Friday 31 July 2015

As yesterday, there were some long sunny spells this morning, before cloud rolled in for much of the afternoon.

I made much effort to try and add another new species for the months list during todays patch visit, it being the last of the month, but alas, none were found, so the July tally stays on 64, which is only the joint 7th best July total out of 14 and is 3 short of the average July total for the previous five years. No new species species were added to the 14 year combined July list, which remains at 93. Species that have occurred in ten or more of the past 13 July's but not this July......Turtle Dove, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Cuckoo, and Nightingale, this shows the sorry decline of our summer migrant species here.

Today's notable species, for my patch at least, were flyovers from GREY HERON and CORMORANT, plus a mixed gull flock, that circled over the Pub Field as the Wheat there was being harvested ( which will now make the footpath there accessible to me again) the flock consisting of mainly HERRING GULLS with smaller numbers of BLACK HEADED GULLS and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL.

Other noteworthy species were, the SPARROWHAWK which was seen being chased by at least 30 SWALLOWS as it flew over the Greenhouse Grounds where the two KESTREL young still live and thrive, at least two BUZZARDS that flew low over the Ashes Lane Field and a LITTLE OWL that called from the Small Holding area.

SWIFTS were very visible high in the sky, flocks of up to 30-40 birds flew over at intervals throughout the morning. There were 14 CANADA GEESE on the main lake, along with 9 MALLARDS, the other two smaller lakes had just a few MOORHENS present.

COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, BULLFINCH, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, plus SONGTHRUSH were all seen along with the common regular species during my walk, the only real surprise omission was Long Tailed Tit.

The WHITETHROAT family were again in their favoured area at the Greenhouse Grounds

I got a snapshot of this SPARROWHAWK this afternoon as it payed a visit to my garden feeding station.

I need say nothing more than this photo shows to show my disgust at the irresponsibility of some of the local dog owners here.

Thursday 30 July 2015

There were some long sunny spells this morning, with just a few patches of cloud drifting over in a light westerly wind.

The penultimate patch visit for July didn't bring any new species for the month, it seems the likes of Turtle Dove, Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher will not be featuring this July, all of which used to be regulars up until 2012.

Of note this morning though, were 28 SWALLOWS that lined up on a paddock fenceline at Migrant Alley, until a SPARROWHAWK flew over and sent them all into a panic! There were 3 very vocal BUZZARDS up early too, flying from the Greenhouse Copse to the Wet Woods, the KESTREL young, seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, made up the raptor species for the morning. A brief sky watch from my seat wasn't particularly eventful, the GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE skeins flew over, as did a CORMORANT, a YELLOWHAMMER, a MISTLETHRUSH a few HERRING GULLS and a BLACK HEADED GULL.

I spent some time in the Scrubby Woods again, where I had hoped to find the Turtle Doves, but I reckon they have left the area now. I noted most of the other regular species to be found there though, with BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF still feeding well grown young, as were DUNNOCK and SONGTHRUSH, while calls from NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, STOCK DOVE, BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and JAY were all heard. As It warmed up a couple of Brown Hawker Dragonfies were seen again, as well as a Southern Hawker, but both species evaded my camera, I was surprised to also find a White-legged Damselfly, a pristine male, a common darter made up the odonata for the morning.

Immature ROBIN


Common Darter

Wednesday 29 July 2015

The blue skies this morning lasted a little longer than yesterday, variable cloud cover approached from 11:00hrs, but the wind had dropped considerably, making it feel more pleasant.

Early morning ROBIN

I had a circuit of Migrant Alley first thing, but it provided little of note, just the normal ROOKS, JACKDAWS, CARRION CROWS, STARLINGS, and WOODPIGEONS on the paddocks and pasture, along with a few LINNETS and GOLDFINCHES. Passing the Greenhouse Copse I noted the WHITETHROAT family, plus BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF, and a family of 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS.

I spent over 90 minutes watching the skies, where I saw at least 3 different BUZZARDS, had multiple sightings of a pair of SPARROWHAWKS, and watched the antics of KESTREL family at the Greenhouse Grounds. Also of note, over 50 CANADA GEESE flew over, as did a GREY HERON, and a MISTLETHRUSH, a few HERRING GULLS that flew past at varying heights, plus a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL was also seen. SWIFTS were moving through in small numbers too.

Canada Goose

After my sky watch, I made my way over to the Scrubby Woods, via the Small Holding and Wet Woods, finding some of the bird species that weren't on yesterdays full patch walk, like TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, and PHEASANT. At the Scrubby Woods I spent much of the time chasing Butterflies and Dragonflies, I noted 13 species of Butterfly, those being, Large, Small and Green Veined Whites, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large and Small Skippers, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell. As for the Dragonflies, just 2 species were seen, Southern Hawker and Brown Hawker, but I did at least get a photo of the Brown Hawker today  :-)

I checked the lakes on the way home, where 21 Canada Geese were loafing around on the main lake, along with 4 MALLARDS, 6 MOORHENS and a lone female MANDARIN DUCK.

I found two different Brown Hawkers, both quite tatty, and both very flighty, only allowing a couple of shots to be taken.

When this species settles, I take what ever shots and angles I can get!

They don't hang about for long!

Comma Butterfly

Holly Blue Butterfly

Tuesday 28 July 2015

A clear blue sky this morning soon clouded over, and with the continued strong, westerly wind, it felt cool out.

I made the 10th and final full patch walk of the month this morning, my 70th in all so far this year, my aim, as in the past 13 years, is to carry out 120 full patch walks a year - ten a month  :-).  Anyway, today's walk yielded a rather average bird species tally of 44, but I did at least add a new species to the months list, when a REED BUNTING (64) flew over Migrant Alley, calling as it went. At 64, the months list is now joint with the July totals of 2006 and 2010, and is the 7th best of the 14 years.

Other notables today included flyovers from LESSER BLACK BACKED and HERRING GULL, plus YELLOWHAMMER, SKYLARK and BUZZARD, all f which passed over Migrant Alley. The two KESTREL young were at the Greenhouse Grounds, along with both adults, plus I also watched the WHITETHROAT family there and managed a few a few distant photo's of them.

There were 3 female MANDARIN DUCK on the main lake this morning, as I watched them, a party of 11 SWIFTS came in to drink, I cant recall seeing them take water from here before. The other two small lakes had 6 MALLARDS and 4 MOORHENS between them.

Most of the regular and common species were picked up along my route through the Small Holding, Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, most from the latter habitat, where mixed feeding flock of LONG TAILED TIT, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, CHIFFCHAFF and CHAFFINCH were seen. Species not found today, but were out there somewhere, included Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Pheasant and Sparrowhawk.

Two of the Whitethroat family at the Greenhouse Grounds, of which there are 3.

It wasn't really a day for macro photo's given the wind and cloud, but I snapped this Speckled Wood Butterfly, a species that has been much scarcer here this year than in previous years

Monday 27 July 2015

Pulses of wetting, drizzly rain blew through the area this morning, the accompanying stiff, gusty breeze making it feel very October like!

Needless to say, it was a pretty poor patch visit in the conditions, I spent a while scanning the skies at Migrant Alley, hoping the poor weather may force a wader species low over the pasture and paddocks, but I failed to record any, just a few each of BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL, plus a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL were seen. A few SWIFTS, maybe 20-30 in all also moved through and another SAND MARTIN was feeding over the sheep pasture with the SWALLOWS, where a MISTLETHRUSH was feeding with the ROOKS and JACKDAWS.

The three regular Raptor species were also up hunting, those being a  BUZZARD, a SPARROWHAWK that had successfully caught breakfast, plus the KESTREL family at the Greenhouse Grounds, where CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and 5 WHITETHROATS, probably the family that bred there, were seen.

I made some attempt at a visit to the Scrubby Woods, but the wind made it difficult, GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT plus a few more Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were the best of what I found, a scan of the main lake gave me good views of 2 female MANDARIN DUCKS, but nothing else was with them, nor was there anything on the other two water bodies today.

This afternoon the sun appeared for brief moments, but the wind had increased further, so I set off to the Greenhouse Grounds to try and find some Dragonflies or Butterflies, there wasn't a sniff of the former insects, but I was surprised by the number of Butterflies I found, which included a Painted Lady, a Small Copper, a couple of Large Skippers, a few Small Skippers ( which a possible Essex Skipper was among) plus my first 3 Common Blue Butterflies since May. I took some photo's of the latter, but in the gusty wind and ever changing light, the images weren't up to much, Still, they are all I have to post today! So..............

Sunday 26 July 2015

Only a short patch visit was made today, the rain and wind swept in by 09:00hrs, which lasted for the remainder of the day.

I spent the short visit walking a circuit of Migrant Alley, then had a sky watch while I waited for the rain to arrive. Only 4 GREYLAG GEESE were on the sheep pasture today, but early dog walkers may have already put any others to flight, the ROOKS and JACKDAWS remained as always though. The Wooded Headland and Greenhouse Copse had between them a few BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF, plus I heard the YELLOWHAMMER singing from High House Lane, some 400 meters away. Two WHITETHROAT were in the hedgerow of the Greenhouse Grounds, where the KESTREL young were seen, along with the adult male, one of the youngsters was comical to watch as it tried to pounce on the PIED WAGTAILS that were in the greenhouses, it continually ran the length of the guttering trying to figure out how to get at them!

My short sky watch provided me with a few HERRING GULLS, 1 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, 4 BLACK HEADED GULLS, 1 GREY HERON, 7 SWIFTS, a singing SKYLARK and a single BUZZARD, but the visit was proved worthwhile, when a SAND MARTIN (63) was seen flying amongst the local SWALLOWS, that takes the July list onto 63, which puts it in joint 9th place out of 14, the same tally that was achieved in 2012.

No images from today, as the weather was so poor, but I have a few garden bird images taken from my feeding station yesterday.

There are up to a dozen GREENFINCH eating the sunflower hearts, most of them juveniles, lets hope disease and Sprawks give them a break this year!

Similar numbers of GOLDFINCH are also visiting, again most being juvenile birds.

Its good to have a pair of HOUSE SPARROWS coming and going as they take food away to their

House Sparrow female

Up to 7 COLLARED DOVES also make use of my feeders

A pair of WOODPIGEONS are becoming very bold as they hoover up the spilt seed  :-)

Saturday 25 July 2015

After missing yesterdays patch visit due to the continuous rain, it was good to get out this morning, despite the rather cool and blustery conditions, a few sunny spells by mid morning were welcome.

I carried out a 4 hour full patch walk in the hope that the wind and rain had dropped a wandering species onto my patch, but alas, it hadn't and I had to be content with recording the regular crew that occur here. Of the 44 species I found, the most notable counts and finds were the 53 Geese on the pasture at Migrant Alley, 42 of those being CANADA GEESE, the others being GREYLAG GEESE. The KESTRELS were back on patch, at least one of the young was seen up hunting, along with the adult male, a BUZZARD that flew from the trees around the main lake was the only other raptor seen today.

A pair of WHITETHROATS were seen in the Greenhouse Grounds, where I watched 30-50 PIED WAGTAILS flying around in the greenhouses, a safe roosting place for them, but they have to wait until the temperature rises in the greenhouse before the automatic windows open to release them all. I have known Hobbies to await this moment in previous years  :-)

I saw a newly fledged family of at least 3 CHIFFCHFFS in the Scrubby Woods, where there was also a newly fledged family of at least 2 BLACKCAPS. A mixed feeding flock was watched as it passed through the Oak canopy, scores of birds were seen, made up of BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, plus more Chiffchaff and Blackcap, but I found no Coal Tit or Treecreeper among them.

Flyovers noted today were few, GREY HERON, BLACK HEADED GULL, HERRING GULL and a loose flock of 6 SWIFT were the best of them.

I had a visit to Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve early afternoon, where a Black tailed Godwit was the star bird, but I didn't get to see it! I was in a different hide, waiting for a Kingfisher to show, but it never did, I at least took a few photo's whilst I waited!

There wasn't too much on offer, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Egyptian Geese were around in good numbers

Plenty of Moorhens, Coots, and Mallards were about, plus a couple of Great Crested Grebes, and a Little Egret.

This Magpie came down to the waters edge for a drink

Thursday 23 July 2015

Another full patch walk was undertaken this morning, in some fine and sunny weather, although scattered cloud moved in by late morning.

The four and a half hour visit produced a decent tally of 45 bird species, which could have easily neared 50 if the regulars of Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, pheasant and the Kestrels had played ball, I wonder where the kestrels were?

Of the 45 species seen, none were new for the July list, but a few bits of interest were noted, like the 43 CANADA GEESE and 26 GREYLAG GEESE on the pasture at Migrant Alley, with which they shared with 28 STARLINGS and 35 ROOKS, the adjacent paddocks had a few LINNETS and PIED WAGTAILS feeding on them.

The Greenhouse Grounds and associated Copse were checked, the latter had the families of BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT and CHIFFCHAFF feeding in sunny side of the copse, while the Greenhouse Grounds had two singing SONGTHRUSH, plus the common regulars of WREN DUNNOCK, ROBIN, BLACKBIRD, GOLDFINCH, GREENFINCH, CHAFFINCH, BLUE and GREAT TITS. I checked High House Lane for YELLOWHAMMERS, where just the male bird was seen, and heard to sing, no sign of any young yet!

A pair of MISTLETHRUSHES were seen at the Small Holding area, along with GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, while the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, between them, added GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, and COAL TIT to the mornings list.

On the main lake a female MANDARIN DUCK was present, but only a couple of MALLARDS and MOORHENS were on the other two water bodies.

Heading for home across the Ashes lane Fields, a BUZZARD flew low over, then the local SWALLOWS went into a frenzy as a pair of SPARROWHAWKS circled round. A SKYLARK and the only 2 SWIFTS of the day were the last two species on the list.

This female Linnet preened and posed nicely for the camera this morning

Female Linnet

A female BLACKBIRD was the only other bird image I took

A Speckled Wood provided the only Butterfly image of the visit.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

I didn't get much of a chance for a decent patch visit today, as I had to be back home by 09:00hrs for a delivery, which had a three hour arrival slot. I manged a couple of hours before it arrived and an hour this afternoon, where a few bits and pieces were noted.

During the early visit, under a blue sky that lasted just 45 minutes before it clouded over, I made a circuit of the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, then had a short sky watch from my seat there. Nothing remarkable was out on the pasture and paddocks, but 8 CANADA GEESE were a change from the Greylags that are normally there. A few Pied Wagtails and LINNETS had joined the ROOKS and JACKDAWS on one of the paddocks, plus a couple of SKYLARKS drifted over, singing as they went. My sky watch only produced a GREY HERON, A LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, a few HERRING GULLS, a SPARROWHAWK and one of the young KESTRELS, both were seen together on the Greenhouses as I left for home. SWIFTS were seen up high, It's hard to know now whether they were migrant birds passing through or local birds.

The shorter, afternoon visit was of a bit more interest, even if it was much quieter. I walked along High House Lane and heard a YELLOWHAMMER singing from an Oak tree, as I watched it, a female arrived with food, the male then flying off, I watched the female from a distance, finally she dropped down into the hedge, confirming that Yellowhammer has attempted breeding on my patch, only the second time in 5 years. I shall try and find any fledged young in the coming week or so, to try and prove successful breeding  :-)

Following that small triumph, I headed for the Greenhouse Copse and Grounds, finding a couple of well fledged BLACKCAPS and WHITETHROATS, better still, I watched a pair of GREY WAGTAILS (62) fly over the Greenhouses, a good species for the July list  :-)  I checked up on the Pied Wagtail nest in the Greenhouse Grounds, and was fortunate enough to see two very newly fledged youngsters in the vicinity, the fourth family to to come from around the buildings here.

Not much for the camera today, I snapped one of the Kestrel youngsters as I passed, plus this Large White Butterfly was obliging.

Large White

Young Kestrel - doing really well  ;-)

Tuesday 21 July 2015

In complete contrast to yesterday, the weather this morning was sunny and warm, albeit a bit windy.

I made a five hour full patch walk from 06:30hrs, finding a decent tally of bird species, 46 in all, but failed to find the Long Tailed Tit, Jay and Pheasant that could have been expected. There were few surprises for the visit, but I did at last add MISTLETHRUSH (61) to the months list, a pair of which flew over the Scrubby Woods. The 2015 July tally now stands in joint 11th place out of the 14 years of recording and is 10 behind the 2014 record tally.

A couple of CORMORANTS, a GREY HERON and two HERRING GULLS were the best of the flyovers early on in the walk, and the regular 3 raptor species were up hunting, those being SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD and KESTREL, only one of the latter was seen today, a possible youngster, so maybe the family have split.

The six GREYLAG GEESE were out on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, where a few LINNETS and the small STARLING flock were also seen, no sign of the dozen House Sparrows that were seen here in the hedgerow yesterday though. A YELLOWHAMMER was singing along High House Lane, and two SKYLARKS sang over Bustard Hill, the bean crop there attracting a family of WHITETHROATS today.

13 CANADA GEESE had returned to the main lake, but just 1 MALLARD and a MOORHEN family were seen on the other two water bodies. The adjacent Scrubby Woods had song from just BLACKCAP and SONGTHRUSH, but calls from GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS, STOCK DOVE and CHIFFCHAFF were all heard there.

This PIED WAGTAIL was feeding a nest full of young at the Greenhouse Grounds

A Blackcap was seen in my garden Elder tree as I left for my walk, barely any of the berries are ripe yet, but that didn't seem to matter to him!

This Common Darter was the only Odonata species to pose for me today, although I had views of Brown Hawker and Southern Hawker too

Common Darter, female