Wednesday 29 June 2011

The visit yesterday evening was a bit of a success despite the low heavy clouds and dark conditions. I walked over to my sky watching seat at Migrant Alley, where I spent an hour, and was pleased to see a minimum of 15 SAND MARTINS (67) fly silently through, also of note were two TURTLE DOVES, a SPARROWHAWK, a LESSER BLACKED GULL and the two Peregrines that were on the Tower just off my patch - the tower today had its last few feet encased in scaffolding, it will remain to be seen if the Peregrines stay around now.

This afternoon the weather was much better, scattered cloud and warm sunny periods - easily the best day of the week so far :-) I spent 2 hours this afternoon over at the Scrubby Wood and lake area, ending up at Migrant Alley. Not much was about really, TURTLE DOVES were singing lustily in the Scrubby Wood, a few BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF were about, a family of noisy WRENS were seen, as well as two NUTHATCH, a TREECREEPER and two squawking JAYS, which I still am yet to find the young of !

Small, Large and Green Veined White Butterflies were on the wing, as well as Comma, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper and Purple Hairstreak, a Common Darter was found also, the first this year.

Whilst crossing the Tree Nursery to get to Migrant Alley, both SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL were seen, but better still was the sighting of at least 100 SWIFTS feeding over a grass field that was being cut adjacent to the Greenhouse Complex. I continued watching the Swifts while on my seat at Migrant alley, hoping for a Hobby to turn up, but it didn't, which pleased the Swifts :-) A couple of WHITETHROAT sang in the tall hedge behind me, and a family of Blackcaps flitted around the Greenhouse Grounds, the only flyover of note was a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL ( below) which was also attracted to the insects over the fresh cut field.

Above is one of the Wren family seen in the Scrubby Woods, below is a Large White Butterfly

Below is the first Common Darter of the year

Lastly a gratuitous shot of a cute baby bunny :-)

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Even as I walked home from work this afternoon I could hear the approaching thunderstorms, heralding the end of the heatwave in the usual fashion :-) By the time I had had lunch, the sky had turned black, and some pretty impressive lightning bolts were striking not far away, accompanied by Almighty crashes of thunder.

The storms went on until 5 O'clock, so needles to say I didn't get out, although it looks to be clearing now so I may get an evening patch visit in. The day wasn't a total write off though, I still managed to see three raptor species, a KESTREL was over the Greenhouse Complex as I walked in to work this morning, a superb HOBBY was hunting SWALLOWS over Migrant Alley whilst walking back home, and lastly a SPARROWHAWK visited the garden whilst I was attempting some photographs during the storm.

The photo's didn't turn out great in the poor light but here they are anyway;

The young GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER below, clung on to the nut feeder even in the biggest downpour, and despite the crashes of thunder - it love its nuts!!

I put this male HOUSE SPARROW in to show you the rings on its legs, it has a Purple ring on its left leg, and two Orange rings on its right, it was part of a five year ringing scheme I took part in. I can identify this bird on my records as having been ringed on the 3 October 2007 as an adult, that makes it at least 5 years old, the last time it was seen was back on the 12th June 2009, where has it been ?

There was an increase in House Sparrows generally in the garden, this Juv. was sitting in the rain waiting to be fed

This was another male bird coming to the feeders, I had at least 7 sparrows in today, most days i'm lucky to see two.

Right, i'm off for tea, then a stroll over to Migrant Alley for a sky watch. i'll report tomorrow if anything turns up :-)

Monday 27 June 2011

This afternoon was a real scorcher, temperatures in the mid eighties, and blue sky all the way.

Realising it would be pretty poor for birdlife in that heat, I headed off to look for Butterflies and odenata, but sought the relevant shelter of the Scrubby Woods in favour of the more exposed Tree Nursery. I did though have a look around the Lakes before entering the woods, and found the 9 adult CANADA GEESE with 8 immatures on the main lake, also 8 MALLARD and a MOORHEN. The ornamental lake had another pair of Canada Geese with 3 well grown young, and the GREYLAG GEESE with their 5 young, plus one of the COOTS.

As I walked the footpath to the Scrubby Wood, the heat and humidity began to build, all was silent and I couldn't hear a thing except for buzzing flies and the crisp leaves crunching underfoot, I let my mind wander for a minute, then..... Squwaaark... a JAY cried out right beside my left ear, and flew off into the woods, nearly gave me a heart attack!! That will teach me not to pay attention :-)

Butterflies were not as plentiful as I thought they would be, but there were enough to keep me amused, all 3 White species were visiting the Bramble flowers, as were Meadow Browns. Up above in the Oaks, just one Purple Hairstreak revealed itself, and whilst waiting for it to come in range of a photo, which it never did, two Comma's flew past in an aerial joust. Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell were seen amongst the nettles and only one Large Skipper was seen. Bird song was almost non existent, just a BLACKCAP and an agitated WREN made any noise!

After an hour the heat forced me into leaving for home, a cool shower was just too tempting :-) I decided on just a brief walk along the hedgerow of the Tree Nursery, as I was passing that way, and was pleased I did because I found the first Small Copper of the month, and scores of Small Skippers. Also on the wing were scores of White Legged Damselflies, with a couple of what I think are female Blue Tailed Damsels see top two photo's . Click on them to enlarge :-)

Below another White Legged Damsel, they are having a good year this year

Lastly the first Small Copper of June, the 18th species for the month.

Sunday 26 June 2011

When I awoke this morning at just before 5am, I looked out the window and saw thick fog, never mind I thought, it wont take long to burn off, half hour later I was out, but the fog persisted for the next 4 hours making for a very frustrating visit!!

Dense fog at Migrant Alley, visibility was down to 30m in places

I did the last full patch walk of June anyway, but it was pretty hopeless in the conditions, just 40 species were recorded in 4 hours, that's worse than yesterday, and that was bad enough!

I found one of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS at the College Grounds, and had some close views of it, the photo's were pretty rubbish, as no manner of Camera adjustments could defeat the poor light.

The Nuthatch below was found over at the Scrubby Woods, it was with a flock of LONG TAILED TITS plus a few BLUE and GREAT TITS and a TREECREEPER - this was the highlight of the visit!!

At the end of the walk I went over to Migrant Alley, it was 9:30 and the fog had lifted into high cloud, allowing me to do some skywatching, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL flew over, as did two MISTLE THRUSHES, the first LINNET of the morning was found in the Greenhouse Complex behind my seat, where also a family of BLACKCAPS were chasing around, 14 SWIFTS were feeding high up, I left soon after with 44 species on the list, well down on what it should be.

Half an hour after being home the cloud broke, and hot sunshine poured through, I'd been cheated somewhere along the line!!!

Just look at the blue sky behind this WOODPIGEON that I photographed in the garden

This CHAFFINCH, also in the garden was lapping up the sunshine

After a bite to eat, and a cooling drink, I decided to go over to the Scrubby Woods for a Butterfly watch, I found quite a few about too, the 3 White species were abundant, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood, and loads of Small Skippers were about, plus a Meadow Brown every few yards, but best of all was the Purple Hairstreak, below.

Whilst there I recorded the missing species from this morning, COAL TIT, COOT, CANADA GOOSE and a GREY HERON making 48 for the day, more where it should be, but there wasn't a single raptor about.

Saturday 25 June 2011

The above photo shows the dreadful conditions this morning, drizzle, low cloud and a stiff breeze, late in the afternoon it couldn't have been more different, the sun was out and the temperature was in the mid 20's C !

Unsurprisingly, in the conditions, very little of note was seen, in the 2 hours I spent walking over to the College grounds and back, just 32 species were recorded, most of those were only heard or glimpsed, it really was quite dire.

I left the second part of the walk until the afternoon, hoping for some improvement in the light, but the low cloud had only lifted slightly, and only another ten species were added to the list. It would be hard to pick out any highlights, but the LESSER WHITETHROAT was singing in the Greenhouse Grounds, I always enjoy its rattly song, 20 odd SWIFTS were hawking for insects in the humid air, and of course I cant take the COOTS for granted over on the Lakes, this is after all the first June they have been present :-)

By 3 o' clock the sun had finally started to break through, and the temperature shot up, although the wind was still brisk, so i went back out for a walk around the Tree Nursery for a butterfly hunt. I mostly found Small Skippers and Meadow Browns, but a Tortoiseshell, Small and Large White and a Green Veined White also showed up. There were also large numbers of White-Legged Damselflies about.

Whilst hunting for Butterflies, I added KESTREL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and an immature BLACK HEADED GULL to the day list, bringing it to 45 species in the protracted days visit. Tomorrow is forecast to be blue skies and scorching hot, so i'll be out at the crack of dawn to avoid the heat, as will, I suspect, most of the sensible birds :-)

I did take the camera out eventually, and this CHIFFCHAFF posed briefly
I thought this Skipper below could have been an Essex Skipper, but i'm not so sure now, looks like a Small.

Lastly, a Green Veined White.

Friday 24 June 2011

I took the same route as yesterday over to the lakes and Scrubby Woods area of my patch this afternoon, and whilst in the tree Nursery, looking for Butterflies, I nearly missed the LITTLE EGRET (66) that flew low over, just the second June record for this species, the last being in 2008, it looked to be heading for the lakes, but when I arrived there it obviously hadn't dropped in. I did see the CANADA GEESE and GREYLAG GEESE families though, with 3 and 5 goslings respectively, also one of the COOTS, 2 MALLARD and a MOORHEN.

In the Scrubby Woods, I had a mixed set of sightings, Large Red, Blue Tailed, White Legged and Azure Damselflies, with Butterflies represented by Small White, Comma, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and a cracking Painted Lady, my first this year and the 20th species of the year. I also stopped to photograph a couple of the large Volucella hoverflies, one being a pellucens, the other a Zonaria type. I even found interest in a fungi - a Stinkhorn :-)

The birds encountered in the Woods were the usual crowd, and thats what they were for the most part, a crowd! NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, BLACKCAP, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT and LONG TAILED TIT, plus one or two CHIFFCHAFF and WRENS had all decided to feed in a single group amongst the safety of the cover provided by the Oak trees. TURTLE DOVE, SONGTHRUSH and BLACKBIRD all sang in the background.

Another stop at the Tree Nursery on the way home was only noteworthy for the LESSER and COMMON WHITETHROATS seen, and maybe the LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL that went over being chased by two CARRION CROWS.

It'll be good to get out and do a full patch walk tomorrow morning, hopefully the wind will have died away. Just two new species are required for the months list to equal the best June tally of 68, three would be nice though!

I didn't manage a single bird photo today, but here's the Painted lady Butterfly

Above is the Volucella Zonaria Hoverfly and below the Volucella pellucens

Below is one of the Large Red Damsels

Lastly the Stinkhorn fungi - I always find this specimen in the same place every year :-)

Thursday 23 June 2011

After a miserable day yesterday, when I didn't get out at all due to the high winds and rain, it was a relief to be able to get a walk in this afternoon. The wind was still a problem, and some light showers fell, but nothing like yesterday!

I made my first visit to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods since Sunday, and found small numbers of Birds, Butterflies and Damselflies to keep me amused. A LONG TAILED TIT flock, with a few BLUE and GREAT TITS made their way noisily through the Wood, where two TURTLE DOVES, two to three BLACKCAPS and four CHIFFCHAFFS sang. A BULLFINCH was heard softly calling from a dense piece of scrub, but I couldn't locate it, or any young that it may have been with. I was also on the lookout for any JAY offspring, but despite finding the adults squawking loudly no young were found with them.

I turned my attention to the insect world, and in the sheltered spots between the Oaks, I waited for the sun to come out, which it did every now and then, allowing for a few Butterflies to show, A Purple Hairstreak was up high, sitting out of camera range on an Oak leaf, but I had better luck with one of the two Red Admirals that were fighting over this sunny space, a Speckled Wood, Small White and a Small Skipper were also seen.

Down low in the grassy vegetation, Blue Tailed, Azure, and White Legged Damselflies were found, mostly the latter.

Walking home through the Tree Nursery, two WHITETHROATS were singing, and the LESSER WHITETHROAT made a visit from the Greenhouse Complex territory opposite. A SPARROWHAWK that flew over was the only raptor for the day

Not a very inspiring day! The weather looks set to remain pretty rubbish until Sunday, when it's going to go to the other extreme - hot and humid - you just cant win!

Photo's for today. Red Admiral below

This Chiffchaff below was singing away, it is a bird born earlier this year, I always wondered if the young sang, having not to defend a territory or attract a mate, but now I know :-)

Below is a Hoverfly, one of those big Vollucella ones, I spent some time try to catch one in flight, but it is difficult!

Below are some White legged Damselfies, the top and middle one are either females or immatures, the bottom one is a Male.....I think :-)

Tuesday 21 June 2011

This afternoon the wind was back, blowing heavy grey cloud across the sky, with it were a mixture of drizzle and just a few. I only spent an hour out, as I soon realised there was little to be seen in the poor conditions, not one Butterfly was recorded, and the only bird of note was a flyover SPARROWHAWK.

I wasn't even going to post today, but as I got home, I put my key in the back door and heard the familiar whistle of a NUTHATCH - there back! They stopped using the garden feeders back in March, when they go to the woods to breed, but every June they return, and most welcome they are!

Here's a few pics, the light was variable under my elder tree, but they didn't come out to displeasing :-)

I liked the way the light caught the eye in the above image, enlarge pic to see.

Monday 20 June 2011

I found time for an hours sky watching yesterday evening, and in some bright but windy conditions I at last recorded my first HOBBY (65) for the month :-), not much else though, a couple of LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, and both KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were the highlight.

This morning it was a dull and wet walk to work, but it had dried up for my afternoon patch visit, and although it remained mostly cloudy, it felt much warmer, as the wind had dropped out.

The warmer conditions meant a walk around the Tree Nursery was in order, to try and record some butterflies, the most numerous of which were the Small Skippers, with Meadow Browns not far behind, a few Large Skippers were also seen, and one or two Small Whites, and just one Small Tortoiseshell, it's a bit disappointing not to find any Common Blues, Small Coppers or Brown Argus.

Not much was recorded in the way of birds, the WHITETHROAT sang lustily for the entire hour I was in Tree Nursery, a GREEN WOODPECKER called from somewhere in the shrubs, and the usual DUNNOCKS, CHAFFINCH, SONGTHRUSH and BLACKBIRD were toing and froing with food for their young. Above both SWIFTS and SWALLOWS were making the most of the avian insects that were brought out by the warmer weather.

I also had a look around the Greenhouse Complex grounds, where a LESSER WHITETHROAT was still singing, as well as another Common Whitethroat. A family of BLACKCAPS were mingling with Dunnocks, Chaffinch, Blackbirds and BLUE TITS amongst a large bramble thicket. Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were seen going over with prey items, and a HERRING GULL floated southwards towards the gathering rain clouds, which deposited their now unwelcome rain at 5 : 30, making for a wet evening.

The Hobby seen last evening makes this the joint 3rd most productive June, along with 2009, which is two species behind the 2008 total and 3 behind the record June tally set last year. I might yet get a Tawny Owl, or maybe a Mandarin Duck on the lakes, but it's hard to see anything else cropping up, but you never know!

Photo's today are of insects, the first is yet another Small Skipper
and below is the Small tortoiseshell

lastly one of the two Damselfly species seen, this one is a Common Blue, the other species was the White Legged Damselfly

Sunday 19 June 2011

There was an improvement in the weather this morning, it was still windy and mostly cloudy, but better than yesterday - hardly June weather though :-)

Another four hour full patch walk was undertaken from 6am, and today a good total of 51 species were seen, none of them new for the month or the year, but just about every resident species was seen, just Spotted Flycatcher, Canada Goose and Skylark were not picked up today.

There were few changes from yesterday, a mixed feeding party found in the College Grounds contained LONG TAILED TITS, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, and a family of COAL TITS, also at the College were a pair of MISTLE THRUSH, a species not seen yesterday.

Two Gull species flew over Migrant Alley as I traversed it outwards and home wards, a LESSER BLACK BACKED and a HERRING GULL, less common, was a CORMORANT, just the 3rd seen this month.

A YELLOWHAMMER was heard singing from the patch boundary along Ashes lane, only the second record in two months! The large gardens along the Lane had another family of Nuthatch and Coal Tits, plus a TREECREEPER, but I couldn't see any fledged young with the latter. A new species was added for the patch 'confirmed successfully breeding' list though, PIED WAGTAIL an adult was seen attending two young on the Greenhouse Complex roof.

The Lakes and Scrubby Woods held little to excite me, the GREY HERON was back on the smallest lake, and the GREYLAG GEESE goslings get bigger by the day now. Raptors for the day were represented by the KESTREL and a SPARROWHAWK, i've still to find that Hobby for the month!

Butterflies were few, but Small White, Meadow Brown, Large and Small Skipper and a superb looking Purple Hairstreak was again seen, too high up for a photo though :-(

The Swallows on the fence line over at the Tree Nursery had doubled to six in number, and I had some fun photographing them being fed

Where's dinner ?

Here it comes!

Me me me, me first


Also caught on the camera was this Nuthatch from the College

and this Long Tailed Tit with it.

A couple of Flutter photo's, below is a Meadow Brown

and lastly a Small Skipper