Tuesday 31 December 2013

A brief, dryish interlude this morning lasted around 90 minutes, allowing me to carry out some sort of patch visit for the final day of the year, before the wind and rain set in proper for the remainder of the day, an all too familiar story for December  :-(

Most of the visit was centered around the lakes, where I was pleased to see a female GOOSANDER on the Main Lake, always a treat to see one of these here, but another treat was in store for me in the shape of a COOT (64), another scarce visitor to these lakes, although a pair has bred here for the last two springs they never hang about for long. At least 2 pairs of MANDARIN DUCK were also picked out in the overhanging branches of the main lake, plus a CORMORANT was sitting on a muddy island on the Ornamental lake, the MUTE SWANS were also present, as were at least 30 MALLARD and 6 MOORHEN spread between the 3 water bodies. If I can get this lot for tomorrows new year walk I'll be well happy!!

Not much else to report from the final visit of the year, a MEADOW PIPIT flew up from the Ashes lane Field as I walked across it in driving rain, and the male KESTREL was hunting around the nearby old shack.

So that's that then! Goodbye to 2013! If 2014 gives me as many bird species to see I will be happy enough, 110 species is the 2nd best year out of the 12, as I said in yesterdays post, 3 behind the record year of 2010. Looking at the mean average species count for each of the past 12 months, it shows an average tally of 69.83 species were found per month, this is also the second best figure, behind the year of 2010 which had an average of 70.25 species per month, 2010 is turning out to be the year to beat!

I set record monthly totals in February (70) and April (79), I also equaled the existing record totals for January and July, but I think most of the months have now reached their peak as far as species numbers are concerned. Looking at the full 12 years of recording it tells me I can expect to see on average 65 species in any given month, enough to convince me to carry for another year  :-)

Happy new year to all ! Enjoy your birding in 2014  :-)

Monday 30 December 2013

With more heavy rain and gales for most of the day, only a short, late afternoon patch walk was had, which took me over to the lakes, the place where I am most likely to pick up one last new bird species for the year list, alas it was not to be, just the MALLARDS, MOORHENS, MUTE SWANS and MANDARIN DUCK, of which there were 3 males visible, were on the water today.

I kept my eye on the sky on the way home, hoping for a Lapwing to add to the December list, but no luck there either, so it seems the year and months list will end where they now sit, especially as the weather for the last day of the year looks to be wet and windy again  :-(

This month has been particularly difficult given the very stormy conditions, and the tally of 63 species is only the fifth best December tally out of twelve, 10 species behind the record December total set back in 2008, with a further 5 new species needed for it to reach the fourth best position, it will certainly not move up the rankings now.

Time to look back briefly on the past year I think, and pick out some of the salient points of my birding exploits on my patch.

The number of successful breeding species on my patch, of which I found recently fledged young for, was down by 3 on the previous year, from 43 to 40, with a further 6 probably successfully breeding, but for which no recently fledged young were found for, so 46 species probably did breed, that compares with 48 in 2012.

The total species recorded over the year was 110, a very good total, the 2nd best out of the twelve years of recording here, and 3 behind the record of 113 found in 2010, that year had no less than 7 patch ticks, while 2013 didn't produce a single patch tick, the first of the twelve years not to do so.

Of the 110 species seen this year, 13 of them involved just single sightings of that species, or multiple sightings of the same single bird over several days, 7 of the 13 were flyovers, this shows that it takes a lot of luck and daily visits are a must, even to get to 100 species on my patch! Out of interest the 13 species were, Wigeon, Waxwing, Nightingale, Stonechat, Ring Ouzel and Sedge Warbler, the flyovers were of, Red Kite, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Golden plover, Curlew, Barn owl, and Great Black backed Gull.
Stonechat, a species which the same single bird was present on several dates
The coming year will present me with more challenges, mostly due to habitat destruction being rampant here now, with building work, hedgerow removal and general ''tidying'' of the wild areas all adding to the general decline of the area. Once common migrant breeding species such as Turtle Dove, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and House Martin will almost certainly be lost as breeding birds from my patch this year, going the same way as the Nightingale, 2014 could be the year they are only recorded as passage birds.
Lesser Whitethroat - will  a pair find a place to nest here next year ?
During the quieter months of June and July, I look forward to recording the Butterflies and Dragonflies on my patch, although these are also suffering from habitat loss. I only started serious record keeping of Butterflies in 2011, when I found 22 species, the following year I found 23 species and this year was the best yet with 24 species being found. My Dragonfly recording only just started this year, the 18 species I found seems a good tally, but more years of recording will tell for sure.
Clouded Yellow, 2013 was an exceptional year for these migrant butterlfies
Migrant Hawker Dragonflies were a common sight this year too.

Sunday 29 December 2013

At last a proper winters day, wall to wall sunshine, no wind and a frost, so I, with a friend today, made the most of it with a five and a half hour patch visit.

The longer than normal visit produced a good species tally for the day, in all 48 were found, but frustratingly none of those were new for the December list. It was good to record all the thrush species today, MISTLE THRUSH, SONG THRUSH, BLACKBIRD and the two winter thrushes FIELDFARE and REDWING all showed up.


Three raptor species were seen up hunting during the visit, those being KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD, also this LITTLE OWL was found in the Greenhouse Copse.

Little Owl
Little Owl
On the lakes today, the MUTE SWAN pair were again present, as was a pair of MANDARIN DUCKS, also a KINGFISHER, a CORMORANT and the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS were seen. The adjacent Scrubby Woods provided plenty of the Tit and Finch species BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, COAL TIT, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, BULLFINCH and the first GREENFINCH for over a week. There was an increase in GOLDCREST numbers too with at least 4 being found.

The Wet Woods was mostly quiet this morning, but GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, NUTHATCH, a singing STOCK DOVE and a glimpse of the albino Squirrel gave some interest there.

At the Greenhouse Grounds a flock of 15 -20 SISKIN fed in the line of Alder trees, a few MEADOW PIPITS, a PIED WAGTAIL, another pair of Bullfinch and a particularly nice to see YELLOWHAMMER were also seen here, the nearby Greenhouse Copse held the LONG TAILED TIT flock that were missed over at the scrubby Woods.

Over on the pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley at least 75 ROOKS were feeding with at least 25 JACKDAWS, and the only SKYLARK of the day was heard flying over, but little else flew over, just HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS.

In all a good visit I think, 50 species could well of been achieved if the Pheasant and Treecreeper had obliged, as they have in recent visits.

Saturday 28 December 2013

It was a nice change to get out without fighting the elements this morning, giving me the chance for an enjoyable full patch walk. The three and a half hour walk yielded me a good total of 46 species, most of which came from the lakes and wooded areas of my patch. The pasture, paddocks and hedges of Migrant Alley were visited early on, mainly to try and find a Snipe for the months list, but that didn't happen, however, flyovers from COMMON GULL, CORMORANT and GREYLAG GOOSE were all good species to record.

The Pub Field continues to disappoint, as does the Ashes lane field, although the old shack there, again had the LITTLE OWL sitting beside it.

A look through the Wet Woods was quite productive, with a few MALLARDS, MOORHEN and a pair of MANDARIN DUCK on the overflowing pools of water there. A TREECREEPER was also seen, and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was heard to drum briefly.

The highlight of the day was found on the Main Lake, when I had the good fortune to find no fewer than 6 GOOSANDER (63), 4 of those being females, these bring the December list up  to 5th place out of the twelve  recorded :-) Goosander are quite regular visitors in variable numbers during the winter months, I always look forward to finding them  :-) Also on the water were the MUTE SWAN pair, a KINGFISHER, another pair of Mandarin Ducks, and the usual Mallards and Moorhans. A BUZZARD went over as I took some distant photo's of the Goosander, it was being mobbed by a KESTREL.
A distant shot of the Goosander, always worth getting a record of though.
A look though the Scrubby Woods provided good views of LONG TAILED TIT, plus COAL TIT, and GOLDCREST that were with them. At least 2 BULLFINCH called and a MISTLE THRUSH sang, while overhead both SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL called as the flew over.

I ended the walk back over at the Greenhouse Grounds, and sky watching from my seat at Migrant Alley, I was hoping to see a Lapwing go over, but didn't, plenty of BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL were seen, and a large corvid flock had turned up on the pasture since I was there earlier, a mix of at least 300 ROOKS and JACKDAWS were feeding.
Long Tailed Tit
Long Tailed Tit

Friday 27 December 2013

Just a quick update  :-)
After some horrendous storms over Xmas, and a foggy boxing day morning with the afternoon taken up by visiting relatives, then today spent carpet fitting at home, birding has been none existent over the past 48 hours  :-(

However, all will be back to normal as of tomorrow, when I will be out for a full patch walk, hoping I can squeeze out just one more new species for the patch year list, plus maybe a couple for the December list ! :-)

Wednesday 25 December 2013


After yet more overnight rain, Christmas day came in with intermittent showers and the odd blue patch of sky, although these didn't coincide with the suns position until after my 3 and a half hour full patch walk!

Although no Christmas presents were to be found on my patch this morning, either in the form of a 'year' or 'month' tick  ( Despite being promised one by a fellow blogger!) it was still enjoyable. An about par total, for a December day, of 42 species was found, with the lakes being of more interest than of late. Here, the MUTE SWAN pair were still present, (it will be a bonus if they can be added to the new year list), with them were half a dozen MALLARD, a scattering of MOORHENS, a GREY HERON, plus the BARNACLE GOOSE with two CANADA GEESE.

All the scarcer woodland species were encountered in the Scrubby Woods, they being NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST and BULLFINCH, plus the likes of GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS, a STOCK DOVE was also seen, the first for a couple of weeks.

The Ashes Lane Field was empty but for a few MAGPIES, although the old shack there had the LITTLE OWL showing well again. The Pub Field was holding plenty of large puddles, and looked good for something to be out there amongst the maize stubbles, but it was completely devoid of birds  :-(

Over at Migrant Alley yesterdays gull flock had gone, but three species of gull flew over, those being HERRING, BLACK HEADED and LESSER BLACK BACKED, the STARLING flock was still present as was the ROOK and JACKDAW flock, but the hoped for Lapwing sighting wasn't forthcoming, still time yet to encounter this species for the months list.

The Greenhouse Grounds and Copse were quite busy, with a dozen DUNNOCKS foraging in the undergrowth, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, plenty of BLUE and GREAT TITS, plus the male KESTREL were all seen, 5 MEADOW PIPITS were a nice sight as they fed in the skeletal remains of the poly tunnels.

A very average walk today, but as I said, an enjoyable one, undertaken in near peace and quite for once!

Whilst waiting for my very patient and lovely wife to sort out the Christmas lunch, ( which was delicious!) I snuck off up to my upstairs ''bird obsevatory'' to take some photo's of the usual suspects that use my garden feeders, as by now the sun had found some of those blue bits  :-)
There were 3 of these Great Spotted Woodpeckers
Up to 15 Blue Tits
plus 2 Nuthatch

Tuesday 24 December 2013

There was no patch visit at all yesterday, due to the violent storm that blew through during the day and most of last night.

This morning, after a sleepless night, disturbed by the strongest winds i've encountered since the great storm of Oct 1987, I ventured out, getting soaked almost immediately by a heavy prolonged shower, which just added more water to the already flooded footpaths and fields.

I headed for the Lakes, picking my way over fallen branches and huge puddles that obstructed my way as I walked through the through the Small Holding and Wet woods, the water of which was overflowing into a nearby garden. Having reached the lakes, I had seen just a handful of birds, GREAT and BLUE TIT, BLACKBIRD and ROBIN, a Singing WREN and a a few WOODPIGEON, the rain and wind picked up and wondered why I bothered going out at all!!

I took shelter from the elements, and after a while the rain stopped so I checked out the lakes, all of which were overflowing, very little was seen at first, apart from the obvious MUTE SWANS that had returned to the Ornamental lake, but slowly a few MALLARD came out of hiding, as did a drake MANDARIN DUCK and the first MOORHENS appeared, a CORMORANT dropped in whilst I was there, and the KINGFISHER was also heard.

I didn't stay much longer, and only briefly looked at the Scrubby Woods as the water was still cascading off the tree branches, and I was already wet enough! Only BULLFINCH and SISKIN were of any note there.

I then headed for the Greenhouse Grounds, via the Ashes lane Field, where a party of 15 REDWING were seen, easily the highest number this month, the LITTLE OWL was also at home in the old shack, which still stood after the gales of last night, despite its decrepit state. The same could not be said for a big Eucalyptus tree that stood in a large garden next to the Greenhouse grounds, this garden seemed to have suffered badly from the gales, it had also lost 3 medium sized pine trees, and a very large Leylandi tree, all much loved by both Little Owl and Goldcrests. There is something very saddening about loosing well loved and familiar trees, I pass them every day, and to see them lying prostrate, ready to be sawn up and burnt, fills me with a sense of loss  :-(

On a brighter note, I did see my first GREY WAGTAIL (61) of the month as it flew up from a large puddle at the Greenhouse Grounds, a couple of PIED WAGTAILS and a MEADOW PIPIT also flew up, and the male KESTREL was perched up on the glass roof.

I had a scan over Migrant Alley from my seat, and saw a large flock of gulls crowded round the flooded part of a paddock, I noted at least 60 HERRING GULLS, 12 BLACK HEADED GULLS, 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS and the bonus of 3 COMMON GULLS (62) the first for December  :-) On an adjacent paddock there were a minimum of 60 STARLINGS, mixed in with a flock of  ROOKS and JACKDAWS.

The months list now moves on, and has reached 62 species, the joint fifth best December so far. It would be nice to get 66 species this month, this would average out my monthly species count for this year to 70, something that has only been achieved in one previous year, that of 2010.

The weather looks like calming down tomorrow, so my traditional Christmas day full patch walk should take place, hopefully it will be bright enough to take my camera out  :-)

Sunday 22 December 2013

Another very wet and windy mornings patch visit, the ground is now saturated and cant hold anymore water, leaving large puddles on some of the fields, these I checked for some exotic wader, like Lapwing or Snipe, maybe even a Green Sandpiper, but I had no luck with that !

Over on the Lakes there was a reasonable amount of activity with 20 or so MALLARD, 6 MOORHEN, 4 pairs of MANDARIN DUCK, 2 CANADA GEESE, a CORMORANT and the KINGFISHER, while the Scrubby Woods was much quieter than recent visits, just the COAL TIT and GOLDCREST were seen of the scarcer woodland Species.

I made some effort to have a sky watch from my seat over at Migrant Alley in the latter stages of my walk, when the rain finally ceased and the sun came out. My 40 minutes spent there was rewarded with my first LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL (60) of the month, which flew over with a mixed group of gulls, BLACK HEADED and HERRING being with them. A few MEADOW PIPITS also went over, as did another Cormorant, 3 REDWINGS were nice to see, just the 3rd record of these this month.

Quite a disappointing visit really, but with the weather being so wet and warm, I cant see much chance of the expected winter species turning up here. The weather over the next couple of days is expected to get even wetter and windier, so any visits look as though they will again be on the short side!

At least I added the Lesser Black Backed Gull to the December list today, which is now on 60, putting it in 7th place out of 12, however I think i'll struggle to reach the mean monthly species count of the past 5 years, which is 68.

I tried for some photo's from my garden this afternoon, the warm weather means little activity at my feeders, and the SPARROWHAWK was hanging around again, keeping away what was hungry! However I did just get a few snaps of this JACKDAW on the fat logs  :-)

Saturday 21 December 2013

My planned full patch walk for this morning was halted half way round, heavy, blustery showers rattled through the area, but me being bloody minded went out anyway, it wasn't until the continuous rain arrived that I relented!

Unsurprisingly little of note was seen in the conditions, I had noted just 32 species by the time I called it a day, none of those were new for the month, with the highlight being a pair of MANDARIN DUCKS on the main Lake.

TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST and COAL TIT were the most active of the woodland species in the Scrubby Woods, while a couple of MEADOW PIPITS were as good as it got out on the Ashes Lane Field.

I'll try again tomorrow!

Friday 20 December 2013

I spent almost the entire day today helping out the decorators finishing off my house, thankfully it is all now virtually complete and will leave me the rest of the month free to wander my patch at will, well, almost  :-)

I do always get some kind of patch visit in though, and I just popped over to the lakes around mid day, more to get some fresh air than anything, but I added a fantastic WOODCOCK (59) to the months list when one was disturbed by the edge of the main Lake, glad I went out now :-)

I'm looking forward to a full patch walk tomorrow, the first since last Saturday!

Thursday 19 December 2013

Another short patch visit this morning was undertaken in some very mild conditions, helped by a bit of warm sunshine it felt like a fine April day!

The lakes had been heavily disturbed by the time I arrived there at 10:00hrs, the fine weather bringing out the groundsman and gardeners of the surrounding large gardens, all with there noisy machinery. Just 8 MALLARDS, 8 MOORHEN, 2 CANADA GEESE a GREY HERON and the KINGFISHER were divided up among the 3 water bodies.

Whilst looking around the Scrubby Woods I was surprised how springlike it sounded (once the garden machinery, barking dogs and low flying light aircraft were filtered out!!) Song was heard from MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, GOLDCREST, and COAL TIT,  while GREAT TIT, WOODPIGEON, and NUTHATCH gave calls more associated with late March rather mid December. BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, JAY,, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, BLUE TIT, GREAT SPOTTED, and GREEN WOODPECKERS were all calling, all very pleasant in the sunshine  :-)

Making my way over to the Greenhouse Grounds I heard then saw 3 MEADOW PIPITS fly from the Ashes lane Field, where the old shack once again hosted the LITTLE OWL - try and find it in the image below  :-)
Spot the Little Owl at 30m or so ( see end of post for a clue!)
At the Greenhouse Grounds I again encountered the SISKIN flock in the Alders, also a passing LONG TAILED TIT flock filtered past, a SKYLARK flew over calling, and as i left for home 3 more Canada Geese flew over with the feral BARNACL GOOSE in tow  :-)

A few images of the Siskins that took yesterday  :-)
Siskin, Male
One more short visit tomorrow, as the decorators are still occupying some of my day, then weather permitting i'll get a couple of weekend full patch walks in  :-)

Oh! The Little Owl can be found just above the roof line, about a quarter of the way in from the left, sitting in the trees behind, but of course you saw it anyway!

Wednesday 18 December 2013

There was a short but enjoyable spell of sunshine this morning, when a only another brief patch visit was possible. Once again it was the Lakes, Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods that had most of my attention, however the lakes were not as busy as yesterday, the Mute Swans had gone, leaving 7 CANADA GEESE, 18 MALLARD, 8 MOORHEN, the KINGFISHER and a CORMORANT, still a good amount of activity for these water bodies.
Canada Goose
In the Scrubby Woods a search for a Woodcock was not fruitful, but a few of the regulars were seen, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER being the pick of those.

A wander along the sunnier edge of the Wet Woods had me stumbling upon the LONG TAILED TIT flock, which only had a few GREAT and BLUE TITS with it today, I did get a few photo's off of them though.
Long Tailed Tit
Long Tailed Tit
I ended my visit over at the Greenhouse Grounds, where a small flock of 20 or so SISKIN were feeding in the Alder Trees there, again I got a few photo's off, i'll save those for tomorrows post as the weather looks anti camera again :-) On the way out of the Greenhouse Grounds I came across the PHEASANT which sat on the fence line, not a very good image, I seem to have forgotten how to use my camera - it's been a while!
Hen Pheasant

Tuesday 17 December 2013

The decorators were at home today, so I expected to be late out for my patch visit this morning, but I was even later due to a couple of minor disasters, that I wont go into here!

In the end I only got an hour out, so went over to the Lakes, where I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of species seen there, one visitor especially made me smile - my old friend the feral BARNACLE GOOSE (57), it was with 7 of his CANADA GEESE chums  :-)  The MUTE SWAN pair were also present, as was the KINGFISHER, plus a GREY HERON and a CORMORANT. At least 1 MANDARIN DUCK was hiding under the tree overhang, and the 20 or so MALLARDS and 8 MOORHEN made for an unusually busy Lakes!

Walking back through the Wet Woods I came across the LONG TAILED TIT flock, which as is normally always the case supplied me with views of NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, as they all tagged along together.

Crossing the Ashes Lane Field at the end of my all too short visit, I checked the old shack and found the resident LITTLE OWL at home, I then heard a LINNET (58) fly over, which alighted in a tree on the boundary hedgerow of the Ashes Lane Field and Pub Field, I don't get many December Linnets here, so it's good to get one on the months list.

The Barnacle Goose and Linnet take the months list up to 58 now, which puts Decembers tally in 8th place out of twelve  :-)

A final high point for the day was seeing a Treecreeper in my garden, the third month this year that this species has turned up on my Elder Tree  :-)

Monday 16 December 2013

Two hours were spent out this morning, but some very poor light, a blustery wind and drizzly rain, made for a miserable visit  :-(

Most of my time was spent around the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, the 3 lakes had a slight increase in MALLARDS, from yesterdays 29, to 32 today, no ''proper' ducks had joined them though! The MUTE SWANS were still around, and the CANADA GEESE that arrived here yesterday were also still about, as was the GREY HERON that had left its fir tree perch and was now on an island on the Small lake. There was no sign of the Kingfisher this morning or any Mandarin Ducks.

In the Scrubby Woods I was fortunate enough to encounter the LONG TAILED TIT flock, which filtered past me as I stood and watched, with them were COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, BLUE TIT and GREAT TIT. BULLFINCH, JAY, MISTLETHRUSH, SISKIN, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKER were all heard but not seen. As I left the area 2 CORMORANTS flew low over, but didn't alight on any of the lakes.

As I crossed the Ashes lane Field the strong wind broke up the light rain into a fine spray, which blew into my face and down my neck, oh how I love December! BLACK HEADEd and HERRING GULLS were noted going over, and 2 MEADOW PIPITS flew up, but I didn't stay out in the open long, instead I headed for the more sheltered Greenhouse Grounds, here I located the usual suspects, lots of DUNNOCKS, a few BLACKBIRDS, ROBINS and WRENS, a small flock of GOLDFINCH feeding in the Alder Trees, and a couple of SONGTHRUSH.

After an unsuccessful sky watch - hoping for a Lapwing or Lesser Black back Gull to fly over, I soon gave up for the day, and headed home for some more decorating - very sad!

Sunday 15 December 2013

The early fog lifted around 08:00hrs, leaving a clear, sunny sky for all of 20 mins, before cloud and drizzle rolled in.

The 3 hour full patch walk produced a slightly below par 41 species today, amongst those were a few interesting ones, mainly over at the lakes, where it was, for these lakes at least, exceptionally busy. The two MUTE SWANS remain on the Ornamental Lake, along with the KINGFISHER, plus a good count of 22 MALLARD, the first 2 CANADA GEESE (56) of the month were also seen. 6 more Mallard were on the Main Lake, with the 4 MANDARIN DUCK, and a GREY HERON sat on 'its' fir tree perch nearby. The Small lake had 4 more Mallard, plus 5 CORMORANT, that's the highest ever count i've had here, actually on the water. MOORHENS were scattered amongst the 3 water bodies, probably around 8 birds in all, as I said a very busy place today!

Not much else to note that was out of the ordinary, Greenfinch and Treecreeper were not seen today, but all the other regular woodland birds were found. The only raptor today was a male KESTREL hunting on the Pub Field, where it was good to see a flock of 28 REDWING, even if they were just flying over, they represented only the second record of this species for December.

SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPIT flew over Migrant Alley, always good to see these two species here, also flying over were 4 more Canada Geese. BULLFINCH, GREEN WOODPECKER, PIED WAGTAIL, PHEASANT, and SONGTHRUSH finished off the days list, all being found in the Greenhouse Grounds.

The Canada Geese added to the months list now take this December to joint last place out of the twelve years, joint with the Decembers of 2002 and 2003, which were the first years of studying my patch, hopefully there will be a few more new species turn up in the second half of the month  :-)

Hopeless for photo's today, and the 'blog folder' has run dry again  :-(

Saturday 14 December 2013

The long sunny spells this morning made for a pleasant change from all the fog and gloom of recent visits, I even dusted off the camera for an outing  ;-)
Sunrise - nice to actually see it for once!
An enjoyable 4 hours were spent out on patch, visiting most parts of it and finding 42 bird species, which is about par for a December visit. I didn't find any new species for the December list, which was a bit disappointing as there are still a few that should visit here, Canada Goose and Lapwing being two.

Highlights from the walk were much as yesterday, the MUTE SWAN and KINGFISHER are becoming ever present on the Ornamental Lake, and today they were joined by a GREY HERON and a CORMORANT as well as the usual MOORHENS and MALLARDS.

I located the LONG TAILED TIT flock in the Scrubby Woods, and in doing so got to see the GOLDCRESTS, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER and COAL TITS that invariably are to be seen with it, BULLFINCH and SISKIN were heard moving about, plus JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and MISTLETHRUSH were all heard.

Two LITTLE OWLS were found today, one called from the large garden adjacent to the Greenhouse Grounds, while the other posed for a photo on the edge of the Greenhouse Copse.
Little Owl
Little Owl
3 MEADOW PIPITS flew up from the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where a few BLACK HEADED GULLS had joined the ROOK and JACKDAW flock, no sign of any Common or Lesser Black backed Gulls for the months list though. The female KESTREL was hunting around the Greenhouse Grounds, and the regular DUNNOCKS, WRENS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSH, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, PIED WAGTAILS, GREEN WOODPECKER, BLUE and GREAT TITS were all seen there.
Blue Tit

Friday 13 December 2013

After 3 days the dense fog has finally cleared, allowing me a 3 and a half hour full patch walk, which was still plagued by mist and persistent light rain, but that's much more preferable than fog!

I quite enjoyed being out again, despite the weather, and found a good tally of bird species - 45 in all, with a few giving some pleasant song to brighten up proceedings, these included MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, COAL TIT and TREECREEPER.

The MUTE SWAN pair were seen on the Ornamental lake, along with the KINGFISHER and 22 MALLARDS, the Main lake had 4 MANDARIN DUCK, 3 of which were male, and a GREY HERON sat in a tall fir tree on the bankside. Two more Mallard were on the Small Lake, and a scattering of MOORHENS moved about through all 3 water bodies.

All the common regulars were seen in the Scrubby Woods, along with the less regular LONG TAILED TITS, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, Coal Tit, Treecreeper, BULLFINCH and 3 GREENFINCH.

3 raptor species were seen on my walk, the first was a pair of BUZZARDS that were working a recently massacred ditch line just off Ashes Lane, the senselessly ripped out line of trees and scrub making a good source of displaced mammals for the Buzzard pair, but it will be yet another nesting place lost for next summers Whitethroats  :-( The KESTREL pair were also up hunting, moving between the Ashes lane Field and the Pub Field, where I was fortunate enough to watch a PEREGRINE fly low over, spooking up a flock of 100 plus JACKDAWS and ROOKS.

A LITTLE OWL was seen in the Greenhouse Copse, and whilst checking out the Greenhouse Grounds, SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPIT were heard as they flew over, I was on my home and had just about given up the hope of finding a new species for the December list, when my luck changed and two GREYLAG GEESE (55) flew over, 55 for the month, however, that total is still in last place out of the twelve Decembers........... so far!

Nothing left in the blog photo folder - need some light!!

Thursday 12 December 2013

There was still no let up in the dense fog today, incredible that 3 days in a row have been so foggy! I did try and ''see'' what was about around midday, when I had a wander over to the lakes during a brief 20 minute spell of less foggy conditions, but apart from the MUTE SWAN and a CORMORANT it proved a hopeless task, made more intolerable by the cascading drips of water/ice falling from the trees  :-(

Apparently this could be the last day of the fog, god I hope so, I'm fed up with this black and white world!

Last of my 'blog brighteners' today -

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Once again the fog prevented any sort of meaningful patch walk, if anything it was denser than yesterday.
Just WREN and DUNNOCK were seen as I paid a visit to the Greenhouse Grounds.
Looking at the weather forecast, it will be Friday before this stagnant weather leaves us, all very frustrating  :-(
LONG TAILED TITS at my garden feeders this afternoon

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Fog just clearing at 15:00hrs
A dense fog enshrouded my patch all day today, making it pretty hopeless to find any birds, I did start out on a walk to the Lakes, but soon realised I was onto a looser, visibility was down to 50-60 meters and when I reached the lakes even the MUTE SWANS were partially hidden by fog, although the KINGFISHERS shrill, high pitched call was picked out from somewhere in the fog.

I ended up helping out with the decorating back home, so poor were conditions out there  :-(

How different it was on Sunday morning when I took these ROBIN photo's!


Monday 9 December 2013

It was clear and frosty early this morning, but by the time I got out at 08:30hrs the fog had rolled in, making for a frustrating couple of hours.

My daily check of the lakes was well rewarded this morning, as out on the smallest of the three lakes a male TUFTED DUCK (54) could be made out in the mist, as with any duck species, this is a real treat to have on my patch, Tufted Ducks are a less than annual occurrence here, and to have a male is a bonus, the last Tufted Ducks here, back in September, concerned 3 females.

Also on the water this morning were 14 MALLARDS, 6 MOORHEN a KINGFISHER and the MUTE SWAN pair on the Ornamental Lake, the Main Lake had 4 Mallards, another 4 Moorhens plus a GREY HERON.

The fog was slowly clearing as I walked through the Scrubby Woods, and some weak sunshine broke through, making it feel warm for the time of year, it also brought some song from a variety of birds, including MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, WREN, DUNNOCK and ROBIN, plus the deep cooing of a WOODPIGEON. GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS were seen, plus the calls of LESSER REDPOLL, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST and BULLFINCH were heard. The sun had now come out fully, so I went back to the Small lake to try for a photo of the Tufted Duck, but it had already gone, you can see how fortunate I have to be to have a visit coincide with a Duck Species!

On the way home I visited the Greenhouse grounds, where a large female SPARROWHAWK sat on a hedgerow, needless to say, with her around not much hung about for me to record! I did see two LITTLE OWLS sitting together on the edge of the Greenhouse Copse where I photographed yesterdays individual, but on approaching the two birds, in stealth mode, I was most annoyed to see a CARRION CROW dive at the Owls a flush them deeper into the copse  :-(

Not much else to report from the visit, the female KESTREL was on a telephone pole along ashes Lane as I neared home, and a lone MEADOW PIPIT called as it flew over.

At least I have a few blog brighteners today, images from my garden feeders!
Great Tit