Marsh Tit gave some of it's beautiful warbling song, something that I rarely hear.

I didn't have to visit any other part of my patch, I filled my boots with photo's, and just let myself become immersed in the flock, watching and listening, then moving along with them from cover to cover, absolutely fascinating, and a brilliant way to spend an afternoon :-)

Also rans today, but well worth noting, were 12 LAPWINGS that flew over, only the second sighting of this species for january, and a KESTREL, which sat on a telephone pole along Ashes lane.

Here's a selection of photo's from the feeding flock. The light in the woods was just about good enough, and in some places it was quite good. The first four are of Goldcrests, as I said I filled my boots with photo's today :-) Left click to enlarge any of the photo's.

The next two are of Long Tailed Tits

The following two are of Treecreepers

Then a couple of Marsh Tits pics

A Siskin next

and lastly a couple of Lesser Redpoll, I couldn't get near to these as they fed high up.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Once again there was not much on offer from my patch today, but an interesting little party of birds fed on the College sports pitch as I passed across it on the way home from work, this included 2 REDWING, 2 FIELDFARE, 2 MISTLE THRUSH, a BLACK HEADED GULL, 3 STARLINGS, and a single WOODPIGEON.

On reaching home a SPARROWHAWK flew inches above my head, it was out of luck as I had already flushed up the birds feeding in my garden, nice to get my own back on it :-)

The usual walk over to the lake was undertaken in cold, and very dark conditions, with sleety showers blowing through on an icy wind, I had to keep moving to avoid the cold today! As has been the case all week, birds were at a premium, the lake did hold something different from the normal MALLARDS and MOORHEN though, a CORMORANT, well it's not what I had hoped for, but it's a start !

The walk around the scrubby wood continued to be a mostly quiet affair, but the BULFINCH'S I had heard yesterday were much more visible today, between 6 and 8 were seen, mostly a case of just the white rump disappearing into the bramble thickets though :-) 4 GOLDCREST were also seen, and around a dozen Redwing were tossing the leaf litter around, looking for food, a TREECREEPER was barely visible as it crept around the base of an Elder tree, even though it was just 10 meters away, it was the white of it's underbelly that gave it away.

As I left I could hear 2 COAL TITS calling, as well as a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, but the walk home across the Tree Nursery was uneventful, and by 15:30 it was almost dusk like, bringing a cold and unproductive 2 hour visit to an end.

I was kidding myself that it might be bright enough for a photo or two, and this shot over the Ornamental lake, with the smallest lake in the background was about the best i could do, the camera has done well to make the image a lot brighter than it actually was :-)

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Whilst walking home from work this afternoon, I saw that the tower in Hadlow was being readied for its renovation. Large nets were being draped over it from the top. What effect this will have on the pair of peregrines that use the tower to roost, and as a resting place by day, will remain to be seen, they will almost certainly have to move off, but will they come back after the work is finished ? Only time will tell.

Another bird of prey was a pleasant sight as I crossed Migrant Alley, a BUZZARD wheeled it's way over, heading eastwards, putting up the 40 odd BLACK HEADED GULLS and about the same number of ROOKS that were feeding on the sheep pasture.

Pulses of drizzle fell for the 90 minutes I was out this afternoon, making for another camera-less walk, not that there would have been much to photograph. There is a distinct lack of small birds on my patch at the moment, especially finch's, but Tits are also down in number, even at my garden feeders this is noticeable.

I did record some birds though, both GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER were seen in the Small holding, MALLARDS were still thinking about nesting in the Wet Woods, where a TREECREEPER called but went unseen.

On the Lakes it was a case of Mallards and MOORHEN again, the mallards looked very nervy, ready at a moments notice to take off, I wonder if it's the constant gas cannons that make them like it ? The loudness of them were mitigated somewhat by the change in wind direction, now taking the blast away from the lakes.

Around the scrubby woods I found a few SISKIN in a small Alder tree, and BULLFINCH'S called from several places, I reckon up to six birds were involved, although I didn't see a single one! A GOLDCREST was heard, and upon investigation I found two feeding together in a Hawthorne tree. Another quick scan of the lake was had before I left, ever hopeful of a Little Grebe appearing from nowhere, but it wasn't to be, so I set off towards the Pub Field and Tree Nursery. Just as I arrived at the Pub Field, so did a female SPARROWHAWK, it put up at least 60 FIELDFARE that were on the maize stubbles there, in the Tree Nursery the removal of the shrubs and young trees is going apace now, and all I saw were a group of 7 female Pheasants. By now the sky had gone very dark, and the wind picked up, bringing with it some heavier rain, so it was off home for me :-)

Tuesday 25 January 2011

As I walked in to work this morning, for the first time this year it was at last evident that the blackness of the night was beginning to be pushed back by the first glimmers of dawn, and by 07:20 there was just enough light to see a GREY HERON fly over the College Grounds as I passed through.

On walking home again, the light seemed to have only increased marginally, and a steady rain was falling, I've run out of adjectives to describe the drabness of the weather of late, it's just been day after day of dullness...........

I only went out for 40 mins this afternoon, enough time for a wet and muddy walk to the lake, see the MALLARDS and MOORHENS then walk back again, one afternoon I will find something different on the water :-)

The rain, the mud, the gas cannons, all got to me today, I am in dire need of some inspiration from somewhere.......... I sought refuge at home, watching the garden feeders, i'm just as likely, if not more likely, to find a Brambling at the feeders as elsewhere on my patch, and who knows maybe even an overwintering Blackcap may turn up. Alas neither was seen, although 15 CHAFFINCH, 11 GOLDFINCH and 14 GREENFINCH did give some hope of attracting down a Brambling yet. Unfortunately regular SPARROWHAWK attacks kept the birds away for long just aint my day is it :-)

Monday 24 January 2011

A bit of cheer in the constant gloom.....................Snowdrops

It's 'as you were' with the weather, yet again it was another dreadfully dreary day, the forecasted sunny spells for late this afternoon didn't happen, in fact as I left for my afternoon patch visit, the sky darkened and rain fell!

There was one good thing though, there wasn't a breath of wind, so it felt quite mild, and everything could be heard for quite some distance, the calling of NUTHATCH'S, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS and GREAT TITS in the Wet Woods, was all very spring like, as was the MALLARDS on the flooded woodland floor that have all paired up now.

A walk around the lakes was not too exciting, 14 Mallard and 2 MOORHEN were the only things on the water, the sky darkened further and the rain got heavier, so I took shelter in one of the out buildings on the edge of the main lake. I felt quite despondent as I leaned against the wall and peered into the gloomy conditions, but then a call was heard that had me cheering up soon enough, a TAWNY OWL (67) ! I don't know if it was fooled by the dismal light, but it was certainly a welcome boost for my Year/months list :-)

The rain eased then finally stopped, and the sky went back to just the normal lighter shade of grey, so i ventured out into the scrubby woods, where not much was seen at all, although a Roe Deer that dashed off into cover was the first i've seen here, two GOLDCREST were observed at close quarters once more, but it was hopeless trying to photograph them.

Time to head of home, and I went the usual route, back through the Wet woods, where two more Goldcrest were seen, plus a TREECREEPER. Making my way across the Tree Nursery I saw the Kestrel up hunting, the first sighting since the 18th, I wonder where it's been ?

Above: Looking into the Wet Woods, the water is black here, and holds little wildlife.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Just over three hours was spent out on my patch this morning, and little had changed since yesterdays visit, including the weather, although it was just a little warmer, and at one point a short lived sunny spell was enjoyed :-)

Few birds were encountered, and long spells of the visit were birdless, although I did somehow manage to record 44 species, just about what would be expected in January.

There weren't many highlights, but the PEREGRINE that flew over the Wet Woods certainly qualified for one, and having some extremely close views of a pair of GOLDCREST feeding in the College gardens was another.

There were far fewer SISKIN about today, only 2 were seen, they were in the Alders that make up the boundary hedge between Migrant Alley and the Greenhouses, a LESSER REDPOLL flew over whilst I was there. Four Gull species were seen on or over Migrant Alley, BLACK HEADED, COMMON, HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACKED, also at Migrant Alley small numbers of winter thrushes were on the sheep pasture, no more than 30 altogether.

The lake area was reasonably quiet, the water had just 7 MALLARD and 2 MOORHEN on it, plus the same CORMORANT as yesterday, told by its very grey head and neck feathers :-) The adjacent woody scrub area had all that could be expected, MARSH and COAL TIT, NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH, plus 4 more Goldcrest, were the pick of these

There are a few birds that are notable by their absence, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Canada / Greylag Geese, they are normally seen in ones and twos at this time of year, but none has been recorded in recent visits.

Apologies for lack of photo's over the last few's the weather, it never gets light!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday 22 January 2011

Cold rain was falling as I left this morning, which was made worse by a cold NW wind, and a dense low cloud that hung around all morning, making for a dark, damp visit, not what I was looking forward to at all!!

During the 4 hours I was out, a total of 42 species was recorded, a little below average for a January day, but as the actual number of birds around was very small, it was not a bad effort :-)

Despite the dismal conditions, quite a few birds were practising their songs, getting ready for the breeding season thats almost here, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, MISTLE THRUSH, SONG THRUSH all sang loudly, with CHAFFINCH and BLACKBIRD just seemingly tuning up, not quite giving it all yet. The COAL TITS were also singing over at the lakeside scrub, where the WREN and STOCK DOVE also made light of the cold dampness with their songs, particularly pleasing was hearing the GOLDCREST singing, they really are hardy little birds, coming through yet another hard spell of weather :-)

Nothing had dropped onto the lake over night, so it was a case of checking out the MALLARD and MOORHENS, although whilst I was there a CORMORANT came down and fished for a while, the first seen on the lake this year. SISKINS were still very evident all over my patch, even some of them were singing, the other winter visitors, FIELDFARE and REDWING, were also seen on most habitats of my patch, in small groups of a dozen or less, but a flock of 62 Fieldfare, and 49 Redwing flew over.

Having finished my full patch visit, I felt decidedly cold, a damp cold right to my bones, and what appealed most was a comfy chair, and a hot cuppa whilst watching my garden feeders, but its at times like these that my competitive spirit kicks in, and i thought a skywatch over at Migrant alley might just give me a new bird for the year, I lasted half an hour, and didn't get anything new, but if I had gone home earlier I would have missed the BUZZARD that came low over, and the two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS that swooped down playfully over the sheep pasture, where the BLACK HEADED GULLS had increased in number since I had been there earlier, 135 were counted, along with two COMMON GULLS. Two large skeins of geese were seen very high to the east, impossible to tell what they were, could have been anything, but they were not birds moving locally, these looked to be on mission, pity they weren't directly over head.

I did eventually settle for the comfy chair and hot tea by my window, and watched the garden visitors at the feeders, 18 species came in to feed, the best being Siskin, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, and Coal Tit, I had hoped to see my first Brambling of the year drop in, but despite a nice flock of 20 Chaffinch, one couldn't be persuaded down from the grey, bleak and cold sky.

Photography was almost impossible today, but I did get a shot of the GREENFINCH'S at the sunflower hearts, during a brief brighter interlude :-)

Friday 21 January 2011

The sun was back for this afternoons patch visit, but it was quite cool, especially out in the wind.

There were quite a few BLUE and GREAT TITS, as well as CHAFFINCH'S in the small holding today, but I couldn't find one of those elusive Bramblings. Two GREEN WOODPECKERS were feeding on a large lawn, just out of camera range, and a MISTLE THRUSH was singing in the distance.

MALLARD and SISKIN were in the wet woods, more Great Tits were heard singing/calling as I walked through, otherwise it was a typical quiet January afternoon here. I stood and listened at a few points, straining to hear the calls of Long Tailed Tits, but none were heard, only the ROBINS made themselves known, singing from all points of the tangled trees.

Walking to the lakes, my excitement and anticipation of finding something dabbling around on the water, had my step quickening, however, as is mostly the case, waiting for me were the Mallard and MOORHENS :-) I'll still have that feeling of anticipation tomorrow morning when I approach the lakes again, I am forever the optimist, or just mad! I'm not looking for a rarity ( although it would be welcome) just a Coot, or some more Tufted Duck Will do :-)

Forty mins around the lakeside vegetation, and scrubby woods looking for a photo opportunity failed dismally, I did see the ringed MARSH TIT, a GOLDCREST, a COAL TIT, heard two TREECREEPERS and also got rear end views of BULLFINCH'S, but nothing posed for a photo. Two NUTHATCH noisily worked their way through the tops of the Oak trees, and as i left the area, around 300 WOODPIGEON dropped in to rest, fed up with being flushed by gas cannons!

Walking home the tree nursery way, I got the daily SPARROWHAWK sighting as it sped over towards the pub Field, scattering a flock of 20 or so Starlings that were on the maize stubble there, they settled into a sycamore tree, along with a few REDWING and FIELDFARE. See pic below.

There were a few minutes of weak sunshine still left in the day when I got home, so I took some pics of the garden birds

Above and below : Male Chaffinch

Below: A sunlit Starling

Lastly a Great Tit.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Above: Bluebells just showing through the leaf litter :-)

I got my wrists slapped for saying the day was ''uneventful'' on yesterdays post, but it was a run of the mill January day, nothing unusual was seen, although what was seen may have been unusual for others :-).

So what of today ? Well, dare I say it ? Uneventful again :-) everything I saw this afternoon could be described as the regular pittswood sightings, not that I take them for granted, it was great to see a MAGPIE, CARRION CROW and JAY all getting excited about something up in an ivy clad Oak tree in the Small Holding. I got excited too, I thought maybe they were mobbing a Tawny owl, but as I approached the tree, a male SPARROWHAWK flew out, I might of known!

Passing through the Wet Woods, again, there were at least 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, and as yesterday MALLARDS were dabbling in the tangled, water filled pits. SISKINS were heard going over, as well as REDWING, and a TREECREEPER sang from nearby, but seemed to stammer the final note, adding a few to the normal upwardly inflected bit at the end, sounded odd :-)

The lakes were as I left them yesterday - empty, but for a few Mallard and MOORHEN, my trek around the scrubby wood didn't reveal a feeding flock, only a couple of BULLFINCH and a GOLDCREST with a few more Redwing in the leaf litter. I gave it about 45 mins, and kept going to the lake to check it, a bit like when you go to the fridge repeatedly for something nice, but you know there's nothing there but cheese and milk :-)

The return walk once again took me through the Tree Nursery, but the work crew were there, so nothing was seen but DUNNOCKS and BLACKBIRDS, although 47 Redwing were a nice sight as they bounded over. The tree nursery is meant to be closing in March, in one way it will be nice, because of less disturbance, but in another way not so nice, as my patch will lose the good habitat of the young trees and shrubs, and may quite possibly revert to that dreadful sheep pasture :-(

I just had time to check out Migrant Alley, albeit from a distance, far out in the paddocks, on the sunnyside of the field were around 20 WOODPIGEON and 30 FIELDFARE, but my 10 minute skywatch only produced BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS.

The month/year list is beginning to falter a little now, but the 66 species already seen so far is the second best January total out of the Ten, and one more species than last year, which ended up being my best year ever, so i'm on track still :-)

I got home at dusk and saw this ROBIN singing, a bit of a grainy image, but not bad given the light.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Above: The footpath that runs adjacent to the lake, which is on the right, the scrubby woods is on the left.

The sun continued to shine this afternoon for my patch visit to the lakes, thats two days in a row ! :-) It was just a pity that it was so quiet, nothing really to note, a few MALLARD dabbled around the Wet Woods, and three GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were up in the trees. The SISKIN had moved on, and the only ones noted were flyovers, also flying over were two LESSER REDPOLL. One thing I did see on the floor of the woods, were the first shoots of the bluebells, poking up through the sodden leaf litter.

On the lakes it was once again a Mallard and MOORHEN day, and I cant see it being any another way until those wretched Gas cannons stop firing!

Above..........Nothing on the Main Lake :-(

I had a walk around the woody scrub, but the feeding flock had moved on, or dispersed, I did see 3 GOLDCRESTS, and one of the MARSH TITS, plus 4 BULLFINCH'S, 3 of them males. REDWINGS have now moved onto the leaf litter, with at least 10 being seen, but boy, are they well camouflaged !

I took a slow walk home across the Tree Nursery, but again it was quiet, although it was good to see two MEADOW PIPITS flying over, not seen much of them this month, there were also 7 PHEASANTS strutting around the shrubs. A bit of an uneventful day..............

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Light ! Blue sky! Sunshine at last!! Yes, for the first time in ages, the sun was out for my afternoon patch visit :-)

I had a full two hours out this afternoon, amazing how a bit of sun extends the day. So off to the lakes I went, yesterday things were very wet underfoot, today they were even wetter, more heavy rain fell overnight, and the Wet woods was almost as full as it can be, at least 6 MALLARD were out in the tangle of branches, they are paired up now, and if the weather warms up a bit, in a couple of weeks they will start to breed. A GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was calling from a large Oak, and in almost every Alder tree I looked at, a party of SISKIN were feeding, I estimate about 60 were i the Woods.

I waded down the footpath to the lakes, expectant as ever, that I would find something other than Mallard or Moorhen on the water today,Well, unfortunately I didn't, it was as normal, 8 Mallard and 4 MOORHENS :-(

I spent most of the rest of the afternoon walking round the Scrubby woods, adjacent to the main lake, keeping an eye on the sky, and hoping something would drop down onto the water, but I was out of luck today, instead I had an enjoyable time trying to photograph the members of a feeding flock I found, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, (of which 4 were chasing around) and MARSH TIT all gave me the run around, and I never did get a clear photo, but a Blue Tit shot was passable, as was a Marsh Tit. The Marsh Tit was interesting, as it had a ring on it's leg, this must be the bird my friend up the road from me rung last winter, so there are definitely two birds on my patch, the one ive been recording all this winter has no ring. What a hardy little Tit :-)

I eventually left for home, and went the way of the Tree Nursery hopefully to see if the LINNETS were still roosting there, I wasn't disappointed, I watched at least 100 of them flitting about, waiting for the work crew to leave before they dropped down into the shrubs. I noted the KESTREL watching them from the Greenhouse Complex too!

Above and below Marsh Tit, there's always a stick in the frame !

Below: Blue Tit - with stick!

Below are the Linnets at dusk, there around 70 -80 here

Greenie, or Dean will no doubt enlighten me to what this fungus is, it was on an Oak tree, and was jelly like.

The last two photo's are of the sunset over the Tree Nursery, with the tall mature trees of the wet woods in the backround