Tuesday 31 January 2012

I walked home from work today in rain/sleet, which had been falling all morning, and after getting home and having something to eat, it was still utterly miserable out, so I stayed in! Yes, I stayed indoors, despite it being the last day of the month, I dont think there was much going on out there in those conditions.

I pinned my hopes on maybe seeing a Brambling drop in at my garden feeders, or something different flying over the house, but neither happened, in fact the only birds seen flyover were JACKDAWS. I did have quite a few garden visitors though, with 19 species turning out in the 2 and a half hours I spent at the window.

The highlights of the garden watch were the GOLDCREST and the SONGTHRUSH, the latter a very scarce bird in my garden now. The down side of the watch ( apart from two attacks from the Sprawk) was the absence of a House Sparrow, and it is now confirmed that this month is the first in 121 months of recording in the garden, that a House Sparrow has not been seen  :-(

Here's what turned up, and the peak number seen :-

GOLDFINCH................................................. 4
GREAT TIT......................................................4
BLUE TIT........................................................13
COLLARED DOVE........................................6
COAL TIT.......................................................1

The total species to visit the garden this January is 22, two below the record set in both January 2009 and 2010, the mean number of species to visit over the eleven Januarys' is believe it or not 22 :-)

The patch stats for the end of this month, are as follows:-
This January I recorded 62 species, the joint fourth best total with 2008, this is 6 below the record Januarys' of 2009 and 2011, the 11 year mean for January is 60.5 species, so i just scraped past that mark! Its interesting to see the combined January list for the eleven years is now 82, I added Barnacle Goose and the good old COOT to that list this year, unbelievable that this month I had my first Coot for any January, with 3 turning up, which is a peak count for my patch!!   :-)

Monday 30 January 2012

I had a relaxing couple of hours out on my patch this afternoon, it was a bit cooler than of late, and the sunless sky made it feel colder. I made my daily visit over to the lakes, but today I took a slightly longer route, along Ashes Lane in order to check out a field that has been sewn with a wildbird crop. Recent visits here on my full patch walks haven't turned up much out of the ordinary, but today there was a real change, as I scanned the crop, at least 30-40 YELLOWHAMMER flew up and scattered into the surrounding cover, one or two stayed in a nearby hedgerow, and looking down that hedgerow I spied my first two REED BUNTING (62) of the year. I was looking from quite a way off so there could have been more hiding up, I will have to investigate further tomorrow. When this field was last sewn, two years ago, a flock of 60+ Yellowhammer and 40+ Reed Bunting were recorded over the winter, to see one Reed Bunting on my patch is normally a rare occurrence, just goes to show how positive a bit of wildlife friendly management of the land can be  :-)

Anyway, the rest of the walk was not quite so exciting, the Small Holding had the local CHAFFINCH and GREENFINCH population in it, along with at least 3 GREEN WOODPECKERS, as well as an unseen but heard TREECREEPER.The lakes were not as productive as recent visits, just two MALLARDS, and singles of COOT and MOORHEN, the latter were heard but not seen :-) The surrounding Scrubby Woods were mostly silent, but a pair of BULLFINCH showed briefly.

Some effort was made to look around the Tree Nursery and view the Pub Field, however, in the growing colder conditions, little was to be found apart from a few BLACK HEADED GULLS, plus the odd WREN, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD and Tit species. The only bird of note seen over at the Greenhouse Grounds shortly after, was the local KESTREL, with a HERRING GULL and Yellowhammer flying over. A good start petered out a bit today, but it was some good exercise for me at least  :-)

Sunday 29 January 2012

Four hours were spent out on my patch this morning, the last full patch visit of the month, and although a slightly better than average daylist of 44 species were seen, there was little change overall. The lakes continued with some interest, as two of the three COOTS were still present, the third may have been concealed somewhere, as could of been the Little Grebe, that was last seen on Friday. Also on the lakes were the 6 CANADA GEESE, four pairs of MALLARD three pairs of MOORHEN and a GREY HERON.

Highlights from other parts of the walk were, a flyover PEREGRINE FALCON, it went over the Pub Field, and over at the College Stream a flock of around twenty SISKIN with at least two LESSER REDPOLLS was a nice find. On the College sports pitch 3 COMMON GULLS were seen, a peak count in this, the 11th year of watching my patch  :-)

Late on in the walk, as I watched the KESTREL over the Greenhouse Complex, a flock of 8 REDWING flew into the Greenhouse Copse, the most seen here for some weeks. A LESSER BLACKED BACKED GULL, that flew over with two HERRING GULLS made up four Gull species for the day, BLACK HEADED GULL being the yet unmentioned species.

Other than that, as I said earlier, it's not really changing much here at the moment  :-)  Maybe i'll get lucky with monday and Tuesdays shorter afternoon visits ??

With the day being very gloomy for most of the time, the camera saw little action, but I managed to snap this STARLING at the Garden feeders.


Saturday 28 January 2012

A mix of cloudy and sunny periods this morning, however it was a bit cooler than of late as I started out, this didn't deter the early songsters of MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK though, making for quite a lively dawn chorus  :-)

I visited the lake area first thing, via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, collecting all the regular common species, but again missing out on Little Owl for my year list. The Little Grebe wasn't seen on the water today, but it could have been hiding up as it often does. The three COOTS were very obvious though, and a GREY HERON fished from the shallows, once again a KINGFISHER surprised me, flying off as I approached its perching place, the six CANADA GEESE seen yesterday were still present with a few MALLARD and the MOORHENS had increased to eight birds, all tail flicking and posturing in readiness for the spring  :-)  In the surrounding Scrubby Woods, the likes of GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH and both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER were all found.

The Pub Field and Tree Nursery didn't give me anything for the daylist, but crossing through the Greenhouse Complex and the associated small copse there, a dozen FIELDFARE were noted, as were the first GOLDFINCH and SISKIN of the day, another two Treecreepers were also seen well. Crossing Migrant Alley to get to the College Grounds, three HERRING GULLS, and two CORMORANTS were seen going over, and the KESTREL flew towards the Greenhouse Complex - its preferred hunting place  :-)

The College Grounds gave me more Bullfinch, Siskin, Goldcrest and Coal Tit as well as the more common CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, plus the BLUE and GREAT TITS in good numbers, my second Kingfisher of the day also showed up on one of the ponds.

The leisurely walk back homewards, added COMMON GULL to my days sightings as it flew over the Sports pitch with 20 or so BLACK HEADED GULLS, also a COMMON BUZZARD slowly circled over Migrant Alley. In all a very pleasant 3 hours out, with 44 species turning out for me, but still no additions to the year/months list. With just one more full patch walk to go, this months species total looks like going down as the fifth best for January, two more new species would take it to fourth, something to aim for  :-)

Common Gull - My first flight shot of this species on my patch, one for my archives  :-)
Common Gull
Great Tit
BLACKBIRD, Female This is probably the same bird as featured in yesterdays post
Blackbird, female
Lastly - A taste of spring. This was one of five Crocus' that were in bloom in my garden, defying the talk of some siberian weather headed for us for next month, I think nature knows better whats ahead weather wise than we do  ;-)

Friday 27 January 2012

With long sunny spells, and little cloud or wind, it was a joy to be out this afternoon  :-)
My walk over to the lakes started poorly, as there was disturbance in the small holding, the Wet Woods was a little better than of late, with TREECREEPER, SISKIN, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, plus the regular BLUE and GREAT TITS.

First thing I saw on the lakes as I arrived were 6 CANADA GEESE, the first here for some time, certainly the first on an afternoon visit, also the 3 COOTS remained, and the LITTLE GREBE was again seen. A GREY HERON dropped in, but flew off again after seeing me, and I got to withing 10m of a KINGFISHER, but didn't realise it, the bird flew off as I approached.....another chance of a photo missed! I did get a photo of one of the LONG TAILED TITS that moved through the surrounding Scrubby Woods, but the two GOLDCREST and the COAL TIT with them avoided the lens. A REDWING fed with a BLACKBIRD in a wild rose bush, grabbing at the bright red hips, that's the first Redwing here since Sunday. BULLFINCH were heard calling, and a few Siskin went over, but the hoped for Little or Tawny Owls didn't appear.

All was quiet over at the Pub Field, except for 6 BLACK HEADED GULLS, and the Tree Nursery was similarly very quiet, so I swiftly moved on to the Greenhouse Grounds, where the KESTREL was up hunting, a flock of a dozen or so GOLDFINCH fed in some Alders, and the usual mix of Blackbird, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN and PIED WAGTAIL were also seen. A 20 minute sit on my skywatching seat at Migrant Alley only produced a STOCK DOVE, and the numerous ROOKS, JACKDAWS, and WOODPIGEONS.

Hopefully the last two full patch visits of the month will turn up something for the year list  this weekend  :-)

Yet another Long Tailed Tit photo - but you cant just let them pass without snapping away at them!!
This female Blackbird fed on worms found in the Greenhouse Grounds
Blackbird, Female
Blackbird, Female

Thursday 26 January 2012

After some heavy morning rain, the clouds cleared for the afternoon, and some pleasant sunshine was had. The walk through the Small Holding and Wet Woods was a bit pointless however, as all the dog walkers were also making use of the fine weather, I met three on their way out of the woods as I was going in, needless to say nothing was seen apart from a few BLUE and GREAT TITS.

The lakes had the now long staying pair of COOTS, plus the lone one that was found yesterday, although I dont think this one will stay long, the LITTLE GREBE was still present, a CORMORANT, 8 MALLARD and 6 MOORHEN made up the balance here, quite a good day for these lakes!

Looking around the Scrubby Woods for something more to add to the year list, I came across a female SPARROWHAWK tucking into a WOODPIGEON, it flew off, so I hid myself  behind a large tree, knowing that she would come back. After five minutes or so she flew in, and I watched her feeding on the head of the pigeon from just ten meters away, however as soon as I raised my camera she was off, too quick for me!! I moved on and left the Sprawk to come back undisturbed, but of course with her around most other birds were hiding up. I did hear SISKIN, BULLFINCH and distant LONG TAILED TITS, and a COAL TIT started to sing loudly, two GOLDCREST chased around a fir tree, and three SONGTHRUSH flew from beneath a bramble patch, that was about it.

Despite the warmish sunshine, the Tree Nursery had little to offer today, only MAGPIES, BLACKBIRDS, plus the odd ROBIN, WREN and DUNNOCK. As yesterday, the Pub Field was empty, so I moved on to my seat at Migrant Alley. There was a work crew out in the sheep pasture erecting fence lines, they flushed up a SKYLARK, the first seen for a while, but after 20 mins of watching the skies, and finding just one YELLOWHAMMER and a couple of BLACK HEADED GULL, I called it a day, I instead used the remaining light to get some garden bird photo's to brighten the blog  :-)  Four O'clock and it was still light!!

The blog brighteners for today are :-

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER - He wouldn't come out from behind the branch!
One of the four Long Tailed Tits that visited
One of the numerous Blue Tits - the old favourites!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Another dull and overcast afternoon, but I had a pleasant enough 90 minute walk through the Small Holding, Wet Woods and then on to the lakes. Amongst the flock of GREENFINCH and CHAFFINCH in the Small holding was a TREECREEPER, and on the adjacent large lawn there were 3 GREEN WOODPECKERS, one's missing! I scanned around the area for my first Little Owl of the year, as this is a good place to find them, but they dont seem to be very active this month, or vocal - frustratingly!

In the Wet Woods, a MISTLE THRUSH was singing, and another gave its rattling call, a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER also called, and at least ten FIELDFARE flew over, the usual GREAT TITS made various calls, and another Treecreeper was seen.

Over on the lakes I was pleased to see the LITTLE GREBE again, plus the two COOTS, which amazingly ( for these lakes) has been joined by a third! Three is the peak count for Coot on my patch, it was also achieved in March last year  :-)  4 pairs of MALLARD were found, and 6 MOORHENS, which were showing signs of pairing up. A short look around the surrounding Scrubby Woods was not all that exciting, a party of four LONG TAILED TITS with two GOLDCREST and my third Treecreeper of the afternoon was as good as it got.

I walked back home via the Tree Nursery, where both SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL were encountered, a SONGTHRUSH was flushed from one of the rows of shrubs as I looked for a Snipe, and the usual BLACKBIRDS, WRENS plus a few DUNNOCKS were seen, a flyover YELLOWHAMMER was heard, and two BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over. A peak through the boundary hedgerow at the Pub Field showed that it was completely empty. Just as I left, four GREY LAG GEESE went over, headed north.

Not a very enthralling post today, and no photo's left to brighten the page  :-(  roll on the weekend!

Tuesday 24 January 2012

What a load of rubbish the weather was today, rain for most of it, and a lowering mist to boot for the afternoon - yuk!

Nothing for it, but an afternoon with tea and biscuits and a few hours watching the garden bird feeders :-)

I'm glad to report that I had not one sighting of the Sparrowhawk, the weather was even too lousy for hunting ! As a consequence the garden was full of birds, although they were easily spooked. Most of the activity was down to the 20+ BLUE TITS, which whiz about from feeder to feeder, with them are the less numerous GREAT TITS, only about 5-7 of these are about, hard to count really as they come and go so quick, even more frequent in their foraging trips are the COAL TITS, just 2 of these were seen.

The finch's stayed around the sunflower feeders, peak counts of  10 GREENFINCH, 8 GOLDFINCH, and ten CHAFFINCH were noted, but a lone male BULLFINCH that visited was star bird of the day for me. A few STARLINGS, peaking at 5 birds came down for the fat blocks, and what was spilt onto the floor was taken by BLACKBIRDS, DUNNOCK, and ROBIN. The COLLARD DOVES always come in later in the afternoon, I watched a flock of 15 grab what seed they could, before quickly leaving again, a strategy evolved to outwit the Sparrowhawk attacks  :-)

Other visitors like the WREN, WOODPIGEON, JACKDAW, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and of course the pair of NUTHATCH, made for an interesting and varied few hours, but there was still a species missing - the humble House Sparrow, of which there was not a sniff  :-(  Never has a month gone past when a House Sparrow has not been recorded from my garden not in 12 years, is this about to change ?

17 species came to the garden today, the January garden list now stands at 21, which is3 behind the best years of 2009 and 2010.

Despite the gloom I did point the camera, but the results were not that good. I'll post the rest of the photo's taken in last sundays sunshine first, followed by todays. The Bullfinch shots were taken at a distance of 9m, the Woodpecker at 5m.The camera was set at ISO 2000, aperture at 6.3 giving a shutter speed of only a160th.

Long Tailed Tit. They didn't visit today.
Long Tailed Tit
Great Tit

Todays efforts..........

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Male
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Bullfinch, Male

Monday 23 January 2012

There was just enough light this morning at 07:20, to see a KINGFISHR zip along the college stream as I walked into work, cant get much better than that to start the working week  :-)

After work, I was out for my usual afternoon foray over to the lakes, taking in the Small Holding and Wet Woods as I went. The Small Holding was again home to the GREENFINCH and CHAFFINCH flock, which spend their time being chased from my garden to this place, by the pair of Sparrowhawks, i'd seen the remains of a WOODPIGEON in my garden before leaving, no doubt this was the female's work! Anyway, also in the Small Holding were at least 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS, and numerous GREAT and BLUE TITS.

The Wet Woods was quiet, but as I walked through I heard the familiar ( or not so familiar this year!) ''chak chak chak' of FIELDFARE, I watched at least 30 flyover the tree tops. Once over at the lakes I gave them a good scan, and found the COOT, but today it had been joined by another, blimey, things are looking up, two Coots!!  I wonder if this is the same pair that attempted to breed here last spring ? A CORMORANT, 4 MOORHEN, 5 pairs of MALLARD and a Kingfisher made up the interest on the water today - two Kingfishers on the same day! Very nice.

Looking round the surrounding Scrubby Woods I was pleased to see an ash tree full of REDWING, at least 20 were there, but my count got as far as 15, then a grey dart of a male SPARROWHAWK flashed past my right shoulder and put them all to flight, no Redwings for days, then when they do visit the Sprawk sees 'em off !

That was my que to move on, and a brief visit to the Pub Field and Tree Nursery followed, however, both habitats were very quiet, just a fly over YELLOWHAMMER and the KESTREL were seen, talking of which, the kindly folk over at the Greenhouse Complex have erected a box for it now  :-) 

Not a day for the camera, so i'll post some more of yesterdays garden bird photo's. More Nuthatch and Goldfinch i'm afraid, but I know there are some of you out there that admire the Nuthatch  :-)
PS: Still not had a House Sparrow in my garden this year. 


Sunday 22 January 2012

The morning flattered to deceive, early sun gave way to mostly cloudy conditions, with a strong, cool westerly wind, making it difficult to hear any small passerines. By the end of the 3 hour full patch walk, just 40 species had been recorded, 3 or 4 down on what I would expect, the missing species being the likes of Skylark, Pheasant, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, plus the Fieldfares and Redwings, which have never been so scarce on my patch!

The highlights this morning were much the same as yesterday, the LITTLE GREBE was seen briefly, before doing its vanishing act, and the COOT remains into its twelfth day, the only other lake dwellers today were half a dozen MALLARD and 4 MOORHEN.

Early on in the walk, I heard the sound of approaching geese, which turned out to be CANADA GEESE, two flew over, then a few seconds later the paired couple, BARNACLE and Canada goose followed. Not much in the way of 'winter' species were noted this morning, just a small gathering of SISKIN along the College stream.

The mixed feeding flock of LONG TAILED, BLUE, and  GREAT TITS again roamed the Wet Woods, with two GOLDCRESTS and two TREECREEPERS, I hung about for some time watching the tree tops for a possible Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but it wasn't to be, I think it will be a long time before I record one of these again, to think they used to breed here  :-(

So the weekend visits end without any additions to the Monthly / year list, and with just two more full patch walks to go this month, it looks like the record January species total of 68 total will be safe.

This afternoon, the cloud broke occasionally, allowing for some mixed fortunes with the camera at my garden feeders. I'll put a few shots up, and save the rest for tomorrows post  :-) The first two species were additions to this mornings list  :-)


Saturday 21 January 2012

Sun up!
A mostly dull and overcast sky greeted me this morning, but there was the odd brief flash of sun every now and again. The 3 and a half hour visit produced the slightly less than average species total, for a January day, of 41, this without the likes of Pheasant, Skylark, Coal Tit, or any kind of winter thrush, all which should have been easy enough to find on a January visit.

There were some nice highlights amongst the species seen though, a group of 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS feeding on a large garden lawn adjacent to the Small holding was good to see, one allowing me a distant photo.

One of the four Green Woodpeckers
I enjoyed a better session than in recent times inside the Wet Woods, when a feeding flock of BLUE, GREAT, and LONG TAILED TITS were seen, with them were their normal allies the GOLDCREST, and the TREECREEPER, the latter staying still just long enough for a record photo.

The next stop at the lakes and Scrubby Woods, was a mixed affair, just one MALLARD was seen on the water, but with it was the long staying COOT, better still the LITTLE GREBE was re-located, which in the dim light and at long distance, another record shot was obtained  :-)

Distant Little Grebe - Star bird  :-)
Over at Migrant Alley a little time later, there was Gull and Raptor action to be had, with 61 BLACK HEADED, 4 HERRING and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL being found out on the sheep pasture, while overhead the SPARROWHAWK had them all flying up and panicking, the KESTREL seen minutes later doesn't quite have the same effect, the Gulls know it is no threat to them  :-)  A YELLOWHAMMER was seen in the hedgerow that forms the boundary with the Greenhouse Complex, it stayed long enough for a half decent photo attempt, but the Redpoll flock seen here on recent afternoons had moved on.

The College grounds provided plenty of small passerines, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, BULLFINCH, Great and Blue Tit, Goldcrest, and a flash of the KINGFISHER over one of the ponds.

I spent the last half hour of the visit at my skywatching seat, at Migrant Alley, but nothing of note was seen going over, just a couple of PIED WAGTAIL, and lots of ROOKS, STARLINGS, WOODPIGEONS and JACKDAWS. The friendly ROBIN made it appearance, and gave me the best photo of the day  :-)

Photographers dream birds - the friendly Robin  :-)

Friday 20 January 2012

Nothing much to say today ! I had just an hour out on my patch this afternoon, as I had to be back at three o'clock for an appointment. This meant there was just time for a hurried walk over to the lakes, and a hurried walk back again !

I needn't of worried about missing something on the lakes, although it's always nice to see the COOT, and CORMORANT there, they aren't normal 'lake fare'  :-) The few MALLARD and MOORHEN are however. I couldn't re locate yesterdays Little Grebe, but these can be hard to find at times, and with time not on my side I may have missed it as it rested, concealed under the tangled overhang of the bankside tree branches. Nothing much more to note for the day, except a COMMON GULL on the sheep pasture, seen as I walked home from work, anything but a 'common' Gull here :-)

I'm looking forward to tomorrows full patch walk, there are still a few birds I might encounter for the January/year list, a Grey wagtail would be possible, as would Little Owl. At the moment the January list is on 61, which is the fifth best January, so I should improve on that.
Below are the species totals for all the January's. The first one in 2002 is pathetic! However, I only made 8 visits to the patch, as I was still in full time work then, plus I hadn't really got to grips with the habitat around my patch at that point  :-) 

Jan.2002. - 50 Species
Jan.2003. - 60 Species
Jan.2004. - 59 Species
Jan.2005. - 57 Species
Jan.2006. - 57 Species
Jan.2007. - 58.Species
Jan.2008. - 62 Species
Jan.2009. - 68 Species
Jan.2010. - 65 Species
Jan.2011. - 68 Species
Jan.2012. - 61 Species......and counting!
Mean total for Jan. 60.4 Species
Combined January total. 82 Species

Thursday 19 January 2012

After a wet morning, the skies cleared a little for my afternoon patch visit, just 90 minutes were spent out, but it was quite eventful. The walk through the Small Holding was again notable for the GREENFINCH and CHAFFINCH'S there, which had grown in number to 30-40 birds, mostly chaffinch, also no fewer than 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS were feeding on a nearby large lawn, with another one in the old orchard. As I scanned through the finch's, up went the alarm call, and a couple of seconds later in came the SPARROWHAWK, it alighted briefly just 3-4 meters from me in a patch of sunlight, but it was off before I could get focused on it!! Just before entering the Wet Woods, a KESTREL flew purposely by.

The walk through the Wet Woods was uneventful, just calling GREAT TITS, the footpath from here to the lakes had a GOLDCREST feeding along it, and up above a COAL TIT sang from a large Oak tree. On reaching the lakes, the COOT was still pesent, but everything else all seemed as normal, a few MALLARD and MOORHEN moved around under the overhanging branches, but then as I scanned around the lake margins a movement caught my attention, as something dived below the surface of the water, i waited a few seconds and up popped a LITTLE GREBE (61), superb!! My first Little Grebe since November 2009, well, the almost daily lake visits have finally paid off  :-) Little Grebe was first recorded on my patch in Feb. 2005, and then in the years of 2007, 2008, 2009, making this year just the 5th year out of the now eleven of recording that one has turned up, very pleased with that  :-)

A grub around the surrounding Scrubby Woods had its moment of excitement too when a WOODCOCK flew up and then dropped further into the woods, always a good species to find here. Some of the more regular species were also found, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and a small troop of LONG TAILED TITS, plus 3 female BULLFINCH'S that sat up in a blackthorn tree, eating the buds, they were just a couple of meters away from me, but the tangle of branches prevented any photo's being taken - shame.

After spending more time at the Lake area than normal, I had just enough time to visit the Tree Nursery and Pub Field. I was a bit disappointed to find that the 250 Lapwing with the Golden Plovers, seen yesterday, had left the Pub Field, it now being completely empty, although as I walked to work past the field early this morning I could hear the LAPWING calling in the darkness.

Only a few DUNNOCKS, WRENS, ROBINS, MAGPIES, BLACKBIRDS, with a couple of SONGTHRUSH were in the Tree Nursery, mind you thats more than there has been of late, no Meadow Pipits though. flyovers whilst there included a YELLOWHAMMER and the odd BLACK HEADED GULL, and surprise, surprise 10 FIELDFARE, just the second record of this species of the year! Not a bad visit again  :-)

I just got the one photo opportunity, that was of a Chaffinch in the Small holding - better than nothing though  :-)

Male Chaffinch
Male Chaffinch

Wednesday 18 January 2012

What a turn around in the weather today, back to the damp, dull, drizzle!  A patch visit was still made this afternoon however, and the usual winter walk to the lakes, via the Small holding and Wet Woods was not without some nice sightings.

The Small Holding had a flock of CHAFFINCH and GREENFINCH, about twenty five birds in all, they were no doubt the birds flushed from my garden feeders not far away, this is where they gather after the Sparrowhawk comes through my garden :-) Also in the Small Holding was a TREECREEPER, plus both a GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

The Wet Woods was pretty still and quiet, it needs some more rain to fill the pools up, there isn't adequate water to hold a foraging Teal or Mandarin on them  yet. A flurry of WOODPIGEON wings announced the fly through of a big female SPARROWHAWK, that really sealed the fate of the woods today, so I hurried down to the lakes. They were mostly thawed out now, and 9 MALLARD dozed under the tree overhang, I was pleased to refind the COOT, and just as pleased to hear a KINGFISHER, worth the visit here today  :-)  A party of LONG TAILED TITS with a BLUE TIT and a COAL TIT, plus sightings of BULLFINCH and GOLDCREST were as good as it got in the surrounding Scrubby Woods.

In the now growing gloom, I made my way over to the Tree Nursery, where again it was down to just a Green Woodpecker, a few Wrens, Dunnocks and Magpies, but another Goldcrest was a bit of a bonus here today. The local KESTREL flew over and started to hunt over at the Greenhouse Grounds. Looking through the gappy hedge and onto the Pub Field |I was surprised to see a large flock of LAPWING, at least 250 strong, as usual I scanned every one of them, and today came up trumps with two GOLDEN PLOVER, persistence pays off at last :-) Really good birds for my patch especially on the ground!

I finished off by checking the line of Alders over at the Greenhouse Grounds, where yesterday a dozen LESSER REDPOLL were found, they were still there, and I spent time checking each one for a possible Mealy Redpoll, but it wasn't to be ;-)  So, after a gloomy old walk, I found some good patch birds today, Kingfisher, Coot, Lapwing, Golden Plover, I would have bitten your arm off had I been offered them ten days ago!

No camera outing today, so here's the last of the photo's I took in my garden on Sunday Afternoon, down to the Blue Tits now i'm afraid!!

Blue Tit
Blue Tit

Tuesday 17 January 2012

There was another sharp overnight frost, and a mostly sunny day followed, but cloud did start to build by mid afternoon, heralding the end of the fine recent weather.

I didn't waste my time with the lake area today, knowing that they would still be frozen over, and instead had a walk around the Tree Nursery, Pub Field, Greenhouse Grounds and finally ending up on my seat at Migrant Alley for a skywatch.

On leaving the house, a COAL TIT flew into the tree above my head, allowing a quick photo, a good start  :-) Entering the Tree Nursery, a GREEN WOODPECKER was seen feeding between the rows of bushes, as is usually the case, and the 3 MEADOW PIPITS that were seen yesterday were also still about. A couple of MAGPIES and both DUNNOCK and WREN made up all that was seen here.

Checking the Pub Field from the hedge dividing it from the Tree Nursery, I spied 5 LAPWING, with 11 BLACK HEADED GULL, and as I stood watching the run-stop-run feeding action of the Lapwing, the KESTREL glided in and alighted further down the hedge. Tracing my steps back to the Tree Nursery, I saw the Meadow Pipits fly up into a low shrub, and managed to sneak up to get a photograph, however, just as I was sneaking real close to them my old buddy the SPARROWHAWK came whizzing over, off went the Pipits, and up went the Lapwing and Gulls from the Pub field !!

Over at the Greenhouse Grounds, it was mainly down to the regulars of BLACKBIRD, Dunnock, a few BLUE and GREAT TITS, WRENS, CHAFFINCH and ROBINS, but a close up GOLDCREST was good to watch as it fed in the hedge, at one point finding itself a large caterpillar  :-)  A 30 minute sit on my seat produced little really, just a YELLOWHAMMER going over, and a few ROOKS, but as I got up to walk home in the dying light, a flock of a dozen or so LESSER REDPOLLS dropped into the line of Alder trees nearby, they allowed some photo's but the light was nearly non existent by now.

Quite nice visit today, despite not adding anything to the year list  :-)

Coal Tit
Coal Tit
Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit - They knew the Sprawk was coming well before I did  :-)

Lesser Redpoll - The sun was already below the horizon when I took these photo's, they aren't very good, but in the circumstances i'm surprised they came out this well, just goes to show how good modern camera's are!
Lesser Redpoll

Monday 16 January 2012

Day 3 of the bright, sunny and frosty weather, unfortunately it was back to work also! At least I got a two hour visit in this afternoon, and if I had been thinking straight I could have saved myself the walk over to the lakes, as they were obviously still frozen over! The walk to the lakes, through the Small Holding and Wet Woods, was a typical winters afternoon affair, with an assortment of Finch's, Tits, and a GREEN WOODPECKER in the Small Holding, and absolute silence in the Wet Woods, a pleasurable thing in itself on my patch!

The iced over lakes were devoid of anything but the MALLARDS, which stood out on the ice, making it creak and groan, at one point it sounded like the call of a Nuthatch! The surrounding Scrubby Woods were mostly inactive, just the odd call from GREAT, and COAL TIT. I didn't stay long and went for a look over the Pub Field from the Tree Nursery, the latter had 3 MEADOW PIPITS, back from wherever they had disappeared to over the weekend, also another Green Woodpecker fed between the rows of shrubs. The Pub Field had a nice flock of LAPWING on it, 25 in all, but no Golden Plover with them today, 14 BLACK HEADED GULLS patrolled restlessly up and down over the feeding Lapwings.

I ended up walking the Greenhouse Grounds and having a sit on my seat at Migrant Alley, the KESTREL was up hunting, and a YELLOWHAMMER flew over, but apart from the sounds of WRENS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS and the ever present Tits, it was in all an average sort of visit :-)

Nothing showed for the camera this afternoon, what a waste of good light!! So i'll put up the finch photo's I took in my garden yesterday. Talking of my garden, I still await the first House Sparrowof the year to visit!!


Sunday 15 January 2012

Another cracking winters morning for my full patch walk today, with a hard frost, little wind and a clear blue sky, thats two nice mornings in a row now:-)

Another day dawns at Pittswood
Again I was out for about 3 and a half hours, finding one less species than yesterday, however this was compensated somewhat by finding a few more birds around, especially the BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, LONG TAILED TITS, GOLDFINCH, and GREENFINCH, of which a nice flock of 17 dropped down into a large Lime tree over in the College Grounds. Some regularly seen species didn't turn up, such as Pheasant, Skylark, Bullfinch, plus any kind of Goose, also the winter thrushes, Fieldfare and Redwing are avoiding my patch still.

Again these omissions to the daylist were handsomely compensated for by the finding of 3 new species for the year list, the first being a COMMON GULL (58) that flew over the Greenhouse Complex, they are scarce enough here, but  GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL  are even more scarce, one flew over just minutes before the Common Gull,  - not often I see the two in one visit  :-)

I left the Greenhouse Grounds and associated copse, but not before finding a TREECREEPER, and a departing roost of SONGTHRUSHES. The walk across Migrant Alley was still and frosty, and not much bird activity was seen, but the wooded headland found to the north of it was noteworthy for two YELLOWHAMMER calling from an Ash tree there.

Onto the College Grounds, where activity was plenty, and despite flushing up a SPARROWWHAWK, which flew off with its kill, the likes of Goldfinch, Greeninch, CHAFFINCH, SISKIN, singing COAL TIT, singing GOLDCREST another Treecreeper, plus GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER all made themselves obvious. I left the area via adjacent the sports pitch, and went  back across Migrant Alley, where I entered the Pub Filed, here the second new species for the year was seen, two LAPWING (59) were found out on the grass with 43 BLACK HEADED GULLS.

I headed home for a quick snack and drink, by way of the Tree Nursery, which was not very good today, but a KESTREL was seen flying low on its way the the Greenhouse Complex, it's favoured hunting ground, and a BUZZARD flew low over heading south.

I left the lakes till last today, as I knew they would be frozen over, and so they were, which limits the chance of finding waterfowl somewhat, although a few MALLARD and MOORHEN tucked themselves into the overhanging branches. The surrounding Scrubby Woods, were good for adding the likes of NUTHATCH, MISTLE THRUSH, and JAY, to the days list. 43 Lapwing flew over in disarray, before gathering again and flying off North, it was no doubt these birds that I found at the later end of my walk feeding in a Wheat field just off Ashes Lane, I counted over 100, with also, what proved to be the star birds of the day - no fewer than 8 GOLDEN PLOVER! (60) a very rare sight indeed to have even one on the ground at my patch  :-)

The field of Lapwing, with one Golden Plover ( I have marked it for you !! )

Photo opportunities were limited, and apart from the above long range Golden Plover, I only managed to snap a DUNNOCK again, but this afternoon I took a few garden bird photo's, i'll put some up and save the rest for tomorrow  :-)

Long Tailed Tits, Pity about the bars!
Long Taile Tit - free from 'jail' !
Again. Long Tailed Tit