Saturday 31 May 2014

The weather today was the opposite of yesterday, it started off clear and sunny, but clouded over by mid afternoon.

Being the last day of May, I decided to do a full patch walk and try to squeeze out one more new species for the month, which in the end I failed to do, but in trying I amassed a huge day list of 56 bird species, that takes some doing on my patch!

I started off around the Greenhouse Grounds, where all the common regular species were found, with them were the summer migrants of CHIFFCHAFF, COMMON WHITETHROAT and BLACKCAP, plus a CUCKOO that called as it flew high over, the last i'll hear sing this year ? The LITTLE OWL was perched up on the guttering of the Greenhouses again.

Out on the paddocks and sheep pasture of Migrant Alley, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL was seen resting up, around it were the usual corvids of ROOK, CARRION CROW and JACKDAW, plus the ever present WOODPIGEONS. A male LINNET sat up in a hedgrow and allowed some photo's to be taken of it, while overhead a few SWIFTS wheeled around, and the SWALLOWS zipped over the sheep pasture.

Male Linnet

Male Linnet

Over in the Wet Woods there were 2 male MANDARIN DUCKS with the female and her young, a couple of TREECREEPERS sang, and the second family party of NUTHATCH'S were seen feeding. Over at the lakes a mix of geese had arrived, some with various aged young, there were GREYLAG GEESE, CANADA GEESE and the feral BARNACLE GOOSE had turned up too. The MUTE SWANS and COOTS were busy rearing their offspring, and a few MOORHEN and a couple of MALLARDS were also on the water.

All that could be expected was found in the Scrubby Woods, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, GREEN WOODPECKER, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, TURTLE DOVE, STOCK DOVE, JAY, and MISTLETHRUSH all got on the list today.

A mid afternoon skywatch produced a few HERRING GULLS, and also the 3 local Raptor species of KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and COMMON BUZZARD, but great excitement was had when not one but two RED KITES went over together! I've only ever had the odd single bird go over before, fantastic!

Despite no additions made to the months list today, May still ended up with a record tally for the 13 years, with 74 species being seen. Two of those species - The Tufted Duck and Ring necked parakeet have never been see in May before, these two species take the 13 year combined May list to 95

Whilst listening to the SKYLARK over the Ashes Lane Field, I picked up the whirr of wings, it was a Black tailed Skimmer, which was joined almost immediately by a second one, of course I got lots of images !

Black Tailed Skimmer - Immature

Black Tailed Skimmer - Immature


Friday 30 May 2014

This morning was grey and misty, with a cool NE breeze, the day remained this way right up until 15:30hrs, when some much needed sunshine broke through, allowing me to visit the Ashes Lane field to look for Butterflies, where I saw my first Brown Argus of the year  :-)

Before the Butterflies, I had spent 4 hours out in the morning drearyness , trying to find some birds, there wasn't too much to excite, but finding a calling SPOTTED FLYCATCHER along the western end of  Ashes Lane was nice, i've seen a few on my patch this year, but none seem to have stayed, maybe this one will.

I also found a family of NUTHATCHES around the edge of the main lake, probably not the ones that fledged from the nest site in the Wet Woods, these were most likely from the nest that was in the Scrubby woods, good to add them to the years breeding list anyway.  I could here BULLFINCH and BLACKCAP calling, as well as CHIFCHAFF, but I couldn't locate any young ones, I think they are about though, just got to find them!

A few HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, as well as a GREY HERON were notable flyovers, as were a party of 18-20 HOUSE MARTINS and a few SWIFTS that were with them. The three main raptor species were spotted today, the KESTREL pair at the Greenhouse Grounds, a SPARROWHAWK that flew low along Ashes Lane and a pair of BUZZARDS that were low over the Wet Woods.

Whilst eating brunch after my walk, I noticed a Juvenile GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER at my garden feeders, I took this record shot  :-)

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Juv)

Here' the Butterfly images I got this afternoon.

 Brown Argus Butterfly

Common Blue Butterfly

Ive still got lots of Damsel images from yesterday, so i'll post a few of them up!

 Beautiful Demoiselle - Female

 Beautiful Demoiselle - Female

White-legged Damselfly  - Immature

Thursday 29 May 2014

At last the weather was decent enough to get out for a full patch walk this morning, although initially cloudy, the morning brightened up towards the end of the walk.

I recorded a good tally of species, 48 in all, nothing new for the May list, but as that has reached a record high I am not really expecting to add anything to the months list.

Flyovers today included LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING GULL, GREY HERON, GREYLAG GOOSE and CANADA GOOSE, plus quite a number of SWIFTS were feeding over the area.

I checked the woods for any new breeding species to add to this years list, but I couldn't find any today, most of the resident woodland species were seen as I searched though, BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, STOCK DOVE and MANDARIN DUCK were the best of them, but Nuthatch didn't get found today, I checked their nest hole, and all was quiet, I presumed the young have fledged I just need to find them!

MALLARD, MOORHEN, 6 more Canada Geese, 2 more Greylag Geese, plus the MUTE SWAN and COOT pair with their respective young were all that was seen on the lakes. Whilst i was there, 3 BUZZARDS flew over low, calling loudly, one may just of been a young bird, but I only had fleeting views.

The KESTRELS were both hunting over the Greenhouse Grounds, taking food back to their young in the nest box, plus it was good to see a few WHITETHROATS, BLACKCAPS and CHIFFCHAFFS back around the place now the weather has improved  :-)

This afternoon the sun broke through proper, so I headed off over to the Scrubby Woods to see if I could find and photograph some more dragons. I got lucky, as I walked through the Ashes Lane field, I put up my first Black Tailed Skimmer of the year, an immature, I watched it settle again, and got a few images of it  :-) I'll save the images of the Damsels I got this afternoon for another post - just in case the weather changes again!

PS: Please sign this petition in support of a complete ban on grouse driven shoots, I know we have all signed these things before, but this is the BIG one!

Immature Black Tailed Skimmer


Wednesday 28 May 2014

Another dreary day, with spells of drizzle and light rain throughout, it was so dull and dreary here I had to put the lights on whilst I had dinner !

I had a couple of short patch visits, one early on around the Greenhouse Grounds, which produced a LITTLE OWL and KESTREL, plus fleeting glimpses of COMMON WHITETHROAT and BLACKCAP, a few LINNETS were also seen, but no recently fledged young were found with them yet, shouldn't be long before a few appear.

I had a later patch visit this afternoon, when I went to my seat at Migrant Alley to watch the sky, if I am to add anything new to the may list it will probably be a flyover species. I saw a few HERRING GULLS, and at least 8 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS flying westwards, a SPARROWHAWK drifted over my seat and was promptly seen off by a pair of PIED WAGTAILS. At one point a party of two dozen HOUSE MARTINS wheeled above me, silhouetted against the grey backdrop of the sky, with them were half a dozen SWIFTS. The local SWALLOWS fed low and slow over the sheep pasture, it must be hard trying to find insects in this weather. Two GREYLAG GEESE were on one of the paddocks, along with many young ROOKS and CARRION CROWS, plus a few JACKDAWS and WOODPIGEONS. My sky watch fizzled out as another pulse of drizzle drifted in, limiting visibility, another poor May day  :-(

Back home, whilst watching the garden feeders, a pair of HOUSE SPARROWS dropped in, they were escorting two fledglings, at least I got to add something to the 2014 breeding list today!

No action for the camera in the poor light, but I managed to trawl my archives for a recently fledged House Sparrow image!
Young House Sparrow

Tuesday 27 May 2014

The weather today was appalling, cool and rainy with a moderate wind for most of the day. Needless to say I didn't get out for long, and when I did, I got soaked from the bottom upwards by the wet vegetation and from the top downwards by the rain!

I visited the Greenhouse Grounds where I saw the male KESTREL up hunting and a LESSER BLACK BACK GULL flew over, but nothing was seen of the Whithroats, Blackcaps and Chiffchaff that are normally there, or the Little owl that perches on the Greenhouses, not surprising really!

I made the effort to check the lakes and found the MUTE SWANS and COOTS making the best of the weather, their respective young are still doing well though. Just one BLACKCAP, a GOLDCREST, a BLACKBIRD plus one CHIFFCHAFF were heard to briefly sing in the Scrubby Woods, but I didn't stay long.

In the Wet Woods the MANDARIN DUCK pair were seen with their Ducklings, which I only counted 6 out of the original ten, but it was pretty dark in there so I may of missed a couple. Not much else was notable today, very disappointing indeed for a May visit, I should be chasing Dragons and Butterflies at least! At least I have sorted out my Butterfly Gallery, and added a few more images, check it out on the tab under the header photo  ;-) Looking at the weather for the next few days I'll have time to sort the Dragonfly Gallery out too!

Obviously the camera stayed at home, all I have to offer photograph wise are these two images of the White-legged Damselflies.
White-legged Damselfly. Male

White-legged Damselfly. Immature

Monday 26 May 2014

With the weather being cloudy, cool and at times rainy, my patch visit today was a rather short and unproductive one.

An early sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley produced a few HERRING GULLS and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, as well as a GREY HERON. A few SWIFTS, SWALLOWS and a pair of HOUSE MARTINS were all up chasing what few insects were available, the only other noteworthy species was a BUZZARD.

Looking from my seat out over the sheep pasture and paddocks I could see 4 GREYLAG GEESE, along with a crowd of WOODPIGEONS, ROOKS, CARRION CROWS and JACKDAWS, plus a few LINNETS sitting on the fence lines. Behind me, in the Greenhouse Grounds, I could hear BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF and WHITETHROAT singing, I also saw the LITTLE OWL on the guttering of the greenhouses again.

In the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods the trees were still dripping from the overnight rain, a male MANDARIN had joined the female with her youngsters on the pools of water in the Wet Woods, while the Scrubby Woods were still notable for the amount of young birds calling, TREECREEPERS, COAL TITS, BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, WRENS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS and the GOLDCRESTS were all found again.

The lakes were home only to the usual MALLARD, MOORHEN, MUTE SWAN and COOT, the later were feeding their respective young, they seem to be thriving  :-)

That was about it for today, tomorrows weather looks even worse, so the end of May looks as though it will fizzle out, but it has been quite successful this year so i cant complain. The poor weather has kept me indoors, so i have spent time on the Blog ( as you may have noticed) i'm still working o it to change things around, I have moved the links and bits from the side bar to the bottom of the page, and have put a few Tabs under the header photo, that show my photo galleries and lists, I will update the galleries with better photos as and when time permits!

No camera needed today in the poor light, but ive got a few butterfly shots left in the blog folder to put on todays post, hopefully at some point this summer the sun will return and I can find some more!

Common Blue male

Common Blue male

Common Blue female

Small Copper

Sunday 25 May 2014

Sunny at times, cloudy at times, with a moderate SW wind, that was the weather for todays patch visit, which had a bit of everything to interest me.

A very good total of 51 species was recorded, with the REED WARBLER heard singing at the Greenhouse Grounds being the most surprising one, that, along with a couple of COMMON WHITETHROAT, a BLACKCAP and a CHIFFCHAFF all chipping in with some song made for a pleasant summer sound. The LITTLE OWL was perched on the guttering of one of the greenhouses, and was mobbed, in turn, by PIED WAGTAIL, SONGTHRUSH and BLACKBIRD. The KESTREL pair were busy hunting in the surrounding grounds, the first of 3 Raptor species seen today, the others were BUZZARD and SPARROWHAWK.

A small gathering of Gulls out on the paddocks at Migrant Alley included 5 HERRING and 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, also, a GREYLAG GOOSE was in with the sheep.

Walking through the Wet Woods I again saw the MANDARIN DUCK with her family, but I also  added a new species to this years breeding list when I saw a grounded fledgling JAY, an adult was nearby, so I took a few very iffy looking photo's and left them to it, it was so dark in the woods I could barely get the camera to work, but I couldn't resist taking some sort of photo!
Fledgling Jay
Over at the lakes the MUTE SWAN and COOT pair are doing well, as are plenty of other species in the adjacent Scrubby Woods by the sound of it, all I could hear were the contact calls of fledgling birds, there were ROBINS, WRENS, DUNNOCKS, TREECREEPERS, BLUE TITS, COAL TITS, GREAT TITS and LONG TAILED TITS all chattering away and begging for food. NUTHATCH and BULLFINCH were also seen carrying food for as yet unfledged young.

On my home, I stopped off in the Ashes Lane Field to photograph a couple of mating Common Blue Butterflies, which proved frustrating in the wind and intermittent sunshine!
Common Blue
Common Blue

Around 12:30hrs I was joined by Marc heath, ( see his blog, with proper photographs here!) He was making a visit to my patch to try and find and hopefully photograph the Beautiful Demoiselles and White-legged Damselflies over at the scrubby Woods. We found not only those two species, but also found Blue Tailed, Common Blue, Azure Blue, and Large Red Damselflies, as well as Broad Bodied and Four Spotted Chaser, and the first Emperor Dragonfly for my patch this year. Whilst hunting dragons, a TURTLE DOVE was heard ''purring'' the first I have heard singing this year, and I also found a party of newly fledged GOLDCRESTS to add to the years ''successfully bred'' list, thats on 27 now  :-)

A walk over to the Wooded Headland to the north of Migrant Alley had us finding a couple more Beautiful demoiselles, and a possible immature Black tailed Skimmer, but that didn't hang around for a positive ID, would be a good dragon to get here!
Four Spotted Chaser
Four Spotted Chaser
Four Spotted Chaser
Four Spotted Chaser
Four Spotted Chaser
Male Emperor Dragonfly

Saturday 24 May 2014

Heavy rain persisted throughout the early part of the morning, keeping me indoors, but the rain finally relented around 09:30hrs, so I headed off out to the Wet Woods, Scrubby Woods and Lake areas of my patch.

I checked the GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS nest as I passed by it in the Wet Woods, the nest hole was all quiet, obviously they had fledged, so that's another species to successfully fledge young on my patch this year  :-) Nearby on the flooded woodland floor, the MANDARIN DUCK had mixed its young with a duck MALLARD and her brood, safety in numbers I suppose. A NUTHATCH was watched as it brought food to its partner who was inside the nest cavity, whilst overhead I heard the call of a BUZZARD.

Nothing was new on the lakes, the COOT and SWAN pair continue to tend their young, so i moved into the Scrubby Woods, where I watched the COAL TIT pair feeding their young, at least 5 were seen, a TREECREEPER was also seen feeding young, but they were much better hidden and I only saw two youngsters. A SPARROWHAWK circled low over, which attracted the attention of the SWIFTS, and I was pleased to see the TURTLE DOVE on the power lines again, I haven't heard one sing this year yet though, a singer I did get to hear was a LESSER WHITETHROAT, not had one in the Scrubby woods for a couple of years now, so good news there  :-)

The sun started to shine for brief intervals, so I set about trying to find some White-legged Damselflies and Beautiful Demoiselles, the latter of which I found just one, but a few more White-legged Damsels had emerged, along with a few Common and Azure Damsels. I took quite a few images, before the next rash of showers sent me scurrying off home again!
Male White-legged Damselfly
Male White-legged Damselfly
Female White-legged Damselfly
Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Friday 23 May 2014

A cool, cloudy and windy patch walk this morning proved very uninspiring, I spent most of my time in the Wet Woods, Scrubby Woods and lake area, seeking shelter from the wind!

I saw the KINGFISHER flash past as I tried to get some photo's of the Mute Swans and their Cygnet, but they remain frustratingly distant!
Mute San and Cygnet
The COOTS are managing to keep their two young safe on the same lake, but little else was o the water today, just a few MALLARD, MOORHEN and a GREY HERON that dropped in.

In the Scrubby Woods I hunted for newly fledged birds, of which I found a MAGPIE for the 2014 'Successfully Bred' list, I heard much calling from both BULLFINCH and GOLDCREST but couldn't see any young, the wind was making this difficult, the Oak trees were being blown around so much.

In the Wet Woods I checked up on the GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER nest site, where I found the young virtually ready to fledge, i'll not put them on the list until they are out of their nest though. The MANDARIN family were seen again, as was another new Mallard family.
Ready to fledge! Rubbish shots in the poor light!
I was getting a shutter speed of a 30th, despite the ISo being on 1000!
Little else to report today, the KESTRELS were seen over at the Greenhouse Grounds and a SPARROWHAWK dashed through Migrant Alley, two HERRING GULLS were the only noteworthy fly overs during a 45 minute sky watch, but lots of SWIFTS were seen feeding over the sheep pasture. Not one Damselfly, Dragonfly or Butterfly was seen in the cool conditions!

Thursday 22 May 2014

This morning was cloudy with a cool SW wind, that strengthened through the day, bringing a few thundery showers by the afternoon.

During my 6 hour patch visit today, another big daylist was achieved - 52 bird species in all, the only regulars missing were Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Long Tailed Tit and Canada Goose. I didn't find any more species with young to add to the years breeding list, but I did find a species that was new to the patch year list - a TURTLE DOVE (92,74), a lone bird was sitting on the power cables that cross through the Scrubby Woods, this is a traditional breeding place for Turtle doves, so lets hope it finds a mate! Its arrival is 32 days later than the 13 year median arrival date, a telling sign that this species is fast on its way to becoming an extinct breeding species for my patch, on a more positive note, it is the 74th species to be recorded this month, a new May species record has been set!

Other bits and pieces seen today were ; another sighting of the MANDARIN DUCK in the Wet Woods, with all 10 chicks still in tow, also, good views of the TREECREEPER family in the Scrubby Woods, too dark under the tree canopy for any photo's though. The LESSER WHITETHROAT sang from the Greenhouse Grounds, where the LITTLE OWL and female KESTREL were also seen. A COMMON BUZZARD and a SPARROWHAWK were up hunting, as well as the male Kestrel, plus flyovers from HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, GREY HERON, plenty of SWIFTS and a single HOUSE MARTIN played their part in the large variety of species seen today  :-)

The only photo's I took today were from my garden, in some less than helpful light! at least it brightens the post up!
BLUE TITS have started to bring in their fledglings
Two of these HOUSE SPARROWS visited today, a peak count for May!
A hoard of up to 18 young STARLINGS are scoffing large amounts of suet!