Tuesday 31 May 2011

The last day of May, so the final full patch walk for the month this morning, the year is whizzing past !

I set off out in sunny, calm conditions, but cloud soon bubbled up and the wind started to blow again, making it feel chilly. I visited the College Grounds first again this morning, via the Tree Nursery, Pub Field, and Migrant Alley, collecting the usual species along the way, but it was a lot harder to find them today for some reason. It wasn't until I was returning home and walking through the Greenhouse Complex that I had anything noteworthy in the book when I saw two just fledged BLACKCAPS, another species to join the successfully bred list.

The walk to the lakes and scrubby woods was also a quiet affair, (I hope June isn't going to be like this! ) The most noteworthy birds were two NUTHATCH'S seen along the footpath from the Wet Woods to the Lakes, i'm sure they have fledged young with them but I couldn't find them. On the water a pair of CANADA GEESE had three goslings with them, and a pair of GREYLAG GEESE had six much older goslings, one of the COOTS was again seen, and 4 MALLARDS made up the waterlife. In the Scrubby Woods, two more Backcap families were seen, at least 2 young in each, plus a CUCKOO was heard. Walking home a HERRING GULL flew over, and a LESSER WHITETHROAT was seen along the Ashes lane territory, the first for a while, but even that only made a poor day total of 44 species.

I was out again for most of the day, dodging a few showers, but managed to add a few more species to the list, both KESTREL and HOBBY flew over Migrant Alley, as well as a GREY HERON, and a LITTLE OWL called from the Greenhouse Copse, a JAY was finally also added to the list, making for a more respectable 49 for the day.

The camera was in action for much of the day, with this LINNET posing nicely.
and this SONGTHRUSH was nearby, one born earlier in the year

Below is the family of Greylag Geese :-)

In the brighter spells this afternoon I went to look for butterflies in the Tree Nursery, and was well happy to find my 17th species of the year, a Large Skipper

A White Legged Damselfly also showed well

As did this Grass Snake, a real beauty !

So the month ended with a reasonable successful visit in the end, capping what was a good month for birds. As I said yesterday, this May produced the best species tally for the ten years with 73 species, the May average is 66.5, and with the addition of Coot, which was a May first, the combined ten year May total now stands at 89.

The best June bird species tally is 68, achieved last year, the average total for June is 63.5, it will be a challenge to beat it!

Monday 30 May 2011

A four hour patch visit from 06:30 was undertaken in grey and gloomy conditions, with a bit of light drizzle thrown in, typically by 10:30 the sun was breaking through!

Hopes weren't high this morning of finding anything different from the last few visits, and it was proving so for the first 45 mins, JACKDAW, STARLING, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, WREN, BLUE TIT, CARRION CROW, SWALLOW, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH and MAGPIE were the first ten species on the list, with WOOD PIGEON, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, GREENWOODPECKER, COLLARED DOVE, DUNNOCK, SWIFT, PHEASANT and LINNET taking me down to the end of the page in my notebook. Entering Migrant Alley, ROOKS were seen on the paddocks, and 24 CANADA GEESE were grazing on the Sheep pasture, a CORMORANT that flew over was the most noteworthy species up to that point.

The wooded headland at the north of Migrant Alley had a singing TURTLE DOVE and CHIFFCHAFF, also a SKYLARK singing way up, the first for 10 days. HOUSE SPARROWS went on the list as I passed the college stables, as did a flyover LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, and the first ROBIN was seen as I entered the College Grounds. The first place I go whilst at the college is along the stream, and whilst I stopped and listened to a BLACKCAP I became aware of a much more exciting songster, singing from a dense clump of young willows, it was a REED WARBLER (98,73) Superb! A very scarce bird on my patch! Fitting it should set a new May species tally, and also become the 98th species on the year list :-)

I added PIED WAGTAIL, GOLDCREST, GREAT TIT, MALLARD, and SPOTTED FLYCATCHER as I walked through the college grounds, the latter were again inspecting the potential nest site, as were 2 pairs of HOUSE MARTINS, they have always nested on the old buildings here, but they are late back this year, and are in much fewer numbers.

The second half of my walk was much less exciting for me, the Small Holding Wet Woods, Lake and Scrubby Woods only added another 12 species to the day list, bringing it to 48, they were: GOLDFINCH, HERRING GULL, STOCK DOVE, WHITETHROAT, NUTHATCH, JAY, LONG TAILED TIT, COOT, MOORHEN, BULLFINCH, MISTLE THRUSH, and last of all a CUCKOO.

After I got home the clouds parted and the sun came out, giving me a chance to take some garden Photo's:

Below is the ever confiding Dunnock

After lunch, a visit to the Tree Nursery to try and find some butterflies was had, I found a few species, plus this Mother Shipton moth

I took photo's of the above Meadow Brown, and the now worn looking Brown Argus, but I missed the Holly Blue, Small White, and Small Tortoiseshell

Later still, I was back home, and took some pics of the insect friendly flowers I have planted

Above : the bees love the Scabious! below is one of many field poppies.

Sunday 29 May 2011

The weather wasn't as cold and grey this morning, a few sunny spells were even had, but the wind was still a pain, strong and gusty from the SW.

Trying to hear the high pitch calls of young birds was difficult against the noise of that wind in the tree's, and I didn't add any new confirmed breeding species today, there were one or two other highlights amongst the 47 species seen though. As I crossed the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, I saw 5 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS and 3 HERRING GULLS, they were on a sheep carcass, the second sheep ive seen dead here in a month. The usual CARRION CROWS and MAGPIES were helping themselves to bits of it too, and a Fox had its fair share also, what a good job all these much maligned creatures do in clearing up the countryside of a source of potential disease.

Nearby, in the wooded headland, two TURTLE DOVES purred, and the only WHITETHROAT of the day was seen. Moving on to the College Grounds, I managed to locate the pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, which stayed still long enough for a photo today. I tracked them to their potential nest site, which looks a bit precarious, situated as it would be on a creeper against a wall on one of the college buildings, right next to a busy door way and a seating area for the students, not a good site.

I was relieved to find my first YELLOWHAMMER (72) this month whilst I walked up Ashes lane on the second half of my patch visit, ive now equalled the best May species total, and have two days left to beat the record, if only the Garden warbler had turned up this year!

The Small Holding gave me a decent enough view of a LITTLE OWL, but too far away for a photo, the Wet Woods was infested with 'man eating' mossies, so I walked through a bit rapid, but did see some well grown MOORHEN young. Reaching the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, all was much as it was yesterday morning, I found the family of GOLDCRESTS again, and listened to the song of BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF and another Turtle Dove, plus the call of both male and female CUCKOOS. CANADA GEESE, MALLARD and a COOT were on the lakes whilst overhead todays raptor species was represented by a SPARROWHAWK.

Below are a few of the photo's I took of the Spotted Flycatchers at the College Grounds

Below is an unusual view of a DUNNOCK :-)

Back home, this recently fledged BLUE TIT was begging to be fed

Saturday 28 May 2011

A grey and windy day greeted me this morning, and thats the way it stayed all day.

My daylist of 47 bird species ( that includes the BULLFINCH not seen until one visited the garden) was a bit on the low side, especially as a few of the species were not regulars, like LESSER BLACKBACKED GULL, CORMORANT, GREY WAGTAIL, GREYLAG GOOSE and GREY HERON. The likes of Mistle Thrush, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Lesser Whitethroat, Cuckoo, Sparrowhawk and House Martin all avoided detection today.

The visit was more notable for the amount of Juvenile and immature birds seen, the most abundant of which were 200 STARLINGS, of these about half were young birds, these were all feeding in a flock on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, 20 or so of these birds have been regularly coming into the garden all day, devouring the fat blocks!

Another family of GOLDCRESTS were seen along the footpath leading from the Wet Woods to the Lake and Scrubby Woods area, at least 4 were being fed, at times they were just a meter above me, and I watched them being fed by both parents. A bit further along the footpath I found a new species for the successfully confirmed breeding list, the CHAFFINCH, two recently fledged young were being attended by both parents.

The small amount of song heard today came almost exclusively from the Scrubby Wood, provided by BLACKCAP, TURTLE DOVE and a CHIFFCHAFF the only one heard to sing all morning! Above the woods, the only raptor of the day was seen, that being a KESTREL.

The SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were seen at the College Grounds, but only briefly, as they chased each other around, the only other bird of note for the Day was the already mentioned Grey wagtail, which was an immature bird, it was seen at the almost dry run off pool at the Tree Nursery, I did get a nice photo of it though, (below) capturing it's reflection in the water :-)

Below is the first Juv. Chaffinch of the year, about time I found one!

Above and below is one of the Juv. Goldcrests, despite them being fed just a meter above me, it was so dark under the canopy that the fastest shutter speed I could get was just a tenth of a second, nowhere near fast enough to stop a blurry photo!

Just to finish off is yet another Bullfinch photo, I keep trying to capture it on something more natural, but it doesn't sit for long :-)

Friday 27 May 2011

Both HOBBY and KESTREL were up hunting early this morning as I walked to work, also noted were a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in the College Grounds.

This afternoon, in cloudy, but more settled conditions, I saw this SPARROWHAWK glide over the Tree Nursery whilst en route to the Scrubby Woods and lake area.
Over at the Scrubby Woods, it was much quieter, without the sunshine the Butterflies and Damselflies were totally absent. The resident BLACKCAPS were in fine voice though, at least 4 males were singing, and a minimum of 2 TURTLE DOVES plus just one CHIFFCHAFF also sang, the CUCKOO did likewise a little later.

On the water today there were 10 CANADA GEESE and four gosling Canada's, 2 MOORHEN, with a ''Moorchick'', 6 MALLARD and one COOT, but best of all was watching my first KINGFISHER (71) since February, a welcome addition to the May list, this May is now just one behind the record may total :-).

Happy with that, I made my way home across the Tree Nursery, via the Wet Woods, where a TREECREEPER was seen, I was hoping it was collecting food for fledglings, but it didn't seem to be, I know they breed here somewhere though ! Out in the open of the Sheep pasture next to the Tree Nursery, I saw at least 3 HOUSE MARTINS, 6 SWIFTS and 4 SWALLOWS all feeding, whilst in the nursery, GREEN WOODPECKER, PIED WAGTAIL, LINNET and WHITETHROAT were seen.

As of today i'm off until next Thursday, so i've got a chance of finding those two more species needed to achieve the record May total, it wont be easy though :-)

These photo's were taken from the garden later this afternoon, the BULLFINCH was back, but I had to take the shot through the double glazing!

I haven't photographed a BLUE TIT for ages so here's one :-) Not looking their best at this time of year after all the effort of feeding a nestful of young!

Lastly, I was surprised to see the Fox come in, it loves picking up the dropped sunflower hearts, saves me sweeping them up :-)

Thursday 26 May 2011

Strong winds ( again!) and a rash of heavy showers kept me indoors this afternoon, I dont mind the wet so much, but the wind really is beginning to annoy me now!!!

I spent some time watching the garden feeders, which were dominated by a couple of STARLING families, I took some photo's in what light there was, and managed to capture the youngsters being fed.

I also took some HOUSE SPARROW photo's, as I dont get many chances with this dwindling species.

The young of GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, DUNNOCK, and BLACKBIRD were also seen, but not any young tits yet. As I write the weather seems to be cheering up, if the wind drops I may try an evening walk round the fields, something nice may flyover :-)

Still not able to comment on any post that i have to use a code word :-(

Wednesday 25 May 2011

On the way to work this morning I added LINNET to the list of 'confirmed breeding species' to my patch, two recently fledged young were seen being fed in the Greenhouse Complex grounds.

Back home, at lunch time, I saw the male BULLFINCH at the feeders again, and he had brought his mate in with him ( below)
After the garden excitement, I had my usual walk over to the lake and Scrubby Woods area, I looked at the lakes first, and found 7 MALLARDS, 2 MOORHEN, one COOT, and 8 CANADA GEESE with 4 GOSLINGS, I also sat and watched a heron for a few minutes, it fished very successfully, bringing out fish after fish. It was a bit distant, and in some very harsh light, but I took these photo's of it below. You can see a fish it caught if you click on the photo and enlarge it :-)

In the Scrubby Woods I checked up on the COLLARED DOVE nest, the chick had moved from the nest and onto a nearby branch, I reckon I can add this to the confirmed breeding list now, the 25th species this year.

Also in the woods a pair of CUCKOO'S were seen, the female was being scolded by DUNNOCKS, a hopeful sign that she has layed an egg. TURTLE DOVES, CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAPS were the other summer species noted, and overhead a KESTREL was seen, the first one for 5 days now.

Few butterflies were seen here today, just the 3 White species and the Speckled wood, also fewer Damsels were about, but the one below was new for the year, a Blue Tailed Damselfly.

A stop off at the Tree Nursery was made on the way home, where the COMMON WHITETHROAT was still singing, and a few more Butterfly species were seen, this Meadow Brown was the first one of the spring, and the 16th butterfly species for this year

Brown Argus was also recorded, as was this Common Blue below

Lastly another Speckled Wood


Tuesday 24 May 2011

This morning as I left the house I found another confirmed breeder for my patch, it was a just fledged JACKDAW, sitting in the middle of the lane! I picked it up and popped it over the hedge, just a couple of meters away.

On the way home, I found it, or one of its siblings on the lane again, this time I was too late, and all that was left was a pile of feathers :-( What a waste.

I made my way over to the favoured Lake and Scrub area soon after, and although it was sunny, the wind was still quite strong, but nothing compared to yesterday. I went via the Small Holding and Wet Woods today, but not much was seen or heard, just a Speckled Wood Butterfly on the footpath of the Small Holding, and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER in the Wet Woods.

Arriving at the lakes, I scanned them carefully, and only saw 6 MALLARD, two MOORHEN with a chick, and a pair of CANADA GEESE with four goslings. The Scrubby Woods was a bit more active, and I could immediately hear the persistent call of my first newly fledged BLUE TITS of the spring, at least 3 broods were seen during my visit, the young of GREAT TIT, GOLDCREST, ROBIN and DUNNOCK were also seen. A check on the COLLARED DOVE was made, and it was perched on the side of the nest, allowing for a photo of its head only.

Singing was heard from BLACKBIRD, Dunnock, Robin, SONGTHRUSH, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and CUCKOO, but a long listen for a Garden warbler was fruitless, I'll have to concede defeat on this species this spring, the first time since recording began that they haven't bred here, lets hope I pick one up on Autumn migration.

There were plenty of Odenata about today, Common Blue , Azure Blue, and Large Red, were in the Scrubby Woods, as well as a Broad Bodied Chaser, and more excitingly, a Four Spotted Chaser, they are seldom seen on my patch, and this species was one that got away from my camera, most annoyingly! The only Butterflies here were the 3 White species, and more Speckled Woods.

A visit to the Tree Nursery was made later, where White Legged Damselfly was added to the damsel list, and Red Admiral, Common Blue, plus Brown Argus to the Butterfly list. A SPARROWHAWK went over, with the ever attentive SWALLOWS mobbing it, and two HOUSE MARTINS were seen later, very few of them have been seen this month. Before leaving for home, I went and had a look at the run off pool at the bottom of the tree nursery, mainly to see if there were any dragonflies about, there weren't, and there was hardly any water left either, but I was well pleased to see a GREY WAGTAIL (70) the first this month, and only the second this year, the previous one being one seen on the 2nd Jan!

Below are a few photo's of the just fledged Blue Tits

Below is the Collared Dove chick, not quite as cute, but his mum loves him :-)

Above is the Broad Bodied Chaser, whilst below is a Large Red damselfly

Above: White legged Damselfly, below : Common Blue Damselfly

Monday 23 May 2011

Photo's first today, as I forgot to load them before the text!!!

Above: Juv. Long Tailed Tit

Above : Juv. Goldcrest

Above: Red Admiral, Below : Large White

Below: Cinnabar Moth

Lastly a Common Blue damselfly

This spring has been one of the driest on record here, but also, this spring must go down as one of the windiest! Today was an extreme case, a strong blustery wind strengthened throughout the day, and by the time I got out there were leaves, twigs and small branches scattered everywhere, even my water butt had blown off the wall of my house and was found down the side of the garden!

I thought twice about going out, but decided I would, it may have been blowing a gale, but at least the sun was shining. I sought the shelter of the Scrubby Woods and lake area, but the trees, now in full leaf, caught the wind, and were being tossed around like a giants hand was shaking them by their trunks!

Needless to say, trying to find birds and wildlife was very difficult, but I did hear a BLACKCAP doing its best to be heard, also a CHIFFCHAFF, and a very drowned out CUCKOO. I chased a family party of LONG TAILED TITS around for a photo, which I did eventually get, and also came across a family of GOLDCREST sheltering, as I was, in the best place we could. I checked up on the COLLARED DOVE nest, just one nestling was confirmed, it looks like it will be ready to fledge early next week.

On the lakes 10 CANADA GEESE and the BARNACLE GOOSE were taking shelter from the elements, and two MOORHENS were attending a chick, 3 drake MALLARDS and 1 female were lazing on the island, and it was good to see one of the COOTS again, carrying nesting material.

Surprisingly I found a few Butterflies as well, Large and Small white, plus a Red Admiral were seen, but trying to get photo's was near impossible, a Cinnabar Moth, and a Common Blue Damselfly were photographed though.