Saturday 31 December 2016

This morning, like so many mornings this month, was once again plagued by dense fog, making birding practically hopeless!

The 2 hour visit today was undertaken more for the sake of getting out for some exercise rather than trying to find those missing species that have failed to turn up this month, with the likes of Canada Goose and Greylag Goose not being recorded for the first time ever during December, plus, without the regular, but less common visitors of Lesser Redpoll, Mandarin Duck, Coot and Mute Swan, meant the final tally of just 56 species was achieved this month, the joint lowest of the fifteen years of recording, joint with the Decembers of 2002 and 2003, which were the first two years of recording, during which visits were far fewer than nowadays. The persistent foggy mornings had a lot to do with the poor tally, as flyovers were just not possible to see!

The poor month capped off a less than average year, with the mean average monthly species total only reaching 66, the lowest since 2007 and a long way from the 70 I try to achieve! The years species total was also lower than recent years, 102 species were seen, compared to the 104 last year, and well down from the peak years of 2013 and 2014 which each had 110 species, the mean for the previous 5 years is 108.

Breeding bird species have held up quite well, with 41 species having been noted with fully fledged young, plus two species that probably successfully bred, but the young of which went unrecorded ( Little Owl and Tawny Owl) The mean average number of species breeding here for the past 5 years is 43.

Well, that was just a quick over view of the year. Next year will be a bit different, I will still keep up my 10 ''full patch walks'' each month, plus do some occasional shorter visits, but they wont be daily as they have been for the past 15 years, there just isn't the variety or interest out there in the declining habitats at pittswood anymore.

My blog posts will no longer be daily, but each of the months 10 ''full patch walks'' will be posted up, along with any photo's ( if the sun ever returns!) I will also post up any significant finds, or any changes that occur as they happen, good or bad!

Thursday 29 December 2016

The forecast fog for this morning never materialized, so unlike yesterdays pea soup of a morning, I was able to get out for a patch full walk.

It was clear and frosty, without a breath of wind throughout my 4 hour visit, which produced a tally of 41 bird species, Pheasant, Treecreeper, Skylark and Herring Gull were not found though, when they could have been reasonably expected.

The lakes were frozen over, but a few MALLARDS and MOORHENS were still around the edges, shame the KINGFISHER, GREY HERON and 2 CORMORANTS that were present yesterday afternoon were unable to use the iced over water this morning.


The Ashes Lane Fields Had a few FIELDFARE, REDWING and a couple of MEADOW PIPITS, but most of the latter have moved on now the frost is back.

The female KESTREL was at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I also picked up single SISKIN and PIED WAGTAIL, as well as a lone YELLOWHAMMER for the days list, while at Migrant Alley it was just the usual Corvids and WOODPIGEONS on the sheep pasture. A bit of a sky watch proved useful, as I added not only BUZZARD, but also a fantastic PEREGRINE FALCON (56) to the list, the latter being my first sighting here since September. There was not, however, any sign of any Geese for the months list, nor Lesser Redpoll, the latter species were daily sightings last December!



Tuesday 27 December 2016

After two days of the Christmas festivities, during which I was cooped up indoors, today I ventured out with a friend, visiting Bough beech for a few hours in some lovely crisp sunshine.

In all, we found between us, 51 bird species, a large portion of those were out on the reservoir, which was as low as I have ever seen it, so views of the mixed throng of MALLARD, TEAL, GADWALL, SHOVELER DUCK, MANDARIN DUCK, TUFTED DUCK, GREAT CRESTED GREBE, LITTLE EGRET, plus the CORMORANTS, Gulls and GEESE were very limited, especially so as we were looking into the light.

BUZZARD was the only diurnal raptor recorded, but over at the visitors center a BARN OWL was spotted sitting out on its nest box, probably the highlight of the visit, but this was contended closely by the sighting of a MARSH TIT, which are just as rare nowadays, it was spotted using the feeders around the visitors center, along with numerous BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, plus a few REDPOLL and a single YELLOWHAMMER. The nearby orchard had a few FIELDFARE feeding on the fallen apples, joining them were a three or four MOORHENS, as well as a few BLACKBIRDS and SONGTHRUSHES.

On the small scrape three SNIPE were seen, but nothing else was seen there, not surprising though as it was frozen over.

I even managed a few photo's today in the superb light..................

Marsh Tit



Saturday 24 December 2016

A Christmas eve full patch visit was undertaken today, in the overcast but dry conditions, the 40 bird species that were found was a bit less than the average for a December daylist, with the the likes of Stock Dove, Pheasant, Bullfinch and Skylark not being recorded, when all could have been anticipated.

I did however add GREY HERON (55) to the months list, which was the very first bird I saw as I left my house, glancing up at the Greenhouses one was seen perched on one of the glass rooves! That just about proved to be the highlight of the walk really, although it was nice to see REDWING, FIELDFARE, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH and BLACKBIRD all in the same Hawthorne bush over at the Small Holding Area.

Nothing was on on any of the lakes, except a few MOORHEN and MALLARDS, but the adjacent Scrubby Woods had the usual good haul of species, with LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS all being found with the more common woodland species.

The only raptor species seen today was the female KESTREL, which flew over the Ashes Lane Fields, putting up a mixed flock of of 50+ Redwing and Fieldfare, as well as a few MEADOW PIPITS.

A couple of CORMORANTS flew over the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, as did 3 SISKIN and a YELLOWHAMMER, but I was hoping for the first Geese of the month to fly through, December has never passed without any geese being found!

Thursday 22 December 2016

Once again, this morning was one of dense fog, which didn't fully clear until 10:30hrs, so little could be seen!

I did, however, towards the end of my walk, watch the first LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL (54) of the month fly in to join the 2 HERRING GULLS and 23 BLACK HEADED GULLS that were out on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley.

A BUZZARD was present in the small field next to the Greenhouse Grounds and the female KESTREL sat up on one of the greenhouses, allowing me to take yet another image of her in the now clearing skies.

The only other birds of note today were the continued presence of the 30 or so MEADOW PIPITS at the Ashes Lane fields, plus a flyover YELLOWHAMMER....where are all the Geese this month ? not one has been recorded yet, nor a Grey Heron!!

Obliging female Kestrel

Christmas ROBIN, the perch should have 2 inches of snow on it, winter has missed us again this year!

I took this WREN image this afternoon at my garden feeding station, where I was pleased to see a REDWING drop in briefly, the 25th species to visit my garden this month  :-)

Tuesday 20 December 2016

For the first time in days there was no fog this morning, which allowed me to undertake a full patch walk, however despite spending three hours out, then another 3 hours this afternoon, my tally of 36 bird species was a little disappointing to say the least.

The highlight of the visit was seeing a minimum of 11 YELLOWHAMMERS at Migrant Alley, utilizing a very small patch of rough grassland that had been missed by the cutting regime. A GREY WAGTAIL that flew from the Greenhouse Grounds was also a welcome sight, but the KESTRELS weren't there today, the female was seen over at the Scrubby Woods though, so she may have just changed hunting places for a while.

Not much else of note to report, around 25 MEADOW PIPITS were seen on the Ashes Lane Fields, plus most of the woodland species were found, just Stock Dove and Long Tailed Tit evaded me, as did the other semi regulars species, like Herring Gull, Pheasant, Greenfinch, Buzzard, Skylark and Siskin.


Saturday 17 December 2016

I carried out a full patch walk this morning, but the dense fog, which lasted all day, made for a very quiet visit, just 34 bird species were found, most of those were recorded at the scrubby Woods, with most of the woodland species being recorded there, which included the likes of CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, MISTLETHRUSH, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY, WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK.

The fog meant nothing was observed flying over and just BLACK HEADED GULL and ROOKS were visible out on the farmland parts of my walk........a very poor visit!

Thursday 15 December 2016

The fifth full patch walk of the month was undertaken this morning, yet again under leaden skies, but it was at least windless and warm for the time of year.

During the four and a half hour visit, a rather low tally of 41 bird species were found, with regulars like, Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Pheasant and Herring Gull missing, when they could have been expected.

There were no additions to the December tally, but there was a bit of interest about, like the 20+ MEADOW PIPITS on the Ashes Lane Fields, 3 MISTLETHRUSHES at the Small Holding Area, a GREY WAGTAIL at the Greenhouse Grounds, where there were also 4 SISKINS, plus the two raptor species of BUZZARD and KESTREL, the latter of which both male and female were seen up hunting over the area.

Nothing was on the lakes, except the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS, a CORMORANT almost visited, but like the other day, thought better of it!

GOLDCRESTS, COAL TITS, ROBINS, SONGTHRUSH, DUNNOCKS, WRENS and the already mentioned Mistlethrushes were all giving some song, along with a couple of SKYLARKS over at Bustard hill making it sound quite springlike out there today  :-)

Hopeless weather for photographs again though!

Tuesday 13 December 2016

In some really damp, dreary and dull weather, I carried out a full patch walk this morning, finding just 38 bird species in all, but I did get to add COMMON GULL (53) to the December list, when one was seen feeding along with 23 BLACK HEADED GULLS on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley.

A BUZZARD was watched as it flew into the Greenhouse Copse, the only other raptor seen today was a SPARROWHAWK that sped through the Scrubby Woods, upsetting all the Tits and finches there! A CORMORANT almost visited the lakes, but decided better of it, leaving the MALLARDS to dabble on their own.

Not much else of note today, 15 MEADOW PIPITS were on the Ashes Lane Fields, plus a few REDWING and FIELDFARE were at the Small Holding area.

Monday 12 December 2016

After a weekend off from patch watching, I resumed my wanderings this morning, but in the dark, damp and dull conditions of a typical Decembers day, there was little to exite. The best I can come up with was the months first CORMORANT (52) that flew over Migrant Alley.

The scrubby woods were the pick of the habitats, as is usually the case, with all the old regulars turning out, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS being the pick.

Nothing but MALLARDS and MOORHENS were on the lakes, while the only raptor seen today was the female KESTREL over at the Greenhouse Grounds, which continues to be under heavy disturbance, so little has been seen there all month.

Friday 9 December 2016

This morning was windless, overcast and damp, the afternoon brightened up a little and it became very mild for the time of year.

I took the opportunity of carrying out a full patch walk, during which a good tally of 44 bird species was recorded, 3 of those species were new for the months list, the first being a LITTLE OWL (49) that called from the Small Holding. The second was an anticipated species, a superb male GOOSANDER (50) that was on the main lake, where the third species new for the month was also seen when two KINGFISHERS (51) were chasing over the water. Of note, the arrival of the Goosander is just a day later than the 15 year median average arrival date.

Other notable sightings were 2 CHIFFCHAFFS that were around the main lake, 4 YELLOWHAMMERS and 9 MEADOW PIPITS on a field just off High House Lane, plus the raptor species of KESTREL and BUZZARD that hunted over my patch. With all the other common and regular species it was quite a decent days birding, just a shame the light is so poor, making photography hopeless!

Wednesday 7 December 2016

After day long dense fog yesterday, in which a short patch walked predictably turned out hopeless for finding the birds, today was much kinder, with mild conditions, little wind and even some brightness for a while.

I headed off for the lakes first thing, noting a SPARROWHAWK flying low over the Small holding as I passed through, which put up small numbers of FIELDFARE.

The lakes had now thawed out, but as usual just MALLARDS and MOORHENS were present, I wonder if the Goosander will make their almost annual visit this year ? The overwintering CHIFFCHAFF was again seen around the edge of the main lake, where a party of 4 BULLFINCH were also seen.

A walk through the adjacent Scrubby Woods was good for TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST and the more common regular species, but a Woodcock still eludes me for the years list.

I headed off over to the Greenhouse Grounds, just SKYLARK was of any note as I crossed the Ashes Lane Fields, but at the Greenhouse grounds a bit of interest was had - even excitement, when despite the work crew being present, 8 MEADOW PIPITS were seen, plus a BUZZARD that was sitting on the greenhouse roof, usurping the female Kestrel, which was nowhere to be seen today, the excitement came however, when the Buzzard took off, alighting in a nearby hedge, in doing so putting up 3 SNIPE (48) a good species for the December list, indeed a good species any month on my patch!

I got a very distant shot of the Buzzard  :-)

Sunday 4 December 2016

There was another frost this morning, but plenty of sunshine to be had, making for a pleasant couple of hours out.

A pleasant walk out it may have been, but not much was recorded bird wise, of note, the first BUZZARD (47) of the month was seen, it was spotted leaving the Wet Woods, fleeing the dog walkers, who also put up the 5 LAPWINGS that were resting out among the sheep on the Ashes Lane Fields. A couple of YELLOWHAMMERS and the female KESTREL were all that was of note at the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley.

The lakes were mostly frozen over, so nothing on was about on the frozen water, but the CHIFFCHAFF called again from the edge of the main lake. The adjacent Scrubby Woods was again the pick of the habitats, with the likes of GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY, STOCK DOVE and REDWING all being present, the only FIELDFARE and SISKIN seen today were flyovers.

Once back home I was able to spend an hour in my garden trying to get some images for the blog, with varying degrees of success!

Great Spotted Woodpecker


Chaffinch (Female)

Chaffinch (male)


Saturday 3 December 2016

A short patch walk yesterday, in overcast but warmer conditions, proved pretty poor, with much disturbance around , I just added MALLARD (40) and MEADOW PIPIT (41) to the December list, on the now thawed lakes and ashes Lane Fields respectively.

Today was sunnier again, with a slight frost, I under took the second full patch walk of the month, which yielded 41 species, 4 of those being new to the December list, first up was a CHIFFCHAFF (42) which was around the banks of the Main Lake, probably the same one that was seen on numerous visits in November, also a STOCK DOVE (43) sang from the Scrubby Woods, where all the regular woodland species were also seen, the best of those were as usual, the GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH and more seasonal, a few SISKINS.

The other two species new for the month were both seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, where a GREY WAGTAIL (44) and 3 YELLOWHAMMERS (45) that were flushed up by the hunting female KESTREL, not much else to report though. Later in the afternoon a SPARROWHAWK (46) was seen at my garden feeders, the first attack of the month!

Thursday 1 December 2016

There was another hard frost this morning, but it was pleasant out in the sunshine with no wind to speak of.

Being the first day of the new month, I undertook a full patch walk, but only 38 species were recorded during the fours hours, a very poor tally. Here's what was seen in the order of appearance;

Leaving home and turning into ashes Lane, the first species to be recorded were, STARLING, WOODPIGEON, JACKDAW, HOUSE SPARROW, CARRION CROW a flyover BLACK HEADED GULL and a BLACKBIRD. Entering the Small Holding Area I found BLUE TIT, ROBIN, WREN, SONGTHRUSH, CHAFFINCH, REDWING, FIELDFARE and COLLARED DOVE.

Next up was the Wet Woods, where I added just GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, NUTHATCH and LONG TAILED TIT. The first MAGPIE was seen as I approached the Lakes, which were frozen solid, just a couple of MOORHENS were seen, but around the nearby Scrubby Woods I added, GREAT TIT, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, JAY, SISKIN, GOLDFINCH, COAL TIT, DUNNOCK, PHEASANT and BULLFINCH for the months tally.

Crossing the Ashes lane Fields and Pub Field, just GREEN WOODPECKER, MISTLETHRUSH and HERRING GULL were seen, all flyovers. The nice sighting of no less than 36 LAPWING was waiting for me on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, among them were a few ROOKS, a SKYLARK flew over, but nothing else was added to the December list until I got to the Greenhouse Grounds, which was heavily disturbed by a work crew, here the KESTREL pair were found, plus PIED WAGTAIL was on one of the greenhouses. The walk across the paddocks and along High House Lane which over looks Bustard Hill, was very quite indeed, not a single species was found for the December list.

Back home, I at least added GREENFINCH for the months tally, two were at my feeders, but it was a poor visit, only made up for by the Lapwing flock.

I took a couple of images from my garden this afternoon to brighten the post, but at this time of year the sun is so low most of my perches are in shade - no good for photography!

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Both yesterday morning and this morning were cold and frosty,  but with plenty of sunshine and light winds, it felt very pleasant out on my short patch visits.

Early visits to the Lakes and Scrubby Woods were made on both mornings, yesterdays highlight was finding a pair of TEAL (64) on the main lake, a new species for the months list. This morning however saw the lakes 90% frozen over, limiting what was seen to Mallards and Moorhens. The adjacent Scrubby Woods had the usual good variety of bird species present, which included among the more common species were; NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TAILED, COAL TIT, GREEN WOODPECKER, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and SISKIN.

A walk around the farmland parts of my patch didn't provide much of note on the ground, but a flyover LAPWING was nice and a SNIPE (65) that flew over Migrant Alley was another for the months list. The female KESTREL was hunting over the Ashes Lane Fields, where a BUZZARD was also seen flying low over. A GREY WAGTAIL was seen at the Greenhouse grounds.

So November ended with a couple of new species right at the death, taking the months bird tally to 65, which is just one short of the mean species total achieved for the previous five Novembers, and takes it to joint sixth place out of fifteen ( joint with 2013) in the rankings.


Monday 28 November 2016

There were blue skies and plenty of sunshine this morning, making it feel very pleasant in the light winds.

In the good conditions I carried out the tenth and last full patch walk of November, where I was fortunate enough to add, from the 43 species recorded, a new species for the months list, that being a LITTLE EGRET (63), when one flew over the Greenhouse Grounds. The November list is now equal that of November 2009 and at 63 it's the eighth highest from the fifteen Novembers recorded so far, however, it is still 3 below the mean average species total for the previous 5 Novembers.

A GREY WAGTAIL was feeding around the Greenhouse Grounds, where the KESTREL pair were also seen hunting. Singles of SKYLARK, SISKIN and MEADOW PIPIT, plus a few BLACK HEADED GULLS and HERRING GULLS were all noted as I walked a circuit of the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, but nothing of note was on the fields.

A BUZZARD flew low over the Ashes Lane Fields as I was en route to the Wet Woods, lakes and Scrubby Woods, where most of the regulars and semi regulars showed up, apart from Stock Dove, the best of those, as always, being GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and the CHIFFCHAFF that was once again seen along the banks of the main lake - nothing of note on any of the lakes, though a CORMORANT flew over and thought about visiting, but had a change of heart.

The Small Holding Area was good for a few more of the common regular species, as well as 6-8 FIELDFARE and 2 MISTLETHRUSHES.

Female Kestrel on a telephone pole along Ashes Lane 

One of the ''Common regular'' species  :-)

Saturday 26 November 2016

There was a moderate frost, with sunny skies for this mornings full patch walk, but cloud spilled over from 10:00hrs.

The pleasant patch visit produced 42 bird species, none new for the months list, but a few interesting birds were recorded. A CHIFFCHAFF was seen and heard calling around the main lake, also a GREY WAGTAIL was on the roof of one of the nearby out-buildings, nothing of note on the water though.


The Ashes lane Fields had only 4 MEADOW PIPITS of note.

The line of half a dozen Alder Trees at the Greenhouse Grounds had 4 SISKINS feeding in them, along with 5 GOLDFINCHES, the female KESTREL was on one of the greenhouses, plus a flyover REED BUNTING was a good patch record.

Other flyovers of note were; FIELDFARE, CORMORANT, SKYLARK, BUZZARD, HERRING GULL and a swirling mass of at least 120 BLACK HEADED GULLS that were over Migrant Alley.

Friday 25 November 2016

No patch visit was made today, appointments elsewhere had to be attended, so it was just typical that the day was mild, sunny and clear!

I did, however, have a pleasant surprise at my garden feeders, as I looked out the window early this morning, a fantastic BRAMBLING (62) was seen in my Elder tree, I grabbed my camera, but with the sunlight not reaching my garden at that time in the morning, plus I took the images through my double glazing, my images were a bit 'unappealing' lets say! Also of note, a little later I saw 33 LAPWINGS fly over, was this the same flock of 33 I saw flyover on the 12th I wonder?

Brambling is a good bird for the November list, they are not recorded every year. Later, in the afternoon, I erected my hide in the garden, hoping the Brambling would return in the now brightly lit feeding area, but alas, there was no sign of it.

Brambling in poor light.

Not a Brambling, but the light was perfect  :-)

Thursday 24 November 2016

This morning was overcast, but dry, with a strong NE wind blowing.

I spent a couple of hours out, during which I visited the lakes and scrubby Woods, any duck species, ( apart from mallard ) would be a bonus on the lakes and a Woodcock in the scrubby Woods would a be a year tick, but only MALLARDS were on the water and there was no Woodcock in the woods, where despite the wind making hearing bird calls difficult, I did find a party of a dozen or so LONG TAILED TITS, accompanied by a few GOLDCRESTS, BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS, 2 NUTHATCHES and a TREECREEPER.

As I was leaving the area I heard the sound of whistling wing beats, I looked up and saw no fewer than 7 MUTE SWANS (61) come over and alight briefly on the main lake, before flying off again - nothing stays long! All but one of the Swans were immature birds. The November species list now goes into the 60's, but I will need two more new species for the month to get up to joint 8th place in the year rankings.

Walking back home across the Ashes Lane Fields, 7 MEADOW PIPITS were seen, plus both KESTREL and BUZZARD flew over.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

The last 3 days have seen rain and wind, which has prevented any lengthy patch visits, just short trips to the lakes were made, just in case a duck had been blown my hadn't!

Today was calm and dry though, but it was very dreary and overcast, this at least gave me a chance to do a full patch walk, but in the 4 hour visit a measly tally of just 39 species were found, mainly due to a very disturbed patch. I did at least add LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL (60) to the months bird list, one flew over Migrant Alley, along with a few HERRING GULLS and BLACK HEADED GULLS, a RING NECKED PARAKEET also flew over, calling noisily as it went.

Just MALLARDS and MOORHENS were present on the lakes, where a CORMORANT circled round, but thought better of alighting on the water.

Just Coal Tit and Stock Dove were missing from my usual list of Woodland Species, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, MISTLETHRUSH and SONGTHRUSH were the best of what was found in the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods.

Both REDWING and FIELDFARE were seen at the Small Holding Area in small numbers, then along High House Lane a YELLOWHAMMER was seen atop a large poplar tree.

A BUZZARD flew into the Greenhouse Copse, but was the only raptor seen today, the Kestrels had moved elsewhere due to a work crew being at their usual greenhouse haunt.

No chance of any photo's today, as always at this time of year, good light is at a premium!

Saturday 19 November 2016

On a bright and frosty late Autumn morning, I set off out on another full patch walk, the 7th of the month, but the three and a half hour visit proved bitter sweet, with a low tally of just 37 species recorded, however one of those species was CROSSBILL (102, 59) when a flock of 8 flew over the Lake / Scrubby Woods area, calling loudly, a new species for the year list and just the third year of the fifteen so far recorded, in which this species has been seen.

That proved to be the only highlight of the morning, but the woodland parts of my patch yielded plenty of the regular common bird species; GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, CHAFFINCH, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLETHRUSH, JAY, WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK were all very active in the frosty conditions.

The farmland areas of my patch proved very poor again though, just a couple of MEADOW PIPITS were on the Ashes Lane Fields, Migrant Alley had flyovers from single SKYLARK, 4 FIELDFARE, plus the regular Gull species of BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULL.

The Greenhouse Grounds was home, as usual, to the KESTREL pair, plus a few PIED WAGTAILS and GOLDFINCHES were around the place.

The addition of Crossbill to the year list moves this years tally of 102 species into 9th place out of 15. Reaching last years tally of 104 looks a possibility, but the record yearly tally achieved in 2010, which was 113, looks well out of reach now.

Friday 18 November 2016

As there was an hour or so of sunshine this morning, I decided to try and get a few garden bird images rather than visit my patch. During the three hours I was watching and waiting, I recorded 21 species visiting the feeders, These were ; GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, NUTHATCH, WREN, ROBIN, GOLDCREST, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, STARLING, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, MAGPIE, JACKDAW, WOODPIGEON, COLLARED DOVE, SPARROWHAWK, plus I heard the LITTLE OWLS calling from the nearby Small Holding Area, where I saw the likes of JAY, CARRION CROW, FIELDFARE, GREEN WOODPECKER and PHEASANT from my vantage point at my upstairs window. Flyovers from HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL and PIED WAGTAIL made it 30 species for my window watch, that's only 11 species less than I recorded on yesterdays full patch walk, amazing that my 50 x 30ft garden can produce more species than all the acres of local farmland put together ! More species probably flew over, but I wasn't trying too hard  :-).

Oh! I did get a few images as well, not everyones favourite species of birds, but I took what I could get  :-)

Not the best angle, for the light, but an ok image of the Sprawk

It only stays for a few brief seconds, so I have to be quick deciding on the camera settings!

I dont get many Magpie images, so i was pleased with these two.

Even if I did chop its tail off !

The Jackdaw used the same perch as the Magpie, another species I dont get many images of

Thursday 17 November 2016

After a reasonably bright start to the day, cloud increased, bringing some hefty showers by mid morning.

I just about about finished a full patch walk before the wind and rain arrived, finding a total of 41 bird species in all, none were new for the November list, which at 58 is still only the ninth highest for the fifteen years of recording, and is still 8 species short of the mean average species tally for the previous 5 Novembers.

Highlights for the day were few, hearing 4 different SONGTHRUSH in song was undoubtedly one, the best of the rest for today were; a KINGFISHER on the main lake, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, a flock of 12 LONG TAILED TITS, a group of 5 BULLFINCHES, plus at least 6 GOLDCRESTS, all at the Scrubby Woods, where the CHIFFCHAFF was again seen. A pair of MISTLETHRUSH, 3 FIELDFARE and a REDWING at the Small Holding Area.

The KESTREL pair hunted between the Ashes Lane Fields and the Greenhouse Grounds, but only MEADOW PIPIT was of note out on the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley today.

An attempt to get some garden bird photo's to brighten the post ended in failure, it's just too dark!

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Another overcast and dull morning, but it was at least very mild, with little wind, making it a very pleasant autumnal full patch walk.

During the little over four hours out, I tallied up 44 bird species, not too bad for November, a pair of LITTLE OWLS (58) that called from the Small Holding Area was an addition to the months list.

A CHIFFCHAFF was again seen at the Scrubby Woods, tagging along with a flock of a dozen or so LONG TAILED TITS, which also had GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, COAL TIT, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, CHAFFINCH and ROBIN mixed in with them. BULLFINCHES called and at least three were seen, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY, STOCK DOVE, MISTLETHRUSH and SONGTHRUSH all turned out with the more common species.

Just a GREY HERON was present of any interest at the lakes, while the farmland areas of my patch attracted few species, best of what was seen there were a small flock of FIELDFARE at the Ashes Lane Fields, plus a dozen MEADOW PIPITS. There were another dozen Meadow Pipits on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley.

The Greenhouse Grounds gave me good views of the KESTREL pair, but the remains of the habitat there had little to offer today, just the usual BLACKBIRDS, PIED WAGTAILS, GOLDFINCH, WREN and DUNNOCK .

A sky watch from my seat overlooking the paddocks and sheep pasture at Migrant Alley added a few bits and pieces for the days list, with singles of SISKIN, LESSER REDPOLL, SKYLARK, LINNET and YELLOWHAMMER, plus a few HERRING GULLS and BLACK HEADED GULLS.

Monday 14 November 2016

A wet and gloomy Monday morning, but I had a visit to the lakes and adjacent Scrubby woods anyway, but the hoped for Goosander on the lakes wasn't present, but I might get one later in the month, as they are regular visitors at this time of the year (That's put the mockers on it!), all that was on the water were the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS. The scrubby Woods had a good number of birds present, best of, was seeing at least 5 BULLFINCHES, but all the other scarcer species were also seen or heard, they included; GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, STOCK DOVE and JAY. I also added a CHIFFCHAFF (57) to the months list, one gave some brief song and calls.

Another CHIFFCHAFF was seen over at the Greenhouse Grounds a bit later, where I also watched the KESTREL pair sitting together on one of the greenhouses.

Saturday 12 November 2016

A couple of short patch visits over the last two mornings were undertaken in very contrasting conditions, Friday was bright and sunny, while today was very dull, drizzly and overcast.

A REED BUNTING (55) that flew over Migrant Alley during Fridays visit was the first of the month, but not much else was of note, just a GREY WAGTAIL, plus a light passage of MEADOW PIPITS and SKYLARKS. The KESTREL pair were seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, the only other raptors about were BUZZARDS, which called noisily from the Wet Woods.

This morning I added LAPWING (56) to the months list, a small flock of 33 flew over high House Lane, where I also saw two YELLOWHAMMERS in a hawthorn bush besides Bustard Hill. Little else was noted in the dismal conditions though.

Fridays sunshine allowed for a few of images to be taken of the garden birds at my feeders.


HOUSE SPARROW.....A rare treat now-a-days!


Thursday 10 November 2016

It was overcast and windless this morning, with a light shower or two moving through.

I had a full patch walk today, during which the four hour visit yielded 41 species, eight more than the last full patch walk, but still a bit on the low side for a November visit.

Just one new species was added to the months list when a PHEASANT (54) was seen along High House Lane, that just about completes the regularly recorded species for November, just the Owls to be found now, trying to get anymore will be hard going, hopefully though, I'll get a new Duck species on the lakes at some point this month, today though there were just MALLARDS and MOORHENS, plus a KINGFISHER.

FIELDFARE, REDWING, MEADOW PIPIT, SKYLARK, MISTLETHRUSH, HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL and CORMORANT were the most noteworthy flyovers today. The Scrubby Woods, as ever, held the majority of the woodland species seen this morning, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, STOCK DOVE, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREEN WOODPECKER being the pick of those.

The only raptors seen were the KESTREL pair, they sat together on one of the Greenhouses, where they watched a few PIED WAGTAILS flitting about. A small mixed flock of 15 - 20 SISKIN and GOLDFINCH were feeding in the line of Alder trees nearby.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Variable amounts of cloud passed over the area this morning, but there was no frost or wind, making it feel warmer than of late.

A two hour patch visit today, mostly looking around the Lakes and Scrubby Woods, was slightly more lively than of late, with some of the passerines returning from wherever they had disappeared to. I was pleased to see the first TREECREEPER (52) of the month, it was with a small mixed feeding flock of LONG TAILED TITS, BLUE TITS, GREAT TITS and GOLDCRESTS that moved along the banks of the main lake, there was, however, nothing but MALLARDS and MOORHENS out on the water.


It was still very empty as far as birds were concerned over on the farmland areas of my patch, but I did get to see a couple of LINNETS (53) fly over, the first for November, they could well be the last I see here until spring. The only other noteworthy find was the KESTREL pair that sat up on the greenhouses.

Later in the morning, there was a window of opportunity to get some garden bird photo's from my feeders back home, activity is still well below normal, but at least the Sparrowhawk kept away too!

The Nuthatches always provide good photographic poses

A neat female CHAFFINCH was very wary as it ate the sunflower hearts

Anywhere between 4 and 11 COLLARED DOVES hoover up the seed!

Monday 7 November 2016

This morning was mostly cloudy, with a cold north wind blowing, but it remained dry for my two hour patch visit.

As yesterday, there were few passerine birds to be found, but a check of the lakes provided me with views of the first CANADA GEESE (49) of the month, nine of them were joined by a lone GREYLAG GOOSE (50) the 50th species for November.

A cold walk across the Ashes Lane Fields was rewarded with a flyover COMMON GULL (51) to add to the months list, but the rest of my visit was very uneventful.

Sunday 6 November 2016

It was bright, sunny and frosty this morning, an ideal morning for a full patch walk.

After a couple of short patch visits, one on Friday and one on Saturday, in which GREY HERON (46) and REDWING (47) were added to the months list respectively, todays full patch walk proved to be a really poor visit. Just 31 species were recorded, the lowest ever species tally for a full patch walk in the 15 years of recording on my patch, and believe me, some of those walks have been undertaken in much dire conditions than todays!

Much of the walk was almost  birdless, especially out on the farmland areas of my patch, with Migrant Alley, the Ashes Lane Fields and the Pub Fields only yielding the likes of ROOK, CARRION CROW, MAGPIE, JACKDAW, and STARLING between them, MEADOW PIPIT, SKYLARK, BLACK HEADED GULL and HERRING GULL were the only flyovers.

Many of the common and regular species went unseen at the wooded parts of my patch, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, SISKIN and  LONG TAILED TIT turned out for the scarcer species, but the likes of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Pheasant, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Mistlethrush, Treecreeper, Redwing and Fieldfare were all missing today.

No raptors were seen, nor were there any Geese or Owls, things can only improve...surely!

I did add SPARROWHAWK (48) to the months list later in the afternoon when one visited my garden feeding station, not much consolation though  :-(

Thursday 3 November 2016

The second full patch walk of the month was undertaken today, once again there was a slight frost, but it remained dry and sunny for the four hour visit.

A total of 40 bird species were recorded, three of those were new for the month, those being SISKIN (43), MISTLETHRUSH (44) and more unexpectedly, RING NECKED PARAKEET (45), all were recorded flying over the Scrubby Woods / Lakes area, the latter species were seen firstly as just 2 birds, but following them, shortly after, were a flock of 11 birds, yet more were heard going over as I was under the canopy of the Scrubby Woods.

A KINGFISHER was the only species of interest at the lakes, while the farmland areas of my patch held very little, just a couple of MEADOW PIPITS on the Ashes Lane Fields of note. The female KESTREL was at the Greenhouse Grounds and a BUZZARD called from the Greenhouse copse. A short sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley produced a few SKYLARK and PIED WAGTAIL, as well as a few HERRING GULLS and BLACK HEADED GULLS, not much reward for a chilly watch!

I failed with the camera today, but a visit to my garden feeders by a JAY gives me hope that it will become a regular, allowing for some images when the sunshine returns  :-)

Wednesday 2 November 2016

A crisp and frosty start to the morning was a bit of a shock after the recent balmy conditions!

I visited the lakes and Scrubby Woods first thing, hoping to pick up a few of the missing regular species for the October list, I didn't add anything there, but on the way, as I passed through the Small holding, I did find STOCK DOVE (41) and GREENFINCH (42) for the months list.

At least 5 BUZZARDS were seen over the area, 3 of those were soaring up together in the blue sky over Migrant Alley, they were the only raptors seen today though. Very little else to note today that wasn't seen yesterday.

I spent a few hours trying to take some photo's of the garden birds at my feeding station, but little is visiting, despite the cooler weather,a COAL TIT was the first for a month though.

There is always a GOLDFINCH to photograph, just to keep my hand in  :-)

This immature WOODPIGEON had its fill of the sunflower hearts too.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

The new month kicked off overcast, dull and misty, with very little wind.

As usual, the first of the month brought about a full patch walk, in which 40 bird species were found, an about average tally for November. Some regularly seen species went unseen, such as Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Greenfinch, Mistlethrush, Redwing, Pheasant and Sparrowhawk, but to compensate, I recorded a few scarcer patch birds, such as a KINGFISHER at the Lakes, a GREY WAGTAIL around the adjacent out buildings, plus a couple of fly over LESSER REDPOLL that called as they flew over the nearby Scrubby Woods, also, a CORMORANT flew over.

A couple of YELLOWHAMMER were seen outside the Greenhouse copse, another species that can now be classed as a patch scarcity, gone are the days when flocks of 40-60 could be seen out on the arable fields, diving to and from the hedgerows, but then, the arable fields are now silage and the hedgerows are barely worth the name!

KESTREL and BUZZARD showed for the Raptors, plus HERRING GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL for the Larids. Not much else of note was found, a few MEADOW PIPITS are hanging around the Ashes Lane Fields, they may hang about for a few weeks yet, depending on the weather, plus a small passage of WOODPIGEON and FIELDFARE was observed heading south.

Monday 31 October 2016

The Greenhouse Copse - looking very Autumnal

After some initial mist and fog, the day became sunny and warm, tee shirt weather on the last day of October!

The weather was to be enjoyed this morning, but the birding was slow, not much of note was found, the best of what I recorded were a GREY WAGTAIL along Ashes Lane, a CHIFFCHAFF at the Greenhouse Grounds, a flyover REED BUNTING and the raptors that were seen, which were BUZZARD and KESTREL.

In the fine, warm weather, I watched a light passage of WOOD PIGEONS flying south, plus I recorded 3 butterfly species, those being Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White, a nice bit of summer returning  :-)

So October ended with a bird list of 70 species, 3 lower than the mean average total for the previous 5 Octobers and 7 off the record October of 2010, making it the 6th best October tally out of the 15 years of recording. One species was added to Octobers 15 year combined species total - the Lesser Whitethroat, taking it to 101 species, the 3rd highest combined monthly total, behind April (113) and August (102).

Lets see what November brings!

Saturday 29 October 2016

This morning was gloomy, overcast and cloudy, with not a breath of wind.

I carried out the tenth and last full patch walk of the month, which was also the one hundredth full patch walk of the year, but there wasn't much to celebrate the event bird wise. The best on offer from the poor day list of just 39 species, were a pair of REED BUNTING at the Greenhouse Grounds, always a scarce bird here. The female KESTREL was also there, sitting up on one of the greenhouses, plus a dozen PIED WAGTAILS flitted around the place.

The sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley produced 20-30 MEADOW PIPITS of note, where a few SKYLARKS flew over, other species recorded only as flyovers this morning were SISKIN, BLACK HEADED GULL, HERRING GULL, COLLARED DOVE and FIELDFARE, without these, the day tally would have been just 33!

The best of what was recorded in the wooded areas of my patch were, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and BULLFINCH.

No chance with any photo's in the poor light, but I have a few images to brighten the post, these were taken yesterday, when I visited Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve.

Shoveler Duck


Canada Geese Touching Down