Wednesday 30 November 2011

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday, there was a fault on the telephone line and I lost my broadband, things are just not going my my this month!!  I didn't get out yesterday afternoon as I was checking my home wiring, thinking the problem was in my home, but eventually contacted BT through a mind boggling automated phone system and got the fault reported, fair play to them though, in less than 24 hours they had the line repaired. :-)

Back to today, and I was off work, not feeling to good, and most of my birding was done from the house, but a short visit over to the Tree Nursery,  Pub Field and Migrant Alley was made around 11:00hrs. I didn't do the lakes as I could hear the chainsaws still chopping away in the garden next to them. I was only out for 90 mins, in some warm and sunny conditions, which makes for poor birding at this time of year, I cant remember a November with so few birds on my patch!  I did see 30+ LAPWING and 20+ BLACK HEADED GULLS on the Pub Field, a couple of MEADOW PIPITS in the Tree Nursery, and at Migrant Alley a YELLOWHAMMER was good to see, along with a GREY WAGTAIL that flew from the nearby Greenhouse Complex, flyovers from KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were noted. However, my half hour skywatch didn't give me a fly over species that was new for the month, Mute Swan or Little Egret would have done  ;-)

So the month ends on 66 species, the joint second best tally for November, which is not too shabby considering the unseasonable weather, and some of the disturbance I have had here. The combined ten year November list now stands at 85, it was incremented by the Crossbill and Red Legged Partridge, which suggests that this month list could have been higher, but the average November total for the last 5 years is 64, so I cant be too disappointed  :-)

The afternoon garden watch was a bit better than of late, I didn't see any Sprawk attacks whilst I watched, which encouraged 17 species to come to the feeders, although there is a huge drop in numbers birds visiting, probably due to the mild weather, especially finch's, only a peak count of 4 GOLDFINCH, 2 GREENFINCH, and 4 CHAFFINCH were made, the visitors which did turn up in any numbers were the BLUE TITS, at least 20 were zipping in and out, with 3-4 GREAT TITS and a single COAL TIT.. Singles of JACKDAW, MAGPIE, BLACKBIRD, DUNNOCK, WREN, and GOLDCREST, were also seen, along with 2 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, 2 NUTHATCH and 2 ROBINS. COLLARED DOVES and STARLINGS were the other two species to visit, both with a peak of 7 coming in.

Here's some of todays photo's  :-)

Yellowhammer at Migrant Alley
Yellowhammer again
One of the ever present Blue Tits from my garden

Garden Great Tit

Monday 28 November 2011

Clear skies produced an overnight frost, but the cloud soon rolled in to leave a chilly, overcast day. I was still looking forward to getting out this afternoon after work though, however, as I neared home, I could hear the sound of chainsaws coming from the Lake area, never a good thing!

I made the visit to the lakes anyway, passing through the Small Holding, only to find that it was being ''tidied up'' and a bonfire raging away. The Wet Woods were filled with drifting smoke, and the noise of chainsaws was much louder. I arrived at the Lakes to find the nearby large house,  was having its Oak trees ''Lollipoped''  this is the third winter running that this has been going on   :-(  . Needless to say, with the noise of the chainsaws, and the even noisier chipping machine that was being fed the limbs of the Oaks, nothing at all was seen on any of the lakes, so i hastily made my way to the Tree Nursery and Pub Field.

Just a couple of GREEN WOODPECKERS and a MEADOW PIPIT were in the nursery, but the Pub Field had 45 BLACK HEADED GULLS and the best part of the 150 odd LAPWING flock that were here yesterday. A look around the Greenhouse Complex, and its hedgerow that borders Migrant Alley, only produced the likes of WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, PIED WAGTAIL, and BLACKBIRD,  plus five GOLDFINCH and a lone SISKIN that were feeding  in an Alder tree, while overhead the only notable was 3 FIELDFARE. Thats just about all there was time for this afternoon, 15:30 and dusk was rolling in! 

In all a very frustrating visit, the chainsaw gang could be around for days, making the likelyhood of finding anything new for the month, ( the lakes are the most likely source of something different) very long odds  :-(  Oh well, I'll try again tomorrow, you never know, something might turn up elsewhere  :-)

Sunday 27 November 2011

Red Fox
The last full patch walk of  November took place this morning in overcast and windy conditions, with some squally showers thrown in, but by 10:00hrs the clouds parted and it became sunny and mild.

Early on in the walk, in near darkness the above Fox was seen hunting in the Small Holding, I had not too much hope of a decent photo, but by ratcheting up the ISO to 3200 on the camera I was surprised at just how bright the image is, shame I chopped a bit of its tail off!

As I was photographing the fox, a flock of 60+ FIELDFARE dropped in to the tallest trees around the Small Holding, stopping briefly before moving on again. I also moved on, to the Lake area, where 24 MALLARD and 5 MOORHEN were the only residents today, whilst in the Scrubby Woods the strong wind made it difficult to hear much, except a singing MISTLE THRUSH, and a singing SONGTHRUSH, a BULLFINCH was glimpsed, and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER called from the top of a fir tree, but that was about it for the area, a very poor visit indeed, with so few birds about.

The second half of my walk over to the College Grounds, via the Tree Nursery, Pub Field, and Migrant Alley was a pretty grim affair birdwise, despite the brightening conditions, just 10 more species were added to the daylist, making for one of the poorest November tallies ever, just 35 species! The best of those were the BUZZARD that flew low over, plus the 6 CORMORANT that also flew over, and apart from a couple of SISKIN seen in the College Grounds, nothing more noteworthy was seen. There were many regular and common species that weren't seen, the most alarming was the House Sparrow, today was the first full patch walk in the whole of the ten years of recording that not one was seen, that's just under 1,200 full patch walks!

I was feeling pretty despondent with the mornings efforts, and so had another visit this afternoon, little had changed, but I was very pleased to see a flock of LAPWING wheeling over the Pub Field, I estimated around 150 birds in all, I made my way over and found the Lapwings were on the seedling grass, feeding, so I made a count and got 141, but probably missed one or two in the dips of the field  :-)

I made my way back through the Tree Nursery, then on through the Greenhouse Grounds, where the day took a big turn for the better when I flushed up my first RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE (108, 66) of the year ! In fact it was the first one since February 2009, not the most exciting of species, but it made my day  :-)  On the way back home I watched the LINNETS coming into roost, but these only took the day list to 38, still at least 7 species down from an average November walk.

The year list now moves on to 108, which is the 3rd best year out of the ten so far, whilst the months list moves onto 66 which is now the joint second best November with 2008, I wonder if I can find just two more species in the three short afternoon visit left this month, that would equal the record November tally :-)

Photo's were hard to come by today, but it was indicative of the topsy turvey weather this year, when this Bumble Bee was seen on the last remaining flower on my Buddleia this afternoon, I also had a Red Admiral Butterfly go through a little later.

Bee On Buddleia

Bee On Buddleia
Last of all, a poor record shot of the Red Legged Partridge - very welcome it was too  :-)

Red Legged Partridge

Saturday 26 November 2011

A promising Dawn
As you can see from the above photo, the day dawned with a bit of promise with the sun just peeking above the horizon, however it never really got going, and the cloud soon thickened up, making the camera redundant for the rest of the visit.

Today was the penultimate full patch walk of the month, and I was hoping to get another new species for the November list, but the 43 species that turned out were all pretty regular ones, however, the likes of Skylark, Pheasant, and Greenfinch which are normally easily found were missing today.

The four hour visit produced few highlights, as so often happens on November days,  but it was still disappointing to find so few birds about. Of the 43 species seen, ten were flyovers, which were : LINNET, LESSER REDPOLL, YELLOWHAMMER, HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL, FIELDFARE, REDWING, MISTLE THRUSH, PIED WAGTAIL, GREY HERON.

A KINGFISHER seen on one of the small ponds in the College Grounds caused some early cheer, only my second one this month, and the LAPWING on the Pub Field numbered 6 today, I always enjoy seeing them. Raptors were represented by SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL, which were both seen hunting around the Tree Nursery, upsetting the 4 MEADOW PIPITS that have returned after a two day absence.

Over on the Lakes 18 MALLARD and 4 MOORHEN were on the water, with 6 CANADA GEESE that left as soon as I arrived, while in the adjacent Scrubby Woods, numbers of birds were few, but the likes of TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS plus GOLDCREST were all found.

During the afternoon, the wind began to pick up, maybe at last heralding the end of this pattern of  weather that has been with us for months now.

Below are a couple of garden bird photo's, but given the poor light, they are nothing to get excited about !

Great Spotted Woodpecker

GREAT TIT. Not often I get photo's of these, they are very quick around the feeders, and who can blame with the Sparrowhawk lurking!!

Friday 25 November 2011

The view North from my sky watching position at Migrant Alley this afternoon
There was some well received sunshine for my afternoon walk today, however it didn't seem to bring out the birdlife!  My usual walk to the lakes and back was almost completely birdless, I know afternoons are not the best time to see birds, and there may have been quite a bit of disturbance earlier in the day, but all the same, it was a pretty bad state of affairs. I just hope things pick up markedly for tomorrow mornings full patch walk.

There was one species i'm always glad to see, the LAPWING, 8 of them were out on the Pub Field, strangely, the flock of 40 o 50 Black Headed Gulls that have been here for a couple of weeks, had completely disappeared.

Lapwing - One of the 8 seen on the Pub Field, they are hard to approach without putting them up, so i took this photo from well away.
Whilst finishing the day in my usual place at Migrant Alley, I heard a TREECREEPER calling from the Greenhouse Complex some 30 - 35 meters away, such a piercing call for a small bird, but nothing flew over whilst I was there, apart from the local Corvids, the ROBIN was still beside me at the tall hedge, where a few CHAFFINCH finished of the last bits of wheat grain as well. Its been a real struggle on my patch this week, I feel things can only get better!!

The Robin at the tall hedge.......again, sorry but it's just about the only bird that I got near today!!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Raspberries galore - if the birds want them!

A bit of brightness today made for a much more interesting patch visit. My wanderings over to the Lakes took me through the Small Holding first, and here a dozen CHAFFINCH, a NUTHATCH, a TREECREEPER, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER, plus a couple of JAYS, made it a better visit already than the whole of yesterdays! The Wet Woods was still empty though, as was the footpath from there to the lake area. The Lakes between them had only the Usual MALLARDS and MOORHEN today, but a GREY HERON dropped in for a quick forage, before flying off again.

The adjacent Scrubby Woods was again checked out for a possible Woodcock, but no luck again today, I dont seem to get this species on my patch unless there some hard weather about, there were a few thrushes about though, and some song was had from the SONGTHRUSH. A GOLDCREST, a COAL TIT and a few BULLFINCH'S made up the more notable species here. One species that I'm not getting this Autumn/Winter is the Marsh Tit, one, sometimes two, have overwintered in recent years, but this Autumn there are none, lets hope one turns up for next years list!

By 15:00hrs the light was fading, as it does at this time of year, so i made my way to the Tree Nursery and Pub Field, the former had just MAGPIES, and a couple of CARRION CROWS, the Meadow Pipits have moved on from here it seems. A squinted look through the hedgerow and over the Pub field revealed the usual band of BLACK HEADED GULLS, but today 12 LAPWING had returned  :-)

There was just enough time to go over to the tall hedge at Migrant Alley, passing through the Greenhouse Complex on the way I noticed the raspberries under polytunnels had been uncovered from there plastic sheeting, the leftover berries are there for the taking if any birds want them, however not a bird was interested! At Migrant Alley I was pleased to see a ROBIN had taken up the vacant territory at the tall hedge left by its unfortunate predecessor, lets hope it doesn't end up as Sprawk dinner like the last one! Walking the Tall hedge I saw BLACKBIRD, GREAT and BLUE TIT, but no Yellowhammers today, probably because most of the wheat grain I put down has now gone. Over head, a flock of 43 FIELDFARE flew over, and a SKYLARK called from somewhere out on the sheep pasture, but the wished for flyover Mute swan, or Little Egret to add to the months list, were not forthcoming  :-(

Walking home along Ashes Lane, between the Tree Nursery and the Greenhouse Complex, there was just enough light to see around 45 LINNETS coming in to roost.

New Robin at the tall hedge


Wednesday 23 November 2011

Cheated!! That's how I felt today, after days of foggy gloom the weather forecasters promised us some afternoon sunshine, but it came to nothing, there was just more overcast gloom  :-(

So with the camera put back in its bag, I went off to check the lakes, crossing the Tree Nursery and checking the Pub Field as I went. It was dire! The only birds of note were a KESTREL sitting up in a sycamore, it was over looking the BLACK HEADED GULLS which were on the Pub field, where there were no Lapwings today.

Over at the Lakes, it all seemed to have been disturbed before I got there, a dozen MALLARDS were hiding under the overhang of the bankside Trees, where a few MOORHEN skulked with them, a SPARROWHAWK flew low over the water, and off towards the Wet Woods area, upsetting a flock of mainly BLUE TITS, but there was at least 2 LONG TAILED TITS with them as well as two GREAT TITS. The Scrubby Woods was quiet,  I stopped to listen for maybe a Nuthatch, Goldcrest or Treecreeper, but only got the sounds of a nearby chainsaw, and a leaf blowing machine, which competed with the numerous light aircraft that kept going over!

I made my way back through the Tree Nursery, then onto Migrant Alley, hoping something new for the months list would flyover, a Mute swan or Common gull would be nice, a few SISKIN and GOLDFINCH is what I got though  :-)  At Migrant Alley the day got more frustrating, a work crew of students were putting up wire mesh around the stock fencing, a job that was started back in February!! On the way home the sight of a freshly dead ROBIN that had been hit by a car on  Ashes lane just about summed up the visit  :-(

As you can tell I am in need of some inspiration, a maybe a bit of sunlight. !!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

I was out for just over an hour this afternoon, in incredibly dull and dismal conditions,  fog lingered all day, and by 15 : 45 it was raining just to compound matters, a not very nice day!

My walk consisted of a quick visit to the lakes, via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, then back home through the Tree Nursery, and a scan of the Pub field. At the Small Holding, both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were seen in the old orchard there, plus a couple of JAYS and a small mixed flock of HOUSE SPARROWS and CHAFFINCH'S. The Wet Woods was empty of birdlife, unsurprising really, as it was particularly dark in there! Over at the lakes, only the main lake had any life on it today, and that only had 4 MALLARD, 6 MOORHEN and a GREY HERON, a quick walk around the Scrubby Woods to hopefully flush up a Woodcock, only produced a few REDWING, around 6 BULLFINCH, and 4 SONGTHRUSHES of note.

On reaching the Tree Nursery, I peered through the hedgerow across to the Pub Field, where the BLACK HEADED GULLS are continuing to feed, along with 2 HERRING GULLS, today they were joined by 11 LAPWINGS. The Tree Nursery itself was home to a large mixed feeding flock, containing at least 14 LONG TAILED TITS, 5 GREAT TITS, 5 BLUE TITS, 1 COAL TIT, 3 GOLDCRESTS, 2 DUNNOCK, 2 ROBIN, 2 BLACKBIRD, 1 SONGTHRUSH, and a WREN. That was it for the afternoon!

Monday 21 November 2011

I was out on my patch by 2 o'clock today, trying to fit in some birding before the dusk fell, which it is doing earlier by the day and will continue do so for the next month, before we resume the steady crawl towards longer days  :-)

I visited the Lakes again, in the hope of finding a different duck species, there wasn't one today, but a GREY HERON flew off as I arrived, nice to see that here anyway, the only other birds on the lakes were 4 MALLARD and 5 MOORHEN,. I did come away with something today though, my first KINGFISHER (65) for November, it flew from it's perch as I approached the smallest of the 3 lakes  :-)

I had a quick look around the Scrubby Woods, hoping to find a Woodcock, which wasn't forth coming, in fact it was eerily quiet in there today, the only birds that were active were a couple of GREEN WOODPECKERS that chased around a large Oak tree. SISKINS were heard passing overhead, and as I stood and listened I could here the 'chirriping' of LONG TAILED TITS, I tracked them down to the far end of the main lake, where I had no access, then all of a sudden the ''chirriping'' turned to blind panic and alarm calls! Of course, the SPARROWHAWK had tracked the birds down too, I watched it fly through the dense trees three times hoping to catch a Long Tailed Tit, but it failed each time.

Already the sun ( which wasn't out by the way!) was getting ever nearer the horizon, so I moved off to look around the Tree Nursery and Pub Field, the former had another Green Woodpecker, but little else of note, even the Meadow Pipits had moved, maybe they had already had a visit from the Sprawk!! On the Pub field the now regular BLACK HEADED GULL flock was winging up and down the seedling grass, picking up morsels of food now and then, a quick scan of them all, to maybe to find a Common or Mediterranean gull was not successful, but I did see 2 LAPWING feeding out there. A KESTREL, and one each of MEADOW PIPIT and SKYLARK were also noted.

The last dregs of light were spent checking the wheat grain I had put out over at Migrant Alley, but not a bird was seen around the tall hedge where I sprinkled it all, again, I blame the Sprawks!!!   :-)

The kingfisher sighting takes the November list to within 1 species of equaling the second best November total, and 3 behind the record November total. With just 2 morning visits left for the month, and 7 shorter afternoon visits, There is a chance of setting a new record, with species like Common Gull, Snipe, Mute Swan, or maybe a Coot or duck species at the lake all possible, although they are all scarce birds here at any time of year  - we shall see!

Sunday 20 November 2011

More blasted fog!!!
A frustrating time was had this morning, as very dense fog shrouded my patch, limiting sightings to just a few regular species, with no chance of seeing any flyover species. After just 90 mins I gave up, and headed home for breakfast, where I waited for the fog to clear. Just 29 species were noted in the 90 mins, which I spent walking over to the lakes area, but it was nice to see the LITTLE OWL in the Small Holding, plus a bonus on the lake was finding 4 MANDARIN DUCKS which flew from the bankside vegetation of the main lake.

By 10.00hrs the fog had only lifted slightly, but I got fidgety at home and took a walk over to the Tree Nursery, Pub Field and Migrant Alley ( see above photo). It was very hard going, but I slowly started to find a few birds, 24 MEADOW PIPIT were in the Tree Nursery, with 3 GREEN WOODPECKER, on the Pub Field there were an unknown number of BLACK HEADED GULLS, just shadows were seen, and looking for any Lapwing out there was hopeless!

I arrived at Migrant Alley, where eventually the fog did lift, but it was 11;30hrs by now, and the best bit of the day for birds had passed. I sat and watched the tall hedge next to my seat, and had a skywatch in some bright warm and springlike sunshine!  A KESTREL was up hunting over the Greenhouse Complex, spooking a few PIED WAGTAILS my way. In the tall hedge there were BLACKBIRDS, DUNNOCKS, 3 FIELDFARE, 2 CHAFFINCH and 4 YELLOWHAMMERS. Flyovers were confined to mostly gulls, 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED, and a few BLACK HEADED, but 6 small flocks of HERRING GULLS went south east.

In all then, not the best of visits!!

Photo opportunities were limited, but the tall hedge provided these two species  :-)



I finally got some sort of photo of the Yellowhammers that visit the tall hedge where I put the wheat grain for them, this is the best view of one ive had to date!

In the sunshine this afternoon, I spent an hour in my garden, trying for some photo's of the regulars. I was very pleased to see a female BULLFINCH arrive, but before I had even focused in on it, the blasted SPARROWHAWK had chased it off!  - I really am getting fed up with these pesky Sprawks!!

Coal Tit
Coal Tit


Saturday 19 November 2011

Foggy Morning
It seemed to take an age for it to get light this morning, and it was gone 07:00hrs before I set out into the foggy conditions. The reduced visibility made finding the birds a bit frustrating, and at the end of the 3 hour full patch walk, just 38 species were noted, with some notable omissions, such as House Sparrow, Starling, or any sort of Raptor species.

I made an early visit to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, in the hope of finding something exciting on the lakes, but it was down to just MALLARD and MOORHENS again,on the way however, as I passed through the Small Holding a LITTLE OWL was seen perched up in one of the old holey pear trees, also, flyovers from LESSER REDPOLL, SISKIN, and more excitingly ( for me!)  my first BRAMBLING (63) of November, I didn't see any of them but their calls were heard as I passed through the dripping trees of the Wet Woods. Around the lakeside vegetation, and into the Scrubby Woods, some, but not all of the regular species were noted, most of them feeding in a loose flock, containing LONG TAILED TIT, , GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, CHAFFINCH, and both BLUE and GREAT TIT, no sign of a Treecreeper today, or a Coal Tit. JAYS and BULLFINCH'S called from the murk, and a PHEASANT was seen under the garden feeders of the nearby house.

I made my way over to the College Grounds, via the Tree Nursery and Pub Field, where the fog was at its worst, the likes of MEADOW PIPIT, YELLOWHAMMER, SKYLARK, and PIED WAGTAIL were all heard but unseen, as they went over somewhere in the fog, but probably the bird of the visit for me was seen in the hedgerow dividing the Tree Nursery and Pub Field, a CHIFFCHAFF (64), nice to see one of the many overwintering ones that now stay with us.

After getting home again and having a good breakfast, the fog had lifted into broken low cloud, and some sunshine peeked through, so I went back out through the Tree Nursery, along the Pub Field and over to my seat at Migrant Alley, I could now see all of the 52 BLACKHEADED GULLS on the Pub Field, and also 2 LAPWING that were there, plus at last I located some HOUSE SPARROWS in the hedge of a nearby large garden.Over on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, it was now clear enough to see some STARLINGS feeding, and a KESTREL hunting over the paddocks, from my skywatching seat I picked up 4 STOCK DOVES going over, and incredibly, I heard then saw 3 CROSSBILL flying over, my fourth record of this species in ten years, all of them being in the last 24 days!  This brought up the daylist to more respectable 44, however, it was to make 45, shortly later in a sad incident for me  :-(   A SPARROWHAWK came crashing through the tall hedge adjacent to my seat, and grabbed the Robin that often sits watching me, the Sprawk dropped just a meter from my feet, and quickly flew off with my little songster  :-(  Over the last few weeks it had become very acceptable of my presence, and would grab any insects that I disturbed from the grass as I passed, giving me some close up photo's of can pay your last respects to him by visiting the post for the 14th November, where you can his photograph :-)

So after an unpromising foggy start to the day, that ended in tragedy for my mate Robin, I at least manged to get two more species on this Novembers list, making it the 3rd best out of the ten, still 4 behind top spot though!
 I only manged the photo at the top of the page this morning, but I got a few from my garden this afternoon, only the same old regulars though!


one of a pair of Nuthatch that visit

Blue Tit. There is always at least 15 about, so i went a bit mad with these  :-)

Another Blue Tit

Yet another One!

Friday 18 November 2011

The brief glimpses of sunshine had gone by the time I got out this afternoon, and the visit was a much quieter one than of late! I made a trip to Migrant Alley first off, to try to photo a YELLOWHAMMER, half a dozen flew from the tall hedge before I even got anywhere near for a photo, i'll keep trying though. Whilst there, I noted 3 SKYLARK out in the sheep pasture, and a KESTREL hunting over one of the tatty hedgerows.

Crossing the Tree Nursery, there were at least 24 MEADOW PIPITS flushing up and dropping down, hard to count them! Other than that it was down to BLACKBIRDS, DUNNOCKS and ROBINS with a couple of MAGPIES. I peaked through the hedgerow, over to the Pub Field, and saw the now regular flock of 40-50 BLACK HEADED GULLS were there but nothing with them today.

Over at the lakes, the ornamental lake there was empty. The adjacent main lake however had 24 MALLARDS, a CORMORANT and 6 MOORHEN, the other, smaller lake, had just 4 Mallard and 2 Moorhens, so no exciting surprises here today!  A quick look around the lakeside vegetation and the edge of the Scrubby Woods was good for TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH and COAL TIT, much as I would expect, while at the nearby house ( that owns the main lake) the garden feeders were suffering the same fate as mine, a SPARROWHAWK sitting in the trees waiting for a customer on the sunflower hearts!

It seems ages since last weekends full patch walk, so i'm looking forward to tomorrows, where I can hopefully add a new species for the month, the current tally of 62 is the fourth best November total, still 2 behind the third best, and 6 behind the record  :-) Kingfisher and Common Gull will be the most likely additions now.

Photo opportunities were few, and in the light, not really worth the effort, as you can see by this Meadow Pipit photo.

Meadow Pipit

So for a treat today i'll put up some photo's of last weekends garden visitor the Nuthatch  :-)




Thursday 17 November 2011

A much brighter afternoon, with some sunny spells, making it feel quite warm, enabled an enjoyable patch visit, well most of it enjoyable as you'll see!

I set off along Ashes lane and through the Tree Nursery to get to the lakes, I didn't see a great deal in the Tree Nursery, just a GREEN WOODPECKER and the KESTREL up hunting. Looking over the boundary hedge at the Pub Field I saw at least 60 BLACK HEADED GULLS, which suddenly took to the air, the culprit for their panic was a large female SPARROWHAWK going over.

I arrived at the lakes, not expecting anything at all after yesterdays shooting incident, and sure enough the ornamental lake was completely empty, the walk to the main lake takes just a minute, and on arriving there I scanned the lake and was very surprised to see a superb male GOOSANDER (62), what stunning birds these are!  This is only the second time Goosander have been recorded here in November, the other record was of a female last November, seen on the 12th and 13th. There were unsurprisingly fewer MALLARD about, and only two MOORHEN were seen. After the Goosander was flushed off by a noisy pair of rather corpulent ladies in the adjacent horse paddock ( now the leaves have gone there is little cover from this area)

Anyway, I lost interest at the lake area,  :-)   and decided to go over to Migrant Alley and see what was on the wheat grain I have put down, I was disappointed to see just 2 YELLOWHAMMERS fly off when i arrived, but I was more than happy at hearing CROSSBILLS in the sky! I looked frantically up into the blue, and was well rewarded with my best ever views of this species as four flew low over, I could even see the red colouring on the lead male bird , brilliant! I hung around until the light started to go, and saw a couple of SKYLARK and a MEADOW PIPIT go over, plus a LITTLE OWL called from the nearby Greenhouse Copse, also, nice to see, was a flock of 24 LAPWING heading over and dropping onto the Pub Field. The last birds seen were the flock of 30-40 LINNETS, heading to roost at the Tree Nursery.

Goosander - superb! As you can see i had to shoot through the bankside vegetation, making for a difficult photo  :-)


Some of the Pre -roost Linnets

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Another grey November afternoon beckoned, and with it was a chill in the air, but as most days, I made a visit to my patch, albeit camera-less again!

I made my way to the lakes again, via the Tree Nursery and Pub Field rather than going the Small Holding and Wet Woods route,  I counted 18 MEADOW PIPITS, 15 LINNETS and a GREEN WOODPECKER as I walked through the Tree Nursery, then on exiting here, I walked the dividing hedgerow with the Pub Field, and found a party of busy LONG TAILED TITS with two GOLDCRESTS. Out on the Pub Field were at least 50 BLACK HEADED GULLS, and again around 20 LAPWING were present, but no sign of the Buzzard today, however, another raptor was on show - a PEREGRINE (61) it flew over the field, having the effect of putting everything up, so I quickly moved on to the lakes.

I could hear the TEAL calling as I approached the ornamental lake that is situated in the grounds of the large house, it had moved lakes again  :-) with it were two pairs of MALLARD. On the adjacent main lake a CORMORANT was fishing, more Mallards were recorded.

here's a couple of garden bird photo's from the sunny Sunday just gone.



Tuesday 15 November 2011

I did much the same walk as yesterday after work today, but the warm sunny conditions seen this morning soon disappeared, and the low cloud with mist rolled in again, very frustrating!

The TEAL was still present over at the lakes, it had moved back onto the main lake, with it were a few MALLARDS and MOORHENS, the smallest of the two satellite lakes had a single CANADA GOOSE and more M & M' s, but the ornamental lake was empty, probably disturbed by the gardener of the large house, the grounds of which the lake is situated.

I again encountered the LONG TAILED TIT flock around the edge of the main lake, but there wasn't any other species with them today. In the adjacent Scrubby Woods a few BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSHES, and REDWING flew up from the woodland floor, but not a hoped for Woodcock. BULLFINCH and TREECREEPER were heard calling, and whilst I watched a GOLDCREST, it started up it's high pitched song  :-)

Making my way over to the Tree Nursery, 4 single LESSER REDPOLL were heard going over from east to west, as were a couple of SISKIN, but the Tree Nursery itself was all quiet apart from 16 MEADOW PIPIT, there were probably more out in the shrubs, but I didn't go through all the bushes, I instead followed the track to the Pub Field, here there were 52 BLACK HEADED GULLS some on the seedling grass, some winging there way up and down the field, occasionally dropping down on some morsel to eat. Whilst I watched them through my bins, I noticed two well camouflaged LAPWING sitting well out in the field, then scanning round saw the BUZZARD sitting on a fence post, it seems to have made this field his home this week!

As yesterday, my last place to visit was the tall hedge at Migrant Alley, today there were 8 YELLOWHAMMER, feeding on the wheat grain, this seems to be the most the grain is attracting at the moment, but i'm sure more will come in if it gets colder. A quick skyscan revealed nothing but greyness, but as I cleaned my lenses on my bins, a flock of 43 Lapwing flew over, heading towards the Pub Field, I couldn't tell if they joined the other two there though.

I took the camera out today, as it was sunny initially, but the incoming cloudy conditions were against photography really. here's the results!

The long staying Teal, -  yes, here three days is a long time for a teal to stay on the lakes!

Buzzard on the fence post - just look at the gloom in the background  :-(

The Buzzard took off and was immediatly mobbed by a CARRION CROW

The CHAFFINCH photo, below, was taken at my feeders on Sunday afternoon


Monday 14 November 2011

After yesterdays most enjoyable sunshine, it was disappointing to find today reverting back to the gloom once again. It felt a bit colder as well today, making for a very unenjoyable visit to my patch this afternoon, where only 90 minutes was spent out before the dark descended. My visit to the lakes wasn't totally in vain though, as the TEAL was still present, it had moved from the main lake to the ornamental lake, along with 8 MALLARDS, another 8 Mallards were on the other small satellite lake, with a further 14 on the main lake, 9 MOORHENS were the only other birds on the three water bodies.

I had hoped to add Kingfisher to the months list, but my wait on the surrounding lake edge was not a successful one, however, a feeding flock of LONG TAILED TITS, with a TRECREEPER, 2 GOLDCRESTS and a few BLUE and GREAT TITS partially made up for it, I also heard BULFINCH, and SISKIN fly over. A noisy JAY squawked for some time in an ivy draped tree, but when I investigated I couldn't find any Raptor or Owls, there must have been a fox about.

I had a quick look around the Tree Nursery, the most notable birds here were 22 MEADOW PIPITS, while the adjacent Pub Field had 18 BLACK HEADED GULLS, and a nice flock of 30 + LAPWING, I couldn't get an accurate count, as they were mostly behind the rise in the field, and I wasn't about to flush them all up just to count them, they have enough of that from the dog walkers!

The last part of the day, in very dark conditions, was spent checking the tall hedge at Migrant Alley to see if there was anything on the wheat grain I have put out, there was, two CHAFFINCH and 8 YELLOWHAMMER  :-)  In the hedge itself a dozen BLACKBIRDS, 2 FIELDFARE, plus WRENS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS and a couple more Long Tailed Tits made this the best spot on my patch today  :-)  As I neared home I watched the LINNET flock of about 30 birds wheeling low over the Tree Nursery and Greenhouse Grounds as they prepared to come into roost - it was only three thirty!

The camera stayed at home today, so here's a few of yesterdays efforts at my garden feeders, mostly Blue Tits, but i'll put some of the other species up over the next couple of days  :-)

Blue Tit
Blue Tit
Blue Tit
This Robin was in the tall hedge yesterday, I forgot to post it!

Sunday 13 November 2011

Here it comes at last....the sun!

It was a bit misty at first though  :-)

For the first time in ages, I had a full patch walk in sunny and calm conditions, and what a difference it makes  :-) The four hour walk was most enjoyable, giving me 47 species in all, a very good total here for November.

The sunshine was having an effect on the birds too, with song from ROBIN, WREN, DUNNOCK, CHAFFINCH and MISTLE THRUSH too, all very pleasant. Early in the walk, I crossed the Pub Field, where the BUZZARD was again feeding, but it was on it's own today, without the Lapwings, however two LAPWING were found on a paddock at Migrant Alley, and whilst crossing the fields there, I had 5 CORMORANT, and a GREY HERON fly over, as well as the BLACKHEADED and HERRING GULLS, once again it was a WOODPIGEON day, with many hundreds seen heading south in various flock sizes.

The College Grounds were quite lively, with GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, BULLFINCH, BLUE and GREAT TIT, GOLDCREST, SISKIN, SONGTHRUSH all seen, plus 6 flyover FIELDFARE, however there were no Greenfinch or Redwing seen, in fact I didn't record these two species all morning. I walked back through Migrant Alley to check the wheat grain I had put out, but nothing was feeding on it, I suspect the area had been disturbed by either dog walkers or the farmer, as a subsequent visit at the end of the walk revealed not only 6 YELLOWHAMMER but a REED BUNTING there too, excellent!

My next place to visit was over to the Lakes, through the Small holding and Wet woods, both KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were encountered, as were both the GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, a small group of Tits with a Goldcrest were found in the Wet woods. On the lakes today, there was a surprise waiting for me, for with the MALLARD and MOORHEN was a single drake TEAL (60) the first here since February, It's not unusual to find a few in the Wet Woods at this time of year, but with that being bone dry, I suppose they will have to use the lake, I dont often see them here though.

Teal......Not too good a shot, as I had to peer through the trees!

In the Scrubby Woods, I added most of the regular species to be found here, TREECREEPER, and NUTHATCH, being the most notable, but a STOCK DOVE that went over was only my second of the month so far.

A second look through the Tree Nursery was worth it, as I found a troop of LONG TAILED TITS, and seven MEADOW PIPITS, both species gave me a photo shoot  :-)

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit in tree
Long Tailed Tit

Whilst I chased the above about, the Buzzard came over, allowing for a couple of photo's too

Common Buzzard.....Not quite in focus
This shot was a little better
What an excellent Day!!
I'll post a couple more sunrise photo's, .............went a bit mad with the sun and camera today, in fact I spent the whole afternoon photograhing the garden birds, i'll post them during the week though  :-)