Monday 31 October 2011

Back to work today, so the last patch visit of October was an afternoon affair, and for the 6th day running it was dull and cloudy with spots of drizzle in the air, that in itself makes the birds less easy to find, but today that was compounded by the number of SPARROWHAWKS that were hunting in the area. The first was seen this morning, I hadn't even walked out of the back door when a male whizzed past at knee height, hoping to catch an early finch on the feeders.

This afternoon my visit to the lakes and scrubby woods was overshadowed by 3 more Sprawks, 2 being female, the male with them may have been the one I saw early this morning. They circled over the woods and made several dashes into the canopy, flushing out numerous BLACKBIRDS, THRUSHES, WOODPIGEONS and 3 FIELDFARES, whilst the ROBINS, DUNNOCKS and Tits were heard giving their alarm calls as the dived deeper into cover. Needless to say, I wasn't going to find anything here today, and with only 3 MALLARD and 5 MOORHEN seen on the water, I made my way over to the Tree Nursery, where blow me down overhead was a big female Sprawk, not one of the two seen over the Scrubby woods, this was a much bigger one!  Once again I had to move on, so the Greenhouse Complex was my next visit, I walked the boundary hedgerow, and all was very quiet, I then saw the reason why fly from a fence post, a KESTREL, this flew up and gave it's alarm call, ki ki ki ,  the reason for that was the BUZZARD that was going over low and slow!!

Well, it wasn't my day, with all those raptors about, I was on a looser,  the light was going fast having lost an hour in the evening now the clocks have gone back, so I decided to go home and watch the garden feeders for 40 mins, maybe something will turn up there to salvage the day, how wrong I was, just ten minutes into watching the garden this little bugger (below) comes in and took a GREENFINCH, I gave up on the bird watching after that!!!!!!

Yet another Sprawk, this time he got his finch meal - a poor old Greenfinch

I'm getting fewer and fewer Greenfinch's in the garden now, however it's NOT the Sprawk thats at the heart of the problem, thats down to the surrounding poor habitat that the farmers and land owners keep degrading   :-(

October went out with a whimper in the end, but for the majority of it, especially early on, there was some good birding to be had, the Whinchat on the 4th was only the second recorded in October, and all those passage Wheatears were a brilliant sight, with the 8 seen together on the 6th being a peak count for my patch. Early Brambling, a Coot, and a couple of Reed Bunting sightings, as well as the arrival of the Redwing and Fieldfares all made for an exciting period, while the two patch ticks, Crossbill and Great Skua, put the cherry and icing on the cake!   :-)  The total species recorded this month ended on 69, the second best October for the ten years, 8 species behind the best October tally though.  The ten year combined species total for October, now stands at 93, with the addition of the Crossbill and Skua.

Sunday 30 October 2011

The last full patch walk for October was, as expected, taken place in some dismal conditions, just like recent visits! Low cloud and and persistent drizzle made it tough looking for birds, the day barely got light at all. A consequence of this was a low tally of species seen, just 40 in all.

The highlight of the walk, if any, was seeing a flock of mixed SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPITS in the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, altogether around 18 birds, which is a good number here! I wont bother going into the rest of the sightings today, as you might as well read yesterdays post!

Instead I thought I'd put up some stats  (yawwwwn )  of the last dates that the Summer species were seen this year, compared to the latest and average leaving dates over the ten year recording period. Below are the species that have been recorded in 5 or more years out of the ten.
                                   LATEST   AVERAGE    THIS YEAR
  • Hobby                 7/10            20/9              29/9
  • Common Tern      25/8            4/8                25/8
  • Turtle Dove         14/9            28/8              14/9
  • Cuckoo               5/8              1/7                14/6 
  • Swift                    2/10           28/8               15/9
  • Swallow               20/10         9/10               9/10
  • Sand Martin         3/10           16/9               18/9
  • House Martin       22/10         8/10               12/10
  • Yellow Wagtail     19/10         23/9                29/9
  • Redstart               24/9           6/9                  9/9
  • Whinchat             10/10         18/9                4/10
  • Wheatear             23/10         1/10                9/10
  • Sedge Warbler     26/9           15/9                22/9
  • Reed Warbler       22/9           2/9                  22/9 
  • Less.Whitethroat   21/9          9/9                  9/9
  • Com.Whitethroat   21/9          10/9               21/9
  • Garden Warbler     14/9          23/8               24/8
  • Willow warbler       21/9         31/8               19/9
  • Spot. Flycatcher     19/9          31/8               11/9
You can see that this year,  16 of the 19 summer species hung around later than the average date, 2 left bang on the average date and 1 left earlier than the average date. Four species were seen on their latest dates this year   :-)

As the weather at the moment is limiting photo opportunities, I have dug out an old favorite of mine  :-)

Little Owl ( Jan 2009)

Saturday 29 October 2011


The dull, damp, misty weather continued for my full patch walk this morning, a total of 47 species was recorded, which is a good tally for late October, however it doesn't tell the whole story, as the vast majority of that bird list was represented by either single birds or birds heard but unseen!

It was good to see three raptor species up hunting, single BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK all showed well, also four Gull species, it's  not often I get four in the same visit, all flew over, most of these were BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, but a singles of both COMMON and  LESSER BLACK BACKED also showed up.

Winter Thrushes were a bit more showy today, a flock of 18 REDWING, and 14 FIELDFARE flew over the Tree Nursery, but none of these winter migrants are stopping to feed on my patch yet, unlike the SISKIN, which at least 8 were feeding with the GOLDFINCH'S in the Greenhouse Complex Alders. 14 SKYLARKS flew up from the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, along with 6 MEADOW PIPITS, with 8 LINNETS seen out on the paddocks.

Over at the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, the water dripping from the trees made it feel even more miserable, nothing but the MALLARDS and MOORHEN were on the water, but a flock of LONG TAILED TITS brightened things up briefly. Only other thing of note today were the two CORMORANTS that flew over the main lake. The weather looks even more miserable tomorrow morning, but that's October!!

Friday 28 October 2011

As yesterday, today was a dull, damp, and cloudy day, very uninspiring!!  Still, I made the effort and went round for a full patch walk, collecting 43 species in four hours, but with some notable species not turning up, it could have been better, the likes of Pheasant, Coal it, Grey Heron, and once again Greenfinch were not found today, where have all the Greenfinch gone ?

There were some nice species recorded however, a GREY WAGTAIL flew over the Tree Nursery, where 6 MEADOW PIPITS rose from the rough grass before dropping down again once I had passed. Whilst in the nursery 8 FIELDFARE with a lone REDWING flew over, as did a few LESSER REDPOLL there are more of this species this year than in any other I have recorded on my patch.

A flock of around 40-50 GOLDFINCH had at least 7 SISKIN with them, they were all feeding in Alder trees that form the boundary of the Greenhouse Complex with Migrant Alley, whilst further up the boundary in the tall hedge a CHIFFCHAFF was found, I wonder if it's a late one or an over winterer from the continent ? A YELLOWHAMMER and two LINNETS dropped down briefly into the same hedge, and a whole host of BLACKBIRDS were skulking there too.

Nothing has changed over at the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, a few of the MALLARD had returned, with at least 14 between the 3 lakes, and 4 MOORHENS joined them.The woods were rather quiet, but BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and the GREAT and GREEN WOODPECKERS all showed well.

Other flyovers seen today only included BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL, plus a KESTREL, the only raptor of the day.


Back at home, at the garden feeders, the place was buzzing with Goldfinch's, with two coming to visit the heads of the Teasels that I planted back in the spring, it's fantastic to see them feeding naturally rather than in neat pairs down the tube of a feeder, and it didn't cost me a thing!  Other notables in the garden today were GOLDCREST, two Nuthatch, COAL TIT, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and WREN

Goldfinch On Teasel

More Goldfinch On Teasel

Thursday 27 October 2011

It took ages for it to get light this morning, in fact it never really did,  thick cloud hung around all day, and a light rain fell at times. The excitement of yesterdays patch ticks wasn't repeated today in any way, in fact it was a pretty normal 4 hour patch walk, with 42 species being found, but Greenfinch and Nuthatch weren't among them, these are normally regular sightings.

The highlights were few today, but the first FIELDFARE for a week were a welcome sight, as 22 were seen to drop down into the top of a tree by the Pub Field, a few LESSER REDPOLL were heard flying over as I walked around the College Grounds, where six SISKIN were seen feeding in their favourite tree species, the Alder  :-) Walking back over Migrant Alley, a YELLOWHAMMER was seen, and four MEADOW PIPITS got up from the Sheep pasture, overhead a flock of 11 SKYLARKS flew NW, but just two LINNETS were seen in the Greenhouse Complex, most seem to have moved off elsewhere now.

Over at the lakes and Scrubby Woods, it was dull and dark, with only 4 MALLARD, 6 MOORHEN and the fishing GREY HERON to be seen on the water, I didn't expect much here today, as last nights fireworks would have flushed any ducks off the lakes! I recorded the regular species, the best being TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, and BULLFINCH, but that was as good as it got here.

Walking along the western end of Ashes lane, I looked over the field of seedling wheat, adding BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL to the list, but there was also a COMMON GULL out there too, next to this field is a set aside field, planted with a crop for wildlife, nothing was in there today, but it has promise for late winter :-)

The only raptor seen on my walk was the KESTREL, but a SPARROWHAWK was at my garden feeders this afternoon, successfully catching a GOLDFINCH, and the missing GREENFINCH'S and NUTHATCH'S were also seen, making up the day list to average day, but i'll except that after the great excitement of yesterday!   No photo's today - just too dark!!

Wednesday 26 October 2011

The first of my days off work, and of course I used it to get out for a full patch visit, typically the first real rain of the month was falling, in the form of heavy and blustery showers, but at least there were some bright intervals, which as the day progressed grew shorter as the showers increased in frequency and length.

I went over to the lake area first, passing through the Small Holding and Wet Woods as I went, stopping to seek shelter each time a showers passed overhead. Three skeins of CANADA GEESE, numbering 16, 8 and 4 plus a pair of GREYLAG GEESE were seen in the growing light of the morning sky, a SPARROWHAWK was up hunting very early too. I hadn't got much to get excited about on my list as i reached the lakes and Scrubby Woods, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, PIED WAGTAIL, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH - all the regulars. Looking over the Lakes there was a GREY HERON fishing on the main lake, and between all the 3 water bodies, 22 MALLARDS and 11 MOORHEN were seen.. The Scrubby Woods provided the likes of SISKIN, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, and MISTLE THRUSH, but still nothing too exciting.

I made my way over to the Tree Nursery, and noted a stream of HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS continually flying over, plus I could see 3 BUZZARDS up soaring over the Greenhouse Complex, a PHEASANT frightened the life out of me as it flew up just feet from me, putting up a pair of MEADOW PIPITS with it. On the near horizon, a big black shower cloud was looming, so I took an early break for breakfast, just getting home as a torrential downpour arrived.

40 minutes later I was out again, but it was now 11:30 so i didn't expect to see much , however, as I crossed the Greenhouse Complex, heading for Migrant Alley, an unfamiliar call rang out from high above me, it took a few seconds to realise what it was - CROSSBILL ( 136, 106, 68 )  !!!  I looked frantically up in the sky to try to find them, and just managed to see two flying off into the distance, fantastic! A new patch species, my 136th  :-)

Another big black shower cloud was coming in, and the wind was gusting, so I decided not to go to the College Grounds and gardens, it would be full of workers by now anyway, so I stayed at my sky watching seat, at least I could run to cover from there!  The shower narrowly missed in the end and went round to the NW, but once it went through, a few SKYLARKS were heard going over, and then a REED BUNTING, only the second this Autumn, a YELLOWHAMMER called as it also flew over. I scanned the sky, watching the heavy black clouds gathering again, then spotted a gull like bird coming in from the SE, It was high up, but heading my way, as it got nearer I was amazed to see that it was an GREAT SKUA ( 137, 107, 69 ) , !!! WOW!!  Another patch first!!  I watched it fly past heading NW, all the time being mobbed by a crow then a KESTREL, I could see the white flashes on the Skuas wings as it banked to avoid the mobbing birds, what a species to find at Pittswood!  Admittedly, being a sedentary inland birder, my experience of Sea faring birds is limited, so although I am in no doubt it was a Skua, what type it exactly was, is a bit of an ID  problem for me, however after showing the photo's around to fellow birders, the conclusion is that it's a Great Skua  :-)

So with two new additions to the patch list, the year list moves on to 107, the 3rd highest, and the month list moves on to 69, the second best October out of the ten. 

Great Skua - Unfortunately by the time I got the camera on the bird,it was very high up, but ive cropped it as much as possible, you can make out the wing flashes, and a bit of a pointy tail - just!!  :-)


Tuesday 25 October 2011

It was slightly more Autumnal today, but still quite warm with a few sunny spells and a southerly breeze. Bird activity increased a bit from yesterday, but then, it couldn't have been any slower!  My walk to the lakes and Scrubby Woods, via the Tree Nursery, was punctuated with the calls of the occasional MEADOW PIPIT, SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL as they flew over. Two LONG TAILED TIT flocks were stumbled upon, one had a CHIFFCHAFF with it, the other had GOLDCREST with it, which I tried making into a Firecrest or Yellow Browed Warbler - no chance!

Over at the lakes a GREY HERON was fishing contentedly, and a dozen MALLARD plus 5 MOORHENS dabbled about, while watching the lakes a Corvid gave the ''Raptor'' call and looking up I saw a BUZZARD fly over. Two more Goldrest, a  TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS plus a few BULFINCH were seen in the Scrubby Wood.

After an hour or so I made my way back over to the Tree Nursery, and Pub Field, where a GREY WAGTAIL was feeding on the run off pool, on the Pub Field, just the Corvids and WOODPIGEONS fed, but as i scanned over the field, a flock of 5 LAPWING went over, sadly they didn't come down to join the Pigeons  :-(  .  A KESTREL hunted over the hedgerow between the Pub Field and Tree Nursery, then a few moments later the SPARROWHAWK was seen up hunting over the Wet Woods and the gardens along Ashes Lane. The only other bird of note was a single YELLOWHAMMER that flew over.

Ive got the next three days off work, so weather permitting I should be out for full patch walks for the rest of the week  :-)

Long Tailed Tit

Green Woodpecker

Monday 24 October 2011

Back to work today, and so back to the afternoon patch visits, which invariably prove to be less productive than the mornings, today was particularly less so!  I paid a visit to the lakes and Scrubby woods, primarily to see if the Coot was still about, it wasn't, it had probably moved off overnight, but there is always a chance it was just well hidden somewhere  :-)

Whilst there the highlight of the visit appeared when a BUZZARD drifted low over, being mobbed by a KESTREL, other than that it was a very quiet afternoon, the warm sun and gentle breeze made it feel most summer like, and most creatures seemed to be taking time out somewhere - and who can blame them, it wont always be this easy for them in the coming months.

I made my way home after a short while, but went via the Tree Nursery, where 7 MAGPIES were again scolding a fox, and probably the same Kestrel as seen earlier was up hovering, it flushed up a MEADOW PIPIT, which circled round and alighted further back into the field. A LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL drifter over with a few HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS, but after a few minutes I decided upon going home to get some bird photo's at my feeders, given the good light  :-) with the following results.

20+ Of these GOLDFINCH'S were on the Sunflower hearts


NUTHATCH Two of these came in


BLUE TIT -  at least  15 of these were flitting about

Blue Tit

Sunday 23 October 2011

Another Pittswood sunrise

My full patch walk this morning was undertaken in remarkably warm conditions, and even with the wind picking up mid morning, it still felt more like summer than late Autumn. All very pleasant, but it doesn't encourage the winter species to visit my patch, in fact I havn't recorded a winter thrush all weekend.

Small numbers of SISKIN, seen in various localities, and a few flyover LESSER REDPOLL did remind me however that winter is just around the corner. A few large flocks of WOODPIGEON were seen flying high over, heading south, and directly opposed to them were a dribble of MEADOW PIPITS and SKYLARKS going north, involving maybe 25 -30 birds in all, and just a single YELLOWHAMMER was noted, it dropped down into the hedgerow at the Pub Field.

Raptors were up and hunting once the warmth of the sun cleared the slight mist, with KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and a pair BUZZARDS all seen over Migrant Alley, where a flock of GOLDFINCH numbering around 35 birds fed in the Alder trees that mark the boundary between it and the Greenhouse Complex. CANADA GEESE, GREY HERON, HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULL made up the flyover species.

At the lakes and Scrubby Woods, it was quite busy, with TREECREEPERS, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS all putting in an appearance, but the highlight of the day was at last find something with the MALLARD and MOORHEN on the main lake - a COOT (67) my first since June, a real scarce bird on these lakes, but a welcome addition to Octobers list. That now stands at 67, just one off the second best tally, achieved in both 2008, and 2009, but still way off the highest tally of 77 achieved last year!

Coot ....Not a very good photo, but I was sliding down the bank at the time!

Great Spotted Woodpecker

HOUSE SPARROW,  If you look carefully you can see colour rings on each legs, Orange over Purple on the right leg and a single Purple on the left leg. This bird was rung by a friend of mine just up the lane, as part of a Re trapping  adults for survival scheme. The coloured rings tell me this bird was ringed on 20 May 2007 as a Juvenile. It has been seen just twice before, both in 2007, one in August and one in December. I wonder where its been since then  ?

PS whilst writing this post, I can hear both Tawny and Little owls calling, taking the daylist to 46   :-)

Saturday 22 October 2011

A crisp, cold, but sunny 4 hour full patch walk was had this morning, however, for such a lovely Autumnal day, the birdlife was a bit on the scarce side.

A frosty Sunrise

The first bird on the list this morning was a MISTLE THRUSH, later in the walk another group of 3 flew over the Pub Field, these birds have been quite scarce here this Autumn. A GREY WAGTAIL was feeding on the edge of the run off pool at the Tree Nursery, always good to find one of those on my patch, as is finding a LESSER REDPOLL, two of these were feeding in a Silver Birch at the College Grounds, but they made it difficult to get a photo despite the nice light, they insisted on feeding in the shade!

Lesser Redpoll

A flock of GOLDFINCH were feeding in an Alder tree by the Greenhouse Complex, with them was a single SISKIN, and half a dozen LINNET. Migrant Alley was good for a few flyover species, including a single YELLOWHAMMER, 2 MEADOW PIPIT, 8 SKYLARK, a KESTREL and three gull species HERRING, BLACK HEADED, and LESSER BLACK BACKED.

Nothing new was on any of the lakes, MALLARD and MOORHEN were the usual inhabitants, and in the surrounding Scrubby Woods a few of the regulars were found, the best of these being NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, in general though there were far fewer birds about than I would expect this time of year, the day list ended on 43 species, which is around average here for late October.

Later this afternoon, I was having a 'garden bird watch'  when I spotted a BRAMBLING come in to take some sunflower hearts, so I was out like a shot to try and photograph it, I did manage a couple of photo's but I think this one was spoilt by the chain holding the feeder up!

Brambling - a superb garden visitor  :-)

Whilst waiting for the Brambling to come back in, plenty of activity was noted, including COAL TIT, a flock of Long Tailed Tits ( scarce in my garden in recent years!) two Nuthatch, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, as well as all the BLUE, and GREAT TITS, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH and Goldfinch, however the Greenfinch's are well down in number just three, compared two over 30 last month!


Friday 21 October 2011

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, They are back at the garden feeders with a vengeance!

A heavy grey blanket of cloud covered the sky this afternoon, this combined with heavy disturbance during the visit made for a very poor outing. The owners of one half of the Wet Woods were having one of their annual slash and burn outings, cutting back the dead wood and burning it - what a waste of good wildlife habitat, but some people still manage woodland in this old fashioned way  :-(

Migrant Alley had a work crew putting up mesh around the stock fences, and the Greenhouse Complex had pickers out in the poly tunnels, this didn't leave me a lot to visit!  I did the lakes, finding the usual MALLARD and MOORHEN, plus the slightly less usual GREY HERON, nothing else visiting yet  :-(  The Scrubby Woods was also quiet, but it was in earshot of Chainsaws, and drifting smoke also blew through, it gets like this sometimes on my patch!!  All that i had left really was the Tree Nursery, where once again a tramp up and down the rows of Laurel bushes flushed out a few BLACKBIRDS and SONGTHRUSHES, the HOUSE SPARROW flock were also in their favoured boundary hedge, but after noting a few flyover SISKIN and REDPOLL I decided to call it a day, maybe better luck will be had on my full patch walk tomorrow morning  :-)

Thursday 20 October 2011

It was a bit cooler than of late this afternoon, after a slight frost this morning. I made another trip over to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods area after work, where the lakes were devoid of anything interesting, only MALLARD and MOORHEN were seen, but one of these days something else will turn up ( I hope!)

I spent most of the afternoon in this area of my patch, and had quite a nice time in the sunny but cool conditions, most of the regular woodland species were seen, a flock of 6 BULLFINCH contained 2 immature birds, the flock were joined by BLUE TITS, and beneath the large bramble patch they were feeding in, 2 BLACKBIRDS a SONGTHRUSH and a REDWING flew out. A party of LONG TAILED TITS criss crossed the area, and both NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER were seen with them. A COAL TIT called from the still fully canopied Oaks, where at least 2 GOLDCREST were also heard. The afternoon was made, however, when a BRAMBLING (66) flew over calling - my first of the Autumn, I don't often record Brambling this early  :-)

A made my way over to the Tree Nursery a bit later, and was pleased to see a HOUSE SPARROW flock of some 18 birds, a small number, but a good flock for my patch, they flitted along the hedgerow that is the boundary with a large house.  Fewer Gulls were seen today, BLACK HEADED and HERRING, but no Raptors were about - which makes a change  :-)

Sleepy Fox

The above Fox was one of two that were lying together in a sunny spot, one saw me, and casually walked off into the thick brambles, but the other lay totally out of it, asleep, like a cat on a rug, in front of a blazing log fire. I stepped on a twig, and the snap woke the fox from his dreams of Rabbit and Pheasants, he didn't run off though, but just raised his head, looked at me and went back to sleep!  I took my photo and left him to it  :-)

House Sparrow
When I got home from my visit, I found this Nuthatch on the peanut feeder  :-)  I also had my first GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER since August in, nice to have them back in the garden.


Wednesday 19 October 2011

Today is the fourth anniversary of the ''Pittswood Birds'' blog, a milestone I thought I would never achieve, as i was initially only going to do the blog for a calendar year!  Looks like I'll be doing another year though  :-)

This afternoons visit however was not one of the more memorable ones, My walk over to the Lake area was met with lots of disturbance, and once at the lakes a noisy leaf sucking machine being used by one of the nearby garden workmen gave off an aggravating sound! Only 4 of yesterdays MALLARDS remained on the lake, with 3 MOORHENS, a GREY HERON that flew over me whilst I walked through the Small Holding earlier had probably been flushed from the main lake.

Around the lake vegetation, and in the Scrubby Woods a few of the regulars were found, LONG TAILED TITS, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH and NUTHATCH were the best of them, the SPARROWHAWK was up above the area, he knows where most of the birds are  ;-)  after all, he's looking for them just like I am!

As yesterday, I made my way over to the Tree Nursery, and gave the Laurel bushes a good scouring, finding SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, DUNNOCK and ROBIN, nothing more exciting, although at one point I saw 7 MAGPIES getting excited about a section of shrubs, I made my over, thinking of finding some rare Shrike, but it turned out to be a Fox  :-)

Migrant Alley was my next stop, but here there was also some disturbance, a tractor was mowing the sheep pasture ( for some reason!)  I saw a MEADOW PIPIT fly up, and watched the LINNET flock vacate the area, as did the few GOLDFINCH that were there. PIED WAGTAIL, SKYLARK, REDPOLL and SISKIN were the best of the flyovers, and a mixed skein of 5 CANADA GEESE with two GREYLAG GEESE that went over, had me hoping for something more unusual, but not today!

This Red Admiral was sunbathing on the Oak tree seen in yesterdays photo, showing the footpath from the Wet woods to the lake area.

Blackbird at the Tree Nursery

Tuesday 18 October 2011

A strong SW wind blew this afternoon, negating the effect of any warmth from the watery Autumn sunshine, and it was the wind that made the walk through the Small Holding, Wet Woods and Lake area a rather dull affair, as little could be heard above the roar of the wind through the tree tops, although at one point whilst in the Wet woods I thought I could hear the calls of LONG TAILED TITS high in the canopy.

A view into the Wet Woods ( now bone dry!)

Walking the path from the Wet Woods to the Lake area normally throws up a Treecreeper, Goldcrest or Nuthatch, sometimes all three, however today they were all elsewhere. On reaching the lake, I at last saw a bird  -   MALLARDS,  24 were spread between the 3 water bodies, 14 of those on the main lake, an increase on yesterday giving me hope that something might join them soon. 8 MOORHEN and a GREY HERON completed the water bird life. A quick look around the Scrubby Woods and the general area only produced a SPARROWHAWK, which further compounded the lack of bird life here!

This is the footpath from the Wet Woods to the Lake area, looking back towards the woods. Behind the hedge on the left is the garden with ''lolipopped' oaks and a well manicured large lawn, on the right is the garden that is well wooded

I eventually made my way over to The Tree Nursery, and Migrant Alley, I walked through the Laurel shrubs in the Nursery, hoping to flush up something interesting, and did actually manage to see a male BLACKCAP fly out and into the boundary Hedgerow, the last one seen was on the 9th. Also four BLACKBIRDS and two SONGTHRUSH flew up, and dropped down further along the shrub line.

This is a view to the East from the edge of the Wet Woods looking over a sheep pasture, and the Tree Nursery to the left of the Oak tree. Behind the hedge is the Pub Field

I arrived at a blustery Migrant Alley, and had time to do a circuit of the sheep pasture and paddocks, where 16 LINNET, 8 GOLDFINCH, and a flock of 200+ STARLINGS were found, the latter flock was scanned for a Rose coloured Starling, but of course, that wasn't there  :-)

Flyovers included HERRING, BLACK HEADED, and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, 2 single LESSER REDPOLL, a YELLOWHAMMER plus the sighting of a KESTREL and a pair of BUZZARDS up hunting over the area. That was it for today!

Monday 17 October 2011

After work this afternoon I paid a visit to the Lakes and Scrubby Wood area of my patch, via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, this is the default Autumn/winter walk, now that the summer migrants have stopped passing though. There is a slim chance of a passage bird still, so if time permits I will end up at the fields and Paddocks of Migrant Alley for a Little time yet.

Passing through he Small Holding, a small flock of some half a dozen CHAFFINCH were feeding on the well rotten, fallen crab apples, also in the old orchard were three GREEN WOODPECKERS. The Wet Woods are now completely bone dry, nothing at all was heard or seen in here, but thats not unusual for this time of year, once the rains come and the ditches fill up, it will become more active.

Walking the path from the woods to the lakes, which is flanked by two large gardens, two more Green Woodpeckers were seen in the more formal of the two gardens, whilst in the well wooded garden a NUTHATCH called, but it was all very quiet really.

On the Main Lake today 13 MALLARD and and four MOORHEN were the only occupants, while the satellite lakes held just 5 Moorhens between them. Whilst tucked in the bankside vegetation, scanning the main lake, I got a glimpse of a small falcon as it appeared to come down to the surface of the lake, presumably to drink, however it was right in front of the sun, so all i could see were backlit primaries really, almost immediately a SPARROWHAWK came in and saw off the small falcon, making it call in a high pitched Ki-Ki-Ki, sounding like a squeaking bicycle wheel! I've no real idea what it was, Kestrel, Hobby or maybe even a Merlin, views were so brief and into the sun - something missed there I think!

I carried on through he bankside scrub and looked over the Scrubby Woods, and found the familiar birds, most were in a mixed Feeding flock comprising of LONG TAILED, BLUE, GREAT and COAL TITS, with a TREECREEPER and two GOLDCRESTS.

I made my way over to Migrant Alley in a strengthening SW wind and falling light, but little was seen here of note today, apart from the resident LINNET flock, a few GOLDFINCH and a flyover MEADOW PIPIT, the KESTREL was up hunting, and another sighting of a Sparrowhawk was also had.

No photo's today! 

Sunday 16 October 2011

This morning a dense fog fog enveloped my patch, and the light frost that went with it had me shivering for the first time this Autumn.

Fog at Migrant Alley - This is the Tall Hedge where I skywatch

Unsurprisingly very little was seen at all, and not much more was heard! In the two hours I spent out, just 29 species were recorded, by 09:00hrs I was back home, thawing out over tea and toast  :-)

By 10:00hrs the fog had began to lift - so off I went out again, almost immediately I was treated to a brace of LESSER REDPOLL that flew over Ashes lane, the first i've actually seen this Autumn, the others having been detected by their call only. I headed through the Tree Nursery and in the thinning mist and gathering sunshine I noted a small bird drop down onto one of the shrubs, where it started to call - it was a REED BUNTING (65) a new species for this month, and the first on my patch since March. SKYLARKS started to flyover as I made my way to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, small numbers in groups of 3-6, and in the distance I saw 5 CANADA GEESE fly by, a PHEASANT called and was seen creeping along the edge of the Wet woods.

On reaching the lakes I found 8 MALLARD, 5 MOORHEN and a GREY HERON on the main lake with nothing different on the two smaller satellite lakes. I checked the surrounding scrub and vegetation, and found BULLFINCH, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, JAY, GOLDCREST,  NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, BLUE and GREAT TIT as well as GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, they were all loosely associating in a feeding flock, enjoying the now warm sunny morning  :-) A LITTLE OWL called several times and a CHIFFCHAFF appeared a short time after, and joined the throng. Before leaving I noted two CORMORANTS and the ever present SPARROWHAWK flying over.

I went over to Migrant Alley, and the Greenhouse Grounds for the second time, well it was fog bound earlier!  It was now clear, sunny and warm, HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS were passing over at all heights, MEADOW PIPITS, LINNETS, SISKINS, single FIELDFARES and REDWING all passed over, and two KESTRELS were both being mobbed by a gang of CARRION CROWS, JACKDAWS and ROOKS. This left the way clear for a pair of BUZZARDS to fly unhindered low over the Greenhouses a short time later !

So after a dismal start to the day I ended up with 50 species, 3 more than yesterday, a cracking total in the end  :-)

Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting


BLACKBIRD Laping up the warm sunshine


Saturday 15 October 2011

Just before sun up

What a glorious Autumnal day today, unbroken sunshine from dawn till dusk, a bit chilly to start with though, with the first frost of the Autumn covering the grass.

The four hour visit from 06:30, produced a total of 47 species, which is a good tally for an October day, this included two CHIFFCHAFF, both of which were in song, one was in the Greenhouse Complex Grounds the other in the Lakeside scrub, but they were the only summer species recorded today.

Early on, just as the sun rose, I watched and listened for anything flying over Migrant Alley, this was quite productive today, as REDWING, FIELDFARE, SISKIN, SKYLARK, MEADOW PIPIT, LAPWING and two skeins of GREYLAG GEESE were all recorded, while a LITTLE OWL called from over at the Greenhouse Copse.

Three raptor species were seen, a KESTREL hunted over the Tree Nursery, a pair of SPARROWHAWKS hunted just about everywhere! The third raptor species was BUZZARD two of which were still associating with the Wet Woods.

COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, and GOLDCREST,  were notable species recorded over at the Lake and Scrubby Woods area, where also of note was watching a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER excavate a hole in a dead Silver Birch tree, no doubt to roost in.

There were no new species recorded for the month, which remains on 64, the joint 4th best October tally.

Singing Chiffchaff at the Greenhouse Grounds

As the light was so good today I took also some garden bird pics  :-)




Coal Tit

Friday 14 October 2011

It was clear and mild this morning on the way to work, and as it got light a few birds of note were seen going over Migrant Alley. 4 GREY HERON,  2 skeins of GREY LAG GEESE (one of 14 one of 17 birds), 2 LESSER REDPOLL, 5 min of MEADOW PIPIT and a SISKIN. It looked good just to sit and watch the sky for an hour, but work beckoned  :-(

After work, I was back out on patch, I visited the Tree Nursery and Pub Field first, hoping something had dropped into the many shrubs in the nursery, there were plenty of CHAFFINCH and BLACKBIRD about, some probably new in, but not much else, a KESTREL hunted above for a few minutes, and 3 SKYLARKS flew over as I left for the Pub Field. Here it was all very dry and quiet, just a few more Chaffinch's around the edge of the field. I cut back through the Tree Nursery to get to Migrant Alley, and as I looked over at the sky above the Wet Woods I saw two BUZZARDS actually come down and go into the woods, a very scarce sight to see a Buzzards alight anywhere on my patch!

Over at Migrant Alley there was a gaggle of silly squealing student teenage girls, learning how to clean horse troughs, so i didn't bother with a circuit of the paddocks, instead I watched the sky for an hour, from my seat.. This produced a few more flyovers from the likes of Skylark, Redpoll, Meadow Pipit, but only ever in singles at a time. There was the usual sighting of a SPARROWHAWK, and the local PIED WAGTAILS at the Greenhouse Complex had a GREY WAGTAIL with them today, but it didn't hang around long. To the south of my patch there was a field being ploughed, and large numbers of HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over my patch to get to it, they were joined by hundreds of Corvids, the whole lot kept getting spooked every few minutes, sending a huge cloud of Gulls and Corvids into the air in a swirling mass, the Buzzards I saw earlier probably being the culprits for that!

Not much else to report until I got up to leave at around 17:00hrs, when a final look up revealed 7 LAPWING (64) coming from the North and flying directly over the Greenhouse Complex, at last something to kick start the months list again  :-)

One of the many Black Headed gulls that went over

One of the Chaffinch 's

Bonus photo today, the garden BLUE TIT, I couldn't resist this one  :-)