Friday 31 October 2014

High, wispy cloud made for some very hazy brightness for the last patch visit of October, later in the morning the cloud burnt off and it became a lovely warm late summers day, Autumn day!

The four and a half hour full patch walk provided a good tally of 46 bird species, but alas, none were new for the month, so this Octobers species tally finishes on 74, which is the joint second best October out of the 13 years :-)

Bird of the day was the LITTLE GREBE, which I first saw on the 28th, I relocated it on the main lake, but I didn't find it on my two previous visits, just goes to show how unobtrusive these birds are! A KINGFISHER was seen on the ornamental lake, along with 10 MALLARDS, the MUTE SWAN family and 8 MOORHENS, while a GREY HERON was seen fishing at the small lake.

Just about all the woodland species turned out today, but in very low numbers, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY and MISTLETHRUSH being the pick of them.

I found the LITTLE OWL in the Greenhouse Copse, before I settled down for a sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley, which was quite interesting today, as I saw two flocks of FIELDFARE go over, one of 20 birds and another of at least 60 birds, but not a single call was heard from any! A couple of single YELLOWHAMMERS called as they flew over, as did a couple of MEADOW PIPITS, SKYLARKS ''trilled'' over the sheep pasture and a SISKIN called loudly as it flew low over, a party of 4 Bullfinch flying past was a nice sight. The three local raptor species were all found, those being KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD.

So at the end of another month, 74 species were found, only 3 behind the record October tally of 77, two of those species were new to the 13 year combined October list, which now stands at 99, the Little Grebe and of course the Brent Geese, which were a patch tick, taking the year list to 108 and the patch list to 140  :-)

The only photo's I took were of this Long Tailed Tit........

Thursday 30 October 2014

Today being the penultimate patch walk of October, I was hoping to try and squeeze another new species in for the months list, but I would still need to find 3 more to equal the record October tally of 77, which was set in 2010.

By the end of the 3 hour walk I hadn't added a new species, but there were a few bits and pieces still to be of interest to me. Over on the lakes the KINGFISHER was seen again, while in the bankside scrub a party of at least a dozen LONG TAILED TITS were watched, with them were a few BLUE and GREAT TITS, a COAL TIT, 2 GOLDCRESTS and a CHIFFCHAFF, nearby the calls of NUTHATCH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER were heard. The adjacent Scrubby Woods had 4 BULLFINCH feeding on old Blackberry seeds, plus the odd JAY was seen, a SONGTHRUSH gave a little halfhearted song  :-)

Other birds of note seen this morning were flyovers, in the form of SKYLARK and MISTLETHRUSH, but more pleasing was seeing another two FIELDFARE go over as well as a single LESSER REDPOLL.

I'll be doing a full patch walk in the morning, one last push to get the months tally up the rankings  :-)

Later in the morning I had a visit to Sevenoaks wildfowl reserve, mainly to try and get a Kingfisher shot from the Willow Hide, but although I did see a Kingfisher fly past, it didn't alight on the perches provided  :-(   It was all bit gloomy still anyway, so maybe it was just as well. I did point the camera at a few things, but the light was all wrong and I deleted most of the stuff, but I here's a few usable images......


Tufted Duck

Canada Goose having a brush up

Canada Geese exiting

Wednesday 29 October 2014

A very different day weatherwise today, with rain, heavy dark clouds and murky conditions prevailing throughout.

I did manage to get out for a couple of hours though, but very little was seen. A KINGFISHER was again present at the lakes, where there was an increase in MALLARD numbers, 18 being seen in all, but there was no sign of the Little Grebe today. A LESSER REDPOLL called continuously whilst flying over the Scrubby Woods, where only a few BULLFINCH and GOLDCREST were of any note.

The Male KESTREL was hunting around the Greenhouse Grounds / Ashes Lane Fields and two MEADOW PIPITS flew from the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley. The best bird seen today was a BLACKCAP, a female was seen in the pile of old raspberry canes at the Greenhouse Grounds.

Later in the morning and into the afternoon I decided to see what my garden was attracting, the Sparrowhawk hasn't been around for two days now and the birds are pouring back to the feeders  ;-)

Here's a lsit of what was seen today, with peak counts :-

2 Woodpigeon
2 Magpie
1 Jackdaw
3 Great spotted Woodpeckers
2 Nuthatch
1 Treecreeper ( the second one to visit this year)
12 Collared Doves
22 Starlings
2 Blackbirds
2 House Sparrows
2 Dunnocks
2 Robins
1 Wren
1 Coal Tit
4 GreatTit
14 Blue Tit
1 Long Tailed Tit
4 Greenfinch
19 Goldfinch
6 Chaffinch

20 species in all, the Treecreeper takes the October garden tally to 25 species, which is the joint second best October count, joint with 2007 and 2012  :-)

Ive got a few images from the garden, I took these during the last few days......

Blue Tit

Coal tit


Tuesday 28 October 2014

After the early fog had cleared, the morning turned sunny and warm again, another bonus day!

An early visit to Migrant Alley didn't provide too much birding activity, a LITTLE OWL was seen in the adjacent Greenhouse Copse, a few HERRING GULLS and BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over, also the passage of WOODPIGEONS was noted again.

Immature Herring Gull

I made my way over to the lakes via the Ashes lane Fields, from where a couple of MEADOW PIPITS flew up, a CORMORANT flew over, as did a few single SKYLARKS, calling as they headed NW.

Arriving at the lakes I counted 8 MALLARD on the main lake, a GREY HERON was at the small Lake and the ornamental lake had the usual MUTE SWAN family and a scattering of MOORHENS, however, a few ripples of water caught my eye under the tree overhang as I passed back along the main lake, then looking through my bins at the spot, I found a brilliant LITTLE GREBE (108,74) That's the first here since January 2012, and only the second record in five years, so I was well pleased to add this species to my year list  :-) As I waited for it to come into photographic range, a party of 24 CANADA GEESE and a lone GREYLAG GOOSE splashed down, then I spied the KINGFISHER zoom low across the water.

I got a distant photo of the Little Grebe eventually, but it was very wary, it's extremely good eyesight spotting my movements from 30 meters away!

 Not the best image, but I like the reflection of the bird in the water, plus all the Autumnal colours  :-)

I ended up back at my seat over at Migrant Alley for a bit of a sky watch, but only a COMMON BUZZARD and the male KESTREL were seen of any note. I was saddened to see the Greenhouse Grounds taking another battering, the nettles and brambles were being strimmed down to the ground, looks the place has had a change of ownership and is being ''tidied'' up  :-(

Monday 27 October 2014

The initial cloud cover broke throughout the morning, leaving a sunny and for the time of year, very warm day  :-)

I spent four hours out on my patch, from dawn onwards, finding not too much of note, the KESTREL pair were seen mating at the Greenhouse Grounds first thing and 36 REDWING were seen flying over Migrant Alley.

Paddocks and Sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, viewing from the Greenhouse Grounds

I made my way over to the lakes via the Ashes lane Fields, noting 3 Gull species flyover as I went, those being BLACK HEADED, HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, also 2 MEADOW PIPITS got up from the sheep pasture there and the LITTLE OWL was seen sitting in the old shack.

A view of part of the Ashes lane Fields, looking towards the Wet Woods. The fence line has the drainage ditch concealed beneath it, this is where the Stonechats have been found this Autumn.

Very little was to be found on the lakes again, just a male MANDARIN DUCK was with a dozen MALLARD on the main lake of note. The adjacent Scrubby Woods had a roving LONG TAILED TIT flock moving through it, with which I spotted a CHIFFCHAFF 2 GOLDCRESTS and a COAL TIT, as well as the expected BLUE and GREAT TITS. A TREECREEPER was heard calling, as was a NUTHATCH, plus a flock of 5 BULLFINCH were seen, a JAY squawked noisily and both the GREEN WOODPECKER and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were also heard.

Walking back homewards, I saw a BUZZARD circling over the Wet Woods, and a couple of SKYLARKS called as they flew overhead.

I took advantage of the sunny conditions this afternoon and stocked up on a few images from my garden feeders, here's a couple of the GOLDFINCHES, they are the most numerous species at the moment  :-)

Sunday 26 October 2014

I spent 3 hours out on my patch this morning, under some lead grey skies, the first 2 hours of which, I spent at my sky watching seat over at Migrant Alley.

I took up my position just as it got light and was rewarded straight away by the first of two YELLOWHAMMERS which called as they flew NW. As the light increased I watched the start of a WOODPIGEON movement that lasted for the whole 2 hours, many flocks passed over heading SW, the biggest was one of 214 birds, the smallest was of just 11, mixed in with the some of the flocks were CHAFFINCHES, but never more than 8 at a time were seen.

BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS passed over in small numbers, along with a single LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL. STARLINGS started to go past, again in varying flock sizes, the largest being over 200 strong. 2 BUZZARDS flew low across the sheep pasture, then headed into the Greenhouse Copse and the KESTREL pair showed up to hunt around the Greenhouse Grounds, a short while later a GREY HERON flew in and alighted on one of the fence lines above the drainage ditch which runs along the edge of the sheep pasture.

As I sat on my seat, I heard, then located, a couple of GOLDCRESTS in the hedgerow bounding the Greenhouse Grounds, where I also saw a CHIFFCHAFF. Back up in the sky a couple of REDWING flocks, one of 21, then one of 9 flew over, a couple of small SKYLARK flocks were also seen, then the one I was waiting for arrived, the first FIELDFARE (72) of the Autumn, just a single bird ''chacked'' ''chacked'' its way from east to west, this arriving on the same first date as in 2005, which is the second latest arrival date for the 13 years of recording here. As I got up to leave and head for the lakes, a couple of MEADOW PIPITS were seen flying from the Greenhouse Grounds, then another new species for the month was heard calling from above, a LESSER REDPOLL (73) this species is also a little later arriving than the 13 year median average date shows, that being the 20th October.

As I walked to the lakes I saw a pair of GREYLAG GEESE go over the Ashes lane Fields, where along the hedgerow that borders the Pub Field a flock of at least 8 LONG TAILED TITS were seen. The lakes were disappointing again, as they so often are, just a KINGFISHER was of note, hopefully i'll find a duck species to add to the year list during November and December, a Wigeon or Gadwall would be nice  :-)

Too dull for the camera out there today, but I have got a few images, taken from my garden feeders that I took yesterday afternoon, to brighten the post   :-)



Saturday 25 October 2014

No post yesterday, as I only made a couple of short patch visits, where it was very quiet, the only noteworthy occurrence being a couple of flyover MUTE SWANS.

This morning I was out to watch the sunrise, but it rose into a bank of cloud, giving all of 10 minutes sunshine  :-(


Once it got light I set off for my 100th full patch walk of the year, which yielded a slightly less than average tally of 42 species, the highlight was watching only my second ever patch record of BRENT GEESE, they flew over in a 48 strong flock, taking exactly the same route as the ones seen on the 10th of this month, across Migrant Alley, over the Greenhouse Grounds and off over the Ashes Lane Field a brilliant species for my patch  :-)

It was barely light, but I got a record shot of the Brent Geese -  Mr Heath will be pleased with me :-)

The camera had trouble focusing in the poor light!

A few small skeins of both GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE also flew over during my walk, as did a flock of 8 REDWING, nice to see something Autumnal at last  :-) 

There were 4 MANDARIN DUCK on the main lake today, 3 of those being females, but nothing more of note was on the water. In the surrounding Scrubby Woods a BUZZARD flew out of it's probable roost site, plus GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, and BULLFINCH were all seen or heard there.

There was an increase in the number of BLACKBIRDS seen today, but just 2 SONGTHRUSH and a single MISTLETHRUSH were found, still no sign of a FIELDFARE yet though, they haven't been this late arriving since the Winters of 05/06 (26th Oct) and 06/07 (2 Nov).

Not much else of any great note was seen, although my end of walk sky watch did provide sightings of several small CHAFFINCH flocks moving east to west, only around 40-50 birds in all though. Also of note, two YELLOWHAMMERS, 15 SKYLARKS, 8 MEADOW PIPITS, a GREY HERON, a BUZZARD and the KESTREL pair were also seen during my 1 hour vigil.

Thursday 23 October 2014

It remained cloudy and dull for the 5 hour full patch walk this morning, but it at least remained dry and the winds were light, a bonus at this time of year!

As yesterday, a total of 43 species were found, the average tally for an October walk, a few different species were on on todays list though, with a KINGFISHER being seen at the Ornamental lake, and both SONGTHRUSH and MISTLETHRUSH turned up at the Scrubby Woods. A GREY WAGTAIL was at the Greenhouse Grounds, plus a BUZZARD was seen soaring over the Ashes Lane Field during my skywatch, which also produced another flyover REED BUNTING and a flyover YELLOWHAMMER, both good species to find on my patch now. A CORMORANT was also seen going over during my skywatch, along with a few BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, a couple of SKYLARKS, as well as the KESTREL pair, which hunted over Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds. Very few MEADOW PIPITS are left on the sheep pasture and the GOLDFINCH flock of some 30-40 birds had moved to the line of Alder trees that borders the Greenhouse Grounds.

Not a very exciting visit today, with all the summer species now gone and many of the winter species yet to arrive. The months list has stalled at 71, but that's still a good total and is the fourth best October from 13, while the year list of 107 is also a very good total for my patch, it's the 6th best total so far, the 13 year mean average annual tally is 101.5 .

No photo's left in the blog folder and no light for photography today, so an image-less post  :-(

Wednesday 22 October 2014

 A hazy sunrise this morning

A full patch walk today was undertaken in some sunny conditions first thing, before cloud cover rolled in later.

During the five hour walk I recorded a total of 43 species, which is just about average for an October visit, notable omissions included Songthrush, Mistlethrush, Long Tailed Tit and Pheasant, but on the brighter side I had a couple of single YELLOWHAMMERS fly over, just the second record this month, plus a REED BUNTING was seen in the Greenhouse Grounds, which is an even scarcer species here.

A LITTLE OWL was seen at the Greenhouse Copse, with another at the Small Holding, where a SPARROWHAWK was seen halfheartedly chasing a GREEN WOODPECKER about the place! There was nothing of note on the lakes, but the adjacent Scrubby Woods had at least 5 BULLFINCHES moving around and calling, also 2 COAL TITS, a TREECREEPER, a NUTHATCH and 4 GOLDCREST were found.

High House Lane gets a mention today, it normally only gets visited on full patch walks and rarely turns up anything much, so over managed are the hedges and verges, even the old Oak trees that line the lane are pollarded all neat and tidy, anyway, today, behind the very tidy hedge, I saw two COMMON GULLS on the recently tilled field, also a flock of 26 HERRING GULLS, 4 BLACK HEADED GULLS and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL were seen.

A circuit of Migrant Alley was made, but it was very quiet there today, there were no Linnets with the 30 or so GOLDFINCHES on the paddocks and only 4 MEADOW PIPITS were seen on the adjoining sheep pasture. My sky watch turned up a couple more species for the day list, namely GREYLAG GOOSE, CORMORANT, SKYLARK and the KESTREL pair, but not the hoped for Fieldfare, has anyone seen any this Autumn yet ?

I tried to get a few garden bird images later in the morning, but the Sparrowhawk has got the place pinned down! I chased the thing out from its ambush position in the Leylandi type tree at the bottom of my garden 3 times, at one stage it just stared down at me, not moving until I chucked a small pebble up in the tree! I'm getting fed up with it now truth be told  :-(

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Early showers with a strong gusty wind meant little was seen on a three hour patch walk this morning, most of what I noted were flyovers, which included two skeins of GREYLAG GEESE, one of 9 birds and one of 6, plus a skein of 7 CANADA GEESE.  Two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, a few single BLACK HEADED GULLS and dozens of HERRING GULLS whizzed through on the strong wind, plus a few SKYLARKS flew over, half singing and half calling!

A CHIFFCHAFF was seen along the Pub Field hedgerow and a couple of MEADOW PIPITS got up from the Ashes Lane Field. There were 9 MALLARDS over on the main lake, and 2 on the small lake, the ornamental lake had the usual MUTE SWAN family and a dozen MOORHENS on it, but it was pretty hopeless trying to find anything in the Scrubby woods with the wind so strong, especially as the SPARROWHAWK was whizzing around as well.

I made some effort at a sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley, on the way there I saw a pair of BULLFINCH fly across Ashes Lane, then in the Greenhouse Grounds a GREY WAGTAIL was seen. My sky watch didn't provide anything of note, just more Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Gulls, WOODPIGEONS and ROOKS, I spent more time watching the KESTREL pair behind me sitting on the Greenhouses!

Better luck tomorrow maybe ?

I'm down to the last of my images for the blog again...........................

Monday 20 October 2014

Early cloud dispersed this morning to leave another unseasonably warm day, with some good sunny spells to enjoy  :-)

I headed for the lakes first thing, but it was crossing through the Small Holding that I added another species to the October list when the anticipated SISKIN (71) flew over calling, hopefully they will arrive in numbers soon. That makes this Octobers species tally the 4th best October of the 13 years, still 6 species behind the record October tally set in 2010 though.

Walking through the Wet Woods I heard GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS calling and a couple of MOORHENS were seen picking their way through the small pools of shallow water, I was hoping for a Teal though  :-)

I was disappointed at the lakes again, just a pair of MANDARIN DUCK were there of any note, they were hiding under the tree overhang on the main lake. The adjacent scrubby Woods was very quiet, only BULLFINCH (around 6-8 of them) GOLDCREST ( 4 were seen) and a flock of around 8 LONG TAILED TITS were to be found out of the more scarce woodland species.

I made my way over to the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley via the Ashes Lane Fields, where I noted a CORMORANT flying over. The MEADOW PIPITS at Migrant Alley seem to have dispersed, only half a dozen were seen, it was the same for the LINNETS, just 4 were left, but the GOLDFINCHES numbered around 35 and were found in the Alders that form the boundary with the Greenhouse Grounds. I checked the Greenhouse Copse for a Little Owl, but it wasn't to be found today, however i found something much better, yet another STONECHAT ! It flew from the edge of the copse and out onto a paddock fence line, what a good autumn its been for this species, normally they are hard to get on the year list, but this is the 6th record for just this month!

A bit of sky watching was done from my seat, where of note I saw another Cormorant go over, a few SKYLARKS, a GREY WAGTAIL, and hundreds of WOODPIGEONS all heading SW in varying size flocks. Raptors were only represented by the KESTREL pair and a lone BUZZARD today.

Speaking of raptors, it was whilst trying to get some garden bird images this afternoon, that I of course encountered the SPARROWHAWK again, it made so many attacks that virtually nothing else was seen at the feeders, just a few brave BLUE and GREAT TITS, however, it finally got its dinner when a GREENFINCH was unfortunate enough to turn up  :-(  The Sprawk settled down just 4 meters from my position (in my shed) so close I couldn't get all of it in the view finder, a shame but I got some more decent images of it's upper body!

What superb eye! If you look carefully you can see the reflection of the sun and clouds in it!

Sunday 19 October 2014

Early rain and a busy Sunday schedule meant that only another short patch visit was possible today, just 90 minutes were spent out, in which I walked the Greenhouse Grounds, part of Migrant Alley and the ashes Lane Field.

The rain ceased around 9:00hrs, so the most productive part of the day had been missed, however, I saw the BULLFINCH pair in the Ashes lane hedgerow again, wont be long before this habitat gets the chop  :-( I found a CHIFFCHAFF at the Greenhouse Grounds, along with the KESTREL pair and at least 9 DUNNOCKS, where did they suddenly pop up from ? The 30-40 strong LINNET x GOLDFINCH flock was still on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, while the MEADOW PIPITS were in the adjacent long grass of the sheep pasture, it was hard to tell how many as they flew in and out of cover, at least 20 I'd estimate.

A BUZZARD flew low over the Ashes Lane Fields and a couple of SKYLARKS flew up, but easily the best sighting for the day was another STONECHAT, once again on the fenceline above the drainage ditch, that's four this Autumn that have found this 200 meter stretch of ditch to their liking, it's all under threat of destruction of course  :-(

I was sweating as I walked home, it was that warm today, even with the moderate SW wind blowing, so no chance of finding my first Fieldfare of the Autumn, or for that matter the first Lesser Redpoll or Siskin, a good Northerly blow is needed! Looking at my stats, the average first sighting date for Fieldfare is the 17th October, for the Siskin it's the 9th October and the Lesser Redpoll the 20th October........any day now then  :-)

Oh, nearly forgot to mention, today is the 7th anniversary of this blog, how things have changed here in the past 7 years!

Last of my images from the blog folder!




Saturday 18 October 2014

It was mainly cloudy this morning, with a blustery SW wind, but in the occasional sunny spells that occurred, it became exceptionally warm again for the time of year.

I was out for less than two hours though, the warm weather had brought out just about every land owner, all armed to the teeth with implements of habitat destruction and a box of matches, what is it with these people who every Autumn feel the need to get out and have a big bonfire, then claim they had a great time out in the countryside?  These are the same people that will be asking me next spring 'where have all the Butterflies gone''? or ''where have all the birds gone''?

Anyway, early on, before the plastic countryfolk got out, I did get some birding in, a pair of BULLFINCH were seen in the hedgerow along Ashes Lane and the KESTREL pair were up hunting around the Greenhouse Grounds and Ashes lane Fields. I watched 4 GREYLAG GEESE fly over Migrant Alley, where the MEADOW PIPITS were still active on the sheep pasture and the LINNET/GOLDFINCH flock were feeding on one of the paddocks.

I saw a pair of MANDARIN DUCKS on the main lake, where a KINGFISHER skimmed over the surface, a slight increase in MALLARD numbers was noted, 12 were counted spread across the 3 water bodies, but nothing more had arrived to join the MOORHENS and MUTE SWAN family.

A single BUZZARD was seen up over the Wet Woods as I walked home, it was mobbed briefly by a SPARROWHAWK, but that was about it for my patch visit today, maybe i'll get some enthusiasm back for tomorrow  :-)

The warm weather has meant very little activity at my garden feeders, but I did get a couple of STARLING photo's to brighten the page  :-)

Friday 17 October 2014

A misty start to the day gave way to mostly cloudy conditions, interspersed with some short lived sunny spells, in which it felt very warm for the time of year.

I spent 3 hours out early this morning, and another 2 out around mid day, but there was not many birds around at all. The undoubted find of the day though, was yet another STONECHAT, it was found along the drainage ditch fence line at the Ashes Lane Fields, the third to turn up there this Autumn   :-)

A LITTLE OWL was seen at the Greenhouse Copse, and the KESTREL pair hunted around the Greenhouse Grounds, where a CHIFFCHAFF was also seen. On the adjacent sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, the 40-50 strong mixed flock of LINNETS and GOLDFINCHES were seen again, plus at least 40 MEADOW PIPITS moved nervously around the fields, I say nervously as they were very much aware of a SPARROWHAWK that was in the area.

The lakes were a disappointment, with no visiting duck species to be seen, but of the scarcer woodland species, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST and BULLFINCH  were all seen around the lakes side vegetation and Scrubby Woods.

On my second, later visit, I was watching the sky and saw what I initially thought was an Osprey coming directly at me from the north, I was thrown for a second by the colouring of the bird, but as it drew nearer I saw that it was in fact a very pale BUZZARD! Unfortunately, I had only got my 100mm macro lens on the camera, as I was hoping to photograph some of the Butterflies and Dragonflies that I had seen on the earlier visit, (that idea was thwarted when the cloud thickened up) anyway, I took a few photo's of the Buzzard, just to confirm its ID, I was trying to string it into a Rough legged Buzzard or Honey Buzzard  :-)

A very heavily cropped image, but you can make out it is in fact just a very pale Buzzard

The photo's dont do it justice, as it was a stunning looking bird  :-)

Thursday 16 October 2014

A pre dawn downpour was followed by a clear spell and then a brief foggy spell, after which it became warm with sunny spells.

Dawn just before the fog bank rolled in

Looking across Migrant Alley in the direction of Hadlow Tower, just as the fog rolled in

In the benign conditions I decided on a full patch walk today, which I took at a casual stroll, spending 6 hours out on my patch in all. I found 49 species during the visit, nothing too out of the norm, but most of the local birds showed, apart from the Nuthatch, they spend more time at my garden feeders than in the woods!

There was a flock of around 60 birds at Migrant Alley, comprising of LINNETS and GOLDFINCHES, at times they mixed with the 30-40 MEADOW PIPITS, making for a nice sight as the flock wheeled around the sheep pasture and paddocks. A LITTLE OWL was seen perched in the old shack at the Ashes Lane Field, where I noted a few HERRING GULLS and two BLACK HEADED GULLS flying over.

The lakes were a little busier today, the MUTE SWAN family, a dozen MOORHEN and 12 MALLARD were on the Ornamental lake, while no fewer than 74 CANADA GEESE, 4 GREYLAG GEESE and the feral BARNACLE GOOSE were on the main lake. A CHIFFCHAFF was seen in the bankside vegetation, the only summer bird seen today.


My sky watching proved rewarding, when a YELLOWHAMMER (69) was seen and heard as it flew over, the first here since August. GREY HERON, SKYLARK, SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD and another new species for October, a COMMON GULL (70) were all added to my days tally. The KESTREL pair were eventually seen, hunting along Ashes Lane  :-)

There were quite a few Red Admiral Butterflies about today, as well as Common Darter Dragonflies and a few Migrant Hawkers  :-)

Sunrise again, nice to actually see the sun this month! I think that speck is is a ROOK flying through,

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Another very damp and murky morning, in which I had just 90 minutes out on patch, the rest of the day was wasted awaiting a parcel delivery, that as I write still hasn't arrived!

I spent the 90 minutes around the Greenhouse Grounds, Migrant Alley and the Ashes Lane Fields, hoping to stumble across one of the many Ring Ouzels reported in kent yesterday, but I had no luck. A SPARROWHAWK cruised through the Greenhouse Grounds, that doesn't help in trying to find Ring Ouzels!  A circuit of Migrant Alley, then a short sky watch was made, where I saw a SKEIN of 46 Geese fly over, 44 of those being CANADA, 1 being GREYLAG and one was the BARNACLE GOOSE. I also heard a GOLDEN PLOVER (68) calling in the distance, it came nearer, calling all the time, then circled around the fields and paddocks for at least 3 minutes, but I couldn't see it at all, despite its constant calls, such was the mist and gloom, still, its a good species for the October list and just the second one recorded this year.

As I fruitlessly searched the sheep pasture at the Ashes lane Field for a Ring Ouzel, 3 SWALLOWS flew over, this is the third latest date I have recorded them, my average last date for Swallow is the 8th October. I had to leave for home shortly after, seeing just the KESTREL pair of not as I walked back.  Hopefully a Ring Ouzel will drop in here some time this week!

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Misty, murky, damp dreary, and drizzly, such was the weather all day today, unsurprisingly there were not many birds about this morning!

An early visit to the lakes and Scrubby Woods via the Small holding and Wet Woods was not a very exciting walk, however of note, there were at least 8 GOLDCRESTS seen, as well as a couple of TREECREEPERS, a CHIFFCHAFF and at least 3 BULLFINCH. As I scanned the lakes, finding nothing but the usual, I heard the call of REDWINGS from above and saw a flock of 15 - 20 fly over.

I quickly moved on and whilst crossing the Ashes Lane Fields I saw the bird of the day sitting on the fence line above the drainage ditch, a brilliant little STONECHAT, I thought i'd had the last of these pass through, well that certainly brightened the morning  :-)

A walk around the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley, in some very wetting, heavy drizzle was made, but only the MEADOW PIPITS were of any note, around a dozen of which were seen. I passed the Greenhouse Copse and noted the LITTLE OWL on its usual perch, before I too settled at my usual perch for a sky watch, which despite the poor visibility and persistent drizzle, wasn't too bad. During the 90 minute vigil I saw a procession of SKYLARKS flying NW in two' and threes, plus more Meadow Pipits. Also, 4 SWALLOWS and a HOUSE MARTIN were seen, then another flock of 15 - 20 Redwing sped by low and fast going W. A GREY HERON and 2 single CORMORANTS headed towards the lake area, and six MALLARDS did the same, before coming back over again a few minutes later. The only raptor up hunting was the SPARROWHAWK, but I did note the female KESTREL sitting in the dry at the edge of its nest box  :-) 

Not too bad a visit then for a particularly miserable day, weatherwise!

Nothing for the camera today in the gloom and all there is left in the 'blog folder' are these garden efforts  :-)



Monday 13 October 2014

Heavy overnight rain persisted into this morning and I didn't get out until 08:30hrs, even then, heavy bursts of rain cut my visit short, to just over an hour.

A walk around Migrant Alley in a downpour meant the only thing I noted was a flyover CORMORANT, I was going to call it a day, but the rain eased off, so I headed off for the lakes via the Ashes lane Field, where I saw the LITTLE OWL looking a lot dryer than I was as it sat in the old shack  ;-)

I didn't stay long around the lakes as there was not much too see, just the MUTE SWANS, MOORHENS and MALLARDS, plus the rain started to fall again. As I took shelter under an out building there, I watched two MISTLETHRUSHES fly over, then a GREY HERON, but I was more pleased to see 9 LAPWING (66) a new species for the months list. As the rain eased I made a dash for home, but not before seeing a small flock of 5 BULLFINCH moving through the Scrubby Woods.

Around Midday I was back out, the rain had more or less stopped and it remained grey and windy, but remarkably mild, so much so I saw a Red Admiral Butterfly and a Migrant Hawker Dragonfly at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I also saw a CHIFFCHAFF, 2 GOLDCRESTS and 2 GREY WAGTAILS.

I was soon watching the sky by my seat at Migrant Alley, where a few good patch species were recorded flying over. An initial skein of 10 CANADA GEESE with a GREYLAG GOOSE flew low over and was soon followed by another skein of  67 Canada Geese, which contained the BARNACLE GOOSE. A party of 15 - 20 SWALLOWS fed briefly over the poly tunnels, then a little later 5 HOUSE MARTINS flew through. Out on the sheep pasture and paddocks I could see a flock of at least 55 GOLDFINCH feeding on dandelion heads, whilst nearby a flock of 50-60 STARLINGS joined the ROOKS and JACKDAWS. Continuing to look into the grey clouds, I picked out another SNIPE, which came down low, but failed to drop into the fields, instead carrying on SW. A SPARROWHAWK flushed all the passerines up from the paddocks and pasture, then a while later everything was up again, this time it was a PEREGRINE ! No Buzzards were seen today, but on the walk home I saw the male KESTREL along Ashes Lane, looking striking in its new plumage.

Back home the garden feeders were very busy, my thoughts went to ''where has the Sparrowhawk gone'' minutes later ......whoosh! A Goldfinch was in the grip of the Sprawk, rather annoyingly it sat and plucked it on the log I put the seed on, so I had to later throw out the seed and clean the feathers and bits off the log  :-(

I took a photo of the Sprawk despite the dire light, it took no notice of me at all as I poked the lens out of my kitchen window

I took these photo on Saturday, good to see the Coal Tit back in my garden....mind that sprawk!