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!