Wednesday 31 July 2013

I was out at 06:00hrs this morning, hoping to get some wildlife watching in before the rain arrived, I did, but I only got a little over an hour before a heavy drizzle moved across the area on a strong breeze.

I was all out to do a bit of Sky watching from my seat at Migrant alley, trying desperately to add a Cormorant to the months list, but despite an hour sitting and scanning none flew over, this will be the first months list ever without a Cormorant on it  :-(

A few groups of HERRING GULLS flew west, the largest of those containing 12 birds, 2 BLACK HEADED GULLS also flew over, and at least 2 of the KESTREL young were seen practicing their flying skills, with the adult male nearby on the Greenhouse Grounds, here, the family of WHITETHROATS ''churred'' at my presence as I walked past, and a male BLACKCAP 'ticked' furiously from the large hedge behind my seat, on further investigation i saw two young blackcaps in with it, as well as a CHIFFCHAFF. Looking out on the sheep pasture, 65 CANADA GEESE and just 2 GREYLAG GEESE were seen, but during my sky watch another 100+ Greylags flew over the Greenhouses.

After a spell at home, waiting for the weather to clear, I headed off out again to the Scrubby woods, by the time I arrived the sun had broken through, and I was immediately greeted with the sound of a ''purring'' TURTLE DOVE (68), At last, but where have they been, and why haven't I heard them sing all month ? I watched it sitting on the power lines that go over the Scrubby woods, until I got distracted by a LONG TAILED TIT flock, another species that has not been around much this month, with them were GREAT TITS, BLUE TITS, a family of TREECREEPERS and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, but the bonus was seeing a WILLOW WARBLER (69) among them, a lovely fresh, bright yellow one, taking the months list to 69 species and so equaling the best ever July tally, now only if that Cormorant had turned up!  :-)

As the sun came out more, the insects took over my attention, and I saw my first Holly Blue Butterfly for the month, as well as at least 4 Purple Hairstreaks, a couple got with easy photographic range, but they were always directly above me and mostly obscured. I did get a couple of Common Darter Photo's again, and also got some images of a Southern Hawker, but the wind made for a difficult job, as did the tangle of vegetation it was sitting in.

I might just do a bit of evening sky watching if I get time later, you never know I might just get that new species for the month to set the July record  ;-)  I cant be disappointed with the months total though, its 6 more than last July, and the average for the previous 5 July's is 64 .6 species, so I easily surpassed that.  Just one new species was added to the 12 year combined July tally, that was the Yellow Wagtail, taking it to 89 species, which is surprisingly one less than the December combined list  :-)
Southern Hawker, Not best effort, the wind was bowing it around  ;-)
I managed to get close to it, but then I could only see it's head clearly
one gust of wind too many and it was off! Opportunity gone!
This Common darter was in a more sheltered Spot.
Just need a Hawker to sit like that for me now  :-)
Small Copper butterfly, seen at the Greenhouse Grounds on my way home.

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Today was a total washout, the rain moved in just before 08:00hrs accompanied by a gusty wind, so my walk was abandoned after little over an hour. Nothing of real note was seen in that time, the hundred or so GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE were enjoying the wet conditions on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, and two of the KESTREL young sat out in the rain on top of the Greenhouses, the surrounding habitat of which had CHIFFCHAFF,  BLACKCAP and the WHITETHROAT family skulking around in the brambles.

I did try and get out later in the morning, but got soaked by not only the rain, but also the dripping vegetation, a hasty return home was had!

Frequent checks of the garden feeders were had whilst at home, the most noteworthy species coming in was a male BULLFINCH, but it was too dark to get the camera out. NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, JACKDAW, CARRION CROW and WREN were the best of the other visitors, but it was also interesting to see a good number of CHAFFINCH, mostly immature birds, at least 13 were present, a good number for my garden  :-)

The morning looks wet again tomorrow for the last visit of the month, but hopefully i will get out at some point, and hopefully add something to the July list  :-)

Photo's today are from my garden feeders, taken when the weather was more summer like!
COLLARED DOVE, a peak count of 6 were at the feeders today
STARLING, peak count of 4 today
STARLING, Immature
WOODPIGEON, peak count of two

Monday 29 July 2013

There were just a few sunny spells in an overcast sky this morning, and with the strong SW wind it felt cool.

I only visited Migrant Alley, the Greenhouse Grounds and the Scrubby Woods today, still hoping to add something to the months list, which is just 2 short of the highest July tally, surely with the 12 year combined species list for July on 89, something will turn up  :-)

A circuit of the Fields and Paddocks of Migrant Alley didn't produce an early passage migrant, instead, I again enjoyed the spectacle of well over a hundred Geese in the sheep pasture, split 60/40 GREYLAGS over CANADA. All the regular species were also seen there, ROOKS, JACKDAWS, CARRION CROWS a few MAGPIES and WOODPIGEONS, plus a dozen LINNETS flitting between one of the paddocks and the fence rail. 30-40 SWALLOWS were whizzing around the area, with a few HOUSE MARTINS, and higher up small numbers of SWIFTS were moving through.

The Wooded Headland and the Greenhouse Grounds could only muster one CHIFFCHAFF, one BLACKCAP and the WHITETHROAT family between them, I was hoping, maybe, for my first migrant sedge Warbler of the year, they dont turn up every year here though.

A forty minute skywatch from my seat, now hoping for a fly over Cormorant that didn't materialise, did give me great views of a PEREGRINE as it flew in low over the sheep pasture and half heartedly lunged at a young Rook. HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS passed over, as did a SPARROWHAWK, a YELLOWHAMMER was heard singing from High House Lane 400 meters away, and more of a surprise was hearing, then seeing, a TREECREEPER move along the tall hedgerow behind my seat.

The visit to the Scrubby Woods also failed to get me a new species for the month, the hoped for Turtle Doves that were there in June seem to have gone now, and a migrant Garden warbler wasn't forthcoming  :-(  The lakes didn't provide any cheer today either, just more Canada geese ! Even the Coot family look to have moved on now, they havn't been seen for two days.

All can change though, and with 2 visits still left for July, i'm still hoping i'll add something to this months list  :-)

Whilst in the Scrubby Woods I found some insects to photograph, that kept me bust for an hour, it wasn't easy with the wind blowing the way it was  ;-)
Common Darter
There were three or four of these about, but they were very wary and hard to approach
Eventually one settled down though
They aren't a Common species here at all now
I got lucky with this Purple Hairstreak, it was nice and low on a bramble  :-)
Around lunch time I headed off out to do some Butterfly photography, but didn't last long, the wind just made it nigh impossible today. I was pleased to find another fresh Small Copper though, as well as a Brown Argus.
Small Copper
Brown Argus, a female i think  :-)

Sunday 28 July 2013

After last evenings rain, this morning felt fresher than of late in the SW breeze, but at least there were some sunny spells to be enjoyed during the 4 hour patch visit.
A view through the heart of Migrant Alley - no migrants here today though
Once again, I tallied up a fair few bird species this morning, 50 to be exact, a couple down on yesterday, as I didn't see Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Pheasant or Coot today, but I added HOBBY, one was seen hunting over the main Lake, and MANDARIN DUCK, an Immature, which was also on the Main Lake.

Everything else noted was the same as yesterday, flyovers from the three Gull species, LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED as well as GREY HERON, YELLOWHAMMER and HOUSE MARTIN all helped the list along, as did the three other Raptor species seen - SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD and KESTREL, the family of which continue to show at the Greenhouse Grounds, where once again the immature GREY WAGTAIL was seen. Over 100 GEESE were again seen at Migrant Alley 90% were GREYLAGS, with the rest being CANADA'S.
I cant resist photographing the Kestrels when they sit on the Greenhouse!
Not much song was heard today, just one BLACKCAP, one CHIFFCHAFF and a TREECREEPER were of note, although SONGTHRUSH, DUNNOCK, WREN and LINNET also did their bit, along with the efforts of COLLARED DOVE, WOODPIGEON, and STOCK DOVE, if their repetitive sound counts as a song  :-)

As yesterday, I spent some time at the greenhouses early this afternoon photographing the Butterflies, where I found Large and Small Whites, Large and Small Skippers, Meadow Brown, Gate Keeper, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small tortoiseshell, Small Copper, Common Blue and Comma.
This is just the second Common Blue Butterfly on my patch this year
Common Blue
I found a newer Small Copper than yesterdays specimen
Good job it perched low down, as the wind today made for difficult photography
Small Copper
Small Copper

Saturday 27 July 2013

This morning was overcast, but with little wind it felt warm enough to be out in just a tee shirt, even at 06:30hrs.

In my five hour patch visit I recorded an impressive total of 52 species, nothing new for the month or year, but most bird species that live on my patch turned out, except for Spotted Flycatcher, Long Tailed Tit and Mistle Thrush.

The big day list was helped by having the likes of LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULL flyover Migrant Alley, as well as YELLOWHAMMER, GREY HERON, SKYLARK and HOUSE MARTIN. Also at Migrant Alley were the GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE, which numbered 51 and 28 respectively.

The summer birds of CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and WHITETHROAT were all heard at the Greenhouse Grounds as well as the Scrubby Woods, the only other summer birds seen were around 40 SWALLOWS and 2  SWIFTS.

The raptor species were represented by the KESTREL family at the Greenhouse grounds, plus a single SPARROWHAWK up hunting, two single BUZZARDS soaring made it three for the day, unless you count the LITTLE OWL, two of these were found, one at the old shack in the Ashes Lane Field, the other in the Small holding.

Two BULLFINCH families were noted in the Scrubby Woods, and the walk to get there via the Small Holding and Wet Woods provided me with most of the other scarcer patch species, like  GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, and COAL TIT, as well as the less scarcer but sometimes hard to find species of GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY, PHEASANT, PIED WAGTAIL and STOCK DOVE.

Probably the most satisfying sighting this morning was seeing an immature GREY WAGTAIL as I walked home past the Greenhouses, it was mobbing 2 Kestrels on the roof of one of the glass houses - brave bird!

In the poor light this morning I didn't take the camera out, but around midday the sun started to shine, making it feel very warm, so off I went to get some Butterfly photo's over at the Greenhouse Grounds  :-)
Large White
Gate Keeper
Small Copper - The same individual as yesterday
I also came across the only odonata of the day.
Common Blue Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly

Friday 26 July 2013

I only had a short patch visit early on, as I had some business to attend this morning. It was very pleasant out, with almost full cloud cover, but totally windless and warm with it.

I did my usual trip through the Greenhouse Grounds, had a look through the Greenhouse Copse, did a circuit of the sheep pasture, paddocks and Wooded Headland at Migrant Alley and lastly, checked the Ashes lane field where the LITTLE OWL was observed snoozing on it's favoured perch.

At the Greenhouse Grounds the WHITETHROATS were very obvious again, the adults feeding their young, both BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF gave a burst of their respective song, but only once. At least 2 of the young KESTRELS were seen, with both adults in the area tending to them. In the Greenhouse Copse another Little Owl called, as did a TREECREEPER, there were at least 4 Chiffchaff in there too.

The Wooded Headland at Migrant Alley was particularly quiet, only the WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN and WOODPIGEON were heard to sing here and yet another Chiffchaff gave its Autumn ''hueet'' call. Out on the pasture and paddocks, just 5 GREYLAG and 11 CANADA GEESE were grazing, they were in company with the crowd of ROOKS, JACKDAWS and CARRION CROWS, plus a few LINNETS and GOLDFINCH, while up on the overhead power cables there were 24 SWALLOWS perched.

A 40 minute Sky watch was had over at my seat, which again produced a HOBBY, plus a couple of groups of HERRING GULLS and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL. A SKYLARK was up singing, and as I searched for it through my binoculars, I saw two BUZZARDS higher up, and a score of SWIFTS.

Later in the day, I headed off out to have a Butterfly hunt at the Greenhouse Grounds, as the sun was out now and it had turned very warm. This proved a good visit, as i found my first Small Copper of the year, albeit a bit tatty, and also my first Brown Argus for the year, these take the Butterfly species count for the year on my patch to 22.

I of course tried to get some photo's of the newly arrived Butterfly species, concentrating more on the Brown Argus, which I think is a male, as it was less tatty!
Brown Argus
Brown Argus, one of my favourite Flutters  :-)
Brown Argus
Brown Argus underwing, looks like a bit of wear on it
Brown Argus underwing
Small Copper, tatty, but another of my favourites. It disappeared after this record shot.
Small Skipper, these were everywhere, I'm sure some are Essex Skippers though  :-)

Thursday 25 July 2013

Variable amounts of cloud came and went this morning as I walked round the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley, some sunshine was to be had and with a light wind it made for a pleasant enough morning  :-)

There were more songsters this morning than in recent visits, the summer migrants of CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and WHITETHROAT, the latter with their young, were all heard to sing at the Greenhouse Grounds, where 2 of the young KESTRELS were seen on the roof of the glasshouses.

I made a circuit of the fields at Migrant Alley, and found just 8 CANADA GEESE had turned up on the sheep pasture, I wonder where the 100+ Greylag Geese have got to ?  The STARLING flock were still about though, 100+ were feeding and moving between the pasture and paddocks, the power lines above had 16 SWALLOWS sitting on them, and further along around 75-100 ROOKS sat.

Once I had completed a circuit of the fields, I sat on my sky watching seat, I watched for 2 hours, hoping for a Cormorant to go over, or any other new species for the month, but none appeared. There was plenty to see and hear as I sat though, a HOBBY was the second raptor of the day, seen as it chased the Swallows, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD made the raptor count to four. Three Gull species went over, LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED, plus there were plenty of SWIFTS high up.

From my view point I can see and hear the comings and goings at the Greenhouse grounds and the Greenhouse Copse as well as the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, and noted quite a few species as I sat there. As well as the species already mentioned I recorded, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, COAL TIT, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, PIED WAGTAIL, CARRION CROW, JACKDAW, MAGPIE, JAY, WOODPIGEON, COLLARED DOVE, STOCK DOVE, LINNET, SKYLARK, GREEN WOOD PECKER, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, HOUSE SPARROW, YELLOWHAMMER and GOLDREST - 41 species without hardly moving  :-)

I did eventually move though, and wandered over to the Scrubby Woods and lake area, which was a let down, it was a bit late in the morning to get there really, and now that the hot weather has passed, just about everyone was out mowing, strimming and hedgcutting, there was also some woman roaming around the Scrubby woods and lakes shouting for her two dogs, which had run off, why take your dogs off the lead if they run away and upset other countryside users,  and disturb the wildlife as well!! Anyway, I didn't stay long, but I did get a view of a KINGFISHER as it zoomed across the main lake, where 4 Canada Geese were also found, the COOTS, MALLARDS and MOORHENS seen on the Ornamental Lake took the mornings bird tally to 45, so not too bad, considering  I didn't do a full patch walk  :-)
Canada Goose taking a drink on the main lake
Canada Goose
Whitethroat at the Greenhouse Grounds, Scolding me as I walk past  :-)

Wednesday 24 July 2013

With a bit of cloud cover, plus some breeze, it felt very pleasant out at 06:00hrs this morning.

I undertook a 5 hour full patch walk, recording an excellent 50 bird species, plus a few Damsels, Dragons and Butterflies, of which two of the latter were new for this month, a Peacock and a Common Blue  :-)

Most of the 50 bird species seen were what I would expect on a July walk, but Long Tailed Tit, Mistle Thrush, and Sparrowhawk, though expected, were not about this morning, so it could of been a real good day list today!

I did get a few of the scarcer patch species turn up, like GREY HERON and YELLOWHAMMER, that both flew over the Greenhouse Complex, also a PEREGRINE was up hunting over Migrant Alley, where over 100 GREYLAG GEESE and 7 CANADA GEESE had gathered on the sheep pasture. A couple of SKYLARK sang above the bean fields on the Arable part of my patch, where JAY, GREEN WOODPECKER, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, and a flyover BLACK HEADED GULL were seen, all can be tricky to find here in late July.

The highlight of the day was seen whilst I watched the KESTREL family at the Greenhouse Grounds, the distinctive call of a GREY WAGTAIL (67) was picked up as it flew over, and I got a short view of it as it carried on South, a usual brief encounter, but good enough to go on the July list, which at 67 is now the second best July out of 12, just 2 more species will equal the best ever July tally, where did those Turtle Doves go that were here last month!

More of those harder to find patch species were found as I walked to the Scrubby Woods via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, like TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH and GOLDCREST ( of which another family party were seen) but it was more of a surprise to find a SISKIN at the Scrubby Woods, despite seeing five here last week.

Walking back home across the Ashes lane field 2 BUZZARDS were up soaring, with lots of SWIFTS speeding all around them, I had a brief scan of the Pub Field today, a pointless task really as the maize there is now waist high, and the footpath along the hedgerow is now impassable, so I cant see much, i'll have to wait until October when its harvested to walk there again. The Little Owl wasn't present at the nearby old shack, it's been a regular recently for the daylist, that's another species that could have made todays list a bit nearer that magic 60 figure, talking of which, I think i'll keep September 1st clear, for another crack at that 60 species in a day challenge, surely i'll beat the May 1st effort of 52  :-)

Photo's today  -:
WHITETHROAT, these are on there 2nd brood at the Greenhouse Grounds
Whitethroat, checking me out as I walked past
Blue Tailed Damselfly, (Male) been after a nice shot of this species for a while
Red Admiral
Small White
Small Skipper