Friday 30 September 2011

The final patch visit of September, late this afternoon, added nothing to the months list, in fact little was seen in the hot sticky conditions. I walked the Tree Nursery, and the run off pool, where once again I encountered the LONG TAILED TIT flock, with a CHIFFCHAFF in tow. The Pub Field was dry and dusty, only providing interest to WOODPIGEON, STOCK DOVE, and JACKDAWS, plus the ever present ROOKS. A trip round the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley was particularly birdless, the only species of note was a KESTREL up hunting. The final piece of habitat visited, just before dusk, was the Greenhouse Grounds, and although there were more birds here, they were all the common regulars - ROBIN, DUNNOCK, WREN, BLACKBIRDS etc. I did watch the first of the PIED WAGTAILS coming in to roost, before leaving, always a nice sound to here them cheerily ''bouncing'' across the sky.

So the month ended with 73 species being seen, which is 6 more than the ten year September mean, and although five behind the record Sept. tally of 78 ( achieved in 2009) it still manages joint 2nd place with last September. Just one species was added to the combined September list, that was the Grasshopper Warbler, which was a patch first in fact, this brought the total to 90 species, the second best month behind April, and equal to October.


Long Tailed tit

Long Tailed Tit

Thursday 29 September 2011

Another hot and sunny day today, but there was a little more of note to be seen than yesterday. Early this morning as I walked into work across Migrant Alley, first a HOBBY, then a YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over, both good birds for the end of September.

After work this afternoon, I waited until the worst of the heat had gone from the day before venturing out. This proved quite good, as my visit to the drilled and seeded Pub Field gave me my first LAPWING (73) of the month, also on the field were 32 BLACKHEADED, and 6 HERRING GULL, along with a few WOODPIGEONS, ROOKS and JACKDAWS. The run off pool adjacent, had a flock of 8 LONG TAILED TITS, with them was a CHIFFCHAFF, these are the only summer species left on my patch, as for the second day in a row there were no Swallows or House Martins seen.

A walk around the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, didn't produce any passage migrants, but there were a party of 9 GOLDFINCH feeding on whats left of the thistle heads, while nearby, in one of the paddocks, the 22 strong LINNET flock fed on dandelion seeds, another paddock had a good flock of around 85 STARLINGS feeding in it.

The Greenhouse Complex Grounds had a few ROBINS, DUNNOCKS, WRENS, PIED WAGTAILS, BLACKBIRDS and a SONG THRUSH, the first ive seen for a few days, the Tall Hedge that borders Migrant Alley had half a dozen BLUE AND GREAT TITS as well as one of the 3 Chiffchaffs seen today.

Goldfinch On Thistle Heads At Migrant Alley

Goldfinch On Thistle Heads At Migrant Alley

Long Tailed Tit - They weren't too co-operative with the camera today  :-)

Wednesday 28 September 2011

This afternoon was hot and sunny, without a breath of wind, now this is what it should of been like in July! However, it's not the sort of weather that is going to bring me any passage birds, unless the wind picks up a bit, in fact today I can tell you what I saw of any note, in  just one sentence - A KESTREL, A SPARROWHAWK, 22 LINNETS, and 3 MEADOW PIPITS. Very little indeed for a two hour hot and tiring visit, around Migrant Alley, the Tree Nursery, the Pub Field and the Greenhouse Complex.

I sat for for a while under the shade of a tree by the now quickly evaporating run off pool in the Tree Nursery, which gave me some good views of some Dragonflies, namely Common Darter and Migrant Hawker, on reflection, I think I should have stayed there   :-) 

This hot and sunny weather is here to stay right up into the weekend, so it's going to be a real challenge adding anything to the months list, I might just change my walks to the evening for the last two days left in September!

Common Darter

View across Migrant Alley - Looking SE

There was little about today, I resorted to photographing flies on Bulrushes!

Fly on a Bulrush

Tuesday 27 September 2011

After a foggy morning, this afternoon turned into a very warm and sunny affair, very nice for this time of year  :-)

Whilst walking home from work, a WHEATEAR was seen in one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, and a BUZZARD was above, being mobbed by ROOKS. I headed back out to Migrant Alley after some lunch, and took some photo's of the Wheatear, whilst crossing the sheep pasture to get to it, a YELLOW WAGTAIL flew up, and headed strongly South.

A slow walk of the paddocks and sheep pasture of the rest of Migrant Alley, and a good look at all the fence posts didn't reveal anymore passage species, so I had a brief skywatch, which proved quite good for raptors, the same or another Buzzard floated over, also both SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL hunted at the Greenhouse Complex, but my favorite was the HOBBY that came down from very high up, giving me some nice views of it.

Other bits and pieces going over were a few MEADOW PIPITS, 2 SKYLARKS, and the HERRING GULLS that visited the now finished ploughed and harrowed Pub Field, which will now go back to being sheep pasture. Plenty of PIED WAGTAILS flew over to the Pub Field too, and the local GOLDFINCH'S and LINNETS were around, but in fewer numbers, now the rough areas containing their thistle food have been mown.

Three other summer species were seen today, CHIFFCHAFF, which will be here a couple of weeks yet, and both SWALLOW and HOUSE MARTIN, but only one of each were recorded today.

In the warm sun a few Dragonfly and Butterfly species were about, for the Butterflies, Comma, Speckled Wood, Small White and Red Admiral showed up, and for the Dragons it was Common Darter, Southern Hawker, and Migrant Hawker.

Wheatear ( with some kind of parasite on it's bill!)



Migrant Hawker

Common Darter

Monday 26 September 2011

A very quiet afternoon was had on the patch today, but to fair there was much disturbance, mainly at Migrant Alley, where a crew of students were putting up wire meshing along the wooden stock fencing - I watched from a distance for a while - it was like viewing 5 lots of Laurel and Hardy!

Needless to say not much was seen birdwise there, a few MEADOW PIPITS, and GOLDFINCH'S, while overhead the passage of HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS continued, i'll not see them here for many more days now, the mean last date for Swallow and House Martin respectively is the 9th and 8th of October, but the latest date for each is the 22 Oct. for House Martin, and the 20th Oct for Swallow.

Having no luck at Migrant Alley I made my way over to the Pub Field, where the Maize stubbles were being ploughed in. This brought in large numbers of Gulls, I counted over 500 in all, the vast majority were HERRING GULLS, but at least 8 were LESSER BLACK BACKED, and two dozen were BLACK HEADED, but try as I did, I couldn't find a Common Gull, or the much scarcer Meditteranean Gull. As I watched, a few more Meadow Pipits dropped in, as did 8 PIED WAGTAILS, alas that was as good as it got.

I made a slow walk around the run off pool and Tree Nursery in the adjacent field, where the pool held lots of Common Darters, and a female Southern Hawker, she was laying eggs on an old tree stump just above the water, I didn't know they laid there eggs out of the water? The stump does get sub-merged in wetter months and maybe she was counting on that? ( Thanks Greenie for ID of said Hawker)

The Tree Nursery had two CHIFFCHAFFS present, one was singing, the other just called, a KESTREL flew slowly over, but as I said earlier it was a very quiet visit and not much else was of note.

The months list is stalling majorly of late, and with only four afternoon visits left, the present September total of 72 is unlikey to reach the best September tally of 78, but who knows, one good visit could change all that  :-)

Southern Hawker Dragonfly ( Female)

Meadow Pipit

I sat for half an hour in my garden, hoping something out of the ordinary would come in, but apart from a fleeting glimpse of a Chiffchaff, it was only the BLUE and GREAT TITS that visited - probably not alot about due to the Sparrowhawk featured in yesterdays post  :-)

Brave Blue Tit

Sunday 25 September 2011

I awoke this morning and looked out the window to see a wall of fog! So it was back to bed for another hour for me, then a leisurely breakfast followed, but by 8am the fog was still as thick as ever, so I went out anyway.

It was as yesterday, only a few of the more vocal species were recorded, singing ROBIN, calling CARRION CROW,  plus the cackling of JACKDAWS and MAGPIES. A PIED WAGTAIL was heard over the Greenhouse Complex, where a few WOODPIGEONS clattered out of a low bush, but the hope of seeing something new for the month or even the year dwindled away with every hour the fog persisted, which it did until just before ten, when the sun appeared and the temperature shot up, but it was far too late by then.

I finished the full patch walk, recording 41 species, most of which were the regulars, but it was fun trying to take a photo ( and failing) of the KINGFISHER at the College Grounds, where the only two summer birds were seen before the fog cleared, those being BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF. After the fog cleared a continual stream of HOUSE MARTINS were seen passing overhead throughout the last hour of the walk, with smaller numbers of SWALLOWS with them.

I struggled to find much more of note, but it was a good sight to see at least 12 BULLFINCH'S on powerlines over the Scrubby Woods, most of them immature birds. Whats the betting tomorrows walk to work is not a foggy one!!!

Yet More FOG!!

House Sparrow

Sparrowhawk (from my garden)

Saturday 24 September 2011

A totally frustrating full patch walk was had this morning, thick fog for most of the morning prevented much from being seen, indeed, many of the 43 species recorded were heard only!!

Of the few birds I did see, a KINGFISHER was a welcome splash of colour as it flew up the College Stream, and a flock of GREYLAG GEESE (72) that flew over the college Grounds were only partially counted, as some were shrouded in the fog, at least I got something for the moths list!

other notables were a GREY WAGTAIL that dropped down into the Greenhouse Complex grounds, and a TAWNY OWL called from somewhere over in the Wet Woods. A BUZZARD flew from the Greenhouse Copse very early on, I suspect that's where it roosted.

Summer birds were at a premium, CHIFFCHAFF'S being the only species still on the ground, with SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS seen flying over later on when the fog had lifted slightly.

As I said , a frustrating visit with not much to shout about :-)



Friday 23 September 2011

The walk into work this morning proved uneventful, not surprising as it's hardly light now when I leave, but the walk home through Migrant Alley, in some lovely warm and sunny conditions promised more, however , it too proved very quiet, I think it must have been disturbed during the morning.

As usual I was out again after some lunch, and went over to the cropped Maize at the Pub Field, I was hoping one or two of yesterdays summer birds were still around, and maybe even a passage bird, but I was very disappointed to see that two tractors were busy there, one cutting the vegetation around the bottom of the hedgerow, the other flailing the hedgerow to bits   :-(  All the Autumn fruit, berries, hips, haws and seeds all being destroyed in a flash, the winter larder that sustains birds and other creatures is now no more. Why cant this hedge trimming be done in late February, when it is less destructive ?  Why flail the hedge at all, you can see by yesterdays photo of it that it impedes nor hinders farm vehicles or pedestrians.

There were no birds to be seen here, and as I stood and pondered my next move I looked to the sky and saw 4 BUZZARDS circling, very nice  :-)  The lakes and Scrubby Woods seemed a good idea, so off I went, I found a BLACKCAP, two CHIFFCHAFF ( one singing) a couple of BULLFINCH and a NUTHATCH, which for this time of day wasn't too bad, the lakes had just MOORHEN and MALLARD between them. A couple of butterfly species were seen, Small Copper and Comma, so they were photographed, then I made my way over for a sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley, again it was quite poor, with just KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and a few HERRING GULLS showing up. Small numbers of both SWALLOW and HOUSE MARTIN went through, and a couple of MEADOW PIPITS were out in the sheep pasture, but that was about it for today.

Below are the Butterflies seen today, and also some more Sedge and Reed Warbler images from yesterday  :-)


Small Copper

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler

Thursday 22 September 2011

Walking home from work today, across Migrant Alley 15 - 20 MEADOW PIPITS were seen, mixing with the flock of GOLDFINCH'S who's flock numbered about the same size, better still, 6 YELLOW WAGTAIL flew out of the sheep pasture and headed off south, ive had a good run of these lovely birds this Autumn  :-)

Once I had eaten, I was off out again, I was eager to see if the Maize crop over at the Pub Field was being harvested so I could watch what was flushed out as the last stands of maize went down. Unfortunately I was too late and the field was already done by the time I arrived, however it still proved a very good place to be! I walked up the boundary hedgerow, and was met with CHIFFCHAFFS, they were everywhere! I couldn't begin to give an accurate figure, as they were moving up and down the hedge, as well as off out into the Tree Nursery which is the other side of the hedge, some even took off and headed south across the open field, I reckon 40 birds would probably be an under estimate.

I slowly walked the hedge, and was pleased to see a BLACKCAP and a YELLOWHAMMER, mixing with the CHAFFINCH'S, and BLUE TITS, as well a single GREENFINCH, but better was to come when I spied a SEDGE WARBLER, an excellent September visitor to my patch, and the second latest to have been recorded, the latest being 26th Sept in 2004.

I turned back and retraced my steps before the hedge met a large garden, and re-scanned the hedgerow, but only added ROBINS and DUNNOCKS, I should have stayed longer really, but I wanted to get over to Migrant Alley and check the fields and Paddocks there. I soon regretted that dicision, as nothing new was found there, although a couple of Yellow Wagtails did fly through, and a flock of around 40 LINNETS had come back to the paddocks.

I thought i'd go back to the maize stubbles, and try my luck again, this time entering the field from the where the hedge meets the large garden, a good decision, as the gardens boundary had attracted lots of the Chiffchaffs, finch's, Tits, and even the Sedge Warbler, giving me better views this time, I scanned through the frenzy of birds, which were chasing each other about all the time, and found a couple of HOUSE SPARROWS with them, a good find at this place, but then the bird of the day turned up, a cracking looking REED WARBLER (71), I thought i'd lost the chance of adding this species to my months list, as the latest date for one on my patch is the 10 Sept, so this is a real late one for me!  After getting a few photo's of the Sedge and Reed Warblers, i walked off along the field boundary to head home, and suddenly found the sky full of HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS, up to that point I hadn't seen any at all, as i watched them, a flock of Meadow Pipits, around 40 strong dropped onto the maize, followed then by 20 or so PIED WAGTAILS, and a few moment later 9 SKYLARKS, I really wanted to hang about for more, but I had to get home, this was one memorable september day though!

The Hedgerow that runs up the side of the Maize field

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler

Wednesday 21 September 2011

I seem to be over the worst of my cold now  :-)  So it was off to work again this morning, in rain, dark and wind  :-(

By the time i'd got home again, the sun had broken through the cloud, and although a bit on the windy side, it was an ok afternoon. I headed off over to Migrant Alley first thing, and immediately saw both a KESTREL and BUZZARD up over the fields and paddocks. At least 6 MEADOW PIPITS, and 2 SKYLARKS were in the sheep pasture, there were probably more hidden up amongst the grass, but I didn't flush them out just to count them. The GOLDFINCH flock of around 25 birds flitted around the edges of the paddocks, feeding on the thistle heads, but there were only 4 LINNETS seen out there today. I scanned the fence lines and posts, and was pleased to find another WHEATEAR, I wont find many more of these lovely passage birds, I think most have gone through already. That will also be true of the HOUSE MARTIN and SWALLOW in two more weeks, although today small but regular flocks of both passed overhead all afternoon.

I moved on to check out the bushes and brambles at the Greenhouse Complex, finding another WHITETHROAT there, this now becomes the latest Whitethroat recorded on my patch. Not much else of note was here, so I walked over to the Tree Nursery, which was pretty quiet, apart from MAGPIES and GREEN WOODPECKERS, nearing the run off pool at the bottom end of the nursery, I could here CHIFFCHAFFS calling, upon reaching the area I counted at least six feeding in the surrounding bushes.

The Maize in the Pub Field, which is adjacent to the Tree Nursery, has started to be cropped, a 5 meter swathe had been cut around the perimeter of the field, but it wasn't being cropped when I was there, I always try my best to be there as the last of the crop gets cut, as this is where anything using the maize as cover ends up, then when the last piece of cover has gone a whole array of wildlife runs/flies for the nearest hedge!




Tuesday 20 September 2011

I felt slightly brighter today, I wish the same could be said of the weather, as it remained dull and cloudy all day!

I didn't do too much though, and just spent an hour out watching over the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, viewing from my seat. It was quite active out there, with at least 30 MEADOW PIPITS, a dozen SKYLARKS plus small flocks of LINNETS and GOLDFINCH'S. 3 YELLOW WAGTAILS called loudly as they flew across the sky, whilst a bit later a further 8 flew up from the sheep pasture in tight formation, they were flushed up by a big female SPARROWHAWK, which I watched fly low and slow around the fields, putting up all the Larks and Pipits, as well as around 100 STARLINGS. It was eventually chased off by the local ROOKS.

A KESTREL was also up hunting, I could see it from where I sat, hovering over the Tree Nursery, the Tall Hedge behind my seat had two CHIFFCHAFF, but there was no sign of any other summer species. The HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS continued there passage south, and many hundreds were seen passing through.

 That was about the extent of my birding today, apart from a bit of garden watching this afternoon, but this was again disrupted by a Sparrowhawk - male this time!

I did get a few photo's in the less gloomier part of the afternoon, but it was still to dull for photography really.  Hopefully i'll be rid of this cold virus tomorrow and back to my normal self  :-)

Blue Tit


Monday 19 September 2011

I'm still feeling the effects of this cold virus, so very little in the way of birding was done today  :-(

I had a walk out over to the Tree Nursery around mid-day, more for a bit of fresh air than anything, and as this place is just a minute away from home it seemed like a good idea, but I was out for just 30 mins and felt crappy again so came home!

However it was not without some interest, I saw my first MISTLE THRUSH (70) of the month in the Nursery, and managed to see 5 species of butterfly in the strong sunshine - Small and Large Whites, a Small Copper, 3 Speckled Woods and a Red Admiral.

Dragonflies were more abundant than of late, with Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, and Southern Hawker all seen around the run off pool at the end of the Tree Nursery.

A trudge home had me half-heartedly looking at the sky, where a BUZZARD and KESTREL were seen up hunting, the only other birding today was done from the garden, where in between bouts of dropping off to sleep, I noted two CHIFFCHAFFS, and at one point 22 COLLARED DOVES were gobbling up the fallen sunflower hearts.
Small Copper

Common Darter

Garden Chiffchaff

Sunday 18 September 2011

I awoke this morning with a burning throat and thumping headache, yes the first cold virus of the Autumn has got me  :-(

I gave myself an extra hour in bed, ( like that would cure me!) before setting off out, but I got as far as a circuit of Migrant Alley when my weak will caved in, and I opted for a sit down on my sky watching seat for a couple of sneezy hours  :-)

I saw another WHEATEAR though, in one of the paddocks, and moving through the Greenhouse Complex Grounds on the way to my seat I saw two WHITETHROATS, this is the latest date I have recorded for this species. Also here, was a BLACKCAP and two CHIFFCHAFFS.

My two hour vigil on my seat was quite good really, ending with a total of 41 species, there will be full patch walks this winter that wont get that many! Highlights, were the passage of hundreds of HOUSE MARTINS, amongst which I picked out a SAND MARTIN. Four Raptor species were seen BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK, PEREGRINE and KESTREL, whilst out in the sheep pasture at least 6 MEADOW PIPITS and a dozen SKYLARKS were to-ing and fro-ing.

Other flyovers included GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, 2 GREY HERONS and more of a surprise, the sound of SISKINS going over. The HERRING GULLS, BLACK HEADED GULLS and a single LESSER BLACK BACK GULL rounded off the skywatch, and as I left for home a LITTLE OWL called from the Greenhouse Copse, and two BULLFINCH'S flew from Greenhouse Grounds.

Not too bad a visit considering .

The Sparrowhawk below was in the tree at the end of my garden, looking for an easy lunch. The STARLING and ROBIN were along Ashes Lane.




Saturday 17 September 2011

The fair weather of the last few days came to an end this morning, it was overcast and windy, but at least dry.

Many birds seem to have sensed the change in weather, and moved on, especially the summer birds, of which only CHIFFCHAFF, SWALLOW, and HOUSE MARTIN were recorded, although a passage YELLOW WAGTAIL was seen over Migrant Alley early on.

It wasn't just the Summer species that were hard to find this morning, BLACKBIRDS were few and far between, and the first one seen was the 27th species on the list, normally it's one of the first half dozen.

Two LONG TAILED TIT flocks were seen, one in the College Grounds and one over at the Small Holding, both had the regular BLUE and GREAT TITS feeding along with them, but the latter flock had two Chiffchaffs and a TREECREEPER with it.

There wasn't much else of note on a rather bog standard sort of visit, but the two raptors recorded were good ones for any patch - A BUZZARD that flew low over the Tree Nursery, and a PEREGRINE that was hunting over Migrant Alley, other flyovers, were 3 Gull species, LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED, as well as a YELLOWHAMMER, two GREY HERONS and six SKYLARKS, which were headed SW.

As I finished the walk the first of a rash of showers rolled in, but once they passed, there were some sunny spells again, I was going to return to the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley for a second look, but I felt a bit un well, maybe the start of one of those Autumn viruses   :-( So I instead took out a chair into the garden and watched the feeders, taking a few photo's of the Finch's there. It was interesting to watch a Hedgehog too, it was collecting nest material and dragging it to the bottom of the ivy covered wall, I wonder if it will over winter there ?  I also noted an Emperor Dragonfly.

Below are the Garden Finch's




Friday 16 September 2011

Another fine, sunny and warm day, apparently the last - well the weekend's coming!

This mornings walk to work almost drew a blank, but in the very last few yards of walking the Stream through the College Grounds, a KINGFISHER (69) streaked past, adding to the months list of species  :-)

On the walk home, I was glad to see no sign of any work crew, and just one dog walker hurried along the footpath at Migrant Alley, and with less disturbance the sighting of another superb WHINCHAT was had, I just love these little birds!

No surprise then, that after a rushed lunch, I was out to try and photograph the Whinchat, I located it pretty quickly, and took a few pics, before leaving it on the fence line to hunt crane flies. I only had 90 mins this afternoon for the visit, so i stayed around the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, plus I had a good look through the Greenhouse Complex Grounds. The Whinchat proved to be the only passage migrant found, indeed, the only other summer bird seen, apart from the overhead SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS was a lone CHIFFCHAFF in the Greenhouse Grounds.

I noted the flock of 23 GOLDFINCH'S which are still on the thistles growing against the fence lines, also around 18 LINNETS were on one of the paddocks. A lone SKYLARK flew up from the sheep pasture, and only my second sighting of a YELLOWHAMMER this month was had, it was in one of the sheep eaten, horse grazed, excuses for a hedgerow  :-)

Flyovers were few, but a KESTREL was up hunting, and both BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS went over on their way to the recently seeded field just off my patch. Tomorrow's full patch walk may be a quiet affair, looking at the weather, but who knows at this time of year, anything might turn up! I'll be trying hard to find the last 'regular' species for my patch that I haven't yet seen this month - the Mistle Thrush, and maybe a Greylag Goose, where have all those gone?  There were hundreds flying around last month!

Photo's today are of the Whinchat, which I dedicate to Dean, and the BLUE TIT, dedicated to Rohrerbot, as he loved yesterdays one so much  :-)




Blue Tit