Monday 31 August 2015

Heavy rain fell throughout most of the morning, but a short lived dry spell allowed me to make a circuit of Migrant Alley, before more rain curtailed the hour long walk.

It was disappointing not to be able to give my patch a thorough going over, as it was the last day of the month I was hoping to add just one more species to the August list, but the weather won again. I did however have the pleasing find of another WHEATEAR at Migrant Alley, they always set the pulse racing for me  :-) Unfortunately my circuit of the fields and paddocks revealed little else, just flyovers from SPARROWHAWK, HERRING GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL were noteworthy . I checked the Hedgrow that borders the Greenhouse Grounds and found a CHIFFCHAFF and 2 WHITETHROATS, but that was as good as it got this morning, in the very dark and dismal conditions.

Looking back at my stats and comparing this August to the previous thirteen, they show this August had the fourth highest bird species total of 74, four species behind the record tally, set in 2010 and again last year, it was also one species behind the 2011 total, which at 75 is the average tally for the previous five years. So this month wasn't too bad, considering I had Coot and Mute Swan on last years record haul, as they bred on the lakes. Species that could have been added this month, that have occurred in 7 or more previous Augusts, were: Turtle Dove, Sedge Warbler, and Reed Warbler, the latter two have yet to be recorded this year!

Three species were recorded this August that didn't feature in any other, they were Osprey, Little Grebe and Red Legged Partridge, these took the combined 14 year August list to 101, the Osprey and Little Grebe were also additions to the year list taking it to 98, but this is still 11 short of my hoped for year total of 109, which is the average for the period 2010 - 2014. However, with 4 months still to go of 2015, that may still yet be achieved  :-)

Obviously nothing for the camera in the dire weather conditions this morning. So todays blog brighteners are from the visit to Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve I made on Saturday.

Grey Wagtail

The sun went in for the last few shots, but they came out ok

Sunday 30 August 2015

An overcast and grey morning, with little or no wind promised a migrant or two, especially after the overnight rain, but there was much disturbance on my patch this morning.

The Greenhouse Grounds had a work crew using brush cutters, who were already working away when I arrived at 06:30hrs, an horrendous noise! Needless to say not a single bird was seen in the vicinity! I had a circuit of Migrant Alley, where the noise of the brush cutters drifted annoying across the fields, little was seen here either, except for a very nice HOBBY that came dashing through at head height, the only raptor seen today.

I headed for the Ashes Lane Fields, where I found a WHEATEAR on the fence line that runs along the drainage ditch, always an exciting find on my patch, but this was the only bird present!

Above: The Ashes Lane Fields All green, all tidy, all sterile, apart from the bit of vegetation that runs along the drainage ditch and fence line, but even this is on borrowed time, as now tis the '' season of tidying up''

I walked the short distance to the adjacent Pub Field, hoping something might be on the now cropped and harrowed field, but nothing except WOODPIGEONS were seen.

Above: The Pub Field.......all but Empty

Next I visited the lakes and Scrubby Woods, where I did find some birds, including NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, and GREEN WOODPECKER, however there were very few BLACKCAPS and CHIFFCHAFF found, seems more things had left my patch than arrived this morning!

On the lakes a GREY HERON fished, the only bird of note seen there. I made my way home through the Small Holding, where I heard a LITTLE OWL call repeatedly, but failed to see its hiding place!

I was going to have an afternoon walk out across the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley this afternoon, but I could still hear the brush cutters going at 15:00hrs, so gave it a miss. Instead I gave my feeders a good clean, and set up some new perches, ready for the Autumn winter photography sessions   :-)

Hopefully, relative peace and quiet will return to my patch for the last day of August, I still need just one more species to reach the average number of species seen over the previous 5 Augusts.

A few photo's to brighten the blog post, these are the rest of the Southern Hawker images I got on Friday.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Early cloud slowly broke up to give some sunny intervals this morning, when it felt very pleasant without any wind.

I spent a couple of hours around Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds first thing, where a few bits and pieces were found. The 50 + GOLDFINCH flock in the Greenhouse Grounds were joined by at least 8 GREENFINCH and 3 LINNETS, plus nearby, 3 CHIFFCHAFFS, 3 WHITETHROATS, 2 BLACKCAPS and a WILLOW WARBLER, only the third of the year, were all seen. The excitement for the visit though, was provided by the first Autumn sighting of a MEADOW PIPIT (74) the earliest Autumn arrival of this species for my patch, by 2 days  :-)

Immature Goldfinch

........and another

Overhead, notable flyovers from a single CORMORANT, a skein of 6 CANADA GEESE, a couple of HOUSE MARTINS, a HOBBY, 2 BUZZARDS, 1 KESTREL, 4 BLACK HEADED GULLS and 2 HERRING GULLS were seen.

As I left for home I came across this cracking Clouded Yellow Butterfly in the Greenhouse Grounds.

I didn't have my Macro lens on me, but the 100 -400 lens did quite a good job

The shorter patch visit made it possible for me to take time off and visit Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve, where I spent some time in the Willow Hide photographing a few bits, i'll put those up on later posts.

Friday 28 August 2015

There was a dense fog this morning, which ruined any chance of finding much early on, however some sunny spells later in the morning were much appreciated after the rain of recent days.

See anything? No, neither could !, blasted fog!!

The only thing of interest noted in the fog was a LITTLE OWL, which flew from the bushes shown in the photo, which was taken at the Wooded Headland to the north of Migrant Alley.

The fog slowly lifted whilst I was at Migrant Alley, but the only migrant seen there was a flyover YELLOW WAGTAIL, which I think came out of the Greenhouses along with the PIED WAGTAILS that roost there.

I made my way across to the Ashes Lane Fields, where a very smart looking LESSER WHITETHROAT was seen with a COMMON WHITETHROAT along the drainage ditch, also, 3 MISTLE THRUSHES flew over, and it whilst watching these I noticed 6 BUZZARDS soaring high over the Greenhouses / Migrant Alley.

I made some effort checking the Scrubby Woods area, where some of yesterdays missing species turned up, a flock of at least 6 LONG TAILED TITS were joined by BLUE and GREAT TITS, plus at least 3 CHIFFCHAFFS and a TREECREEPER. A NUTHATCH and a COAL TIT called from nearby, plus the BULLFINCH families were heard calling too. Fewer BLACKCAPS were seen on the Elder Bushes today, but many more BLACKBIRDS had arrived from somewhere!

The lakes had a couple of species on them that weren't seen yesterday, those being a lone CANADA GOOSE and 2 GREY HERONS, there were also 2 KINGFISHERS chasing about over the main lake.

After spending some time with the Dragonflies along the edge of the Wet Woods, I went back over to my seat at Migrant Alley, where an hours sky watching didn't produce too much, just a CORMORANT, a few HERRING GULLS, 2 SAND MARTINS, and a few more Buzzards were about it. Looking over into the Greenhouse Grounds I saw just one KESTREL today, plus noted 3 more Common Whitethroat.

My 6 hour visit yielded 47 species today, much more typical of an August visit.

Not much to photograph early on in the fog, but the Dragonflies were very obliging today, especially the Southern Hawkers.

This male Southern Hawker sat for ages warming itself in the sun

The blue markings on each segment down the abdomen show this is a male

This male had some green markings though, only the last four segments being blue. A female was seen, but stayed perched up high out of camera range

There were at least 6 of these Migrant Hawkers about too, they weren't quite so obliging, but I got some decent images.

Maturing Male

Another male

Ive got a few more Southern Hawker images to show, but i'll post them on another day.

This noisy thing flew low over again, getting fed up with it to tell you the truth, I couldn,t even be bothered to correct the Exposure compensation  :-)

Thursday 27 August 2015

Another Grey and miserable morning, with a cool wind and frequent rain showers, a few bright spells were had later in the afternoon.

After hardly getting out at all yesterday, I was determined to get a full patch walk in today, where in the 5 hour visit ( plus another 90 mins in the afternoon) I recorded 45 bird species, still a bit low for an August full patch walk, with the likes of Treecreeper, Long Tailed Tit, Pheasant, Skylark, Stock Dove, Greylag and Canada Geese, plus Yellowhammer all not seen, when they could well of been expected.

I did find a few passage migrant species today, which made the visit more pleasing, with a WHEATEAR at Migrant Alley, where there were also flyovers from a group of 5 then 1 YELLOW WAGTAIL plus 2 SAND MARTINS, a pair of RED LEGGED PARTRIDGES were also seen, probably the pair seen earlier in the month, a rare sighting here!

It was also pleasing to see 4 raptor species, 2 BUZZARDS, a SPARROWHAWK and a fantastic PEREGRINE were all up hunting, while the two KESTREL young had returned to the Greenhouse Grounds, where WHITETHROAT, BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF were seen along with the 50+ GOLDFINCH flock.

Kestrel on the Greenhouses

My walk through the Small Holding, Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods provided sightings of the likes of GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, SONGTHRUSH, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, JAY, and COAL TIT, plus all the common regular stuff. The most numerous of which were in the Scrubby Woods, where a few more Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat were seen on the Elder Bushes.

The lakes had a few MALLARD and MOORHEN on them, plus a KINGFISHER, but no Grey Heron or Mandarin Duck today, two more species that could have reasonably be expected to be on the days list.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

A miserably wet and windy morning allowed for just the briefest of visits to Migrant Alley, where in the near gale force wind very little indeed was seen, just flyovers from a GREY HERON, a COMMON BUZZARD, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and a few HERRING GULLS were noted, a CHIFFCHAFF was just about heard in the Greenhouse Grounds, but the rain soon came in again and stayed all day long, bloody hopeless!!

Tuesday 25 August 2015

There was some early sunshine this morning, but it soon clouded over, bringing rain by midday, which lasted all afternoon.

I got a full patch walk done before the weather turned, where I found a poor bird species total (for August) of just 42 species, however there were a few good patch species seen in amongst them. A WHEATEAR was again present on the sheep pasture / paddocks of Migrant Alley, as was a YELLOW WAGTAIL. There were 43 SWALLOWS  seen on the fence lines, while up above, a few HOUSE MARTINS flew over.

Young Swallow at Migrant Alley

They have bred well this year, with a minimum of 11 pairs present.

In the nearby Greenhouse Grounds and Greenhouse Copse I saw 4 BLACKCAPS, 3 CHIFFCHAFFS and 3 COMMON WHITETHROATS of note, the GOLDFINCH flock continue to feed on the thistles, with small numbers LINNET and GREENFINCH among them. GREEN WOODPECKERS were very vocal in both habitats.

A LESSER WHITETHROAT was a good find at the Scrubby Woods, which also had GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, BULLFINCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, SONGTHRUSH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER present, all which hadn't been found earlier on the walk. Coal Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Nuthatch, and Pheasant were all missing today. The lakes were near empty, just a couple of MOORHEN and 4 MALLARD were present on the 3 water bodies.

An hours sky watching back over at Migrant Alley added flyovers from the likes of CORMORANT and HERRING GULL, as well as the raptors of BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK, but not a single Goose flew over, which is unusual given their daily flyovers this month.

Monday 24 August 2015

Persistent, heavy rain prevented me getting out early this morning, even later on some heavy prolonged showers kept me down to just a 90 minute patch visit.

In a short spell of drier weather around 11:00hrs, I quickly went out for a walk around the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, hoping something would be 'downed' by the heavy rain. On arriving, I had a scan of the nearest fence lines and bingo, a smart WHINCHAT was seen, just what I had hoped for. Walking around the paddocks a bit further, I then found a WHEATEAR, so it was well worth the risk of getting soaked, just to find these cracking patch visitors  :-)

I also noted that the two young KESTRELS were back around the area, along with the adult male, a BUZZARD was also seen as it flew into the Greenhouse Copse, plus a SPARROWHAWK unsuccessfully chased a GOLDFINCH from the flock in the Greenhouse Grounds, where a WHITETHROAT, a BLACKCAP and a CHIFFCHAFF were noted.

I had a short sky watch, keeping my eye on the approaching black clouds, but before they arrived with the next torrential, thundery downpour, I got to see a skein of 42 CANADA GEESE, a CORMORANT, a GREY HERON and a loose flock of 14 HERRING GULLS with a lone LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL among them. SWIFTS were also seen, with a party of 12, then 3 birds, all going South West.

If the weather dries up I may get an evening walk back out on migrant Alley, maybe something else will have dropped in.

Nothing for the camera today in the poor conditions and all I have left in the ''blog folder' are these Southern Hawker images I took over the weekend.

Southern Hawker. Male

Sunday 23 August 2015

Cloud and rain moved across the area from 11:00hrs, before which, there some warm sunny spells.

I made another 4 hour patch visit, finding a few bits of interest, but it was a mainly quiet visit today. Early on two single YELLOW WAGTAILS flew over the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, not much else was out on the fields and paddocks though, just hundreds Corvids and the local SWALLOW families, feeding up ready for their long southward journey. Flyovers from hundreds of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE, in various sized skeins, were seen on their morning movement south, they are all watched flying back North in the evening. A continual passage of HERRING GULLS was also noted, with just 4 BLACK HEADED GULLS and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL also going over. I also watched 9 SWIFTS feeding up high before moving South West

Two CHIFFCHAFFS and the GOLDFINCH flock were the most obvious birds at the Greenhouse Grounds, where upon further searching a BLACKCAP and a few GREENFINCH were also seen, the KESTREL turned up just as I was leaving.

The Scrubby Woods were much livelier, with plenty of BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, CHAFFINCH, and BLACKBIRDS feeding on the Elder and Blackberries, these were joined by a SONGTHRUSH, a family of BULLFINCHES, a GARDEN WARBLER and a WHITETHROAT, not a species that appears here in the Scrubby Woods until Autumn. COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, JAY GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and STOCK DOVE were all heard as I searched through the Elder bushes, plus a late family of WRENS were seen.

On the lakes there was an almost fully fledged family of 5 Canada Geese with 6 adults among them, as well as the GREYLAG GOOSE that has accompanied this family since they hatched out! Two female MANDARIN DUCKS and the KINGFISHER were also seen.

I returned to Migrant Alley just before the rain came, but there was no sign of any ''chats'' still, a short sky watch only produced a SPARROWHAWK and a party of 20 more Swifts.

I failed with the camera today, so i'll post up the Little Egret images I took at Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve on Thursday.

Little Egret

Saturday 22 August 2015

High patchy cloud soon burnt off under the sunshine, when by 08:00hrs the cool of the morning had already been replaced by hot and humid air.

In the heat of the morning many birds soon melted away into cover, but there was enough interest to keep me entertained for a few hours. A party of 4 YELLOW WAGTAILS were seen on one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, plus a few were heard going over, but these may of been the same birds, as they were flushed up by various disturbances before they moved off for good. A BUZZARD was seen distantly on the harrowed field at Bustard Hill, while nearer, in the Greenhouse Copse, a few CHIFFCHAFF called, plus both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were seen. In the adjacent Greenhouse Grounds a couple more Chiffchaff were seen, along with a BLACKCAP, 2 WHITETHROATS and the 50+ GOLDFINCH flock.

As I walked across the Ashes Lane Fields, a stream of HERRING GULLS flew over, the only gulls seen today, also a SPARROWHAWK was being seen off by a hoard of SWALLOWS. I went over and checked the lakes, but little of note was on the water except a grey heron that was slightly out of its depth, but whilst there, staring out across the water, a KINGFISHER alighted on a perch just 5 meters from me! It was positioned ideally for photographing, in full light with no obstructions in front and a clean background, I had my camera by my side, but knew any sort of movement and the bird would be gone, as proved the case as, as soon as I moved off it went!! Blast it, what a missed opportunity! It was, at least, one of the best Kingfisher views ive ever had  :-)

In too deep  :-)

It still managed to snap up some small fish though

A quick look through the Scrubby Woods didn't provide anything exciting, singing from Chiffchaff, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT and STOCK DOVE was heard, as were calls from TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH and JAY.

It was now getting quite hot, so I turned my attention to the Dragonflies, hoping in particular to get some Migrant Hawker images, which today I was successful at!

I found this female on a Thistle head

She sat very obligingly allowing for lots of photo's

I was able to move round and get a top view

Taking shots of its intricate wings, that were in immaculate condition

Here you can see the stunning pattern of its abdomen, I love to study the markings

After filling boots with images I moved on, finding another ''hanging'' up, plus I found a Southern Hawker, the images of which i'll save for aother post  :-)

Friday 21 August 2015

Early cloud slowly broke up to leave a morning of sunny spells, in which it felt warm. sticky and humid.


There wasn't too much about this morning, but my four hour visit did provide me with a few bits of interest and modest excitement  :-)

Two GREY WAGTAILS were visiting the water intake area of the Greenhouse Grounds, hopefully they will spend some time here this Autumn and I might just get a photo of one! The 50-60 GOLDFINCH were feeding on thistle heads nearby, plus a few warblers were seen in the remaining scrubby area, those being 4 WHITETHROAT, 2 BLACKCAP and a CHIFFCHAFF.

There were no migrants at Migrant Alley this morning, but two SAND MARTINS flew over it, as did a skein of 21 CANADA GEESE. No Kestrels were seen today, but three or four BUZZARDS flew over, plus the SPARROWHAWK was hunting around the area.

A visit to the lakes was worth the effort today, not for what was on the water, as there was nothing of note apart from the KINGFISHER, but for a brief view of only my second record of SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (73) this year, it was feeding from a silver birch which overhung the main lake. The months list now reaches 73, the fourth best August total from 14, what else can I find I wonder!

In the adjacent Scrubby Woods there seemed to be fewer Blackcaps feeding in the Elder Bushes, but a mixed feeding flock containing around 30 birds, made up of BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, LONG TAILED TITS, CHAFFINCH, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, and GOLDCREST made up for it. GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were also seen and a COAL TIT sang a few notes, along with a Chiffchaff.

I spent some time looking for Dragonflies, mainly the Migrant Hawkers, but although I saw a couple, they were perched up too high to photograph, so I resorted to my old favorites the Southern Hawkers, which always pose nicely for me!

Southern Hawker, Male

As I watched, it kept bending its abdomen, normally a prelude to passing waste from its body!

I took these images with my new Canon 100-400mm mk2 lens, which I would say gives almost as good an image as my 100mm macro lens

I really want to get a Migrant Hawker to pose like this for me!