Thursday 31 March 2016

High thin cloud allowed for some hazy sunshine this morning and with light winds it felt very springlike.

I made a full patch walk for the last day of the month, in which the four hour visit produced a very good 51 species, with just the Bullfinch of the more regular species not being recorded. My early visit around the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley may not have produced the anticipated Wheatear, but a pair of flyover EGYPTIAN GEESE (75,69) was an acceptable substitute, helping the years and months list along nicely, the latter has finished on 69, which is the same tally as 3 other March totals, those of 2009, 2011 and 2014, all just two species of the record March species count of 71, which was achieved back in 2010.

Also seen at Migrant Alley were a good selection of Gull species, with around 20 BLACK HEADED GULLS, 9 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, 2 COMMON GULLS and 4 HERRING GULLS all feeding on the sheep pasture.

Three raptor species were again on the days list, as usual they were KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD, plus there were a mix of winter and spring species present, for the former, LESSER REDPOLL and SISKIN were seen in the Small Holding area, and for the latter there were 2 CHIFFCHAFFS singing in the Scrubby Woods, plus a SWALLOW over the Greenhouse Grounds.

Flyovers from CANADA GEESE, GREYLAG GEESE, a CORMORANT, a SKYLARK as well as the mentioned Egyptian Geese all made for a healthy list of species for the visit. Meadow Pipit, Redwing and Fieldfare were all noticeable by their absence, now they have started to move back north, but will I get them on the April list ?

Canada Goose x Greylag Goose hybrid at the lakes today, which yet agin was disturbed by fisherman

Common Buzzard going over, one day i'll get one good and low, allowing for a proper photo !

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Overnight rain refilled the large puddles on Ashes Lane that were created by the previous days storm, this morning  however, dawned quite bright and at times sunny, with little wind.

An early circuit of Migrant Alley didn't produce the hoped for Wheatear, but a SWALLOW was again watched as it fed over the sheep pasture, where a few BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS were feeding.

A REDWING was seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, one of the last, if not the last i'll see until next Autumn, there was also a CHIFFCHAFF, the first of many I shall hopefully hear this spring. The KESTREL pair were sitting together on one of the greenhouses and GREENFINCHES, GOLDFINCHES, CHAFFINCHES, a LINNET, a SONGTHRUSH and a MISTLETHRUSH were all singing here too.

TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, 2 more Chiffchaffs, STOCK DOVE, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL were the best of what was seen around the Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods, while the lakes were again disturbed by fisherman, so nothing but the usual MUTE SWAN pair, CANADA GEESE, MALLARD, MOORHEN and the COOT pair were seen, although the latter were joined by a third bird today  ;-)

Around mid day I headed off out for a sky watch at my seat over looking Migrant Alley, where a trickle of migrant MEADOW PIPITS were seen and heard going over, but the highlight was seeing no fewer than 4 PERERGRINES! Two were associating with the tower at the village square, they were joined briefly by another two and after a short skirmish the interlopers left. Also noted were two single SPARROWHAWKS, plus BUZZARDS, lots of 'em, whatever direction I looked in, a Buzzard was seen either on its own or with another, brilliant!

Plenty of songsters about this morning, DUNNOCKS being most the frequently  heard  :-)

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Long clear spells this morning slowly filled with fair weather cloud, the wind was still moderate, but nowhere near as severe as the storm of yesterday!

It was good to get out for a full patch walk today, and it turned out to be quite an eventful 3 and a half hour visit. I recorded an excellent tally of 51 bird species, no Fieldfare or Redwing were seen, nor were any Bullfinches, when they could have been expected. The surprise of the day was seeing my first SWALLOW (74,68) of the year, which was joined shortly after by another, both males, returning to the small stables at a house along Ashes Lane. A nice Summer migrant Species for the March list, the third earliest record I have, the 15 year average first sighting date being the 3rd April. This is the sixth March out the 15 now recorded, in which Swallow has been seen and it takes the months list to 68, that's the fifth best March tally, but just 3 off the record March tally.

All three of the resident raptor species were recorded today - the KESTREL pair at the Greenhouse Grounds, the BUZZARD pair at the Wet Woods and a SPARROWHAWK over Migrant Alley, where on the sheep pasture I was surprised to see no fewer than 11 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, along with 8 BLACK HEADED GULLS and a COMMON GULL.

Three CHIFFCHAFFS were present, one singing from the banks of the main lake, while the other two were singing from the Scrubby Woods, where TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, STOCK DOVE, GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, plus SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL were also found.

Only the usual species were on the lakes, those being MUTE SWAN, CANADA GOOSE, MALLARD, COOT and MOORHEN, the long odds of finding a different duck species were lengthened further by the presence of a fisherman on the small lake.

It was good to see a pair of LONG TAILED Tits building a nest in the ''Hedgerow'' along High House lane, I fear their efforts will come to an early end though, as there is barely enough cover to conceal their intricate artwork, but they have to nest somewhere  :-(

Flyovers from singles and small parties of MEADOW PIPITS continue to be recorded, along with SKYLARK, YELLOWHAMMER, a skein of 6 GREYLAG GEESE and this LITTLE EGRET, a nice addition to any daylist  :-)

I was able to get this snap shot of it as it flew SW

Sunday 27 March 2016

After overnight rain, heavy showers blew through the region this morning on a strong SW wind.

Once again just a short 2 hour patch visit was made today, some of that was spent in the shelter of the polytunnels at the greenhouse grounds as heavy thundery showers blew through.

I got a circuit of Migrant Alley done though, where I am still hoping a Wheatear will turn up for the March list, but I was to be disappointed again, there were still a few FIELDFARE and REDWINGS out on the sheep pasture though among the BLACK HEADED GULLS, which were fewer in number today, just 30-40 were seen, with them were a few HERRING GULLS and 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS.

Flyovers from a pair of GREYLAG GEESE, a GREY HERON, plus a few passage MEADOW PIPITS were noted. I had a final scan of the fence lines, where a BUZZARD sat preening, how did that sneak there without me seeing it ?

A look around the Greenhouse Grounds provided nice views of a male BULLFINCH, plus the KESTREL pair sat together calling quietly to one another. It was good to hear both LINNET and GREENFINCH singing, despite the gusty wind and rain.

Looks like no patch visit will be possible tomorrow, what with storm ''Kate'' due in for the morning, and a family visit planned for the afternoon, but i'll see how bad the wind and rain is  :-)

Saturday 26 March 2016

The sky was grey and overcast this morning, giving bouts of wetting drizzle that blew in on an increasingly strong SW wind.

In the poor conditions I didn't stay out long, just a couple of hours were spent out walking the paddocks and sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, ever hopeful of a spring migrant turning up. In the end none did, so it was back to looking through the 100 or so BLACK HEADED GULLS, where I found a few HERRING GULLS and 6 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS among them.

There were also a couple of dozen FIELDFARE feeding on the sheep pasture, along with 6 REDWING and 2 MISTLETHRUSH. I heard at least 5 MEADOW PIPITS call as they flew over and a SKYLARK was up singing over the area. An even scarcer songster for my patch was also singing, a YELLOWHAMMER, it joined in with a LINNET that also sang cheerily from the Greenhouse Grounds, where the KESTREL pair were again seen.

The only other notable flyover seen this morning were 3 CANADA GEESE. image from yesterday, when spring seemed to have arrived!

Friday 25 March 2016

After overnight rain, initial patchy cloud broke up readily, to leave a sunny day.

Despite the fair conditions there was very little of note to record on my 2 and a half hour patch visit this morning. The lakes had single pairs of MUTE SWAN, CANADA GOOSE, GREYLAG GOOSE and COOT, plus the usual MALLARDS and MOORHENS. Most of the scarcer resident woodland species were heard or seen in either the Scrubby Woods or Wet Woods, the latter habitat has now got Bluebells flowering profusely.



I always mention the Swans now that a pair are frequenting the ornamental lake, but I dont often feature them photographically, so to remedy that, here's a photo of one  :-)

Out on the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, (part of which is shown in the above image with views of the Greenhouse Grounds in the background), there were far fewer gulls about, I counted just 15 BLACK HEADED GULLS, but being a bank holiday, there was much disturbance about. I checked the fence lines and fields for a Wheatear, but no luck today, as you can see, there was very little out there except sheep ! As I walked round I heard a few MEADOW PIPITS go over, and saw at least 6 BUZZARDS up soaring. A quick look through the Greenhouse Grounds on the way back home was only notable for the female KESTREL that sat up at her nest box.

Thursday 24 March 2016

It was overcast this morning, but not quite as dull as recently, rain fell this afternoon as the wind strengthened, the first for a couple of weeks.

I spent just over three hours out this morning, only visiting the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley, where I had just under two hours skywatching. The usual regulars were seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, CARRION CROW, MAGPIE and COLLARED DOVE, along with the scarcer species such as GREENFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST and LINNET, of which there were 3 today.

I twice walked the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, but found no migrant Wheatear, it's not often they turn up here in March, but with 6 of the previous 14 years having them on the March list, it's always worth a look  :-) The BLACK HEADED GULLS were still out on the sheep pasture though, but I found no Med gull today.

Settling down for my sky watch it wasn't long before the usual suspects were seen gong over, more Carrion Crows, ROOKS, WOODPIGEONS, JACKDAWS, plus a few HERING GULLS and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS. A YELLOWHAMMER was heard, and seen as a black speck high up in the sky, as were LESSER REDPOLL and SISKIN, plus a few single MEADOW PIPITS.

I was suddenly aware of a call ive not heard for some time coming from the greenhouse Grounds, then, as I scanned through with my bins, I found the caller, a RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE (73,67) sitting up on a stack of pallets ! Not a common bird here with just one or two sightings a year, if that, so a good one for the year list  :-)

Carrying on with my sky watch, I recorded the three local raptor species up hunting, those being the KESTREL and BUZZARD of which a pair were seen, as well as the SPARROWHAWK, a female that put all the Gulls to flight. There were a few FIELDFARE and REDWING going through, with 60-100 birds alighting in the sheep pasture for a while to feed with a flock of STARLINGS, I only counted 9 Redwings though. Other flyovers were............PIED WAGTAIL, SKYLARK, MALLARD, CANADA GOOSE, and MISTLETHRUSH.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

It was back to the grey, overcast skies today, but with no wind or rain, at least it didn't feel too bad out.

A much quieter patch visit was had this morning, with not much to get excited about at all. A LINNET was again singing at the Greenhouse Grounds first thing, where the KESTREL pair were seen again, they were the only raptors I did see today.

A walk around the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley for a hoped for early Wheatear  didn't provide one, just the BLACK HEADED GULL flock, in which, unlike yesterday, I did pick out the two MEDITERRANEAN GULLS among them. Whilst there, I heard a few MEADOW PIPITS fly over, plus a lone YELLOWHAMMER.

There were good numbers of FIELDFARE on the Ashes Lane Fields, with at least 75 feeding on the sheep pasture there, with them were 2 MISTLETHRUSH and a dozen STARLINGS.

I made the effort to look around the lakes, but now winter has passed there is even less chance of finding a different duck species on them than there normally is, so I wasn't surprised to find just the MUTE SWANS, CANADA GEESE, MALLARD, COOT and MOORHEN.

There was no sign of yesterdays Chiffchaff around the lakes, or in the adjacent scrubby Woods, but COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, STOCK DOVE, JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, plus all the common regular stuff was seen there.

Usual lake dweller

Not so usual lake dweller - will they breed this spring ?

The Moorhens certainly will, but few survive.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

There was a frost as dawn broke this morning, but that soon disappeared as the sun rose into a clear blue sky. At last some warm spring sunshine!

Although on a bit of a time limit today, I was able to get round for a full patch walk, the 3 and a half hour visit rewarding me with no fewer than 51 species, but if time had allowed, I would have also surely found the likes of Coal Tit, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk and possibly the Mediterranean gulls among the BLACK HEADED GULL flock at Migrant Alley.

Black Headed Gulls - and 4 STARLING  :-)

Of the 51 species seen, two were new for the year list, firstly, the overdue CHIFFCHAFF (71,63) was finally heard to sing from one of the islands on the ornamental lake, then seen well as it fed among the shrubs. The second addition to the year list was a bit less expected, a phone call from the local postman alerting me to a RED KITE (72,64) that was flying over just to the North of Migrant Alley was very welcome, I was already at my sky watching seat, so soon picked it up as it flew SE, a stunning male bird too  :-)

The good birding day didn't end there, as I also added two more new species to the March list, one being a LINNET (65) that was singing from the Alders at The Greenhouse Grounds, the other, a LITTLE EGRET (66) that flew over the Ashes Lane Fields just about at photo height! These elevate this years March bird species list to 66, which is the joint fifth best effort out of 15, joint with March 2012 and 2013.

Little Egret - one more for the March tally

There still a few winter species about too, with flyover MEADOW PIPIT, SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLL being recorded, plus a dozen FIELDFARE on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, but just the one REDWING, that was feeding on the floor of the Scrubby Woods.

Other good patch species that turned up today were a TAWNY OWL that twice called from the Scrubby Woods at 08:30hrs, plus both KINGFISHER and MANDARIN DUCK on the main lake.

I got a few B H Gull images, not much else was posing today

Monday 21 March 2016

Yet another overcast morning, but with little wind and no rain it was pleasant enough out.

An early visit to the lakes, just in case a different duck species had turned up there overnight, proved fruitless, just single pairs of MUTE SWAN, GREYLAG GOOSE, CANADA GOOSE and only the one pair of COOT were seen this morning, plus a few MALLARDS and MOORHENS.

The majority of my visit was spent over at Migrant Alley, where a 90 minute sky watching session was had, but apart from a trickle of MEADOW PIPITS heading NW, no migrant activity was noted. A couple of SKYLARKS were up singing over the mass of BLACK HEADED GULLS out on the sheep pasture and paddocks, which again included among their number, a pair of MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and a pair of LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS. Three BUZZARDS were interacting low over the Greenhouses, with at least 2 more up in the distance and the KESTREL pair were back after not being seen yesterday, they were once again mating on one of the greenhouses.

Very few FIELDFARE were about, just 8 were seen on one of the paddocks, no Redwing were noted today though.

A sigh of springs very slow approach was seeing my first Tortoiseshell Butterfly of the year along Ashes lane, very nice, 14 days later than last years first sighting, showing how retarded this spring has become.

Sunday 20 March 2016

A very short lived bright spell just after dawn was soon snuffed out by increasing cloud and patchy drizzle by 07:00hrs, at least the wind remained light, making it feel reasonably warm.

I made a 2 and a half hour patch visit this morning, heading for the lakes first off, via the Ashes Lane Fields, where a dozen FIELDFARE were seen, along with 20 - 30 STARLINGS, plus a lone MEADOW PIPIT flew over calling as it went.

I was able to confirm that the two pairs of COOT do indeed remain at the lakes, with one pair on the small lake, keeping two pairs of CANADA GEESE company and one pair on the ornamental lake with the MUTE SWANS, nothing else was of note on the water today though.

Calls and/or song was heard from GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, STOCK DOVE, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREEN WOODPECKER as I passed the Scrubby Woods, but that over due Chiffchaff was not heard!

As I left the area, a MANDARIN DUCK flew over, giving its strange call, plus the GREYLAG GOOSE x Canada Goose pair flew on to the main lake.

I spent some time over at Migrant Alley, where the two MEDITERRANEAN GULLS were found, their calls giving me a clue to their whereabouts in the 200+ BLACK HEADED GULL flock. Two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS were also present, with another 4 flying over, the fourth Gull species seen was the HERRING GULL, of which 5 immatures were on one of the paddocks.

A 40 minute sky watch didn't produce any kind of spring migration activity, the only notable species heard or seen were a lone SKYLARK, a group of 4 REDWING, a few PIED WAGTAILS and the only raptor of the day, a COMMON BUZZARD, which flew into the Greenhouse Copse.

No images today, the Brambling didn't visit the garden this afternoon and I think we have had enough Lesser Redpoll and Siskin images for now !

Saturday 19 March 2016

It was overcast and grey again this morning, with a cool NE breeze blowing.

I spent 3 and a half hours out this morning, undertaking a full patch walk, in which I recorded 48 bird species, of those regularly seen, only the Redwing, Treecreeper, and a bit more surprisingly, the Green Woodpecker, evaded detection today.

I looked for the two pairs of COOT that have been on the lakes recently, but found a single bird on the ornamental lake and another on the main lake, so there still may be two pairs about. The MUTE SWANS were present though, along with 4 GREYLAG GEESE and 14 CANADA GEESE, plus the ever present MALLARDS and MOORHENS, a KINGFISHER brightened things up as it sped across the main lake.

Both the male and female KESTREL were seen today at the Greenhouses, over which a SPARROWHAWK was seen, a pair of BUZZARDS in the Wet Woods made up the trio of raptors that can be found here.

The BLACK HEADED GULL flock on the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley had diminished slightly, I reckon there were 150 birds there today, but the MEDITERRANEAN GULLS still tagged along with them, plus, today, the two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS were also out there, a couple of HERRING GULLS also dropped in for a short time.

Of the more notable flyovers, SISKIN, PIED WAGTAIL, CORMORANT, SKYLARK and FIELDFARE were had, the latter had all disappeared from the Ashes Lane Fields.

Still no sign of a Chiffhaff !

Later this afternoon I was pleased to see the BRAMBLING back at my garden feeders, and although the light was poor I managed to get a few images of it, but multiple Sparrowhawk attacks prevented getting any better shots!

Male Brambling, stunning birds

Male Sparrowhawk - ruining my photographic session with the Brambling  :-(

Pest!  :-)

Friday 18 March 2016

This morning was overcast, dreary and quite chilly, even though the wind was lighter than recent mornings.

I set off this morning, on a three hour patch walk, hoping that today would be the day that my first spring Chiffchaff would be singing on my patch, but my luck was out again  :-( 

Whilst over at the lakes I was surprised to see both pairs of COOTS were still around, nothing else had turned up though, so it was just a case of checking out the MUTE SWANS, CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS and MOORHENS to see if there was any breeding activity, of which just the Mute swans have shown some of, the nest is built but not being used yet.

The male KESTREL flew over the lakes, but the female wasn't seen again today, the only other raptor species today was a BUZZARD that flew from the Wet Woods. LESSER REDPOLLS featured strongly during my walk, with a dozen birds seen at the Scrubby Woods, another 15 or so at the Small Holding, plus another half dozen at the Greenhouse Copse.

The sheep pasture at Migrant Alley continues to attract over 200 BLACK HEADED GULLS, with them the 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS were seen again for the fifth day running, but no other gull species were among them.

This afternoon, the day was brightened immensely for me, not by any sunshine, but by a cracking male BRAMBLING (70,62) that visited my garden feeders, a splendid way to reach the 70th species for the year list! I tried to get some images of it, but the light was too poor and I never got a clear shot at it, maybe it will hang around for another attempt.

All I have on offer photographically is a couple of Black Headed Gull images that i took yesterday at Migrant Alley.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Clear skies overnight allowed for a slight frost early this morning, but this soon lifted in the warm sunshine, although a cool wind still blew at times.

The better weather allowed for a full patch walk today, during which I recorded 49 bird species, a good tally for my patch, with virtually all the resident and overwintering species found, apart from the Kestrel, which hasn't hasn't been seen for a couple of days now, indicating she may be in the nest box, plus the Sparrowhawk, but this was seen at my garden feeders later in the day, so 50 species were actually recorded for today  :-)

No new species were found for the March list, and I still await the first spring Chiffchaff, which is surely imminent now ? The species of the day will go to the MEDITERRANEAN GULL, 2 of which joined the 200+ BLACK HEADED GULL and 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley.

BUZZARD was the only raptor seen today, at least 2 birds were up soaring over the area, but my list also included LITTLE OWL and even more exciting for me, no less than 4 COOTS over on the lakes, with a pair being found on the small lake, joining the pair already on the ornamental lake, I doubt weather they will all stay to breed though.

FIELDFARE, REDWING, LESSER REDPOLL, SISKIN and a flyover MEADOW PIPIT made up the winter species today.

Struggling to find anything to photograph, I decided to get a few shots of the CANADA GEESE as they bathed and preened on the lake.

A quick drink afterwards

A freshly bathed and preened Goose  :-)

Wednesday 16 March 2016

The weather remained mostly overcast for most of the day, with just the odd bright spell from time to time, but a moderate, cold, NE wind, made it feel cold.

I spent a little under three hours out on my patch, checking the lakes first off, where a pair of MANDARIN DUCKS were seen on the main lake. The MUTE SWAN pair and the COOT pair remain on the ornamental lake, plus the MALLARDS and MOORHENS were seen as usual, up to three pairs of CANADA GEESE came and went whilst I was there.

The Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods didn't provide the springs first migrant Chiffchaff, but with the wind blowing from the North I dont expect them to turn up yet, I had to be content with the likes of BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER, JAY and STOCK DOVE.

Out on the Ashes Lane Fields the wind was biting cold, but around 50 FIELDFARES, along with a few REDWINGS and  40 STARLINGS continue to feed on the sheep pasture. A pair of BUZZARDS flew across, heading for the Wet Woods.

The Sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley were paid a short visit, the cold wind made it particularly uncomfortable as it tore across the fields. I stayed there long enough to see the 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and a lone LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL among the 2-300 BLACK HEADED GULLS, I also noted 2 single MEADOW PIPITS fly over. There was not, however, any sign of the KESTRELS at the Greenhouse Grounds today.

No pics today I'm afraid, no chance in this dull windy weather  :-(

Tuesday 15 March 2016

It remained dull and overcast all day today and with the chill wind blowing it felt as cold as any day throughout the winter just gone.

A three hour patch visit this morning comprised of a look around the lakes, where the MUTE SWANS, COOTS, CANADA GEESE, MALLARD and MOORHENS were, as they have been recently, all present. Although I didn't walk the scrubby Woods, I heard COAL TIT, TREECREEPER and MISTLETHRUSH all singing from there, as well as calling BULLFINCH and NUTHATCH, plus a drumming GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

Also, a walk across the Ashes Lane Fields was made, where there were at least 50 FIELDFARE, but only 4 REDWING, plus a flock of 30 or so STARLING joined them. A GREY HERON flew over as I watched the winter thrushes, only the second record this month.

Todays visit also included a look around the Greenhouse Grounds, but not much was of note there, except of course the KESTREL pair, which were once again mating on one of the greenhouses. Scanning over the sheep pasture and paddocks of the adjacent Migrant Alley, again produced at least 250 BLACK HEADED GULLS, with them once again were 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS. A pair of BUZZARDS drifted over and alighted in the Greenhouse Copse, plus a MEADOW PIPIT, a SKYLARK and a CORMORANT all flew over, neither of these species were seen yesterday............and still no Chiffchaff have arrived  :-(

Mediterranean Gull ( image from last year, but had the sun been out and I had got close enough, these would have been todays images!)

Monday 14 March 2016

Most of this morning was grey and overcast, but the cloud slowly broke up in the moderate and cold easterly wind, leaving some sunny spells for the rest of the day.

Lambs enjoying the late morning sunshine

I carried out a full patch walk this morning and was pleasantly surprised with the excellent tally of 50 bird species recorded during the 4 hour walk. Three of those species were new for the March list, those being - a GREY HERON (59) that flew over the Greenhouse Grounds early in the walk, a PEREGRINE FALCON (60) that was circling quite low over the Small Holding area, where there was also a LITTLE OWL (61) heard calling, also noted there, were a dozen or so LESSER REDPOLL and the only REDWING of the day, the other winter thrush species, the FIELDFARE, was represent in good numbers at the Ashes Lane Fields again.

The MUTE SWAN pair, the COOT pair, 4 GREYLAG GEESE, 4 CANADA GEESE plus a few MALLARD and MOORHEN were on the lakes, while the Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods gave all that could be expected, the best being TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, GOLDCREST, SISKIN, MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, JAY, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREEN WOODPECKER, I still await the first migrant Chiffchaff though!

Over at Migrant Alley, there were at least 250 BLACK HEADED GULLS feeding in with the sheep and lambs, a good scan through them revealed 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS, plus 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS.

A 40 minute sky watch looking over the area ( it was too cold in that wind for longer!) gave me sightings of the local BUZZARD and KESTREL pair, plus a few HERRING GULLS and the odd PIED WAGTAIL, but little else of note.

The three new species for the month moves the March tally to 62 now, but that still only puts it in joint tenth place out of 15, joint with the March tally recorded in 2005, just need a few migrants to pass through now  :-)

A few of the Black headed Gulls on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley

Black headed Gull fly past

Sunday 13 March 2016

Variable cloud cover came and went throughout this morning, allowing brief spells of sunshine, a cool NE wind developed later in the morning.

An early visit to the Greenhouse Grounds was only noteworthy for the KESTREL pair that sat on one of the Greenhouses, although it was good to hear so many of the common birds singing there, like GREENFINCH, CHAFFINCH, GOLDFINCH, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, DUNNOCK and ROBIN.

Out on the adjacent sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley, very little was noted, just a few BLACK HEADED GULLS, it will take a few days yet I suspect before the place recovers from being used as a car park.

The 100+ FIELDFARE were still actively feeding on the Ashes Lane Fields, along with a few REDWING and 40-50 STARLINGS, plus as a bonus today, two YELLOWHAMMERS were also noted along the drainage ditch there.

I was convinced I would hear the first Chiffchaff of spring as I walked the Wet Woods, then the Scrubby Woods, as last year the first one was heard singing on the 12th March, but I failed to hear one, the 14 year mean average arrival date here is the 14th March, so any day now ............

Over on the lakes I fed the COOT pair and the MUTE SWAN pair, hoping to bribe them to stay and breed  :-)  Also on the lakes were 4 GREYLAG GEESE, 8 CANADA GEESE and the pair of Canada Greylag with their two hybrid offspring from last year, however the highlight there today was seeing a KINGFISHER speed low across the main lake.

A BUZZARD flew low over the lakes, whilst in the background I could here three MISTLETHRUSHES singing loudly, defending their territories.

I managed a few garden bird images again this afternoon, just to brighten the post............

The male Chaffinches are coming into full breeding plumage now

As are the male Redpolls, of which up to 14 are still plundering the sunflower hearts

Up to half a dozen SISKIN join the Redpolls

Saturday 12 March 2016

Dense fog once again cloaked the area, not clearing until 10:30hrs, however once the fog cleared it became sunny and springlike this afternoon.

In the poor visibility early on, only very limited birding could be done, however, a visit to the lakes proved very worthwhile when three TUFTED DUCKS (69,58) flew onto the main lake, two being females, something to keep the years patch list ticking over until the spring migrants arrive!

I was surprised to see so many FIELDFARES on the Ashes Lane Fields, at least 100 were scattered widely over the largest field, with them were a few REDWING and around 40 STARLINGS, as I was assessing the numbers, a MANDARIN DUCK flew low over calling.

No visit was made to Migrant Alley, there was no point with all that fog early on, then later in the morning the fields were used as a car park by Hadlow College for their lambing weekend event, this will also be the case tomorrow, when hopefully there will be no fog so I can get round early and avoid the masses  :-)

In the sunshine early this afternoon I took some images in my garden, whilst doing so, a couple of BUZZARDS flew low over towards the Wet Woods.

It was warm enough by mid day for a few Honey Bees to be visiting my crocus' exactly what I planted them for  :-)

The LONG TAILED TITS were coming in to feed on the suet, flying around the garden even though I was out there, just feet from me, as were the SISKIN and LESSER REDPOLLS, which have become very trusting of my presence.

Even the grab-and-dash COAL TITS are almost tame  :-)

Friday 11 March 2016

Dense fog covered the area this morning, not clearing till almost 10:00hrs, but when it did clear, there was some lovely spring sunshine to be enjoyed.

Fog.....hopeless for birding. This is the view out onto the Ashes Lane Fields.......or not!

Despite the fog, I decided to undertake a full patch walk, in which the four hours produced 44 species, not too bad, with the likes of Herring Gull and Bullfinch failing to show today. I added MANDARIN DUCK (57) to the March list though, when a pair flew from the main lake, just as well they did as I wouldn't have known they were there otherwise! The MUTE SWAN pair and the COOT pair both came over to the bank to see if I had some food for them, which on this occasion I did  :-)

TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, JAY, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREEN WOODPECKER were the best of what was seen in the Scrubby Woods and Wet Woods, while the Small Holding area was only noteworthy for a few LESSER REDPOLL that had come from my garden.

Only the last hour of my visit was spent in fog free conditions, which I spent looking round the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley, the former habitat once again hosted the KESTREL pair, which once again were seen mating, also a small gathering of 6 SISKIN were seen in the Alders, allowing some more images of them to be had.


Out on the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley there were 100+ BLACK HEADED GULLS, but no other gull species was among them. Flyovers from SKYLARK, PIED WAGTAIL and a flock of 20-30 FIELDFARE with at least 4 REDWING were noted, plus the local BUZZARD pair were soaring over the fields.

This CARRION CROW was also in the Alders, looking well pleased, as the farmers / landowners have given him an easy job of finding any early bird nests to rob with their over zealous hedge cutting.

I shant blame the Crow for doing what is natural though.

Thursday 10 March 2016

It remained grey and overcast this morning, but with little wind it felt pleasant enough out.

An early visit to the lakes found the most regular visiting species there, those being MUTE SWAN, CANADA GEESE, GREYLAG GEESE (plus the hybrid Greylag x Canada Goose pair) COOT, MALLARD and MOORHEN, but not the hoped for Grey Heron!

On the way to the lakes I noted that the Ashes Lane Fields were empty of winter thrushes, the only FIELDFARE seen were two lone flyovers, they seem to have all moved on now, although I expect to record the odd one right up to the end of March and possibly into April, the median average last sighting date for Fieldfare is the 30th March, which also happens to be the same date for the Redwing  :-) Whilst at the Ashes Lane Fields a YELLOWHAMMER dropped in to the drainage ditch vegetation.

I had a bit of a sky watch during my visit today, sitting at my seat overlooking Migrant Alley, I watched the comings and goings of the BLACK HEADED GULLS out on the sheep pasture, plus I noted flyovers from HERRING GULL, SKYLARK, SISKIN, more Greylag and Canada Geese, and a pair of BUZZARDS, but more pleasing was adding CORMORANT (55) and MEADOW PIPIT (56) to the March tally, a pair of each were seen. The KESTREL pair were also observed hunting around the adjacent Greenhouse Grounds.

With March now a third of the way through, I start to look forward to the possible arrival of spring migrants, the Chiffchaff is nearly always first, but in the right conditions, later in the month, I might get lucky and find the likes of Wheatear, Sand Martin, Blackcap or even a very early Swallow, much to look forward to!

With no pictures again for the blog, ive had to delve in to the archives for an image, so here's the Chiffchaff, the bringer of spring  :-)