Wednesday 31 October 2012

With no work to go to for the rest of the week, this morning I decided to do the first of my BTO winter thrush surveys, as todays weather was forecast to be dry until dusk, needless to say, it rained almost constantly throughout the 90 minute survey! I surveyed the Tree Nursery, Pub Field, Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds, coming up with mostly BLACKBIRDS, but 3 SONGTHRUSH, 2 REDWING,  and 5 flyover FIELDFARE were also recorded, most of the birds seen were feeding on Hawthorn berries.

Whilst looking for the thrushes a small mixed flock of LESSER REDPOLL and SISKIN were found at the Greenhouse Grounds, nice to get some Redpoll down on the patch for once rather than just flying over   :-)

From late morning onwards I spent a few hours visiting the wildlife reserve at Sevenoaks with an old birding mate, just for a bit of a variety in my birding world  :-)  Here I could see the much sought after species of Duck that would be mega birds on my patch, like GADWALL, WIGEON, SHOVELER, TUFTED DUCK and TEAL. Most of the passerine species seen could of been sighted on my patch, but the likes of MUTE SWAN, COMMON SNIPE, EGYPTIAN GOOSE, LITTLE EGRET, RING NECKED PARAKEET and COOT are all scarce or very scarce on my patch  :-)

The 51 species recorded was a fair reward for the just over three hours visit, but the likes of Dunnock, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Songthrush, Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker and Fieldfare were surprising omissions.

Back on patch tomorrow ( weather permitting!)
Photo's today come from my garden again, taken over the last few days  :-)
Bank Vole
Wood Mouse

Tuesday 30 October 2012

There was very little to report from my patch this afternoon, it's all gone a bit quiet!

The weather was mostly cloudy with just a few sunny spells and little wind for my walk over to the lakes, once again the Smal holding was good for both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, four of the former were seen and two of the latter.
Green Woodpecker
I checked the pools of water in the Wet Woods for a possible Teal, but found none, but at least 4 MOORHENS scampered around in the tangle of branches, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT and a distant TREECREEPER were also heard whilst I was there.

On the lakes it was the same as yesterday, apart from not finding a Kingfisher today, MALLARDS, GREY HERON and the COOT were seen again. In the adjacent Scrubby Woods I heard LONG TAILED TITS, COAL TIT and BULLFINCH. There were flyovers from yet more SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL, very few come down to visit though.

A quick look around the Tree Nursery and Greenhouse Grounds was again much the same as yesterday, a few MEADOW PIPITS popped up from the tall vegetation in the Nursery, along with 2 more Green Woodpeckers, 2 KESTRELS were up hunting, and a few HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over. The Greenhouse Grounds had the usual regulars of WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, PIED WAGTAIL, BLACKBIRD and SONGTHRUSH, but there wasn't any sign of the winter thrushes today. A SPARROWHAWK flew along a line of Alders, putting up around 12 GOLDFINCH, the only other notable species were 2 MISTLE THRUSHES that flew over.

Talking of winter thrushes, as I'm off for the rest of the week i'll be doing my first winter thrush survey for the B. T. O in the morning, that will ensure there will be very few about!  ;-)

More garden photo's for today :-
Great Tit
Blue Tit

Monday 29 October 2012

Showers fell during todays afternoon patch visit, but the wind was light so it wasn't too bad. I walked over to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, not seeing too much on the way apart from GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS at the Small Holding, and a small feeding flock of BLUE, GREAT, and LONG TAILED TITS, with a COAL TIT, two TREECREEPERS and two GOLCRESTS in the Wet Woods.

On the lakes today it was good to see the COOT has stayed, 8 MALLARD, 6 MOORHEN and a GREY HERON were also seen, plus a KINGFISHER zipped across the water. A walk through the Scrubby Woods provided me with more views of Coal Tit, Tree Creeper, and Goldcrest, as well as a COMMON BUZZARD that flew up from a small Elder bush. SKYLARK, LESSER REDPOLL and SISKIN were heard flying over, and an unseen BULLFINCH called from the dense tangle of vegetation.

Rain was falling as I headed off over to the Tree Nursery, where a couple of MEADOW PITS were seen, another two Green Woodpeckers were also found, a KESTREL hunted over the rough grassy area ( where I expect a short eared or Barn Owl any day now!) A small mixed flock of a dozen or so Lesser Redpoll and SISKIN flew over and headed for the Greenhouse Grounds, this really has been the best Autumn ever here for these two species, I hope they find my garden feeders soon  :-)

A SPARROWHAWK was seen to fly along the edge of the Wet Woods as I turned and looked back that way, which also allowed me to see the black sky approaching, time for me to head home! Still, a nice few species were seen in the short visit.

As the rain lashed against the window back home, I stared out at the garden feeders and wondered where all the finch's have gone, lots of Tits about, NUTHATCH and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, but no finch's. A Sparrowhawk made a lunge at one of the Woodpeckers, dropping out of its ambush place in the nieghbours leylandi tree, but it looked spooked by the Woodpeckers white wing flashes and loud calls, and didn't force home its attack. All went quiet after that for some time, until surprise, surprise, a RING NECKED PARAKEET (106,74) came in and perched right at the top of the Leylandi, not quite in my garden, it would have been only the second one ever, but good enough to join the years patch list, this is the first one ive seen on patch since November 2010  :-)

The year list now moves to within 3 of my target for this year, the 106 species already seen make this the joint fourth best year from eleven, but still seven behind the best year of 2010.

More of the Marsh Tit photo's I took on Saturday today, no chance with the camera this afternoon.
Marsh tit
Marsh Tit
Marsh Tit
Marsh tit

Sunday 28 October 2012

Any early morning brightness soon disappeared as low cloud moved in from the west, but at least the strong wind had abated for this mornings full patch walk.

The first bird on the list this morning was a KESTREL up hunting over the field to the front of my house, MAGPIE, MISTLE THRUSH, JACKDAW, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD and HOUSE SPARROW all followed in quick succession. I got as far as the Greenhouse Grounds, just a couple of minutes walk away, when the first of many WOODPIGEON flocks were seen going over, a continuation of the movement seen yesterday. As I watched the Woodpigeons, two COMMON BUZZARDS drifted low over, then two BRAMBLINGS flew over calling, with three more close behind, and above them a possible 15 others were seen, but they were too high to be sure, even the five I did confirm is a record peak count for my patch  :-) Also heard going over a few seconds later, was a LESSER REDPOLL, the first of a dozen or so heard during my walk. More REDWING and FIELDFARE flocks were seen going west as I crossed Migrant Alley, and a CORMORANT flew over heading towards the lakes.

The College Grounds was a bit livelier than yesterday, with COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, SONGTHRUSH, and a small group of six GREENFINCH, the biggest gathering on my patch for a while, all being seen. A KINGFISHER flew from one of the small ponds as I arrived, and the first of many SISKIN heard this morning flew over calling. Once again the sports pitch was home to around 100 BLACK HEADED GULLS, where a single LAPWING that flew over was a bonus.

Making my way over to the lakes, I passed through the Pub Field, and Tree Nursery, finding a few of the regular species, like GREEN WOODPECKER, MEADOW PIPIT, PIED WAGTAIL, and LONG TAILED TIT, plus flyovers from SKYLARK, HERRING GULL and more Redwing, Fieldfare, Siskin and Redpoll.

On the lakes this morning there were 6 MALLARD, a COOT, and 6 MOORHEN, the Scrubby Woods provided good views of BULLFINCH and NUTHATCH, with the likes of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, JAY, and another Kestrel also showing up.

Nothing to add to the months list today, which at 73 species is the second best October to date, it will be difficult to find anymore species, but not impossible, maybe a Snipe will turn up during next weeks visits  :-)

The camera stayed at home today, but here's some garden bird species I photo'd yesterday.
Coal Tit
Marsh Tit

Saturday 27 October 2012

Much better conditions prevailed for this mornings full patch walk, but with the brighter conditions came a biting N wind, which by 11 o'clock brought frequent squally showers.

The first 90 mins of my walk was pretty hard going, an early visit to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods via the Small Holding and Wet woods brought me just 22 species, the highlight being the COOT that remains on the water, and a CORMORANT that dropped in whilst I was there. A troop of LONG TAILED TITS, with a couple of TREECREEPERS tagging along, had me fumbling for my camera, but I missed the opportunity, and there was me thinking that the 3 REDWINGS that were the first species on my list this morning were the sign of good things to come!
A drier part of the Wet Woods
Once out of the woods and into the fields of the Tree Nursery and Pub Field, a few more species showed themselves, 8 MEADOW PIPIT were at the Tree Nursery, plus two GREEN WOODPECKERS, both HERRING GULL and COMMON GULL flew over, as did a LESSER REDPOLL, the Pub Field had a few more Meadow Pipits on it, their calls were lost in the strong wind, but a SISKIN was heard above the cold roar.
The 'Pub Field' The hedgerow on the right divides this field from the Tree Nursery. Immediately on the right is a large garden, which is home to two huge dogs which bark continuously as I walk past, so its not quite as tranquil as the photo might suggest!

The walk across the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant alley had me pulling up my collar, and zipping up my coat against the biting N wind, the ROOKS and JACKDAWS there crouched down facing into the wind, trying to limit the numbing effect it had. I reached the College Grounds and was glad to be in some shelter, but little was seen, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLE THRUSH, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, plus a drumming GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, and the 150 or so BLACK HEADED GULLS on the sports pitch were about it really.
A few of the Black Headed Gulls on the College Sports Pitch
With just 35 species on my list, I headed over to the Greenhouse Grounds, then on to the Tree Nursery again, which proved to be a good move, for as I neared the Greenhouse Grounds the call of a GOLDEN PLOVER (72) rang out, I didn't see it, but it was up in the blue sky somewhere, a good October record, just the second in eleven years.

A flock of 34 FIELDFARE flew over as I entered the Tree Nursery, this was just a taster of things to come though, I stood pushed up against a bush for an hour, sheltered from the wind and in the sunshine, where I witnessed a full on bit of Migration, I saw/heard more singles of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin go over, plus REED BUNTING, LINNET, YELLOWHAMMER,SKYLARK, STOCK DOVE, 3 lots of LAPWING, ( 2, 4, and 23) and multiple flocks of FIELDFARE and REDWING, around 150 of the former and 100 of the latter all headed west. However most surprising, for my patch, was the sighting of 4 SHOVELER DUCK (73), the first ever record for an October day, I picked them out whilst watching the pair of KESTRELS that were hunting above me  :-)  The most impressive spectacle though was watching flock after flock of WOODPIGEONS, they were heading south, many thousands must have passed over whilst I was there. That little lot brought the days species count to 46, with some real good species amongst them, so those early Redwing sightings were a good omen after all  :-)
Later in the afternoon I spent some time in my photography hide (garden shed!) where I got some better COAL TIT and MARSH TIT photo's, two species that didn't get recorded on the morning walk, I also had GREENFINCH, and SPARROWHAWK come in, two more that weren't recorded this morning - making it a 50 species day  ;-)  I'll post the photo's from this afternoon tomorrow and over the following days.

Friday 26 October 2012

The week ends as it started, very grey, very gloomy, and wet!

I didn't get out at all this afternoon, the rain came in pulses, and it barely got light at all, so I opted to stay in and watch the garden feeders, which was a bit of a mixed affair. 16 species came in to feed on the Sunflower Hearts and Peanuts provided, but there were some notable omissions, species such as Greenfinch, House Sparrow, and Starling all kept away, they only come in now when the SPARROWHAWKS become less frequent in their visits, even then, the House sparrows are few and far between.

The BLUE TITS whizz in, take food and go again, with up to 15 at one time making raids on the Sunflower Hearts, fewer GREAT TITS are seen, up to 4 at one time, and then there's the COAL TITS, which 2 -3 are coming in, the last visiting Tit species is the MARSH TIT, I got some great close up views of it, but the light was so poor there was no chance with the camera, the same went for the JAYS and NUTHATCH'S.

5 CHAFFINCH and 2 GOLDFINCH came in, but stayed only for a few minutes, I can remember in my pre Sparrowhawk days seeing up to 80 finch's at the feeders at this time of year. 2 ROBINS, a DUNNOCK and a BLACKBIRD came and went, they are also aware of the Sprawks and don't stay longer than is necessary. A GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER fed on the hanging peanuts, 2  MAGPIES stole the loose peanuts put out for the Jays, and 3 WOODPIGEON, plus 2 COLLARED DOVES picked up what the Tits and finch's dropped.

Hopefully tomorrows full patch walk will see some improvement in the conditions  ;-)

Thursday 25 October 2012

The low cloud and gloomy conditions were back with us today, plus it was cooler in the wind, and spits of rain made it feel more autumnal than recent days.

I spent 2 hours out this afternoon, walking the Small Holding,Wet Woods, Tree Nursery and Greenhouse Grounds, finding fewer species than the past few visits, the flyover Redpoll, Siskin, Skylark and Redwing that had been recorded then, had come to an end, but two SISKIN were seen in the conifer trees on the Lakeside edge. On the lakes there was an increase to 6 MALLARDS, with those was the COOT ( It must have been hiding yesterday!) the only other lake dwellers today were the MOORHENS.

The Adjacent Scrubby Woods had calling COAL TIT and BULLFINCH of note, those and the 2 TREECREEPER seen at the Small Holding earlier were about the highlights for this part of my patch.

I was hoping that yesterdays Black Redstart was still skulking around the Greenhouse Grounds, so made my way over to check, on the way, passing through the Tree Nursery, 2 MEADOW PIPITS flew from the tall vegetation, as did 2 GREEN WOODPECKERS, also 3 JAYS flew over, and as I watched them go past I heard the long awaited call that means Autumn is truly here, a flock of 15 FIELDFARES (71) flew low over heading south, strangely one broke off and headed back north again  :-) The Fieldfare this year are a bit late, the median average arrival date for the eleven years is the 18th October, todays arrival is the third latest, behind 2005 (Oct 26th) and 2006 ( Nov 2nd) the earliest arrival date for fieldfare was last years, on October 7th.

After that cheering sighting I gave the Greenhouse Grounds a good look through, but alas yesterdays Black Redstart seems to have moved on, and I was left with the regular species of WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, PIED WAGTAIL, BLACKBIRD,and SONGTHRUSH, a small flock of GOLDFINCH, and a few BLUE and GREAT TITS made up the afternoons sightings.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Once again this afternoon I set off over to the lakes and Scrubby Woods, giving the Wet Woods and Small Holding a look in on the way, where it was reasonably quiet with only 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS on a large lawn being of any note, I was hoping for a Teal in the Wet woods but just a MALLARD and 3 MOORHEN were seen on the stagnant pools.

Over on the lakes, yesterdays surprise Wigeon had moved on, leaving just 4 Mallard, 4 Moorhens, 9 CANADA GEESE and a KINGFISHER that zipped inches above the waters surface, the Coot wasn't found today either. Two KESTRELS called loudly as they sparred over the Scrubby Woods, and a flock of LONG TAILED TITS with GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER and NUTHATCH were watched on the far bank of the largest lake, needless to say their constant calls attracted a SPARROWHAWK, I cant get away from these sprawks!

The adjacent Scrubby Woods had two BULLFINCH calling from it, and a LESSER REDPOLL, SISKIN and SKYLARK flying over it, Skylarks were heard during all of my 2 hour visit today as they went over in ones and two's every 15 mins or so.

The Tree Nursery was visited next, where another two Green Woodpeckers were seen, plus a couple of MEADOW PIPITS. Another Lesser Redpoll and two more Siskins were heard going over whilst there. I was surprised to see a Small White Butterfly flying through, and then a few minutes later a Red Admiral.

I spent the last 40 minutes of my visit walking the Greenhouse Grounds, finding the usual PIED WAGTAILS, WRENS , DUNNOCKS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, and two REDWING, but all was pretty quiet really, despite the sunshine that had now broken through. I had decided to leave for home, but first thought I would try to get a Kestrel photo, as one was sitting out on one of the poles that hold the Raspberry plants up, but just before I pointed the camera, something caught my eye on another of the poles, it was only a BLACK REDSTART (70)  !!  What a superb species to find! I quickly dropped the idea of a kestrel shot, but as nice as Kestrels are, Black Redstarts take precedence !

This is the fifth year from the eleven years of watching my patch I have had this lovely species visit, todays bird was the third Autumn one, the other two Autumn ones were in July 2007 & October 2009, spring Black Redstarts have been seen in the past 3 years, but this year is the only year I have found them on both spring and Autumn passage, an excellent find, and a great way to bring up Otobers 70th species  :-)

I couldn't get very near to the bird, it was very flighty, but got some ok shots, better than my last Black Redstart attempts  :-)
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
When I pushed my luck and tried to get closer, the bird flew up onto the Greenhouse |Rooves, where I left it in peace, catching flies :-)
Black Redstart

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Another unbelievable gloomy, grey and misty day, but again, at least there was little wind and it was quite mild for the time of year.

Walking home from work this afternoon the 150 or so BLACK HEADED GULLS were at the College Sports Pitch, before being flushed off, they then sat over on the paddock fences at Migrant Alley, where I saw a small flock of ten LAPWING fly over heading N.

When I got home I saw that the garden was teeming with birds, mostly BLUE and GREAT TITS, but at least 3 COAL TITS and the MARSH TIT were with them, as was a troop of 5 LONG TAILED TITS - 5 Tit species at the garden feeders, cant be bad!  I went out into my garden shed for half hour to try and photograph the Marsh Tit - but failed, the light was pretty awful but I did get another Coal Tit photo though, and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER  :-)

I then put the camera away and headed for the lakes over by the Scrubby Woods, on the way through the Small Holding and Wet woods there were fewer birds about than yesterday, but a couple of GREEN WOODPECKERS were seen, as was a KESTREL, at least two LESSER REDPOLL were heard calling as they flew over the Wet Woods, but nothing much was in the woods itself, except MOORHENS.

I relocated the COOT at the lakes, also there, 4 MALLARDS and a scattering of Moorhens were seen, but then from behind an overhanging tree came into view a real mega for my patch, and I had left the camera at home!  A WIGEON (105,69), a fantastic Drake! Well not quite fantastic as it wasn't in full breeding plumage, but it still looked good to me,  :-)  This is just the second Wigeon record in the 11 years of watching these lakes, the other was in November 2010 when a female visited. Regular followers of this blog will know why I am so excited with this record, as very few duck species visit these Lakes  :-) My target of 109 species for this year moves just that bit closer, 4 more new species are needed now  :-)

Here's the Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker photo's I took this afternoon, they are a bit 'furry' but I was working with some real low shutter speeds  :-(   I just hope the Marsh Tit and Coal Tits are around when the sun finally comes back !
Coal Tit
Coal tit
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Monday 22 October 2012

After work this afternoon I visited the lakes and Scrubby Woods, via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, in some abysmally grey, murky and damp weather, but at least there wasn't a breath of wind, making it feel very mild  :-)  The still conditions allowed me to hear TREECREEPER and GOLDCREST calling at the Small Holding as they moved along with a feeding flock of BLUE, GREAT and COAL TITS, plus the MARSH TIT, and a couple of NUTHATCH'S, all these birds except the Treecreeper, were busy at my feeders, a short distance away earlier  :-)

Into the Wet Woods it was even gloomier, but a couple of MALLARD were picked out amongst the tangled branches on one of the pools, and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER called from nearby.

Over at the Lakes just 3 MOORHEN were seen, along with the returning COOT, at least I assume it is the one seen earlier this month :-)  The adjacent Scrubby Woods had a couple more Goldcrests calling, and a couple of BULLFINCH, but nothing really much going on here, a SISKIN flew over and two more Coal tits were at a nearby garden feeder.

I made my way over to the Pub Field next, and found the 30+ strong flock of MEADOW PIPITS here, with 4 PIED WAGTAILS, and also noted 3 single REDWINGS calling as they went over.

My last stop was at Migrant Alley, where on the sheep pasture at least 300 STARLINGS were feeding, they made a foray into the Greenhouse Grounds at one stage, where they alighted on the only Elder tree that has any berries left on it, an amazing sight and sound as they stripped the small bush bare, until of course a SPARROWHAWK came crashing through, putting them all up, the sound of whirring wings was incredible as they sped over my head!

Over on one of the paddocks, and along the fence line, about 120 BLACK HEADED GULLS were seen, I scanned them all and found just one COMMON GULL (68) with them, the first this month, they are a scarce bird here, just one more new species for the months list will equal the mean average total for the previous 5 Octobers, come on Fieldfare's! The only other species of note were the KESTREL hunting over the Greenhouses, and a decent size flock of Siskin containing about 60 birds, they headed for the College Grounds, their calls echoing across the now very misty fields. A flock of this size is not normally seen this early in the winter, it would much more associated with February or March.

No chance of any photo's today, just too gloomy out there!

Sunday 21 October 2012

What an utterly miserable day today was, I left for my patch walk at 07:15hrs, in moderate rain, 90 minutes later it was still raining, and with me getting wetter by the minute and my binoculars getting more useless with the constant rain getting onto the lenses, I gave up my walk half way round  :-(

In the 90 minutes I was out, I walked the Tree Nursery, Pub Field and the Greenhouse Grounds, finding 31 species, but numbers of birds were low, apart from a good gathering of at least 40 MEADOW PIPITS on the Pub Field, and four skeins of flyover GREYLAG GEESE, they were seen in flocks of 6, 9, 34 and 46. Other flyovers included singles of CORMORANT,  REDPOLL and SISKIN, 4 SKYLARK, 2 HERRING GULLS and 5 BLACK HEADED GULLS.

Both the SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL were hunting at the Greenhouse Grounds, where a small mixed flock of BLUE and GREAT TITS were joined by a GOLDCREST.

Its still raining now at 16:10hrs, and hasn't really got light all day, what a way to celebrate my fifth anniversary of blogging!  No chance of any photo's today, even from the garden, where the Marsh Tit continues to feed, when not being interrupted by the frequent attacks of two Sparrowhawks!

Saturday 20 October 2012

After overnight rain it remained dry for my 4 hour full patch walk this morning, although low cloud and mist made for a dull and dreary morning.

I visited the Lakes first thing, hoping for a visiting duck species, but not even a Mallard was found on the 3 water bodies, just a scattering of MOORHENS were seen. The adjacent Scrubby Woods were mostly quiet, but BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER broke the silence with their calls. Just 25 species were noted from Lakes, Scrubby Woods, Small Holding and Wet Woods, maybe I was a bit early for the birds here today  :-)

Things improved rapidly as I walked over to the Pub Field, with lots of flyover species being picked up, YELLOWHAMMER, SISKIN, LESSER REDPOLL, SPARROWHAWK, HERRING GULL and the first of 3 REDWING flocks seen, it contained at least 25 birds, the other two flocks had a minimum of 45 and 60 birds in them, all headed west.

On the Pub Field, the Sparrowhawk beat me to a mixed flock of PIED WAGTAILS and MEADOW PIPITS, flushing around 40-50 birds into the air, most of them Meadow Pipits, while a GREY HERON sat in the field and watched on  :-)

Walking across Migrant Alley, singles of Redwing were seen going over, plus a CORMORANT,  I was slightly surprised to see at least 7 SWALLOWS and a HOUSE MARTIN over the Sheep pasture, a late date for both species on my patch, the Swallow equals the last date recorded. Several times I heard SKYLARKS going over the paddocks, but only once did I pick out any, when 3 birds came over lower.

The College Grounds were well disturbed by the time I got to have a look round, but the likes of LINNET, MISTLE THRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, and GREEN WOODPECKER were found as well as the regular common species.

I then headed over to the Greenhouse Grounds, where a LITTLE OWL flew up and headed into the Greenhouse Copse, a KESTREL sat up on the apex of one of the Greenhouses, and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL flew over. In the scrub and hedgerow, just the normal WRENS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, Songthrush, and a couple more Redwing were found, also a small flock of GOLDFINCH were feeding in some Alders.

My last stop was over at the Tree Nursery, this proved to be the best part of the visit, as the Autumns first REED BUNTING (66) was seen as it called loudly from a low bush, the first seen on a full patch walk since February 11th, even more exciting was the Autumns first BRAMBLING (67) this was watched as it circled over, finally dropping into the shrub cover, calling all the time as it went, a scarce bird on my patch, with never more than two being seen at any one time, and not always turning up every winter.

Not a bad visit today then, nice to see a mix of the last Summer species and the first Winter species on the same morning. The day list ended on 47, and was missing the likes of Mallard, Greenfinch, Coal Tit, and Nuthatch, the latter three were picked up at the garden feeders later, although don't get added to my ''full patch walk stats' . The Months list now moves on to 67, which puts it in fifth place out of eleven, still ten behind the best October total though, achieved back in 2010.

I left the camera at home today, as the light was so dire, but this afternoon I ventured into my garden shed to try and get a decent Coal tit Photo while it fed at the feeders, the light was still poor, but I got what I could  :-)  However, I was glad I made the effort, as I also got to see the 51st species of the day, when a MARSH TIT came in, the first since April last year, this is probably the bird I saw at the Scrubby woods earlier this month, it brings the years garden feeder list to 33, fantastic  :-)
Marsh Tit
Coal Tit
Coal tit
Nuthatch, I cant resist a photo of these !

Friday 19 October 2012

After not being able to get out on patch yesterday, this afternoons visit was quickly aborted due to the persistent rain  :-(  It really was dire out there this afternoon, all I recorded in the few minutes I was out were three flyover SKYLARKS, 4 flyover REDWINGS and one of the KESTRELS, all seen over the Greenhouse Grounds.

The weather looks to be more reasonable for tomorrows full patch walk, I need to get back in focus !

Wednesday 17 October 2012

After a bright-ish start to this afternoon, the rain moved in about three-thirty, putting an end to a very quiet 90 minutes on patch, - where have all the birds gone - not just the summer ones either!
A view across the Tree Nursery, with the Wet Woods in the back ground

A walk through the above Tree Nursery was had first off, it always looks so good for a passage migrant lurking among the shrubs and vegetation, but today not a thing was seen here apart from a lone MEADOW PIPIT which flew up and headed over to the Pub Field, which i went and scanned, finding at least another 20 Meadow Pipit out on the harrowed stubbles.

After the Pub Field I went to Migrant Alley, ever hopeful of a late Wheatear or maybe my first Stonechat of the year, alas no such goodies were found, but 2 GOLDFINCH were among 18 LINNETS that were feeding on Dandelion heads in one of the paddocks.

A sky watch from my usual seat for twenty minutes was good for HERRING GULLS and fewer BLACK HEADED GULLS, but just one PIED WAGTAIL was seen with those. A last ditch attempt at finding a new species for the month was had with a walk through the Greenhouse Grounds, where a KESTREL sat up on the rooves, but again it proved a frustrating time, the dozens of wrens usual seen here were down to two individuals, it was the same for the DUNNOCKS and BLACKBIRDS, things seem to be stuck in that gap that happens between the summer birds leaving and the winter birds arriving  :-)  Things will change as time ticks on though.......hiopefully !
Immature Gull, probably Herring
PLEASE NOTE: the next post will be on Friday evening  :-)

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Not much to excite my birding world today  :-)  I visited the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, plus had a good look through the Tree Nursery. I say not much to excite me was found, but the LITTLE OWL was again in the old shack at the Tree Nursery, I don't find them everyday, also the CORMORANT that flew over isn't a regular on my list, todays was just the third this month, 3 KESTRELS hunting together, were almost certainly part of the brood that bred on patch earlier in the year, and a SPARROWHAWK over the Greenhouses is always a 'stop and look' moment.

The feeding flock at the Scrubby Woods was again located, with the LONG TAILED TITS were NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST and SISKIN  along with the regular BLUE and GREAT TITS, WREN, DUNNOCK, and ROBIN. A single HOUSE MARTIN was the only summer species seen, making it's way SW against the strong wind.

So although not a terribly exciting visit, some good birds were seen, considering the habitat here is just bog standard degraded Kent countryside  :-)

There is one piece of habitat on my patch that bucks that trend though, - my garden  :-)  I spent 40 minutes watching the comings and goings at the feeders, and took some photo's of a few regulars that visit at this time of year........................
The young Blue Tits of the year are now sporting there full adult plumage
Blue Tit
Two Nuthatch visit, carrying off more Sunflower hearts than they could possibly eat!
3 Coal Tits are regulars, but they still avoid sitting in a nicely lit place to be photographed  :-)

Monday 15 October 2012

I visited the Lakes and Scrubby Woods this afternoon, and was lucky enough to cross paths with a feeding flock of birds, if it wasn't for them I wouldn't of seen much at all! The flock was, as is normally the case, mostly LONG TAILED TITS, about a dozen in all, they were joined by a few BLUE and GREAT TITS, 2 COAL TITS, and a TREECREEPER, also, WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK were loosely associating with them, as was a lone SISKIN, but two BULLFINCH were certainly keeping themselves to themselves. The lakes had nothing of interest, just a pair of CANADA GEESE and a few MOORHENS.

I had time left to visit the Tree Nursery, where at least 5 MEADOW PIPITS flew up, a SPARROWHAWK went over and a KESTREL hunted along the hedgerow. I checked the old shack, as I always do, in the hope of finding a Barn owl, or some Owl pellets on the floor at least, but no sign of one, there was however a LITTLE OWL there,  it flew out and into a nearby tree, but I didn't have my camera on me today.

Half an hour on my sky watching seat over at Migrant Alley was of some interest, I watched a trickle of HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS head south, these are later than the last seen in 2011, when the Swallows were last noted on the 9th, and the House Martins on the 12th, the latest record for these species is 22nd Oct for House Martin and 20thOct for Swallow. I also watched 5 SKYLARK head NW and heard a Lesser Redpoll go over plus a couple more SISKIN.
Talking of Siskin, here's the photo's from yesterday.
Siskin (Male)

Sunday 14 October 2012

Another view of the suns rays breaking through the canopy over at the Scrubby Woods
Before the sun arrived though, it was foggy and frosty, making it particularly quiet out on my patch early on, the first hour only gave me 24 species, the best of which were the KESTREL at the Greenhouse Grounds, where a few REDWING were feeding on the Hawthorn bushes and a flyover MEADOW PIPIT that was invisible in the fog!

After visiting the College Grounds and Migrant Alley, I went back to the Greenhouse Grounds, the sun had now broken through, and the bird activity had increased. In the scrub and hedgerow there were at least two dozen BLACKBIRDS, as well as 4 SONGTHRUSH, 4 Redwing, 2 SISKIN, 2 LESSER REDPOLL, a CHIFFCHAFF and a female BLACKCAP. WRENS, ROBINS, DUNNOCKS, GOLDFINCH, BLUE and GREAT TITS also gathered in good numbers to feed here. Whilst photographing the Siskins, a PEREGINE flew over at speed and headed SE, and flyovers from SKYLARK, BLACK HEADED GULL, HERRING GULL, and MISTLE THRUSH were also had.
Goldfinch On Alder
Siskin On Alder  ( i'll post the other Siskin shots tomorrow)
It was 10:00hrs before I reached the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, having not seen much at the Small Holding and Wet woods, only GREEN WOODPECKERS and a couple of COAL TITS. The lakes were home to just a few MOORHEN today, not even a Mallard was there. The surrounding vegetation and the Scrubby Woods were given a good look through, mainly to try and relocate the Marsh Tit, which wasn't found, it was probably off with the Long tailed Tits, which weren't about either  :-)  Only a NUTHATCH and four BULLFINCH were of much interest here today, so I made my way back over to my seat at Migrant Alley for a Sky watching session, on the way photographing a proper ''wild'' jay as it flew past, as opposed to the ones that visit my garden   :-)
One for Marc,  :-)  - proper Jay, not the best shot, I hope to get another chance this autumn.
Once at my seat,a passage of SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS was observed, seen high up as I was watching the 8 BUZZARDS that were all up soaring, what a sight! A SPARROWHAWK was also up hunting, a few Siskin, Skylark, Lesser Redpoll, and CHAFFINCH'S all moved through as well, a group of 7 GREY HERON moving west was quite an unreal sighting, the most ive seen here at one time! Later this afternoon I had another hour or so out at my seat, but most it was mostly a quiet time, adding just STOCK DOVE and LINNET to the day list, which ended on 49 species today. I did however manged to photograph another ''proper'' wild Jay ( take note Marc :-)  ) whilst it flew past with an acorn in its bill  :-) Again not the best, it was a little too distant really, but getting better!
Flyover Jay
Flyover Jay
Flyover Jay