Monday 29 February 2016

There was a slight frost for the last patch visit of the month, when there were some good sunny spells through the patchy cloud.

I was hoping to add just one more species to the February list, but failed to do so on my 3 hour patch walk The lakes were checked, one of the most likely places to turn up a new species, but only the MUTE SWANS, COOT, CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS and MOORHEN were found, yesterdays 4 Goosander had left, typical as there was now some decent light to photograph them by!

Mute Swan on the ornamental lake - an easier option for the camera :-)

The Scrubby Woods were walked over, in the hope of finding the first Woodcock for 2016, but that species looks like it may well evade this years list now. I did however get some good views of GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT and LONG TAILED TIT, but I was having a bad day with the camera, failing to get any decent shots of them!

I had a good hour sky watching from my seat at Migrant Alley, where I was clutching at straws really, with the hope of a Lapwing or Reed Bunting flying over, but my vigil did pay off raptor wise, with BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK and the PEREGRINE all being seen up hunting, the KESTREL pair were watched mating on one of the nearby Greenhouses making it a four raptor species day  :-)

So the month ends with the joint sixth best February tally, 64 species, six behind the record February tally, while the year list has stalled on 68, but hopefully March will turn up the first of our Spring migrants, Chiffchaff, maybe Blackcap, or if the weather plays ball a Wheatear or an early Swallow - much to look forward to :-)

Intermittent sunshine continued into the afternoon, so I was able to get a couple of 'Blog Brighteners' from my garden feeders ...............



Sunday 28 February 2016

A cold NE wind blew a few light showers across the area this morning, which remained overcast and chilly, the chilliest it has felt all winter in fact.

In contrast to yesterdays excellent visit, todays walk was rather uninspiring, the highlight was finding that the 3 GOOSANDER seen on the lakes yesterday, had increased to four, 2 males and 2 females. The MUTE SWAN pair, the lone COOT, 4 CANADA GEESE and a few MALLARDS and MOORHENS made up the rest of what was on the water.

Out of the wind, in the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, the likes of TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and JAY were all seen well, the trees and vegetation are at there barest now, so finding these scarcer species is made that bit easier!

Out on the fields of Ashes Lane and Migrant Alley, very little was braving the cold north wind, just the FIELDFARE and REDWING, plus a flock of 30-40 STARLING were seen, the only Gulls recorded today were flyovers, those being LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULL. Not one raptor was seen today though.

Just one visit left for the month now to try and increase the February species total, which at 64 is in joint 6th place out of the 15 Februaries recorded.

I'm on the last knockings for photo's now, just these Dunnock images left !

Saturday 27 February 2016

A cold NE wind blew this morning, when it was grey and overcast.

No patch post for yesterday, as I went out on a days birding to bough beech reservoir and Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve, which made a nice change for me, thanks to my good mate for driving and paying for the pizzas afterwards  :-)

Back to this morning however, I had a good visit overall, although I didn't add any new species for the month or year lists, the four hour full patch walk provided a very good tally of 48 species, just Coal Tit and Pheasant went unrecorded of the regular species, plus maybe Skylark and Yellowhammer may have been expected.

I had some good patch species on my list though, with 3 GOOSANDER on the small lake, 2 being females, the MUTE SWAN and COOT remain, giving hope that one or both species may stay to breed, plus a GREY HERON flew over the main lake. A pair of TEAL were seen in the Wet Woods, not often I see them there nowadays, also a MEDITERRANEAN GULL was picked out among the BLACK HEADED GULLS on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and HERRING GULL were also recorded this morning, but only as flyovers.

The three resident raptor species were all seen, BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK, plus the winter thrushes of FIELDFARE and REDWING were on the Ashes Lane Fields. There were a few SISKINS about in the Scrubby Woods and the LESSER REDPOLL flock were at the Small Holding, gathering before they move on to my nearby garden feeding station. A nice find was a flock18 GREENFINCHES at the Greenhouse Grounds, not had that many here for years!

Images today are from my outing yesterday.

This Magpie had found itself a dead duck of some description

These much maligned birds do a great deal of the 'clearing up' in the countryside,  preventing the spread of disease.

Canada Goose preening in some nice light

This Grey Heron was incubating eggs, an early breeder.

Great Crested Grebe. Unfortunately the victim of a fishermans carelessly discarded hook and line.

You'd think the Angling club at Sevenoaks wildfowl reserve would have a monthly meet, where they could go out in a boat and retrieve all the hooks and lines from the overhanging trees.

The Robins are tame at the Sevenoaks reserve  :-)

Thursday 25 February 2016

Another moderate frost covered the area this morning, when it was sunny first thing, but it clouded over by 08:00hrs, giving a couple of snow flurries, later in the morning it brightened again, before once again clouding over for the afternoon.

I spent 3 hours out on my patch, most of that time was spent sky watching from my seat at Migrant Alley, I did however check the lakes for any new visitors first off, but none were found, just the MUTE SWAN pair, the lone COOT, a pair of CANADA GEESE and the MALLARDS and MOORHENS were present again. A look through the Scrubby Wood for a year tick Woodcock also proved fruitless.

The FIELDFARE and REDWING flock continue to use the Ashes Lane Field, along with the STARLINGS, there were around 250 birds in all, mostly Fieldfares. I also saw a pair of BULLFINCHES feeding on the dried Blackberry heads along the drainage ditch there, but the overwintering Meadow Pipits look to have moved on now, I expect a few will pass through during March and April though.

Arriving at Migrant Alley I took up my seat, having noted the KESTREL pair on the Greenhouses as I passed, I then set to work scanning through the 250 or so BLACK HEADED GULLS out on the sheep pasture, where today I found 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS among them, they were easier to pick out today, as they are getting there black hoods now. Three COMMON GULLS were also in the flock, but the only HERRING GULLS seen were flyovers.

My 90 minute sky watching session proved worthwhile, as I recorded the months first LITTLE EGRET (64) heading SW,  I also saw a few other species of note going over during my cold vigil -  a couple of SKYLARK, a SISKIN, a GREY WAGTAIL and a YELLOWHAMMER. SPARROWHAWK and 2 BUZZARDS were watched soaring up on the thermals, the latter of which were dueling with a PEREGRINE, four raptor species in one session, excellent !

A spell in the garden, with my camera, later in the morning was enjoyable, I reckon this LESSER REDPOLL is just about in full breeding plumage - absolutely stunning!!

The LONG TAILED TITS are collecting materials for nest building now

COLLARED DOVE surveying its territory from the roof top.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

There was a moderate frost this morning, but with little wind and good sunny spells, it felt quite springlike.

An early visit to Migrant Alley didn't produce the hoped for Lapwing for this months list, a species that can turn up here when the weather is harder, instead, I had to content myself with going through the BLACK HEADED GULL flock, of which there were over 250 of, but I didn't locate a Mediterranean Gull among them, just 2 COMMON GULLS. There were a scattering of 100ish FIELDFARE on the pasture and paddocks as well, plus the usual ROOKS, JACKDAWS, CARRION CROWS and WOODPIGEONS.

The KESTREL pair were together at the Greenhouse Grounds, but not much else of note there today, just a BULLFINCH pair, whilst I was there though, I found this ROBIN posed nicely on a frosty twig.


I made a visit to the lakes, via the Ashes Lane Fields, where more Fieldfare were noted, another 100+ birds, with them were a few REDWING and 2 MISTLETHRUSH, but they were all put up by a SPARROWHAWK that flashed through. Another photographic opportunity arose when I got close to this DUNNOCK on a fence post.

It was singing away in the sunshine, not minding me a bit!

As you can see, I filled my boots with some nice images, a bit later in the walk, I got even more Dunnock images when one was found singing in the Scrubby Woods, i'll show them on a later post

There were no surprises on the lakes when I arrived, the MUTE SWAN pair and the lone COOT remain, plus just one pair of CANADA GEESE and the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS.

The female Mallards are being harassed none stop now it's spring :-)

The males are looking splendid in their summer plumage

I had a look around the Scrubby Woods for a Woodcock, but none were forthcoming, but most of the regulars were found, GOLDCRESTS, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, another pair of Bullfinch, STOCK DOVE, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS being the pick of those, plus I also saw a pair of GREY HERONS fly low over, giving their raucous squawking call as they went!

On the walk back home a BUZZARD made up the regular trio of raptors, when one was seen soring over the Wet Woods.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Early cloud slowly cleared this morning, allowing some sunny spells to develop, in which it felt very pleasant.

In the better weather conditions I got round for a full patch walk, where in the 4 hour visit I tallied up 48 species, which could have easily exceeded 50 had the Bullfinch, Pheasant, Meadow Pipit and Yellowhammer been seen, all of which have been around recently.

I was pleased to find the first  4 LINNETS (63) of the month in the Greenhouse Grounds early in the visit, always a sign of spring when this species arrives on my patch, the the months list is now the joint 7th highest February total, joint with 2008.

Another highlight of the visit was finding the 3 regular raptor species to be seen on my patch, the KESTREL pair that were hunting over Ashes Lane and the Greenhouse Grounds, athe SPARROWHAWK that flew over the Ashes Lane Fields, plus no less then 5 BUZZARDS that were up soaring over Migrant Alley.

I got a snatched flight shot of each species, but I wont be keeping of them!

Common Buzzard



The female Kestrel perched nicely for me later  :-)

Over at the lakes the CANADA GEESE and GREYLAG GOOSE with its hybrid family were arguing noisily, plus the MUTE SWAN pair, the lone COOT and the usual MALLARD and MOORHENS were present.

Other highlights were ; LESSER REDPOLLS at the Small Holding area, 100 or so FIELDFARES on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, along with 4 REDWING, plus flyovers from a singing SKYLARK, a few SISKIN, PIED WAGTAIL and HERRING GULLS.

As there have been a lack of ''blog brighteners'' recently I'll post a couple more......

Ive got lots of NUTHATCH images, but this pose is different  :-)

A more usual pose

Monday 22 February 2016

Steady rain and drizzle fell this morning, but the wind was virtually absent today.

In the dull and miserable conditions, just 90 minutes were spent out on my patch, a visit to the lakes was made first off, which produced, of note, a pair of MANDARIN DUCKS, just the second record of this species for 2016, also the MUTE SWAN pair, the lone COOT and the gang of 6 CANADA GEESE with the GREYLAG GOOSE plus its hybrid offspring were present.

As I scanned the lakes I could hear much singing and calling from the likes of ROBIN, WREN, DUNNOCK, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLETHRUSH, COAL TIT, GREAT TIT, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH and CHAFFINCH.

Crossing the Ashes Lane Field, I saw the female KESTREL on the old shack, but didn't hear any Meadow Pipits. By the time I reached the Greenhouse Grounds the Kestrel had moved backed to her usual perch on one of the greenhouses.

A scan across the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley, in some particularly wetting drizzle, at least produced four gull species - BLACK HEADED, HERRING, COMMON, and LESSER BLACK BACKED, there were also around 75 FIELDFARE and 100 STARLING seen out there, but no Redwings were noticed. As I looked across the fields to the tree line, I found two BUZZARDS sensibly perched up out of the weather, so I followed their example and headed off home for breakfast.

Once again no images for todays post, but the weather looks to be improving from tomorrow onwards, so I should get out and about with the camera - even if its just back to the garden birds!

Sunday 21 February 2016

This morning was overcast dull and windy, with short bursts of drizzle being blown through.

In the poor conditions, very little of note was found, the female KESTREL at the Greenhouse Grounds was the only raptor found today and once again there were no gulls on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, just flyovers from HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS, there were however 50 60 FIELDFARE out there, along with 100ish STARLINGS, but I found not one Redwing with them today.

I was pleased to see both the MUTE SWAN pair and the COOT still at the ornamental lake, the only other noteworthy sightings on the water were 6 CANADA GEESE and the GREYLAG GOOSE x Canada Goose hybrid family.

At least 4 MEADOW PIPITS were back on the pasture at the Ashes Lane Fields, not much else to report from my patch though, plus i've run out of photo's!

Saturday 20 February 2016

The overcast skies lasted all morning, but it was mild, especially with little wind early on.

I carried out a 3 and a half hour full patch walk today, in which a good total of 48 bird species was recorded, just Jay and Sparrowhawk went unrecorded of the birds that I could have expected to see.

Nothing new was found for the month or year lists, however that didn't detract from an enjoyable visit. The MUTE SWAN pair and lone COOT are still using the ornamental lake and 7 CANADA GEESE with half a dozen MALLARDS were on the main lake, MOORHENS were seen on both these lakes, as well as the small lake today.

TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, STOCK DOVE, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREEN WOODPECKER were the pick of the regulars that were seen in the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, while both LESSER REDPOLL and SISKIN were found in the Small Holding, a post roosting flock preening and chatting away before they go on to my garden feeding station  :-)

SKYLARKS sang over Bustard Hill and a YELLOWHAMMER was calling from the Greenhouse Copse, the nearby Greenhouses were home to the KESTREL pair as usual, plus a few PIED WAGTAILS.

There were 65 ROOKS and 14 JACKDAWS feeding on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, but the gulls had been flushed off before I arrived, the only ones seen were flyovers, these being from BLACK HEADED, COMMON and HERING GULLS.

Two BUZZARDS were clashing talons over the Ashes Lane Fields, a great sight to watch, but only 3 MEADOW PIPITS were seen in the pasture there, they fed in among the hundreds of FIELDFARE and STARLINGS, plus 5 REDWING. A CORMORANT flew over as I headed home, the last species for the day list  :-)

Blog brighteners are running out again ! Just a few images of the regular garden birds left now.

Coal Tit

Lesser Redpoll

Friday 19 February 2016

There was a hard frost this morning, but the sun shone in a clear blue sky, making it feel very pleasant, however by mid afternoon cloud rolled in and showers fell.

I had the pleasant company of fellow birders / photographers, Moi and John Hicks for my patch visit today. I showed them round various parts of my patch, first off, the Ashes Lane Fields were visited, where hundreds of FIELDFARE and STARLING were watched on the pasture, but very few REDWINGS were seen among them.

A BUZZARD was picked out as we approached Migrant Alley, then out on the sheep pasture and paddocks we came across the large BLACK HEADED GULL flock, but only a COMMON GULL was picked out among them. A few images were taken of the SISKINS as we passed the Greenhouse Grounds, where we saw both the male and female KESTRELS up on the Greenhouses, at one point mating was observed.

Heading over to the lakes via the Small Holding, SKYLARK was heard singing up high and a YELLOWHAMMER called as it flew over. The Wet Woods had a few GOLDCRESTS and a singing COAL TIT, plus NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER were heard.

There were patches of thin ice on the lakes, but the highlight of the day (for me at least) was seen on the main lake - a drake TEAL (68,62) - at last the year list gets incremented! There was also a CANADA GOOSE and a few MALLARDS on the main lake, plus the MUTE SWAN pair and the COOT remain on the ornamental lake, just a few MOORHENS were on the small lake.

We made our way back home shortly after, as I had promised Moi a photographic session with the birds at my garden feeders, where both she and John filled their boots with LESSER REDPOLL, Siskin, and Nuthatch images  :-)

Here's a few of my garden bird efforts taken later in the day  :-)

Female Siskin

Long Tailed Tit


Thursday 18 February 2016

It was grey and overcast with light rain early this morning, but it later cleared to give some sunny spells.

An early visit to the lakes was made, where I found the same birds as yesterday, those being the MUTE SWAN pair and the COOT, which are always most welcome on my patch, a CORMORANT, the CANADA GEESE and the GREYLAG GOOSE with its hybrid family, plus the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS were all seen again.

COAL TIT and TREECREEPER were both seen in the Scrubby Woods after not turning up for yesterdays full patch walk, plus the other scarcer woodland species of GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, JAY, STOCK DOVE and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER were all heard or seen either there, or in the Wet Woods.

It was a an excellent day for raptors, with 4 species being seen later in the morning, the spectacle of watching the female PEREGRINE chasing the REDWING / FIELDFARE / STARLINGS at Migrant Alley was quite something, around 300 birds swirled around the sky, all trying not to become breakfast! There were 3 KESTRELS up over the Greenhouse Grounds, where a BUZZARD was watched giving its undulating display flight, also at the Greenhouse Grounds a SPARROWHAWK whizzed through the Alder Trees, putting to flight half a dozen SISKINS.

A couple of SKYLARKS and a single MEADOW PIPIT flew over the Ashes Lane Fields, other flyovers of interest were mainly Gulls, with COMMON, BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS all being seen, but they avoided the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley - too many raptors about!

No chance with any raptor images, apart from the Kestrel, of which ive posted too many images of already, so its back to the garden birds for blog brighteners  :-)


Same bird, just a fraction of a second later!

The GOLDFINCHES also liked this particular perch  :-)

While the Siskins prefer to be higher up.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

It was mostly cloudy today, with just a few brighter moments, a keen SE wind developed as the morning went on.

I carried out a full patch walk this morning, in which the three and a half hours out produced a good tally of 45 species, the likes of Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Pheasant, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll weren't seen though and no new species were added to my months or year totals.

The lakes were quite busy with birds - unusually, with a lone COOT and the MUTE SWAN pair being the highlight, but there was also a CORMORANT present, as well as 7 CANADA GEESE, one of them was the individual that has paired off with a GREYLAG GOOSE and they had their two hybrid young with them, MALLARDS and MOORHENS made up the rest of the water dwellers.

Two of the three regular raptor species were seen, the KESTREL at its usual haunt over at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I saw a GREY WAGTAIL again, and a BUZZARD that was sitting out on the fence line by the Greenhouse Copse. A SKYLARK sang over Bustard Hill, plus the BLACK HEADED GULL flock was on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, around 40 in all were joined by a few HERRING GULLS and 2 COMMON GULLS.

I noted just 1 MEADOW PIPIT at the Ashes Lane Fields, where the FIELDFARE / REDWING/ STARLING flock were seen again.

Later in the morning, as I sat at home with a mug of tea watching the COAL TITS, SISKINS and LESSER REDPOLLS at my garden feeders, (so thats where they were!), a SONGTHRUSH flew in and posed nicely on one of my perches, I just had time to grab the camera and get a couple of images of it  :-)

Songthrush - good bird to get in my garden now a days  :-)

This WREN visits my garden regularly too, I took this image yesterday.

Another from yesterday to brighten the post - GREAT TIT

One more from yesterdays session - This BLACKBIRD has learned to take the Sunflower Hearts from the hole in the log  :-)