Wednesday 30 September 2015

This morning the weather was unchanged from recent days, with pleasant warm sunshine in a chilly NE wind.

Being the last day of the month I was spurred on to try and find just one more bird species for the September list, but alas, despite 5 hours out in the field the hoped for species did not turn up. I found 47 other species though, with just 3 of those being summer birds, they were ; 2 CHIFFCHAFFS, one at the Greenhouse Grounds and one at the Scrubby Woods, a BLACKCAP that was also at the Greenhouse Grounds and a a trickle of SWALLOWS that flew over from time to time, involving no more than 10-15 birds.

SISKINS were again in the Alders at the Greenhouse Grounds, along with a flock of 15-20 GOLDFINCH, plus the GREY WAGTAIL was again at the water intake area. Out on Migrant Alley there was a flock of 50-60 STARLINGS with the mixed Corvids feeding on the sheep pasture, while the paddocks had a mixed flock of LINNET and GOLDFINCH involving about 35 birds, sometimes an interloping MEADOW PIPIT would join them, but they were fewer today. The massed skeins of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE again flew over southwards, plus GREY HERON, HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL, BUZZARD and a few SKYLARKS were all noted flying over early on.

Meadow Pipit posing on a gate, looking out for that Sprawk!

A LESSER REDPOLL called as it flew over the Ashes Lane Field, where the female KESTREL was also hunting, a party of a dozen LONG TAILED TITS moved through the Wet Woods, while over at the lakes just a party of 18 Canada Geese had dropped in, nothing else was of note there today.

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, SONGTHRUSH, STOCK DOVE, a surprise flyover YELLOWHAMMER, plus the common regulars were all seen at the Scrubby Woods, the only omissions that could have been expected, were the Treecreeper and Mistlethrush.

BLUE TIT, feeding on the Blackberries

With no additions to the September list, it remained on 75 species, the third best September tally of the 14 so far recorded and just 3 short of the record September tally. The Tree Pipits seen on the 7th were probably the months highlight for me, a real rarity here and the first seen in any September, taking the 14 year combined September list to 99, but they were close run by the Redstart sightings on the 2nd, 3rd and 8th of the month. The Yellow Wagtails, Sand Martins, Whinchats and Wheatears are always a real pleasure to find, they turn up most Autumns, the two Stonechat records were great additions too, plus the Spotted Flycatcher was a nice late record, my latest in fact. Not forgetting the 4 Teal that dropped in at the lakes on the 23rd, making for a very exciting month overall. The year list has pushed on to 101, but still 8 behind the average tally for the previous 5 years, so a bit of work still to be done over the winter months!

Tuesday 29 September 2015

More sunshine was had this morning, although there was a stiff NE wind blowing, making it feel cool out of the sun.

A four hour patch visit didn't turn up any new species for the month, but there were a few decent patch birds about though. The half dozen SISKIN still feed in the Alders at the Greenhouse Grounds, where they are joined by 15-20 GOLDFINCHES, there was also a CHIFFCHAFF with them, one of just two seen today. A GREY WAGTAIL dropped in to the water intake area of the greenhouses and a little later 10 MISTLE THRUSHES flew over.

The 15-20 strong MEADOW PIPIT flock was out on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where 11 HERRING GULLS on one of the fields was a bit different from normal. It was good to see 4 YELLOWHAMMER fly over, but they didn't stay on patch.

Female Siskin in the Alders

A pair of LESSER REDPOLLS were heard calling as they flew over the Ashes Lane Fields, where three BUZZARDS were up interacting with one another, I took a few shots of them, but they were just too high up to get really decent images.

Common Buzzard

A check of the lakes was had, where the main lake had the 50-60 strong gathering of CANADA GEESE and 4 GREYLAG GEESE, these being part of the big skeins of hundreds of geese that flew over early in my walk. The small lake had a GREY HERON and a KINGFISHER present, but just MALLARDS and MOORHENS were found on the ornamental lake.

The Scrubby Woods was reasonably lively, with all the sometimes hard to find woodland species found, those being GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH and NUTHATCH, but no Chiffchaffs or Blackcaps were seen.

I made my way back for a sky watch from my seat at Migrant alley, where a few bits and pieces were seen, SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL made up the usual trio of raptors for the day, 4 SKYLARKS called as they flew NW, 2 single SWALLOWS and a pair whizzed southwards low across the sheep pasture, but that was about it for the day.

Walking home, I bumped into the CARRION CROW again, a pair is often seen along Ashes lane

I reckon it likes posing for my camera now!

Monday 28 September 2015

Long sunny spells were had this morning, when it was initially still and calm, but a moderate NE breeze soon picked up.

CANADA GOOSE flying over Migrant Alley

As I walked Migrant Alley early on, it soon became evident the SWALLOWS had left, just two were seen late in the morning as they flew south. There were however plenty of MEADOW PIPITS out on the sheep pasture, at least 30 were seen, plus there were a few LINNETS on the paddocks too. The many hundreds of Canada and GREYLAG GEESE were seen passing over on their daily commute, as you can see above, a Canada Goose came over a bit closer today  :-)


At the Greenhouse Grounds the KESTREL surveyed its territory from one of the glasshouses, it wasn't bothering the dozen SISKIN feeding in the Alders, or the BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, CHAFFINCHES, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRDS, WREN, DUNNOCK, ROBIN and single CHIFFCHAFF that were with them.

I checked the drainage ditch at the Ashes Lane Field, which had no surprises this morning, but 6 SKYLARK flew over whilst I was there and 2 BUZZARDS flew from the nearby Wet Woods.

I had a quick look around the Lakes, which had 50+ Canada Geese and 2 Greylag Geese on the main lake, along with a single female Mandarin Duck. The small lake had 2 GREY HERONS resting up on the island there, while the ornamental lake was only good for a few MALLARD and MOORHEN.

Grey Heron

The adjacent Scrubby Woods held no summer birds at all, but COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and MISTLETHRUSH were found.

The only other notable occurrences this morning were seeing a HOBBY fly over as I was undertaking a sky watch later in the morning, plus a GREY WAGTAIL also flew over, eventually alighting in the Greenhouse Grounds.HERRING GULLS were the only other flyovers today.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Clear blue skies this morning, with just a few fair weather clouds late on in a light NE breeze made for a very pleasant patch visit today.


I made a full patch walk, which lasted four and a half hours and yielded 46 bird species, none were new to the months list, but I don't really expect to add any more, possibilities are Reed Bunting, or maybe a flyover Lapwing, but I am hoping a bit for those!

They were far fewer SWALLOWS about today, just 4 were circling over the Greenhouse Grounds, plus three pairs flew through at speed on various parts of my walk. It was good to see a YELLOW WAGTAIL fly up from the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, but no other departing summer migrant were out there, however the MEADOW PIPITS were still much in evidence, if lower in numbers, they always seem to be in a continual chase with the PIED WAGTAILS that exit the greenhouses!

Meadow Pipit

A CHIFFCHAFF called from the Greenhouse Grounds, one of just two recorded today, plus the SISKINS continue to feed in the Alder Trees there, but much more of a surprise, was a LESSER WHITETHROAT, this is the latest date I have had one on my patch by 2 days.

The Pub Field and Ashes Lane Fields had little to offer this morning, just the usual WRENS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS, BLACKBIRDS, CHAFFINCH, GREAT and BLUE TITS occupied the hedgerow and drainage ditch, but all the time I was walking, the Greylag and CANADA GEESE continually flew over. The GOLDFINCHES were again photographed on the Teasels.


The Wet Woods had a mobile feeding party of LONG TAILED TITS, but only a NUTHATCH and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was with them of any note. The lakes held no surprises today, though 55 Canada Geese and two Greylag Geese had dropped in. The adjacent Scrubby Woods was similarly quiet, but I found GREEN WOODPECKER, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH and JAY for my days list there.

Walking back through the Small Holding this Fox was spotted walking through, giving me a chance to photograph it.

Red Fox

I called it over by ''squeaking'' so as to get a closer shot, it did come even closer but it entered the shady area, no good for photo's there!

I made my way along High House Lane, where 2 SKYLARKS flew from the crop at Bustard Hill, I then made my way back down across Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds, the latter had a GREY WAGTAIL fly up from it, nice to get all 3 Wagtail species so late in the year  :-)  My skywatch was not too successful, but 3 BUZZARDS were up soaring together over the sheep pasture and the KESTREL had turned up on the Greenhouses, the only Gull species seen were HERRING GULLS.

Saturday 26 September 2015

There were more blue skies and sunshine to be enjoyed this morning, once the mist and grass frost had lifted.

I had just a two and a half hour visit today, as I was off to Sevenoaks Wildfowl reserve later in the morning, but in that short time I found some bits of interest around the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley.

The line of Alder Trees on the Greenhouse Grounds boundary was pretty busy, with at least 8 SISKIN, a LESSER REDPOLL, 15 GOLDFINCHES, plus ones and twos of BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, and CHAFFINCH. Below the Alders, in the Bramble, a female BLACKCAP was found, as well as a couple of BLACKBIRDS and a SONGTHRUSH, while further into the grounds, in the nettle bed, WRENS, ROBINS and DUNNOCKS were foraging, along with 2 CHIFFCHAFFS, it was while looking at these that I heard the call of a YELLOWHAMMER (75), then looked up to see 2 drop in further along the boundary, good to get this species on the September list, I was a bit worried they were not going to show this month  :-)

Young Goldfinch....

....and another one

Female Blackcap hiding in the Brambles.

it wasn't long before the Geese flew over again on their daily commute, many hundreds of both GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE went over, but never near enough, or in the right light for an image of a single one!

Whilst walking a circuit of Migrant Alley, the flock of 50+ STARLINGS were again seen on one of the paddocks and the flock of 30+ MEADOW PIPITS were again seen on the sheep pasture. Flyovers from a GREY WAGTAIL, plus flocks of 9 SKYLARK, 10 MISTLETHRUSH and multiple small groups of SWALLOWS were noted.

I visited the Ashes Lane Field, but the only birds on the drainage ditch fence line were a couple of BUZZARDS, they were attended by 4 MAGPIES, more Swallows flew through whilst I was there.

More Goldfinch were also seen, with a group of 4 feeding on Teasels

My visit to Sevenoaks was primarily to see if I could get a Kingfisher image, but despite seeing a few, they never alighted on the provided perches. I did get a few images of Great Crested Grebes, Teal, Gadwall, and Cormorant, which I can use to brighten the blog on later posts  :-)

Friday 25 September 2015

This morning brought broken cloud with long sunny spells and just a light Westerly wind.

I had a full patch walk today, finding 49 species in the bird packed 5 hour visit. Three MISTLETHRUSHES flew over as I left home, a good start, then checking the Greenhouse Grounds I found a roving flock of LONG TAILED TITS, carrying with them 3 CHIFFCHAFFS and a BLACKCAP. Moving on to the circuit of Migrant Alley I heard SISKIN, LESSER REDPOLL and a single YELLOW WAGTAIL fly over, while out on the sheep pasture a flock of 20-30 MEADOW PIPITS were seen, I scanned through them as they flew up onto the hedge and fence line and found a WHINCHAT amongst them, I thought I had seen the last of these go through  ;-) Also on seen on the paddocks were the 60-70 STARLINGS, 3 LINNETS and the usual ROOKS and CARRION CROWS, all flown over by scores of HOUSE MARTINS ans SWALLOWS moving south.

Meadow Pipit

I headed for the Ashes lane Fields via the Pub Field and soon heard the noise of Geese again, as in the past few days, many hundreds of GREYLAG GEESE flew over, with smaller numbers of CANADA GEESE. I scanned along the fence above the drainage ditch once at the Ashes Lane Fields, where I picked out a few more Swallows and Meadow Pipits on the wire, but there was also another bird with them.......a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (73) !  I really had given up hopes of finding this species for the month, it's just the 3rd record this year and represents the latest date I have ever recorded one on my patch, 6 days later than the previous last date had in 2007.

Spotted Flycatcher. 

Next stop was the lakes, here I found fewer Canada Geese than recent days, just 21 were on the main lake, but with them were 4 MANDARIN DUCKS, 3 of those being females. The other two lakes had a GREY HERON and a KINGFISHER  between them of note.

The adjacent Scrubby Woods held no surprises this morning, except that Songthrush, Treecreeper and Coal tit weren't found, but the other sometimes hard to find woodland birds turned out, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, GREENFINCH, and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

I tried again to find a Treecreeper, Coal Tit and Songthrush as I passed through the Wet Woods and on through the Small Holding, but failed to do so. I made my way back to Migrant Alley along High House Lane, where I heard, then saw, 2 SKYLARKS fly over from the direction of Bustard Hill, but the hoped for Yellowhammer wasn't to be found.

I reached my seat at Migrant Alley and had a Sky watch for 40 minutes, where BUZZARDS were seemingly everywhere, each time I scanned the sky one was present. A SPARROWHAWK was also seen, plus the female KESTREL had turned up on the greenhouse roof behind me. More Swallows, House Martins, Siskins and Meadow Pipits were flying about, plus another Yellow Wagtail went over, but the only species added to the days list was HERRING GULL, the only gull species for the day.

I made another sky watch later in the afternoon, I wanted to round off the days list up to 50 species, which I did with a fantastic HOBBY which flew through low and slow, but too distant for my camera, another 4 raptor species day though! Just as much a surprise, if not even more so, was the sighting of a RING NECKED PARAKEET (74) which flew over calling noisily, eventually dropping down into a large garden, that's one more for the September list, which now races into third best place, and just 4 species behind the record September tally  :-)  51 species for the day is an excellent total, now if only the Pheasant, Songthrush, Coal Tit, and Treecreeper had joined in!

Thursday 24 September 2015

Frontal rain passed through the area first thing this morning, clearing to leave some sunny spells in a cool and brisk westerly wind.

I let the rain pass before getting out this morning, which it did around 09:00hrs, but despite the later visit I found some birds of interest. The SPARROWHAWK had annoyed me once already, taking a finch from my garden feeders earlier, it annoyed me again when it sped through the Greenhouse Grounds just as I arrived, sending everything deep into cover.

I had a circuit of Migrant Alley, where not much was about, a flock of 75 + STARLINGS was on one of the paddocks, plus 3 LINNETS were on the fence line, while on the adjacent pasture a flock of at least 20 MEADOW PIPITS were actively moving about. Overhead, 7 BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over, as did three single HERRING GULLS, it was as I watched one of these that the swarm of HOUSE MARTINS and SWALLOWS were noted higher up.

Heading back to the Greenhouse Grounds things had come out of hiding, a GREY WAGTAIL flew down onto a large puddled area, 2 CHIFFCHAFF were in the nettle bed and at least 8 SISKIN were feeding in the line of Alder Trees, there was no sign of the Kestrel today however.

I walked the Pub Field next, where another flock of at least 15 Meadow pipits were on the new sown grass silage crop and 2 SKYLARKS flew over ''chirriping'' as they went, passing into the Ashes Lane Field I scanned the fence line along the drainage ditch and saw 11 Swallows lined up, with them were yet more Meadow Pipits, half a dozen at least, with another 15-20 in the adjacent grass silage crop. As I tried to sneak up to the Meadow Pipits to get a photo, I heard a familiar call, I looked up to see three LESSER REDPOLL (72) drop in to join the Pipits and Swallows, these took priority for that photo!

These are the first Lesser Redpoll of the Autumn, only the second September record of this species, the last being in 2006.

Lesser Redpoll. Just the second record for the year.

They look much better on the seeding Willow Herb than the barbed wire fence  :-)

The light could have been better, but i'm happy enough with these shots  :-)

Superb little finches! Lesser Redpoll takes the September list to 72 species, the eighth best September tally, but it would only take two more species to make it to third best, Yellowhammer or Reed Bunting may well be possible ;-)

I left the throng at the drainage ditch and headed for the lakes, but as I crossed the field the loud noise of GREYLAG GEESE were heard approaching, I waited, then watched, as skeins of them passed over, in all I counted 372 geese, but a few were undoubtedly missed.

On reaching the lakes, more geese were heard, these were CANADA GEESE, I counted 183 of them on the main lake, but yesterdays Teal had moved on, no room for them! There were 2 GREY HERONS on the small lake, but nothing of note on the ornamental lake today.

I had a look around the Scrubby Woods, where another 2 Chiffchaff were found, along with the likes of GOLDCRESTS, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS, plus 4 more Siskins, but no Blackcaps were seen today.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

In total contrast to yesterdays deluge, this morning dawned bright and sunny, the blue skies lasted until just after noon.

In the much better conditions I carried out a full patch walk, which yielded a slightly better than average tally of 45 species, some notable omissions were had today though, like Songthrush and Pheasant, as well as to a lesser extent Coal Tit and Mistlethrush.

It was good to see the flock of  mixed hirundines at the Greenhouses early on, with at least 75 SWALLOWS, 20 HOUSE MARTINS and a SAND MARTIN all sitting on the Greenhouses, they had a wary eye on the KESTREL that was on one end of the building and the SPARROWHAWK that was on the other! Inside, around 30 PIED WAGTAILS flew about excitedly, waiting for the automatic windows to release them. There were at least 3 SISKINS and 3 CHIFFCHAFFS in the grounds, but no other summer species were seen there.

House Martin on one of the Greenhouses

Kestrel, watching me and the Martins  ;-)

There were at least 18 MEADOW PIPITS out on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where I saw 2 BUZZARDS up soaring as well as three small groups of BLACK HEADED GULLS and 4 single HERRING GULLS flying over. The 'impressive to watch' mixed skeins of GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE flew low over, at least 130 were counted, but I reckon I missed a few! The SKYLARKS continue to fly through, with 4 calling as they flew NW.

There was a nice surprise awaiting me on the main lake when I arrived, 4 TEAL (71) had come to visit! Only the second record of this species for any September, the other record was back in 2003. They dabbled around and between the 93 Canada geese and two Greylag Geese that were also there, the drake MANDARIN DUCK put in an appearance again, plus on the ornamental lake there were 2 GREY HERONS.

Teal, an unusual visitor to the lakes

Most duck species are unusual on the lakes though!

A BLACKCAP was seen at the Scrubby Woods, as were most of the regulars, although I did have to wait quite some time to find a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER today!

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Continuous and at times heavy rain fell throughout the morning and into the afternoon, a truly atrocious Autumn day !

I managed just a short patch visit of a little over an hour, in which I walked a circuit of Migrant Alley and checked part of the Greenhouse Grounds, the latter having 2 CHIFFCHAFFS and a BLACKCAP of note, as well as the resident KESTREL sitting on the greenhouses.

Although wet, my circuit of Migrant Alley was rather productive, with a large mixed flock of hirundines sitting on one of the fence lines, obviously grounded by the weather, for I cant see why on earth they would want to delay leaving the country any longer! I counted 122 SWALLOWS, 37 HOUSE MARTINS and 2 SAND MARTINS, plus more birds flying about the place too.

300 meters away on another paddock fence line, I saw a bedraggled WHEATEAR, in the company of 3 GOLDFINCH and 5 LINNETS, at least 6 MEADOW PIPITS were also seen in the adjacent sheep pasture.

A couple of BLACK HEADED GULLS flew over whilst I was there, plus a few large skeins of GREYLAG GEESE flew over again, probably over 100 birds in all, but I didn't feel like counting them as the rain lashed down again. Not a bad hour out though  :-)

Just one image left in the 'blog photo folder',  tomorrow looks to be a brighter day, hopefully I can restock it it with photo's  :-)


Monday 21 September 2015

Short lived glimpses of the sun, early this morning, soon disappeared, as cloud rolled in and showery rain arrived on a brisk SW wind.

My 4 hour visit was dominated by the sight and sound of geese, varying size skeins flew over at intervals, those being of 7, 31, 8, 33 and 65 GREYLAG GEESE, as well as 9, then 74 CANADA GEESE, there were also 7 Canada Geese on the main lake, where the drake MANDARIN DUCK was seen again.

Summer birds were not much in evidence, as is to be expected now, but 2 CHIFFCHAFFS were at the Greenhouse Grounds, with a lone BLACKCAP, plus 2 more Chiffchaffs were seen over in the Scrubby Woods. A lone YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, but my star sighting for the visit was another STONECHAT that was associating with 7 MEADOW PIPITS along the drainage ditch fence line at the Ashes Lane Fields.

I managed a sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley that lasted a little over an hour, this produced a GREY WAGTAIL, 7 SISKIN that dropped into the Greenhouse Grounds, a group of 3 MISTLETHRUSHES, 5 HERRING GULLS, 1 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, 2 SKYLARKS, plus a few more Meadow Pipits and the 3 regular raptor species - BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK and KESTREL. Small numbers of SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS trickled through the area, which by the afternoon had increased significantly, with the sky being full of them at times as I watched from my window at home, where I noted 3 Siskin at my garden feeders.

No chance with the camera today in the poor light. A chance then to show the Lapwing images I took at Bough Beech last Thursday  :-)