Saturday 30 June 2012

Large Skipper
Large Skipper
The last day of June, and the last full patch walk of June, the weather was, as has been all month, pretty poor, with the odd shower and an annoying blustery wind, but later in the morning there was at least a few sunny spells starting to come through.

I wasn't expecting much today, however it turned out to be a good visit with an excellent 52 species being found, that despite not finding the likes of Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Turtle Dove or Mistle Thrush, all species that could have been expected today, with a bit more fortune I could have been pushing the holy grail of sixty species in a day  :-)

Fortune did arrive today though, when I added KINGFISHER (64) to the June species list, two maybe three birds were seen along the College Stream and in the adjacent Grounds, they were trumped however by the sighting of my first COMMON TERN (99, 65) of the year, one flew from the NW over Ashes Lane, heading SE, that's 99 species for the year now just one more for the 100!  :-)

A GREY HERON flew over, as did a CORMORANT the latter only the 3rd record this month, also up in the sky was noted many SWIFTS moving through, with smaller numbers of HOUSE MARTINS, I think the latter were feeding rather than heading south, a bit early yet for them to leave. A HOBBY was one of four fantastic raptor species seen to today, the others being the SPARROWHAWK, a pair of BUZZARDS that flew from the Greenhouse Copse and the KESTREL pair, the male of which was watched hunting, it was seen catching a vole, then taking it to the nest box, so surely there are young in there  :-)

Other nice species seen today were LESSER WHITETHROAT in the Tree Nursery, SPOTTED FLYCATCHER at the College Grounds and a LITTLE OWL at the Small Holding. Only one of the adult COOTS were seen at the lakes, with one of the two youngsters, but the other youngster and adult could have been obscured from my view.

Few butterflies were noted, just Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Large Skipper, all seen at the Tree Nursery.

Well that wraps up another months birding at Pittswood, the wettest June for 100 years ( and probably the windiest!)  It wasn't quite all doom and gloom though, the Hen Harrier sighting was brilliant record, and a new June species, the Barnacle Goose was less exciting, but none the less a new June species too, bringing the 11 year combined June tally to 87 species. The month ended with a total of 65 species being recorded, which is two better than the mean average, and in joint 4th position out of 11, ending just 3 behind the record June tally of 68 which was achieved in 2010.

The photo's today were hard to come by, but I was pleased to get the young SWALLOWS, ( I did take a few images of them too!) and it's always good to photograph the Spotted Flycathers  :-)
Spotted Flycatcher at the College Grounds

Spotted Flycatcher
Swallow feeding young
Young Swallow
Young Swallow
Young sibling Swallows
Sibling Swallows
Sibling Swallows

Friday 29 June 2012

Red Admiral
The penultimate June patch visit this afternoon took place in some very blustery conditions, not allowing for much camera work to be done, just the above tatty Red Admiral was photographed.

The wind made it difficult to hear much as I visited the Tree Nursery first off, I was hoping for a glimpse of the LESSER WHITETHROAT that I had heard singing here as I walked past on my way home from work earlier, but it wasn't to be found, a BLACKCAP sang strongly though, and a COMMON WHITETHROAT was also heard. Just a few Meadow Brown butterflies were seen, and an Emperor Dragonfly was up hunting too. One of the KESTREL pair was seen hunting again after having a day off yesterday, the only other things in the sky were groups of passage SWIFTS and a couple of HERRING GULLS, plus of course the SPARROWHAWK keeping an eye on me   :-)

I did a circuit of Migrant Alley next, taking in the Greenhouse Complex, and although the sun had now come out, it remained difficult to find much, a GOLDCREST sang from a line of spruce trees at the Greenhouse Complex, while at Migrant Alley a GREEN WOODPECKER whizzed past, and a SKYLARK flew up from the sheep pasture, the wooded headland at the north end of the sheep pasture had a singing Blackcap as well as a singing CHIFFCHAFF, and I saw my first LONG TAILED TIT for a couple of weeks here as well. More Swifts were seen going over, along with a few HOUSE MARTINS, the local SWALLOWS were whizzing about trying to find insects to feed growing broods, and a few LINNETS sat on the fence rails that line the paddocks. I ended the walk with a half hour sky watch, where 3 Kestrels were seen, but none of them youngsters, a probable Peregrine also flew just to the east of my patch, the first sighting this month, pity it didn't come over my patch!

I said in yesterdays post I said was going out for an evening patch walk, well i did, however it was still very sticky and humid even at 20:00hrs, but a visit to the College Grounds allowed me to take some photo's of the regulars to be found there. Also on the walk back home a LITTLE OWL was seen in a field opposite my house, little else was found though.

College Grounds regulars :-
Spotted Flycatcher
GREENFINCH - very few of this species are being seen this year, but I did at last see a young recently fledged bird at my garden feeders this morning, last year the first was seen on the 14th May!
SONGTHRUSH .........on the other hand this species is doing well and has been seen carrying food to nestlings of a probable second brood, the damp conditions favouring this invertebrate eater.

Thursday 28 June 2012

A bit of interest from my walk in to work this morning was finding the first TREECREEPER fledglings of the year, at least two were being brought food as they hid in a shrub border at the College Grounds, also a tight flock of 48 BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over, a huge number for this area in June!

It was warm, humid and very sticky this afternoon, a bit of a breeze blew up whilst I was out, which brought variable amounts of cloud cover, but it stayed dry!  I walked the Tree Nursery looking for any signs of  the first Gatekeeper or Small Skipper Butterflies, but none have emerged just yet, instead the whole field was brimming with Meadow Browns, I would estimate a couple of hundred were in the 16 acres of Tree Nursery, the only other butterflies seen were a couple of Large Skippers, a bit disappointing given the fine weather, but I suppose the likes of Common Blue, Small Copper and Brown Argus are now in between broods. Lots of White-legged Damselflies were about, and a few Common Blue Damsels as well.

Up above me I heard a commotion as a HERRING GULL was frantically calling, it was mobbing a COMMON BUZZARD, a little later a long loose flock of at least 80 Herring Gulls were seen heading south, as well as two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS.

I spent just half an hour more out on my patch, looking over the Greenhouse Grounds where BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT, LESSER WHITETHROAT and CHIFFCHAFF were all singing, a SKYLARK was also heard up over the sheep pasture in the adjacent Migrant Alley, and the SPARROWHAWK put in his daily visit, but no Kestrel today.

I was home by 16:00hrs, the reason being I thought it would be better to go out when it cools down this evening, I'll post tomorrow what I see later this evening!
Large Skipper
Meadow Brown
Common Blue Damsel
White-legged Damsel

Wednesday 27 June 2012

I was only out for 90 minutes this afternoon before a rain shower came over and sent me scurrying home again, I only had my tee shirt on as it was quite warm and humid, making the rain feel quite refreshing, but it wouldn't have done my camera and lens any good!

I had walked over to Migrant Alley to see if I could find the newly fledged SWALLOWS that were again on the fence line there this morning, I had again seen them as I walked home from work, but by the time I got out they had moved on . I did a circuit of the fields and paddocks, checking the Wooded Headland as I went, it was here that I heard a TURTLE DOVE singing, as well as a BLACKCAP, and a CHIFFCHAFF. This BULLFINCH below, sat at the top of some bare branches, I thought it was a recently fledged young one at first, but on closer inspection it turns out its an adult female.
Female Bullfinch
Female Bullfinch
The rest of the sheep pasture and horse paddocks had a small flock of  LINNETS and GOLDFINCH'S, as well as a GREEN WOODPECKER, plus all the Corvids, WOODPIGEONS, and a couple of STOCK DOVES. I sat and watched the sky as the rain started to fall, a HERRING GULL and two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, the local SWIFTS and the inevitable SPARROWHAWK were seen, as well as one of the KESTREL pair, not bad for 10 mins looking!
Inevitable Sparrowhawk whizzing over  :-)
Whilst at home having an early tea, ( which may allow me to get out later) I saw a NUTHATCH in the garden, welcome back to it! They always turn up at the feeders at the end of June, having left in April to breed, they are a few days later this year though, last year they were back on the 21st  :-)
They're back! - Nuthatch

Tuesday 26 June 2012

After some lovely warm sunshine this morning whilst at work, I was itching to get out around the Tree Nursery this afternoon, maybe the Small Skippers, or Gate Keeper butterflies had emerged? However, I was there for just 5 mins, when the cloud rolled in, the wind picked up, and the temperature dipped - along with my enthusiasm  :-(  I did just manage to record a couple of Large Skipper Butterflies, a Black Tailed Skimmer, and a White-legged Damselfly before it all went quiet.

I decided to go home and change my camera lens, then walk around the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley, both places were buzzing - but not the sort of buzzing I wanted, it was the sound of the dreaded brush cutters, the Greenhouse grounds people aren't too bad, they just cut the paths and around the greenhouse bases, but the College lot cut anything and everything! So it was one of those afternoons where I gave up early and went home, I did at least get a couple of grainy photo's of one of the KESTRELS as it sat and waited for prey items to be flushed from the strimming activities at the Greenhouse Grounds

This morning would have been much more enjoyable for a patch visit, I walked to work in some warm, still conditions, and found the first fledgling SWALLOWS of the year, four of them lined up on a fence rail at Migrant Alley, just begging for a photograph, but I don't take my camera into work. A HOBBY flew through the College Grounds, where one of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS was also seen, a SPAROWHAWK was circling over, plus COAL TITS and GOLDCREST were seen in the fir trees that line the main access road.
White-legged Damselfly female
White-legged Damselfly, female
Black-tailed Skimmer, this must be an immature male as it's starting to get some blue on its abdomen, alas it's never as easy as that, as some females also get a certain amount of ''bluing'' as they age ( Thanks Greenie!)

Monday 25 June 2012

There was a little bit of brightness about this afternoon, and it felt a bit warmer than of late, so I headed off over to the Tree Nursery for an hour or so to see what Butterflies or Damselflies were about. On arrival two GREEN WOODPECKERS flew up and off over into the Wet Woods, and the ever present KESTREL was up hunting, LESSER and COMMON WHITETHROAT were singing, as well as a BLACKCAP and a CHIFFCHAFF in the distance.

There were not many species off Butterfly about, but of the four that were seen, the MEADOW BROWN and LARGE SKIPPER were most abundant, with about 30 of the former, and 6 of the latter, just one Red Admiral and one tatty Brown Argus were the other species present. I also found a couple of moth species, the Silver 'y' and the Mother Shipton. As for the Damsels and Dragons, just a Black Tailed Skimmer and a Common Blue Damsel were found.

After just over an hour, I went over to the Greenhouse Grounds for a look around, a Blackcap was taking food to it's hidden young, and a Common Whitethroat scolded at me, both WREN and DUNNOCK had young calling from a dense stand of Willowherb. The last hour of the patch visit was spent watching the sky from my seat at Migrant Alley, which was not very good at all, some local SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS were up feeding, plus some some SWIFTS up higher, but a further group of 50-60 Swifts that came over were certainly on their way back to Africa, heading SW with purposeful flight. The only other birds up in the sky were a HERING GULL, a group of 7 BLACK HEADED GULLS, a GREY HERON plus loads of WOODPIGEONS and Corvids, an enjoyable afternoon though   :-)
Large Skipper
Large Skipper
Large Skipper
Meadow Brown
Common Blue Damsel Immature
Common Blue Damsel Immature
'Tatty' Brown Argus
Mother Shipton Moth

Sunday 24 June 2012

Awaking to find yet another very wet and windy morning, I decided to postpone my full patch walk, waiting instead for the forecasted clearance to arrive, which it did around 10:00hrs, but it remained windy still.

I spent just 2 hours walking over to the College Grounds, via the Greenhouse Complex and Migrant Alley, but at that time of morning and with a gale blowing, there little to see. The most noteworthy birds were the mixed flock of SWIFTS, HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS feeding on the lee side of the Greenhouse Copse, obviously this is where all the insects were sheltering from the wind.
The Greenhouse Copse
One of the 40-50 Swifts
Walking across Migrant Alley, a good scan of the sky was had, no Harriers today, just KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK, HERRING GULL, and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, plus more Swifts, I suspect they are feeding up and putting on weight for the journey back to Africa, they will be going early this year I suspect.

Over at the College Grounds, it was very quiet, a couple of GREEN WOODPECKERS were watched as they faced up to each other, BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF sang, and the regular common birds were about in small numbers.
The only butterfly seen today was this Red Admiral, sheltering on a sunny spot of hedgerow out of the wind
Red Admiral
With the weather forecast looking a bit more settled this week hopefully some more Butterflies will emerge, i've yet to find Small Skipper, Gatekeeper and Purple Hairstreak, which are the final three species that I would expect be seen on my patch this summer.

Just one more full patch walk left for the month now, and the June bird list is on 63, which puts it in joint sixth place out of eleven, and it just about reaches the eleven year mean species tally for June. The year list needs just 2 more additions to reach the magic 100, fingers crossed for another couple of good flyover species  :-)
Recently fledged BLUE TIT on my garden feeder

Saturday 23 June 2012

A window in the foul weather of late allowed for a 5 hour full patch walk this morning, in which some sunny spells made it feel quite pleasant, if out of the still quite brisk wind. The total species recorded for the day was up on recent full patch walks, with an excellent 50 being tallied up, and that was without the likes of Bullfinch, Long Tailed Tit, and Mistle Thrush, which I would have expected.
Robin - regular species :-)
The morning started out quite ordinarily, I ticked off all the usual suspects, WREN, STARLING, MAGPIE, CHAFFINCH, WOODPIGEON, GREENFINCH, JACKDAW, GREEN WOODPECKER, SWALLOW, GOLDFINCH, BLACKBIRD and CARRION CROW, a dozen in under 2 minutes as I walked along Ashes lane. A LESSER WHITETHROAT sang from the Greenhouse Grounds, as did a BLACKCAP, which had at least 2 recently fledged young with it, the COMMON WHITETHROAT also showed well here with its youngsters.

Crossing Migrant Alley towards the College Grounds, HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL were seen going over, also the KESTREL pair and a SPARROWHAWK were seen hunting, a few swifts, were circling high up, the ever present ROOKS fed amongst the sheep and a SKYLARK sang. Arriving at the College Grounds, more regular species were found, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, COAL TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, PIED WAGTAIL, SONG THRUSH, HOUSE SPARROW, COLLARED DOVE, JAY, DUNNOCK, GOLDCREST, ROBIN, CHIFFCHAFF, and the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER in that order, on the ponds I found the MOORHEN family, then two GREY HERONS flew low over, allowing these photo's  :-)
Grey heron
Grey heron
I walked back through Migrant Alley to head for the Tree Nursery and then on to the Lakes, stopping to watch a around 20 HOUSE MARTINS feeding around the sheep pasture, the most seen here all year. Stooping briefly at my sky watching seat, I chanced to look NW and saw the unmistakable and exciting flight of a harrier species coming straight at me, at first it was around 500m away, but as it neared me it veered off and into the sun ( as usual) I got good, but mostly silhouette views of it, and  could see it had long thin wings, and manged to pick out a white rump, a ringtail harrier! But what type? I fired off a few hurried photo's, and looking back at the view finder initially thought Hen Harrier, but after getting on the computer and looking at them, as well as spending ages looking on the net at ring tailed harriers I was inclined to record this bird as a Montagu's Harrier, but after much deliberation, and advice from other birders, it will go down as a HEN HARRIER (98,63), still a very exciting addition to my year list!
Montagu's Harrier ? not quite ! 
I finished off the walk by visiting the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, which provided me with views of a female CUCKOO, unusual here in June, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER and STOCK DOVE were added to my list, as well as the 12 CANADA GEESE, 2 MALLARDS and the COOT family on the lake. On the way home a HOBBY was seen and I finally found a LINNET for the day, dont know where they had been hiding  :-)

Friday 22 June 2012

No patch visit was made today, the weather put pay to that! After having earlier walked home from work battling my way through a near gale, and horizontal rain showers, I saw no point in trying to find any butterflies or Damselflies this afternoon or trying to find newly fledged young in the wildly swinging trees and bushes :-(   has this weather finally broken my spirit to get out ? Well maybe!

Here's some photo's I took last weekend, this is what I should be seeing throughout June!
SONGTHRUSH - not long from the nest
CARRION CROW - also a recently fledged individual
Recently fledged young WREN
A sibling of the above
Brown Argus