Tuesday 30 June 2015

Wall to wall sunshine this morning led to a hot and tiring full patch walk, a belter of a summers day though  :-)

The final patch visit of the month, which lasted 5 hours, brought me a total of 43 species, much less than yesterday, but the last couple of hours of todays visit was so warm, the birds melted away into cover earlier than usual.

The most interesting sightings were a LAPWING that flew from one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, plus the finding of the first newly fledged COAL TITS for the year, surprisingly I found them at the Greenhouse Grounds as I was photographing one of the newly fledged KESTRELS.

No new species were added to the June list, so that ends on 63, which is one short of the 14 year mean average for June, and goes down in joint 9th place. Species like Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Cuckoo, plus the Coot and Mute Swans that didn't stay to breed this year, were big omissions this month, on the plus side I did see a Marsh Tit, a species which has not been recorded here in June before, adding one more to the 14 year combined June list which is now at 90.

In the hot sunshine today, I found 3 new Odonata species for the year, bringing the total for 2015 to 17 species, with a Southern Hawker in the Scrubby Woods, a Banded Demoiselle at the drainage ditch at Migrant Alley, which is also where the first Common Darter was found and photographed.

Newly fledged Kestrel first thing this morning

The Female bird was seen a hour later, preening on a greenhouse roof. Just look at that sky!!

Immature Common Darter

Immature Common Darter

Butterfly species and numbers are few here now, with the ever shrinking habitat taking its toll. I haven't recorded Peacock or Holly Blue this month, and have had singles only of Common Blue and small Copper, while no Brown Argus has been recorded at all. Plenty of Skippers, Small Tortoiseshells and as in the photo above, Meadow Browns are about though.

Monday 29 June 2015

There were long spells of warm sunshine throughout the day today, another tee shirt day!

Early this morning I set off out on another full patch walk, in which the 5 hour trek gave me a very good tally of 49 species, with just about every bird species that resides on my patch being found, just the Mistlethrush, Little Owl and Tawny Owl evaded detection  :-)

A walk around the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley first off, gave me all the expected species, with ROOK, JACKDAW, CARRION CROW, a flock of 30 STARLINGS, plus the less expected sighting of 6 GREYLAG GEESE. SWALLOWS zipped low around the sheep, and LINNETS fed on the paddocks, early flyovers from GREY HERON and HERRING GULL were noted.

Greylag Geese at Migrant Alley

I checked the Greenhouse Grounds, looking in on the WHITETHROAT nest, the young are still in the nest, but the KESTRELS were out of theirs and were perched on a nearby roof. A few minutes later I was walking along High House Lane, listening to the SKYLARK singing, when I also heard the song from a YELLOWHAMMER (63) the first one this month, further along the lane a mixed group of CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH and a few more Linnets were seen.


Walking through the Small Holding, then on through the Wet Woods, the likes of NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GREEN WOODPECKER, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, STOCK DOVE, GREENFINCH, PIED WAGTAIL and SONGTHRUSH were found, while the Scrubby Woods, gave me the remaining woodland species, like GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT,  CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, BULLFINCH and JAY, plus the real bonus of hearing the TURTLE DOVE singing, a real pleasure in the warm sunshine  :-)

On the lakes just the CANADA GEESE, a few MALLARDS and a pair of MOORHENS with 7 newly hatched young in tow were seen, but further careful scanning revealed the female MANDARIN DUCK with her two young, good to see those surviving.

Out onto the Ashes Lane Fields I picked up my first BUZZARD of the morning, as well as a flyover SPARROWHAWK, then headed off home for a drink and snack.

I was back out an hour later, mostly photographing Butterflies at the Greenhouse grounds and it was whilst doing so I heard the Kestrel calling above me, I looked up to see it mobbing a Buzzard, then a few seconds later these were joined by a RED KITE, then a Sparrowhawk! All four circled up higher and disappeared into the blue, the Red Kite brought the days bird list to 50 - very apt!  :-)

A few Butterfly images.....................

Large Skipper

Large Skipper

Small Skipper

Small Skippers Mating

Sunday 28 June 2015

I was awoken at 03:45hrs by the sound of a TAWNY OWL (61) hooting from the Wet Woods area that lies to the rear of my house, a welcome boost for the June list! Shortly after, the dawn chorus broke, with BLACKBIRDS, SONGTHRUSH, ROBIN, DUNNOCK and WOODPIGEON all being heard as I tried to wake up  :-)

After a swift cup of tea, I spent just a couple of hours out visiting my patch, as I had other plans for the rest of the morning, but the time spent walking a circuit of Migrant Alley and looking over the Greenhouse grounds was worth the effort, as I added another species to the June list when a SISKIN (62) was heard calling as it flew over, unbelievably, just the second this year! A GREY HERON was also seen flying over, as were 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS and 4 HERRING GULLS. A group of 15 STARLINGS were seen drinking and bathing in one of the water troughs, until moved on by a couple of ROOKS.

I walked past the nest site of the WHITETHROAT in the Greenhouse Grounds, hoping to see some fledgling activity, but one of the adult birds scolded me from a nearby bush with a beak full of food, so it looks like the young are still in the nest. I fared a bit better with the KESTREL family, where one youngster was out of the box on a nearby roof, but the other was still in the box, but I have decided to add them to the 'successfully bred' list anyway, that moves on to 34 species now.  :-)

Nothing for the camera this morning, but these Welsh Siskin images have been sitting in the blog folder for a while now, I thought it would be apt to post them today.  :-)

Siskin - a scarce species on my patch in June, but not entirely a surprise, as I have recorded Siskin in two previous Junes, those records being in 2002 and 2014

Siskin brings the months bird species total to 62, which is in tenth place out of fourteen

Saturday 27 June 2015

From 06:30 this morning it was tee shirt weather, summer arrives at last!

The fine, warm weather didn't bring me any new species for the June list though, nor did I find any different newly fledged young, the KESTREL and WHITETHROATS at the Greenhouse Grounds must be on the verge of doing so, but I said that a few days ago  :-)

Here's more of the young Kestrels in their box, they have moved on a bit even since the last images I took a few days ago!

Ready to go?

The highlight of the rather mundane visit was another flyover from the PEREGRINE, it flew high over Migrant Alley, as I watched it, I picked up another 3 BLACK HEADED GULLS higher up, only the second record of this species for June. A GREY HERON, a BUZZARD and 4 HERRING GULLS were the only other noteworthy flyovers today.

Nuthatch and Treecreeper evaded detection today, but GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, SONGTHRUSH, STOCK DOVE, GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were all easily found in the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, along with all the more common stuff  :-) This still only gave me a total of 41 species for the day, a little bit on the low side for a 5 hour full patch walk.

I put in a bit of time looking for Dragons, Damsels and Butterflies, of the latter, I added Comma to the June list and of the Dragons, I saw a Brown Hawker, new here for the year, but Damsels were few, with just a dozen White-legged, about the same number of Azures and 4 Blue Tailed, one of which was a fading Rufescens form female, these were also new for the year here, bringing the 2015 Odonata list to 17 species  :-)

Comma Butterfly, clearly showing it's white 'comma' mark  :-)

White-legged Damselfly - Male

White-legged Damselfly - Male

Blue-tailed Damselfly - normal female

Blue-tailed Damselfly - Female Rufescens Form

Friday 26 June 2015

Scattered cloud this morning broke to give some very warm sunshine by mid morning, with a moderate southerly wind picking up by midday.

A full patch walk, which lasted 5 hours, was undertaken today, during which 45 species were found, most of those appearing early on in the visit, as the warmer it got the fewer birds showed! Bullfinch and Long Tailed Tit were the only missed species out of the regulars that can be found in the Wet Woods/Scrubby Woods, but whilst I was in the latter habitat I found the first BLACKCAP young of the year, with at least 2 being seen with both adult birds. Another species was added to the 'successfully bred' list this morning, the MALLARD, a female was seen with a quite well grown youngster in one of the large gardens attached to the Wet Woods, better late than never!

About halfway through my visit, as I walked along High House Lane, I scanned over the bean crop at Bustard Hill, where I was pleased to see the 60th species of the month flyover, a BLACK HEADED GULL (60), this at least means this June wont be on its own as the June with the fewest species seen, it has now reached the the same total as achieved in 2004.

Other bits and pieces worth mentioning were the sighting of two BUZZARDS over the Ashes Lane Fields, the KESTRELS up hunting over the Greenhouse Grounds / Migrant Alley and the WHITETHROAT pair at the Greenhouse Grounds are still bringing food in to the nest site, so still no fledged young from them yet! 16 CANADA GEESE were on the main lake, along with the GREYLAG GOOSE that accompanies the now well grown Canada goslings and their parents.

Photo's for today come from my garden  :-)



Thursday 25 June 2015

Warm sunshine, right from sun up, was a real bonus for this summer so far.

In the fine conditions, I spent just 90 minutes out on my patch early on, as I had planned a visit to Bough Beech Reservoir and then Sevenoaks Wilfowl Reserve for the day. I walked a circuit of Migrant Alley and had a look around the the Ashes Lane Fields, but very little indeed was seen, the latter habitat did however produce my first Black tailed Skimmer for my patch this year, an immature.

At Migrant Alley a few ROOKS and WOODPIGEONS fed out on the sheep pasture, plus a couple of LINNET families moved around the paddocks. A group of 7 HERRING GULLS flew over, as did a lone CORMORANT and the local SWALLOW families enjoyed the warmth of the morning, gathering together in a flock of at least 16 birds to chase the emerging insects. The WHITETHROATS and the KESTRELS continue to feed their nestlings, but that was about it for the patch today.


Later in the morning we arrived at Bough Beech Reservoir, finding it rather quiet, as is usually the case in June, however, we did manage to dig out 44 species, the highlight being a lone GREEN SANDPIPER.

The Green Sandpiper was far too distant for a photograph, but this CHIFFCHAFF was just about in range  :-)

Moving on to Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve, the intention was to find some Odonata, our targets were the Downy Emerald Dragonfly and the Red Eyed Damselfly, we manged to find both, but the single Downy Emerald we found stayed well out of photographic range. The Red Eyed Damsels were frustratingly sitting out on lily pads, not really close enough, but I got a few images of one, plus right at the end of our visit I found a mating pair of them, again not quite positioned where I wanted them to be and the wind was blowing them around, but I got one usable image. Lots of other Odonata were seen as well, with Blue Tailed, Azure, and Common Blue Damselflies galore, plus Banded Demoiselles, Brown Hawker, Emperor Dragonfly, Broad Bodied Chaser, and Black Tailed Skimmer all being recorded.

Red Eyed Damselfly

Red Eyed Damselfly - Mating pair

Banded Demoiselle

Black Tailed Skimmer

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Early morning cloud soon started to break, giving some warm spells of sunshine for the rest of the day, a brisk SW breeze sprung up by midday.

I spent most of the morning, plus a couple of hours this afternoon out on my patch, but little if anything has changed, I didn't add anything to the June list, so I still need one more species to equal the lowest June tally recorded here. No different newly fledged species were found either, but the WHITETHROATS at the Greenhouse Grounds must be on the verge of doing so, both adult bird were busy bringing in food to the nest site, similarly, the KESTRELS were feeding their young, but I expect the Whitethroats to fledge first   :-)

An early Sky Watch from my seat at Migrant Alley was pretty poor really, with GREY HERON, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, HERRING GULL and a few SWIFTS being the sum of my hours vigil. I could see a pair of BUZZARDS perched up in a pine tree over at the Ashes Lane Fields from where I sat, and the ROOKS were in the nearby sheep pasture feeding their offspring.


Over at the woods and lake area most of the regulars were picked out, except Long Tailed Tit and Bullfinch. Numerous species of birds had families noisily feeding in the canopy of both the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, including GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, GOLDFINCH, ROBIN, DUNNOCK,WREN, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GOLDCREST but the lakes were home only to 15 CANADA GEESE, a usual scenario for June though.

Later in the morning and into the afternoon, I spent some time looking for Butterflies and Dragonflies, with only limited success as there were few of either about, just 1 Beautiful demoiselle, a dozen White Legged Damselflies, plus a similar number of Azure and Common Blue Damselflies were about it for the Odonata, while Butterflies included a dozen Large Skippers, 1 Small Skipper, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Large White, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, and 20+ Meadow Browns.

Large Skipper

Meadow Brown, Male

Tuesday 23 June 2015

The blue sky early this morning slowly filled in with cloud as the day progressed, a moderate wind help keep temperatures on the low side for mid summer.

I spent 6 hours carrying out a full patch walk, in which 45 species were found, none being new for the June list and no new recently fledged young were found either, a bit disappointing. Most of the regular Pittswood species were seen or heard, the majority of those in the Scrubby Woods and lakes area, with GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, BULLFINCH, STOCK DOVE, JAY, MISTLETHRUSH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS the best of what was seen or heard, the only omission that could have been anticipated was the Long Tailed Tit. There was no sign of the female Mandarin Duck and her young on the main lake, only 14 CANADA GEESE, 5 MALLARDS and 2 MOORHENS were seen.

I spent some time this morning watching the KESTRELS at the Greenhouse Grounds, the young were at the edge of the nest box, allowing for a few photo's. Nearby I could here the WHITETHROATS scolding, but I have still not found any fledged young from them. An adjacent field of silage that had been cut last week was being turned by a tractor, as it threw the cut grass around, there were a a dozen SWIFTS and 4 HOUSE MARTINS taking advantage of the disturbed insects, one of the few activities from the intensively farmed fields here that benefits the birds, albeit very briefly!

An hour spent watching the sky from my seat at Migrant Alley produced very little, the best being LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, HERRING GULL, BUZZARD and GREY HERON.

Looks like there are two young in the box this year, although there may just be a smaller one at the back  :-)

Before I get accusations of ''pointing a long lens into the nest box and disturbing wildlife'' the box is 12 meters up on a metal frame work, which is in a very busy courtyard full of people and vehicles, so I was barely noticed  :-)

The female bird alighted nearby after bringing in a prey item, then sat preening for while

Monday 22 June 2015

Two attempts to get out this morning were thwarted by the persistent rain, all I got was a couple of soakings. This afternoon the rain turned more showery, allowing me to get out for an hour, which I spent around the Greenhouse Grounds, here I found the first newly fledged LINNET of the year, being fed by both parents, shame there was just the one youngster though. I also watched the WHITETHROAT carrying food, but couldn't see any fledged young about.

I watched the sky for a while from my seat at Migrant Alley, where I saw LESSER BLACKED BACKED and HERRING GULL, but not the hoped for Black Headed Gull. As a large black shower cloud approached I saw a large number of SWIFTS feeding below it, at least a hundred of them screamed and chased about, good to see so many. A CORMORANT flew over, only the second one this month, plus KESTREL and BUZZARD were seen up hunting, That was about the best of it on a poor summers day.

Still some blog brighteners left from the Wales photo folder, but its running low now!

Wood Warbler. I waited for an hour for this bird to come nearer to me, not the best light, but the best Wood warbler photo I have got!

Female Pied Flycatcher

Female Pied Flycatcher

Male Reed Bunting

Sunday 21 June 2015

Most of the morning was overcast, with a moderate breeze, but slowly it brightened up, giving some pleasant spells of sunshine this afternoon.

Everything was dripping wet after the nights rainfall, making for a fresh smell to the morning air as I set off for a full patch walk. Five hours later I had 45 bird species in the book, most were just what I expected to see, but a couple of surprises were also recorded, the first of those was a KINGFISHER that was seen speeding through the Small Holding area, looks like the start of Autumn dispersal has arrived! The other surprise was finding a female MANDARIN DUCK (59) on the main lake, better still, she had 3 young with her, I reckon she was nesting in one of the old Oak trees in in one of the adjacent large gardens, this brings up the 30th species for the 'successfully bred' list and also takes me to within one species of attaining the joint lowest June total, which considering I was away for two weeks would be a decent achievement  :-)

Plenty of activity was seen in the Scrubby Woods and around the banksides of the main lake, mostly from immature birds that had formed a feeding flock, I counted 13 LONG TAILED TITS, at least 5 GREAT TITS, a similar numbers of BLUE TITS, 2 NUTHATCHES and a 2 CHIFFCHAFFS in one group. BULLFINCH and COAL TIT were heard, but no young for those species has yet been found, as is the case for STOCK DOVE, which I rarely find the young of, but know that at least 2 pairs nest here!

Not much else out of the ordinary was found this morning, only two raptor species were seen, those being BUZZARD and KESTREL, the latter hunting at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I watched a prey item being delivered to their nest box.

Only HERRING GULL, GREY HERON and a few SWIFTS were noteworthy on my skywatch from my seat at Migrant Alley, where I listened to the WHITETHROATS singing, one of the few species that are now.

Nothing for the camera today, with dragons and Butterflies hiding up for the duration, but I have of course still got my Wales images to fall back on! Here's a whole load of Common Redstart photo's, what a cracking bird this is!!

Redstart, Male

 Just the one image of the female, she proved to be a little less co-operative!