Tuesday 31 May 2016

Torrential rain, with a gale force wind prevented any sort of patch visit early today, even when the rain passed the wind was strong and gusty, making the hour long visit at around 11:00hrs totally pointless, as nothing much at all was seen!

There was some interest at my garden feeding station though, with both COLLARED DOVE and GREAT TIT young coming in with adult birds, the 13th and 14th species to have bred successfully on my patch so far this year.

A disappointing last day of the month then, and with the weather set windy and dull for the first week of the new month, I think i'll just stay indoors and watch the garden feeders!

Monday 30 May 2016

This morning was reasonably bright, but with a stiff Northerly wind blowing, making it feel chilly.

I undertook the 10th and final full patch walk for May today, where in the four hour visit I recorded 43 species, Pheasant, Jay, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and even the Kestrel failed to show of the regularly seen species.

Only one more addition was made to the 'successfully bred'' list, that was the ROOK, two recently fledge young were with an adult bird on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where the 30-40 GREYLAG GEESE had gathered once again along with 3 CANADA GEESE. Overhead there were flyovers from HERRING GULL and GREY HERON, plus a dozen SWIFTS were up feeding, but the SWALLOWS kept well in cover, just one was seen - the last species on the day list!

Whilst in the Scrubby Woods, I found a BLUE TITS nest, notable for its position as it was in a hole in the ground at the base of a tree, never seen once placed like that before!

Very little else to report today, tomorrow looks like a washout, certainly early on, so todays visit might have been the last this month, a month that has disappointed in many ways, with the monthly species total of 66 being the 8th best only from 15. So many Summer birds either didn't pass through here, or arrive on their traditional breeding grounds and the ones that did were few and far between, just four have stayed to breed for certain, the CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, COMMON WHITETHROAT and SWALLOW, plus maybe the LESSER WHITETHROAT.

Sunday 29 May 2016

It was mostly sunny this morning with a light northerly wind, much more pleasant than yesterday  :-)

After an initial walk around the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, where there was little to note but the GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE, plus flyovers from a few  HERRING GULLS and a lone LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, I walked over to the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods to look for newly fledged birds, firstly checking on the KESTREL box at the Greenhouse Grounds, where I saw the male bird carry a food item in  :-)

In the Wet Woods I can hear the young GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS calling from the nest hole, plus at least 2 MISTLE THRUSH young are on the verge of fledging nearby. TREECREEPER and NUTHATCH were seen collecting food for their young, but no fledglings yet.

A scan over the nearby lakes to check the MUTE SWAN nest showed that they are still incubating eggs, but the MALLARDS are failing to rear any young at all so far.

I spent two hours in the Scrubby Woods looking out for both Odonata and young birds, of the latter, I found the first LONG TAILED TIT young of the year as they noisily chased the parent birds through the Oaks, where both GOLDCREST and BLUE TIT families are concealed among the foliage. Overhead the local BUZZARDS called, I wondered to myself how long it had been since their call was heard around here before their recent comeback to the area.

On the Odonata front, I found White-legged Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, and Beautiful Demoiselle, plus has fleeting glimpses of a Hairy Dragonfly, not much then, but I did get a few images of the Demoiselles today  :-)

Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Saturday 28 May 2016

Light rain fell intermittently throughout this morning, clearing by 14:00hrs to leave warm sunny spells.

My patch visit today mostly concentrated on the Scrubby Woods, the reason for this being that I was going to be joined by Marc Heath ( Mr Odonata himself! see his impressive website here). Believing the weather forecast, which was for sunshine and light winds we met up at 10:00hrs in the rain, and set off, hoping that it would clear, but it never did entirely - that is until we left 4 hours later!

Not deterred, we had a good look around for our target species of White-legged Damselfly and Beautiful Demoiselle, which did begrudgingly show themselves, although the latter species was always just on the cusp of camera range! Marc did get a few record shots though, which we would have accepted readily from the Downy Emerald that we saw very briefly. Despite the poor dragonfly hunting weather, it was still an enjoyable few hours, made more so by the sighting of the first patch TURTLE DOVE (91,66) of the year, which flew from the telephone wires above the woods, a passage bird or a potential breeder time will tell, hopefully the latter.

I also found two more species for the years ''successfully bred'' patch list, with the first BLUE TIT and GOLDCREST fledgings being recorded as they were being fed by the adult birds in the cover of the Oak trees, I had already added GREENFINCH to that list when I had seen two newly fledged birds at my garden feeders earlier in the morning  :-)

KESTREL and BUZZARD were also noted whilst on our dragon quest, while a quick look over the lakes to see if the MUTE SWANS had hatched their young out yet proved negative, but it wont be long now!

Thanks to Marc for the company, I hope his images turn out ok, at least he got some, as I didn't!

Friday 27 May 2016

It was a mainly overcast morning with a few bright spells, but feeling quite pleasant in warmer temperatures.

I undertook a 5 hour full patch walk this morning, plus had another visit to the Scrubby Woods to look for Odonata this afternoon, which was reasonable, with Azure and White-legged Damselflies seen, plus a few very wary Beautiful demoiselles and a glimpse of a Downy Emerald dragonfly. More notable was adding TAWNY OWL to the days list which called twice at 14:30hrs, plus I found TREECREEPER and STOCK DOVE that weren't recorded this morning, taking the days tally to 49 bird species, a decent result.

With the other Owl species to be found on my patch, the LITTLE OWL, seen again at the Small Holding, plus all four Tit and Finch Species to be found here as well as the GREAT SPOTTED and GREEN WOODPECKERS, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST and JAY, all species that can be hard to record at this time of year, meant just about everything that could be seen was seen  :-)

Summer species are still limited to SWALLOW, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT and fly over SWIFTS. Other notables were the 26 GREYLAG GEESE on the paddocks at Migrant Alley, along with 7 CANADA GEESE, plus the KESTREL pair at the Greenhouse Grounds and 4 BUZZARDS up over the Ashes Lane Field. The fresh cut silage crop on the pub Field had attracted three HERRING GULLS, not common here at this time of year.

I didn't find any more new species for the patch successfully bred list, but watched a COAL TIT pair taking food to their nest and also watched the MISTLETHRUSH pair taking food to their nest in the Wet Woods, I can just see that there are two, maybe three, almost ready to fledge young in it.

Just one photo today, the dragonflies are proving very hard to approach!

White-legged Damselfly

Thursday 26 May 2016

Owing to my computing ''dying'' on Wednesday morning, the last couple of days have been spent trying to get things put right, instead of getting out birding, so no meaningful patch visits have been undertaken.

Thankfully my computer is now up and running again, (fingers crossed) so normal service will be resumed tomorrow  ;-)

I managed to take a couple of photo's of the Large Red Damselflies that are around my pond this afternoon, in between watching endless ''green bars'' on the computer!

Male Large Red Damselfly

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Clear blue skies this morning slowly filled with cloud by mid day, leaving the odd bright spell in a cool North wind.

I got round for a full patch walk today, during which the five and a half hour visit produced 49 bird species, just the omission of Long Tailed Tit of the regular species prevented the fifty being reached!

Nothing new was added to my monthly tally, which languishes in joint 10th place out of the 15 Mays recorded, the same tally as in 2006, when visits were far shorter and fewer. I didn't add any new species to the patch breeding list either!

I did see the the LITTLE OWL at the Small Holding though, always a treat to see, plus the 3 local Raptor species of KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and BUZZARD which were seen up hunting. A flight of 3 HOUSE MRTINS that flew over were just the second record this month, the only other summer species seen were the CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT, SWIFT and SWALLOW.

Flyover HERRING GULL and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL added to the days list as did the continued presence of 30+ GREYLAG GEESE and 2 CANADA GEESE that were on the paddocks at Migrant Alley. A SKYLARK has been singing over the Ashes Lane Fields for a couple of weeks now, I do hope they don't breed there, but it looks likely that they are, unfortunately the field will no doubt be cut in the next week or so, as have the other silage fields :-(

I spent late morning at the scrubby Woods, once again looking for Odonata species and was well chuffed with finding 2 male Downy Emeralds patrolling the same sunny glade, however despite hanging around for over an hour, I failed to get a photo of one, in fact I didn't get a single photo of any of the Dragons today, despite seeing Beautiful Demoiselles, Azure Damselfly and White-legged Damselfly, but that's how it goes some days!

Monday 23 May 2016

Cloud broke up as the morning progressed, giving some sunny spells, before it clouded over again by Mid day.

An early walk around the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley wasn't of much interest, the gaggle of GREYLAG GEESE were still on the paddocks, numbering 27 today, with them were 2 CANADA GEESE. A dozen or so SWALLOWS zipped over the sheep pasture and a pair of SWIFTS were seen high up. A look through the Greenhouse Grounds provided me with the first newly fledged DUNNOCK of the year - No. 8 for the 'Successfully bred' patch list. The male KESTREL was also seen, busy hunting.

As it warmed up, I made my way to the scrubby Woods to look for Odonata, seeing 3 BUZZARDS and a SPARROWHAWK over the Wet Woods on the way. I got a couple of hours looking for the dragons before the sunshine went, but I found at least 6 Beautiful Demoiselles, 1 Hairy Dragonfly, plus a real rarity for my patch - a Downy Emerald Dragonfly! Excellent !

Downy Emerald. Unfortunately it didn't allow close approach, but I got this distant shot and cropped it for ID purposes  ;-)

The Beautiful Demoiselles proved just as flighty at first, but one eventually stayed put for a few images.

Sunday 22 May 2016

It was mainly cloudy with a few sunny spells this morning, but it felt much warmer than of late with higher humidity and little wind.

A three hour patch visit provided much of what can be expected here for the last third of May, no more additions to the months species list were found, but I am still clinging on to the hope that both Turtle Dove and Spotted Flycatcher might just put in an appearance, if not, this May would be the first ever that these two species have not been recorded here.

At this time of year my visits are mostly all about trying to locate recently fledged birds, so as to prove successful breeding on my patch, but no new species were found today, there are plenty of species dashing around carrying food though, like BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, WREN, DUNNOCK, BLACKBIRD, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and PIED WAGTAIL.

Also at this time of year my attentions turn to the Odonata and Butterflies that can be found here - if the weather is right! Today it was right, with little wind, some warm sun, and more importantly a bit of humidity. I spent 90 minutes in the scrubby Woods and along the edge of the Wet Woods and found my first Beautiful Demoiselles of the year in both habitats, while the latter habitat had my first Four Spotted Chaser of the year, plus a few Azure and White-legged Damselflies. Butterflies were relatively few, but both Large and Small white were seen as well as Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, still no Comma for the month though.

Here's a few images from my visit today..................

Female Orange Tip Butterfly

Speckled Wood Butterfly

Immature male, White-legged Damselfly

Saturday 21 May 2016

Another mostly overcast morning, with a stiff SW breeze making it feel cool for the time of year.

I made the effort to get round for a full patch walk today walk, finding a measly 44 bird species, with Jay, Long Tailed Tit and Sparrowhawk the most obvious omissions for the day. I did at least find a couple of newly fledged species for the 'successfully Bred' patch list, when a very young ROBIN was seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, STOCK DOVE was also added, a recently fledged individual was with an adult bird at the Small Holding.

Other bits of note were 3 BUZZARDS that were soaring low over the Wet Woods, plus the only other raptor seen today the male KESTREL hunting over the Greenhouse Grounds. Also a LITTLE OWL was in its usual tree at the Greenhouse Grounds and a male MANDARIN DUCK was on the main lake. 59 GREYLAG GEESE were on one of the paddocks at Migrant Alley, but no Canada Geese today.

SWIFT, SWALLOW, BLACKCAP, COMMON WHITETHROAT and CHIFFCHAFF remain the only summer birds recorded, the likes of Turtle Dove and Spotted Flycatcher - both former breeding birds look to have been lost to the area now, although one may still turn up on passage.

An afternoon visit to the Scrubby Woods to look for Odonata proved fruitless, not surprising in the un-summer like weather, so no images today  :-(

Thursday 19 May 2016

This morning was mostly overcast with just a few sunny spells breaking through from time to time.

I got round for a full patch walk this morning, which took me just under 5 hours, the tally of bird species was relatively low, with just 43 seen, but some are keeping well low as they are now breeding. Common and regular birds missing from todays list were Treecreeper, Jay, Stock Dove, Long Tailed Tit and Sparrowhawk.


Of the bird recorded, nothing really stood out, the most enjoyable sightings were the LITTLE OWL at the Small Holding, plus the raptor species of BUZZARD and KESTREL. The most notable gatherings were of the GREYLAG and CANADA GEESE that were on the paddocks at Migrant Alley early on, with 31 of the former and 11 of the latter present. Only SWIFT, SWALLOW, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and COMMON WHITETHROAT turned out for the summer species, a poor return,

Once again my visit produced no newly fledged species for the years ''Successfully bred'' list, but one I look forward to is the MUTE SWAN over at the ornamental lake, this species has bred just once here, so it is quite an event for my patch  ;-)

A later walk around the Scrubby Woods to look for odonata species was a total failure, just not warm enough yet I suppose!

Just to brighten the post a little here's the last of the shots from Bough Beech I took a couple of days ago..........


Wednesday 18 May 2016

This morning was cool and cloudy with a strengthening SW wind, which brought rain from mid morning till mid afternoon.

Very little was recorded on my patch at all in the poor conditions, just a few over flying HERRING GULLS, even the SWALLOWS that were lined up on the fence, were not wasting energy trying to catch the few insects that were out!

I found no newly fledged young, although ROBIN, DUNNOCK and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER nests have loud begging calls coming from them, so it shouldn't be long now before they are seen. A WHITETHROAT was watched as it sang, carrying nest material to its secretive nest at the Greenhouse Grounds.

No chance with the camera today, so here's some more images from my visit to Bough Beech yesterday...........

Common Tern

Tuesday 17 May 2016

I made no patch visit today, instead I headed off out to the local Wildlife Reserves of Bough Beech Reservoir and Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve.

By far the more interesting was the former mentioned, getting there before 07:00hrs in some lovely sunny weather helped..............

View Across the Main Reservoir

Another View

We encountered a good tally of 52 bird species, but being so early most of the raptor species, except the KESTREL, were not up and about, so Buzzard, Hobby and Sparrowhawk could well have been expected if we had stayed. Most enjoyable species seen for me, were :-  RINGED PLOVER, COMMON TERN, GARDEN WARBLER, REED WARBLER, REED BUNTING, NIGHTINGALE (In Song, my first of the year) and LITTLE EGRET, all birds that I would be lucky to see on my patch nowadays.

I took a few images, i'll post a few now a save some for later blog posts.............

The Ringed Plover was a bit distant, but the images are acceptable  :-)

Little Egret

Our visit to Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve was mainly to look for some Odonata species, but shorty after our arrival the cloud built and the temperature dropped, but we did get to see a couple of Banded Demoiselles, plus a few Common and Azure Blue Damselflies, the birding highlight was a couple of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, but constant noise from brush cutters being used to ''tidy'' the footpaths was a bit annoying, driving us off in the end, the footpaths hardly need widening any further, another case of health and safety over kill from KWT!

Monday 16 May 2016

A sunny start to the day, with cloud building in by 09:00hrs, still feeling cool for the time of year.

Not too much to report today, my 4 hour patch visit provided good views of the 2 RED KITES that remain at Bustard Hill though, that in itself was worth getting out for  :-)

One of the Red Kites. No chance of getting near for a proper photo!

LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL and HERRING GULL also visited the cut silage crop at Bustard Hill, and at last HOUSE MARTIN (65) joined the months list when 2 flew over, that takes this Mays list to 65, way down in joint 10th place out of the 15 Mays recorded.

A pair of BUZZARDS were over my patch, as was a SPARROWHAWK, the male KESTREL brought food to the nest box and the female exited, they must have young in there now, good news.

A look around the Scrubby Woods for Odonata species only produced a single fly past Hairy Dragonfly, not yet quite warm enough for them here it seems.

No more newly fledged young were found.

Sunday 15 May 2016

A light NW wind brought increasing amounts of cloud this morning, but some good sunny spells were also enjoyed.

I got round for a full patch walk today, finding a good total of 48 bird species as I went, 49 if I add the TAWNY OWLS (63) that were heard in the early hours as I lay awake in bed, the first to be heard here this month.

In contrast to yesterdays 2 hour visit, in which I didn't note enough to even make a blog post, today there was plenty to note, first off, a CUCKOO was heard calling as I left the house, the call came from over the back of the Scrubby Woods, better was to come shortly after, when a pair of RED KITES (64) were seen hawking over the fresh cut silage field at Bustard Hill, they even alighted on a nearby old Oak Tree, the first Red Kites to ''touch down'' on my patch that I have recorded! As I watched them I noted 3 SPARROWHAWKS circling high up, this was the second of four raptor species seen today, the other two being BUZZARD and KESTREL.

A LITTLE OWL sat in its favoured tree over at the Small Holding area, where in a nearby garden the first fledged SONGTHRUSHES were recorded for the 2016 ''successfully Bred'' list, then over at the lakes the first CANADA GEESE young were seen, two families of four were on the main lake.

Time spent in the Scrubby Woods looking for Odonata species proved better than recent efforts, when a female Hary Dragonfly was seen and photographed, as was the first White-legged Damselfly of the year, an immature specimen.

Female Hairy Dragonfly

Immature White-legged Damselfly

Friday 13 May 2016

Early cloud broke up to leave some more warm sunshine today.

A full patch walk was carried out this morning, in which a disappointing total of 44 bird species were recorded, although some of the missing species like Nuthatch and Jay have gone very quiet now they have young in nests.

It was good to see one of the LITTLE OWLS perched up in its usual tree at the Small Holding, over which 3 BUZZARDS circled briefly, calling all the while. The MISTLETHRUSH pair have re nested in the Wet Woods, better luck for them this time, but on the main lake a newly fledged party of 4 GREYLAG GOOSE Goslings were seen, just the third species to have successfully bred so far on my patch this spring.

The male KESTREL was hunting over the Ashes Lane Fields, where a SKYLARK was heard singing, but Migrant Alley was pretty poor today, although another gaggle of 14 Greylag Geese were on one of the paddocks early on. My sky watch produced just HERRING GULL passing through, but lots of SWALLOWS were about, unusually no Swifts appeared today though.

BLACKCAP, WHITETHROAT and CHIFFCHAFF all sang from the Greenhouse Grounds and the associated Greenhouse Copse, but no sign of the Lesser Whitethroat today, or the garden warbler, or the Cuckoo......or a Turtle Dove....or a Spotted Flycatcher.............  :-(

I spent some time looking for Odonata in the Scrubby Woods, but found not one species! I had to wait until I arrived home to get some images of the Large Red Damselflies around my mini ponds. Cant be long now until the Beautiful Demoiselles emerge.

Male Large Red Damselfly

Thursday 12 May 2016

Today provided clear blue skies and warm sunshine, in which it felt very pleasant in the light NE wind.

By way of a change for today, instead of walking my patch, I took up a friends offer of a visit to Stodmarsh, a change is as good as a rest as they say  :-)

We walked a full circuit of the reserve, recording mostly common species, but of those, things like Reed Warbler, Sedge warbler, Cettis Warbler, Garden warbler, Reed Bunting, Bearded Tit, Marsh harrier and Common Tern are very rarely seen on my patch - if ever, so it was a treat for me to see them.

A spectacular sight was seeing at least 20 Hobbies feeding over the area, but birds of the day were the 5 - 6 Black terns that were seen over the lake, just beating into second place the Gargany that was seen from the viewing Ramp.

Thanks to my friend Grant for taking me along with him  :-)

Not many photo's were taken, the light was harsh and most birds were distant, but a few record shots of the Hobbies were obtained, plus one of the Black Terns - just about!.

Hobby catching prey

Black Tern

Wednesday 11 May 2016

It was very humid this morning, when it remaining overcast, with rain at times.

I made a couple of brief 90 minute patch visits this morning, the first to Migrant Alley and the Greenhouse Grounds, the latter habitat had of note the now established COMMON WHITETHROAT pair, perhaps even two, plus the male KESTREL sitting up on one of the greenhouses.

Out on the sheep pasture the usual ROOK gathering were seen, plus more unusually a gaggle of 10 GREYLAG GEESE were also seen. In the distance a Cuckoo was heard, but way of my patch. Flyovers from HERRING and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, plus more impressively the PEREGRINE pair were watched as they went over, a few SWIFTS were feeding up high and a dozen SWALLOWS did likewise at lower altitude, but there was still no House Martin seen for the months list.

My second patch visit later in the morning was to the Scrubby Woods, mainly to see if their was any Odonata around, which there wasn't, however, a CUCKOO flew over, calling as it went, just my second patch record of Cuckoo this year. BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF were the only other summer birds seen. I walked back home through the Wet Woods, seeing a male SPARROWHAWK dash through the trees very low, then a BUZZARD was seen up over ashes Lane as I neared home, four raptor species for the day  :-)

Whist at home this afternoon, I was pleased to hear the raucous calls of newly fledged STARLINGS at my feeders, two were being fed by both parents, I had to wait until May 20th for this event last year. A neighbours cat showed some interest, but a well aimed pebble saw that off!

I got a few images of the Juv. Starlings, not the best light, but they will pass  :-)

Pity I manged to cut the tail off the adult bird!