Thursday 30 April 2015

A light frost, with clear blue skies greeted me for the last patch visit of the month, cloud soon built up though and a chilly wind blew again before midday.

I spent 4 hours out early on, then another two later into the morning and early afternoon, but I couldn't find anything to add to the months bird species tally, I felt sure i'd get a Swift, or some other passage migrant, but I'll will have to wait until May arrives for that possibility  :-)

As it was I didn't do too bad for the morning, I recorded 46 species, the highlights of which were seeing 3 SPARROWHAWKS up together over Migrant Alley, as well as at least 4 BUZZARDS. I also watched the male KESTREL hunting at the Greenhouse Grounds, where it successfully caught a vole then carried it to the waiting female in the nest box, it was probably for her or maybe fledged young, hopefully the latter  :-) The nearby Greenhouse Copse was home to the LITTLE OWL again, plus a newly arrived WHITETHROAT was seen singing there, the Greenhouse Grounds pair were also seen again.

It was good to hear a YELLOWHAMMER singing along High House Lane, similarly it was good to hear and see four SKYLARKS over the adjacent bean crop at 'Bustard Hill'.

The Woods provided most of what I expected, singing from BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, STOCK DOVE, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK were all heard, as were the calls from TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH, JAY and LONG TAILED TITS.

Notable flyovers today only included GREY HERON and HERRING GULLS.

So the month ends on 77 species, frustrating in some ways, as, if the winter species of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll had been around this year like they usually are and the Fieldfare and Redwing had stayed a couple of days later, I would be looking at an April tally of over 80 species, a figure never achieved in any month of any year.

On the other hand 77 species for April is a great tally for my patch, the joint second highest for any April, plus it was rewarding to have five new species added to the 14 year combined April list, which is now on 113, those five being Great Black Backed Gull, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Whinchat and of course the mega find of the Great Bustard!

Finally......this afternoon, whilst sitting in my garden eating lunch, I recorded the first Odonata species of the year, a Large Red Damselfly, 9 days later than last years first sighting, it didn't hang about for an image unfortunately.

Images for today.......................

GREYLAG GEESE over Migrant Alley

Plus few more of those Fox cub images  :-)

This one was totally uncropped.

Shame about the stick up its backside!

Wednesday 29 April 2015

This morning was cool and cloudy, with a cold breeze, by 10:00hrs a few showers fell, before a rain front moved through around mid day.

I was out on patch for a little over two hours today, where it was hard going, however the visit was not a write off. My early walk around the paddocks and sheep pasture had only produced a few flyover HERRING GULLS and couple of LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, plus a nice little group of 15 LINNETS feeding on Dandelion heads, but as I walked along the Wooded Headland to the north of the fields I heard my first LESSER WHITETHROAT (89,77) of the year, initially it quietly gave a jumbled warble, but eventually it broke into its rattle like song, hopefully it will stay around and find somewhere to breed here. Although much of the headland has been cleared of its dense undergrowth now, there was song from CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP, leading to the assumption they they will try to breed here, the LONG TAILED TITS have most certainly done so, three birds were actively feeding youngsters in a nest.

The 14 year median average arrival date for Lesser Whitethroat on my patch is the 26th April, so a little later than that this year, I only had to wait until the 16th April last year though  :-)

The woods and lakes provided little in the way of excitement, a BUZZARD was again seen in the Wet Woods and the TREECREEPER sang from there again. The lakes had just a few drake MALLARDS loafing around and 4 CANADA GEESE doing like wise, the pair of GREYLAG GEESE were 'gosling less' but i'm sure there are more than enough pairs to make up for the predation of this brood - that's nature!

The months list is poised tantalisingly at 77, just two species behind the record April tally of 79, with the weather looking a bit better tomorrow, I might just get my first Swift or Hobby fly over, maybe even a passing Turtle Dove, fingers crossed  :-)

No pics were taken in the poor light today, but I have few from previous days, yet another predator!

This SPARROWHAWK was back hunting the finches in my garden, poor lighting, but ok images

It was a male CHAFFINCH that was the unfortunate victim

Bon appetite!

Tuesday 28 April 2015

There were clear blue skies this morning with a slight frost and a chilly breeze.

I made a 4 hour patch visit today and was still hoping to find a couple of those summer migrants that might well turn up before the end of the month, but I didn't find any, there were a couple more flyover YELLOW WAGTAILS at Migrant Alley though, as well as a lone SAND MARTIN, nice to get those on my patch  :-)

As yesterday, a BUZZARD was sat out on a fence post at the Ashes Lane Field before it flew off into the Wet Woods, where again, as yesterday, I heard a TREECREEPER singing, plus a SPARROWHAWK was menacingly flying through the canopy.

The Scrubby Woods had hardly a songster in it today, CHIFFCHAFFS were mostly ''hu-eeting'' and the BLACKCAPS were only halfheartedly singing, a GOLDCREST did give some short song, and calls from BULLFINCH and COAL TIT were heard, such good habitat here, deserves much better!

The lakes were particularly quiet, the GREYLAG GEESE were already down to their last Gosling, I still await the arrival of CANADA GEESE young, as do the the 4 presumed males that are on the lakes. The Mute Swans had gone elsewhere, looks like they wont breed here this year, the owners of the pond have done a good job of clearing out the water weed...............

I made my way back to Migrant Alley for a sky watch, which was particularly dull today, only a GREY HERON was of note, plus the male KESTREL that was hunting over the Greenhouses. As I sat, nearly falling asleep, I watched a Fox cross the sheep pasture carrying a Rabbit, I waited a few seconds before stealthily following it, then saw it take the Rabbit to its den, before moving back out across the fields. I sat patiently by the den and was rewarded with the sighting of at least 3 young cubs that came out to frolic for a few minutes  :-) I'll not say exactly where the den is, as there are still Neanderthals out there who blame these creatures for all the i'lls in the countryside and will think nothing of killing them.

I took loads of images, here's half a dozen, i'll post more over the coming days .............

Fox Cub.

I was about 6 meters away, but you can tell by looking at their eyes that they cant focus well yet.

 The cubs were all different sizes and at different stages of development

This looked to be the smallest one

They could hear my camera shutter going, but couldn't see me, eventually they all bundled back into their den  :-)

Monday 27 April 2015

A cool morning, but at least the sun was shining, the cloud only encroaching later on into the morning.

I headed off out for a full patch walk and in the 5 hour visit found a good tally of 48 species, none were new for the month or year lists, but there was plenty to keep me interested.

The highlight for me came early on, when another YELLOW WAGTAIL was seen on one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, a superb looking male. A few distant shots were taken, but it was disturbed as I sat and waited for it to come nearer, as were the 20-30 Gulls that were on the adjcaent sheep pasture, most were HERRING GULLS but 6 were LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS.

Distant Yellow Wagtail

It came a touch closer...........

......................Before being disturbed, it then flew off NW

A good check of the fence rails and posts revealed no 'chats' today, but as I passed the Greenhouse Copse, listening all the while to the singing CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP, I saw the LITTLE OWL was staring at me from its roost tree, I took a couple of shots of it, semi shaded as it was.

Little Owl

One WHITETHROAT sang from the Greenhouse Grounds, where there was also a pair of LONG TAILED TITS moving along the boundary hedgerow.

Crossing the Ashes Lane Fields, I saw a BUZZARD fly from an adjacent large garden, then into the Wet Woods, where a TREECREEPER was heard singing, and both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS called. At the Scrubby Woods I added GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, COAL TIT and STOCK DOVE to the days list, but Jay and Nuthatch were not seen at all today.

The lakes were very quiet, but I did see the first GREYLAG GOOSE goslings of the year on the island of the main lake, good to get the 2015 successfully bred list off to a start!

I had a good three hour sky watch later in the morning and into the afternoon, where from my seat at Migrant Alley, in some warm sunshine, I had many sightings of multiple Buzzards, at one time eight were up together, I also had multiple sightings of SPARROWHAWKS and the local KESTRELS, as well as flyovers from YELLOWHAMMER, PIED WAGTAIL and CANADA GEESE,  plus the local SWALLOWS and LINNETS were watched as they moved about the area.

Sunday 26 April 2015

It was cold and wet this morning with a chilly breeze, so I decided to wait a while before going out for a patch visit.

As soon as the rain stopped I was off out, though this wasn't until 10:00hrs. I only had just over an hour, so decided on a walk around the paddocks and sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, which turned out far better than I had expected.

On scanning the fence rails and posts, I was very pleased to see a superb male WHINCHAT (88,76), what a fantastic bird! It dropped down and caught the occasional insect, then flew back to the fence post, but I had not bothered to bring my camera out due to the poor weather! As I watched the Whinchat, a YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over, and 13 HERRING GULLS were seen on the adjacent field.

I decided in the end that I would go and get my camera, in the hope that the Whinchat would stay put, so the race was on! I saw both a COMMON BUZZARD and the male KESTREL on the walk back home, then, on the way back to Migrant Alley, a SPARROWHAWK flew over the Greenhouses.

It took a while for me to find the Whinchat again, as the dog walkers had now come out in force and had disturbed the bird. I saw it about 150 meters from where it was originally was, so set about trying to get a bit nearer to it, which I did, getting to about 12 meters from it. I took a few record shots in the poor light and whilst I did another YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over, they were a feature of the short visit, as on my walk home a small group of 7 more flew over, Migrant Alley has come to life all of a sudden!

Whinchats are recorded in most years at Migrant Alley, but mostly on Autumn passage, this is only the 3rd Spring Whinchat of the 14 years of recording, the others were also males, seen in 2002 and 2009, both in May, so todays bird is new to the combined April list, which now stands at 113!

The months list moves on to 76, the joint third highest April tally and only 3 behind the best ever April tally, which was achieved back in 2013

Saturday 25 April 2015

Light rain and a moderate breeze early this morning gave way to broken cloud and sunny intervals this afternoon.

A four hour patch visit this morning didn't produce any of the summer Migrants that could still pass through here, so it was down to winkling out the few that have arrived, they include the 2 WHITETHROATS at the Greenhouse Grounds, plus the one along the Pub Field hedgerow,  A singing BLACKCAP in the Wooded Headland at Migrant Alley, another in the Greenhouse Copse and possibly up to 4 in the Scrubby Woods. Single singing CHIFFCHAFFS were also at the Wooded Headland and the Greenhouse Copse, plus one at the Small Holding and possibly 4 at the Scrubby Woods, while the only other summer visitors on my patch are the SWALLOWS, with 3-4 pairs at the College Stables and at least 4 pairs in private buildings around my patch, a poor sate of affairs when compared to years gone by, nothing else to blame but habitat destruction though.

Other birds of note I saw/heard today were......... the TAWNY OWL, which hooted from the Scrubby Woods roost, the LITTLE OWL, which was back at the Greenhouse Copse roost, plus pairs of BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK which all displayed over the area.

Nothing yet to add to the ''successfully bred'' year list, which took a bit of a set back when I discovered the MALLARDS nest at the Lakes had been predated, I'm sure there are more on nests in the Wet Woods though  :-)

Not a good day for the camera today with the early rain, then this afternoon the light was a bit fierce, or am I too picky! The HOUSE SPARROW shot below was taken in 'fierce' light  :-)

House Sparrow

Friday 24 April 2015

Dense fog this morning wiped out out the most productive part of the day, the fog not clearing until gone 09:00hrs, thereafter a high cloud drifted in, but it stayed bright.

In such conditions little was noted today, the KESTREL pair and the female SPARROWHAWK were hunting around the Greenhouse Grounds, where another whitethroat had turned up.

GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, NUTHATCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN  WOODPECKERS, plus a couple each of BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF were all located in the Scrubby Woods. On the nearby lakes the GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE are still on nests, as is a MALLARD, but there are no fledged young anywhere around the patch yet.

An hours skywatching after the fog had cleared wasn't too productive, I was hoping for an early swift or Hobby, but had to settle for a couple of distant BUZZARDS, a YELLOWHAMMER and a flypast of 5 HERRING GULLS, I was entertained by the local SWALLOWS for much of the time as they collected mud for their nests at the drainage ditch in the Greenhouse Grounds.

A poor visit..........and not a single photo!

Thursday 23 April 2015

A five and a half hour full patch walk today was undertaken under cloudy skies, but without the cold Northerly wind it felt much warmer than of late. Towards the end of my visit the cloud cover broke and it became sunny and warm  :-)

The tally of species reached 48 today, with a couple of those making the visit more interesting than of late, firstly an EGYPTIAN GOOSE (87,75) that flew over the Greenhouses, then over Migrant Alley, was another addition to the year list, although yet another 'plastic' one!

Another nice species seen today was the MEDITERRANEAN GULL, two birds were initially heard calling as I passed through the Small Holding, then looking up, I watched them spiral up and out of view, but their calls remained audible all the while.

No other summer species had arrived, I still await the possibility of seeing the likes of Lesser Whitethroat, Turtle Dove, Swift, Garden Warbler or Hobby by the months end, but I wont hold my breath!

I didn't record Mistlethrush, Nuthatch or Little Owl today, although I'm sure they were out there somewhere, but the rest of the regular species were seen or heard. Flyovers from LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and GREY HERON were noteworthy, but only two of the three raptor species, BUZZARD and KESTREL were seen today.

I had nothing photowise for todays post until the sun brought out a couple of Butterfly species, these were photographed in my garden this afternoon.

 This male Orange Tip settled on a Buddleia leaf, but was just a bit too high for me to get the shot I wanted.

This shot was from the other side, but again not quite what I wanted  :-)

 It opened its wings at one point, but I couldn't reach high enough to get a straight on shot looking down, and had to settle for a lengthwise effort, not good as the depth of field needed is far too much, a choice of body or head in focus had to be made, I chose the the former. One day i'll get that perfect pose!

The Speckled Wood sat at a nice height, but I wanted an open winged shot, still a nice image of the underwing though  :-)

Wednesday 22 April 2015

The nagging North wind was stronger this morning and with cloudier skies than of late, it felt cold out this morning.

Maybe it was the temperature that dissuaded many of the birds from singing today, their silence meant there were certainly fewer species found than on the last two visits, but at least the four summer species of CHIFFCHAFF, WHITETHROAT, BLACKCAP and SWALLOW were heard to give short bursts of song.

In the cold wind I didn't really record much to bother my notebook, however, I did add a species to the April list when a pair of RED LEGGED PARTRIDGES (74) were seen on the Ashes Lane Fields, these take the months list to 74, which is, so far, the fourth best April tally out of 14 and is also the mean average tally for the previous 5 Aprils.

Other species I wrote down were the single BLACK HEADED GULL, 2 HERRING GULL and the LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL that were all at Migrant Alley very early on, Gulls are not common here in late April. Also noted were the flyovers from SPARROWHAWK and YELLOWHAMMER, plus the two BUZZARDS that were soaring over the Wet Woods. The only other bird in my book was the male KESTREL, it hunted at the Greenhouse Grounds, the female is presumed to be on her nest, as she has not been seen for a while.

I still await confirmation of any successful breeding from the birds here, there are a few species on nests, but no young of any sort yet, its certainly a late kick off this spring!


Whilst sky watching from my seat at Migrant Alley, this Spitfire kept passing overhead, rather annoyingly!  I personally much prefer the 'shark' like appearance of the Messerschmitt BF 109, shame there wasn't one about! 

Tuesday 21 April 2015

The weather this morning was identical to yesterday morning, that being a slight frost first thing, then clear blue skies and a moderate North wind.

The birding today was almost identical to yesterday, with 49 species being tallied up in split visit lasting 7 hours in all. The only difference in the species encountered today were the omission of flyovers from Grey Heron, Yellowhammer and House Martin, but on the plus side I today saw the SPARROWHAWK hunting over the Scrubby Woods, a MANDARIN DUCK on the main lake and the bird of the day a CUCKOO (86,73) which flew high over Migrant Alley calling as it went. It seemed to settle on the high ground to the north of my patch, where it called for 20 mins, being just about audible over the noisy chainsaws between me and it!

This will be one of the few Cuckoo records I get for my patch now they no longer breed here, the arrival date for this species has been creeping ever later as they become more scarce, the 14 year median average arrival date for cuckoo on my patch is the 14 April, but for the first 5 years it was the 12th, however for the last 5 years it has crept to the 16th.

The skies were very quiet, BUZZARDS were frequently seen, some near, some far, some high some low, so its hard to say how many! I didn't stay at my sky watching seat for too long anyway, as the thick smoke from the burning trees that the chainsaw gang were cutting down was overpowering, even though they were a kilometer away! Why are they cutting down trees at this time of year anyway ? I've given up worrying about it all!

Just a couple of images for today, grabbed early this morning when a trio of LONG TAILED TITS came past me as scanned the Greenhouse Copse............

 Long Tailed Tit

Monday 20 April 2015

A slight frost this morning was a bit of a surprise, but it soon vanished under the morning sunshine and clear blue sky, still a nagging NE wind later in the morning though.

I had a full patch walk today, lasting 5 hours, then had a couple of hours out around the fields looking for butterflies later in the afternoon. I tallied up 49 bird species over the day, not too bad at all, bird numbers are low though, with very little song heard for this time of year.

The highlight of the day came as I was butterfly hunting in the afternoon, when a lone HOUSE MARTIN (85,72) flew over, the first of the year here, its arrival being 1 day later than the 14 year median average arrival date, but a full 10 days later than last year.

I recorded just about everything I could expect out there today, except for the normally reliable Little Owl at the Greenhouse Copse and maybe a Sparrowhawk. The other two regular raptors were seen though, the KESTREL pair were at the Greenhouse Grounds, the female flew into the nestbox there, while up above, soaring in the blue sky many sightings of BUZZARDS were had. A pair of SWALLOWS collected mud from the drainage ditch at the Greenhouse Grounds, one pair of 4 - 6 pairs that are breeding on my patch, and the WHITETHROAT was singing for a while from the boundary hedge, another one had arrived overnight and was singing in the hedge of the Pub Field.

Flyovers were few, but as well as the House Martin, SKYLARK, GREY HERON, YELLOWHAMMER, PIED WAGTAIL, LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING GULL were the more notable species.

Everything I could expect was found in the wooded parts of my patch, the only summer species being BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF, but all the regular residents were also picked up, the best being NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, JAY, STOCK DOVE, BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and MISTLETHRUSH.

Nothing much on the lakes today, GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE continue to nest sit, as does the MALLARD, a few MOORHENS were seen and the MUTE SWANS dabbled about for food on the ornamental lake.

Butterflies seen today were few given the fine weather, they included singles of Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Orange Tip, plus Large and Small Whites.

Just about got a couple of images today, as the Whitethroat posed briefly for me  :-)

Sunday 19 April 2015

It was a mostly overcast morning, with just a few small glimpses of sunshine and a cold NE wind, making it feel not particularly pleasant for todays 3 hour patch visit.

I found 45 species without covering all of my patch, not a bad tally, but nothing was new for the month or year lists. A few notable bits and pieces were found, like the small gathering of Gulls on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, which was made up of 5 HERRING, 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED, and 3 BLACK HEADED GULLS. The LITTLE OWL assumed it's position at the Greenhouse Copse and the female KESTREL was at the entrance to it's nest box at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I saw the WHITETHROAT again, hopefully it will find somewhere to breed, but after all the scrub removal over winter, it may just have to move on.

Two BUZZARDS were up early, they flew across the Ashes Lane Fields as I passed through them on my way to the lakes and wooded areas of my patch, where I found singing GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, STOCK DOVE, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF as well as calling BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TITS and NUTHATCH, there were also sightings of GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER along with all the regular common stuff.

The lakes had the nesting CANADA and GREYLAG GEESE as well as the nesting MALLARD, the MUTE SWANS were feeding, but seemed to have stopped thinking about nesting for the time being, apart from those it was down to a few MOORHENS, the Coots look to have moved on for sure now, not having been seen since the 10th April.

No luck with the camera today, but ive got a few Grey heron images that were taken earlier this week.

Grey Heron

Saturday 18 April 2015

This morning was mostly sunny with patchy cloud at times, but a cool NE wind negated any warming effects from the sun.

I made the 6th full patch walk of the month today, with the 5 hours producing an acceptable 46 species, but it was the 44th one that pleased me the most, that being the first WHITETHROAT (84,71) of the year, which was seen at the Greenhouse Grounds towards the end of the visit. This is the fourth of the regularly breeding summer migrants to arrive on my patch, I probably wont get any more that breed, maybe Lesser Whitethroat, Turtle Dove and Spotted Flycatcher will prove me wrong, as there was a single pair of each breeding here last year, but I fear they will go the way of the Cuckoo, Nightingale, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, House Martin and Swift, all of which no longer breed here.

Another pleasing sighting of a RED KITE was had, when one flew over the Ashes Lane Field making it a four raptor day, with BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK all turning out as well this morning.

Most of the scarcer Woodland species were recorded today, except Long Tailed Tit and Nuthatch, while the lakes had only the MANDARIN DUCK of note. GREYLAG GOOSE and CANADA GOOSE are both nest sitting, plus I found a MALLARDS nest with 8 eggs in on the bank of the main lake.

View to the North, over ''Bustard Hill'' where a couple of SKYLARKS were up singing.

The LITTLE OWL was heard to call from the Greenhouse Copse as I sky watched, but little flew over, just a couple of HERRING GULLS plus the local Corvids and WOODPIGEONS, I did get to photograph the male KESTREL as it hunted over the nearby greenhouse Grounds though, pleasing to photograph the male rather than the usual female  :-)


The only Butterflies about today were this Small Tortoiseshell and a couple of Peacocks

Friday 17 April 2015

There were some sunny periods this morning, but a moderate NE wind kept a cold feel to my patch visit, more so when went the sun went behind the cloud.

It was a short visit, as I had an appointment at 09:30hrs and in the two hours I was out very little of note was found. Birdsong was much muted compared to recent visits, and trying to pick out flyover calls in todays wind was not easy.

An early scan of the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley only revealed ROOKS, WOODPIGEONS, a few LINNETS, a small flock of STARLINGS and a couple of BLACKBIRDS, the Wooded Headland had a CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP singing intermittently, plus a pair of LONG TAILED TITS were seen carrying nest material. The nearby Greenhouse Copse had another Chiffchaff and Blackcap, but I didn't find the Little Owl there today.

Walking through the Greenhouse Grounds I watched at least 4 different SWALLOWS collecting mud from the drainage ditch, one of the last remaining places left for them to find nest making material, its been quite a dry April thus far. The KESTREL pair were mating again and calling loudly from the top of one of the greenhouses.

Three BUZZARDS were seen over the Ashes Lane Field as I headed off over to the lakes and Scrubby Woods, the former were back to normal after yesterdays surprises, only a pair of MANDARIN DUCK were of note there today. The Scrubby Woods however had a bit of life, with GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, BULLFINCH and TREECREEPER all heard or seen, plus a couple more Chiffchaffs sang, as did a couple more Blackcaps, at one point I watched four of the latter in a Blackthorn bush, they seemed to be taking the nectar from the flowers. I was sure I heard the tail end of a Nightingale song at one point, but waiting around for another 20 mins didn't get me a repeat of it, something to take note of tomorrow!

Blackcap in the Blackthorn

Taking nectar or winkling out insects??

The only Butterfly seen was this Peacock, found in the hedgerow along Ashes Lane.

Thursday 16 April 2015

I had an evening patch visit yesterday, just a quick walk around Migrant Alley as the weather was so warm and sunny, it was mostly quiet, but I did add LAPWING (68) to the April list when a pair flew over the sheep pasture.

This morning the cloud had started to roll in and a cool NE wind had picked up, making for a very different feel from yesterday, however, the birding was much more interesting  :-)

My early walk around Migrant Alley turned up another WHEATEAR, this one a female, also out on the sheep pasture there were 8 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS with 7 HERRING GULLS, plus a BLACK HEADED GULL flew over, all species that will be hard to find in a couple of weeks. The good fortune continued shortly after, when I watched a RED KITE (69) fly south over the Greenhouse Copse as I was admiring at the LITTLE OWL that roosts there, my 4th record of Red Kite already this year!

After checking on the KESTRELS at the Greenhouse Grounds, I decided on a visit to the lakes and Scrubby Woods rather than hang about Migrant Alley, on the way a BUZZARD flew low over the Ashes Lane Fields, and a SPARROWHAWK whizzed past me into the Wet Woods, four raptors for the day  ;-)

I am still hoping to add Cuckoo to the year list, they used to breed in the scrubby Woods, normally I would have heard one by now, but it looks like i'll only be recording them as a passage bird if at all this year  :-(  My spirits were quickly lifted however, when I had a scan around the main lake, first a MANDARIN DUCK was seen, a splendid male, then a pair of TUFTED DUCKS swam out of the tree overhang, a rare enough visitor here, but even rarer was a POCHARD (83,70) that swam with them, a cracking male bird, its not very often I get 4 different Duck species on the same day! The last Pochard I recorded on my patch was back in March 2011, so its a welcome addition indeed to this years patch list and takes the months list to the 70 mark. A GREY HERON sat and preened on an old dead tree at the small lake, while the ornamental lake was home to the MUTE SWAN pair a few MALLARDS and a MOORHEN or two.

Tufted Duck pair, they were distant, in not good light, but it's good to get a record shot of them as they are so infrequent on my patch!

Superb looking male Pochard with the female Tufty

This is about the best shot I got of it, just wish it was a bit closer, in better light  ;-)

A quick splash and washing session

After a quick preen, he had a brief altercation with the male Tufty, then all three birds flew off, a very pleasing find indeed  :-)