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!!  :-)



Sharon said...

Wow Warren, 2 patch records on the 1st day - well done!
Of course, you realise you've set the bar high now for the next 2 days - we want to see at least 4 more :)

Warren Baker said...

I think ive had my share of luck until next year now! Although a nice duck species for the lake wouldn't go amiss :-)

Greenie said...

Warren ,
Well done with your two new patch ticks .

Warren Baker said...

Cheers Greenie,
They get harder all the time now!

Marc Heath said...

What a good session Warren, crossbills good but an inland Arctic Skua, thats MEGA.Well done.

Warren Baker said...

I was well chuffed with these species. I'm still not 100% on the skua species, but have gone with the most likely !

Sent some pics to a few people to help out - shite photo's though!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Double wow Warren!!!!!! knew you'd get a crosser this season but never thought you pull out a skua...and thanks for the hesds up with Dean.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Lookin again your skua looks broad and short winged suggesting more great skua than arctic perhaps but other than the new Collins I haven't got a detailed skua book.


Warren Baker said...

Cheers Dave,
I may change my mind on the skua yet! see what the majority think! said...

Great dunnock, and thanks for your comment of my post in Zolinas lake blog....
Best regards

Alan Pavey said...

Fantastic Warren, 2 patch ticks in a day!!!!! I think I've only had one all year! The Skua does look pretty bulky, I would have gone with Great.

Jason K said...

Sorry Warren...hadnt read your blog until today.

What an amazing Day 2 patch firsts...Crosbill I guess a flyover was due eventually during mig periods...but Great Skua...Fantastic!

Greater Kent Birder said...

I see the crossbills have finally fallen prey to your bins. Well done.
I don't know what to say about the great skua - though jammy bugger springs to mind!.