Monday 30 January 2017

I made the 10th and final 'full patch walk' of January this morning, in dull, overcast conditions, but it was at least dry and quite warm for the 3 hour visit.

A total of 42 species was recorded, but nothing new for the months list was among them, January now looks like remaining on 62 species, unless I can winkle out anything on a short visit tomorrow, this will be the same tally as in 2008 and 2012, and would put it in joint 10th position from the 16 Januaries recorded.

The highlight of todays birding was finding that the 2 male and single female GOOSANDER had returned to the now only half frozen lakes, with them were a dozen CANADA GEESE and a pair of GREYLAG GEESE, as well the usual scattering of MALLARDS and MOORHENS - quite busy for these lakes!

All the regular woodland species were recorded this morning, apart from Stock Dove, some of which were giving a bit of song, like COAL TIT, GREENFINCH, GOLDCREST, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLETHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN and DUNNOCK, plus a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was drumming from the Wet Woods too, spring is approaching!

Over on the farmland is was a bit quieter, but SKYLARKS were up singing over Bustard Hill, plus around 100 BLACK HEADED GULLS were on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley. The KESTREL pair were seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, but no other raptors were about this morning.

Friday 27 January 2017

Although there was a slight frost this morning, it felt a bit warmer, although still dull and damp, it could, however, be a lot worse!

I spent 3 hours out, making an effort to complete a 'full patch walk', the penultimate one for January, it's always hard going at this time of year, especially now that most of what can be found this month already has been, only flyover species or visitors to the lakes will be added to the months list now I suspect.

The lakes however were frozen over still, so just MALLARDS and MOORHENS were present, the only flyover species recorded today were SISKIN and STOCK DOVE. The rest of the 36 species that I recorded today were the regulars, apart from the 38 LAPWING that were spread over the sheep pasture at the Ashes Lane Fields and Migrant Alley.

Only BUZZARD appeared for the Raptors, that was over at the Scrubby Woods, where it was a case of trying to tick off the less frequently encountered species, the likes of COAL TIT, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, and GOLDCREST were found, but Treecreeper and Long Tailed Tit eluded detection, not surprising for the latter, as there were 14 watched this afternoon, clinging to the suet bars that I have put out for them in my garden!

FIELDFARES and REDWINGS are on virtually every field and in most of the large gardens, despite the ground being semi-frozen still!

A couple of images for todays blog post, taken in my garden a few days back....


Male Blackbird

Tuesday 24 January 2017

A quick 90 minute stroll around the sheep pasture and paddocks of Migrant Alley this morning proved well timed, as I was there to witness a flyover SNIPE (61), good to add this species to the Month / Year list. I also recorded my first YELLOWHAMMER (62) of the year, just one was sitting in the hedgerow that borders the Greenhouse Grounds with Migrant Alley, plus I saw the KESTREL pair sitting together on one of the greenhouses.

A quick look over at the Ashes Lane fields was worthwhile, as hoped, the LAPWING were still present, although only 7 of them today.

Before I set off for my walk, I sat and waited for the REDWING to come and feed on the apples I have staked out in my garden, there was just enough light hitting the branches for a few decent images :-)


Monday 23 January 2017

Despite the dense freezing fog that never cleared all day, I undertook the 8th full patch walk of the month, this morning.

I wasn't expecting too much about, so I wasn't disappointment at the poor number of passerines birds about, I reckon the frozen vegetation and ground has forced many to warmer spots around the country, I even had difficulty finding a WREN, but one was finally found over at the Greenhouse Grounds, being watched by the female KESTREL as well as me!

The undoubted highlight of the visit was seeing a WOODCOCK (59) fly from the Wet Woods, the first on my patch since 2015. It was also good to see 15 LAPWINGS on the Ashes Lane Fields, plus seeing, rather than hearing the LITTLE OWL over at the Small Holding.

Both BUZZARD and SPARROWHAWK were seen in the Scrubby Woods, making up the regular 3 Raptor species to be found on my patch, most of the regular woodland species were also found there, apart from Treecreeper and Stock Dove.

The lakes were frozen over, just MALLARD and MOORHEN were seen there, the ice is so thick it will take a week for them to thaw out, even if there no more frosts, that will probably put pay to finding the likes of Coot or Mandarin Duck for the months list.

Finding a Woodcock on my patch is always the highlight of any days birding, but it was outshone today, when this afternoon, whilst I was watching the REDWING tucking into some apples I had impaled on the Elder tree in my garden, I was absolutely gobsmacked to see a WAXWING (60) come in!! I had just a fleeting view, for even as I reached for my bins, out comes the neighbour in his big red puffer flies the Waxwing!  Grrrrrr. I always impale a few apples out in the garden every winter, in the 1000/1 hope of luring a Waxing, so at least I have succeeded now, even if it was just a brief encounter. This was the 56th bird species to use the facilities in my garden in the 17 years i have lived here    :-)

Images for today are from my garden, taken yesterday, but the despite the sunny conditions, the light barely reaches most parts of my garden at this time of year, so not the best pics!



Friday 20 January 2017

It was frosty, crisp and cold for my 7th full patch walk of January, but with wall to wall sunshine, it soon warmed up nicely.

There were signs of spring in the woods today, with the drumming of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, the ''teacher teacher'' calls of GREAT TITS and the master mimicry of STARLINGS ( mimicking Black headed Gull, Blackbird, Little Owl and  Green Woodpecker amongst others!) all heard as I ticked off the other resident woodland species, the best being the more scarcer species of BULLFINCH, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER and JAY, the only missing semi regulars were Stock Dove and Pheasant.

The lakes were frozen over, as they have been all week, just a few MALLARD were standing on the ice, plus a couple of MOORHEN scurrying about.

All the thrush species; SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, MISTLETHRUSH, FIELDFARE and REDWING were recorded, most of them retreating to the larger gardens, especially those with berry or fruit trees still standing, as the fields and woods were frozen hard, denying them access to their invertebrate prey.

MEADOW PIPIT, SKYLARK, KESTREL and  LITTLE OWL were the pick of the other species recorded today, which tallied up to a reasonable 40, but nothing new for the month / year list.

With the light comes photo's ! Not the best efforts, but a garden session cleared the cobwebs from the camera this afternoon........

Both male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers visited, favouring the suet feeders!

They soon find the suet no matter where I put it!

The Starlings also favour the suet feeders, 'boring black birds with spots' they are not!

Two Songthrushes have been coming in regularly, between them and a Redwing they have polished off the berries from my small holly tree

A decent flock of around 10 Long tailed Tits are frequent visitors

plus, of course lots of these little chaps, 15 - 20 at a time  :-)

Monday 16 January 2017

I decided to do my 6th full patch walk, of the 10 scheduled for January, this morning, which took place in some more dreary dull weather, which eventually gave way to a short period of rain.

The 3 and a half hour walk yielded up just 36 species, all of which were the core, regular species for Pittswood, so nothing for the year/month list!  Treecreeper, Bullfinch, and Long Tailed Tit weren't seen in the woods this morning, nor were there any raptor species found, hence the low species tally today. The species of most note seen this morning were the Winter Thrushes of REDWING and FIELDFARE that fed on the sheep pasture at the Ashes Lane Fields, plus a few MEADOW PIPITS that were on a field next to the Greenhouse Grounds.

A second visit to the fields of Migrant Alley later in the day proved more fortuitous, when I watched the first 3 MUTE SWANS (58) of the year fly over, plus I heard a SKYLARK up singing a RING NECKED PARAKEET was squawking away over at the Wooded Headland ( the same bird presumably that visited my garden last Friday). I also saw the female KESTREL fly onto one on the Greenhouses. Afternoons seem better for bird watching than the mornings do !

Friday 13 January 2017

I decided on a full patch walk this morning, a patchy, thin layer of ice and snow lay over the area, and with the wind now coming from a NW direction, increasing in strength, the hope was that a few different species would be found.

Although nothing exciting got recorded during the 3 and a half hour visit, with just 37 species being found, I did at least add three more species to the months list, two were gulls, when both COMMON GULL (54) and LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL (55) were seen flying over a chilly Migrant alley, where I also heard, then saw, a REED BUNTING (56) flyover.

There was no ice on the lakes, but no ducks either, well, that is apart from the MALLARDS, a GREY HERON dropped in whilst I was scanning the main lake though. Not many passerines were around the Wet Woods or Scrubby Woods, no Treecreeper, Coal Tit or Long Tailed were found, but the NUTHATCHES, BULLFINCHES and GOLDRESTS were very noticeable as they all called loudly.

Few of the FIELDFARE and REDWING remained at the Ashes Lane Fields or Pub Field, where numbers had been building before the snow and just one MEADOW PIPIT was heard as it flew past.

The Greenhouse grounds had just the common birds, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT and the likes, but no Pied Wagtails today, unusually. There were no sightings of the Kestrels today, nor were there any other raptors up and about this morning.

Later in the morning, during a hefty sleet shower, I had a surprise visitor to my garden feeders when a RING NECKED PARAKEET (57) turned up to scoff the sunflower hearts, only the second record of this species for my garden, the last being back in April 2005. I also had a MISTLETHRUSH drop in very briefly, another very rare bird to use my garden.......23 species for the January Garden list now, still a long way behind the 28 recorded in January 2013 though!

Although the light was dreadful I took a couple of photo's of the Parakeet, shooting through the double glazing didn't help the quality of the images none!!

Lovely looking birds, that cant be denied, whatever your stance is on their presence in the UK.

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Just a quick few lines.......
A brief mid morning visit to the lakes provided more views of the 2 male and the female GOOSANDER, too distant to photograph though. There was also a glimpse of my first KINGFISHER (52) of the year as it sped low across the main lake. Just as I was leaving for home a GREY WAGTAIL (53) flew over, calling loudly as it went, a good couple of birds for the January list  :-)

Monday 9 January 2017

Another grey morning, but it was dry and mostly windless until after midday.

My full patch walk today provided a better tally than the last one, with 41 species being recorded, still rather low, but at least I added PHEASANT (50) to the year list! I also added SKYLARK (51), when at least a dozen were seen mixing with 20+ MEADOW PIPIT over at Bustard Hill.

The three resident raptor species of BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK were all seen hunting over the area, the latter on several occasions, when the male was watched performing it's display flight.

MALLARDS had returned to the lakes, along with a few MOORHENS, but nothing else was on the water. The Woodland species all turned out apart from the Coal Tit and Stock Dove, as usual the pick of what those were the numerous GOLDCRESTS, as well as BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, LONG TAILED TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOODPECKER and and JAY.

FIELDFARE and REDWING continue to feed on the Ashes Lane Fields and Migrant Alley, about 150 birds in all. Noteworthy flyovers today included CANADA GOOSE, CORMORANT, HERRING GULL and SISKIN.

The January list creeps up to 15th out of 16 now, the mean average January species total for the previous 5 years is 64, that looks a big ask to reach that!

Saturday 7 January 2017

It was such a dull, misty and grey day today, that the light was no different morning, noon or dusk!

A poor day to choose really for a full patch walk, but I did one anyway, so I cant be too surprised at recording a low tally of just 36 species, all of which were the core species to be found here at Pittswood, so no additions to the months list. Where are all the Pheasants ? They cant all have been shot and dumped under a hedgerow in black bin liners!

For the scarcer woodland species, all but Stock Dove turned out in the Scrubby Woods/Wet Woods, with the best species seen being the GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, LONG TAILED TIT, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER, plus BUZZARD that left it's roost, the only raptor seen today. Not a thing was seen on any of the lakes, not even a Mallard or MOORHEN, although the latter was seen in an adjacent garden.

FIELDFARE, REDWING, MISTLETHRUSH and SONGTHRUSH were the highlight from the Small Holding, with more on the Ashes Lane fields, but the rest of the farmland was pretty dire for birds, just ROOKS and BLACK HEADED GULLS in small numbers, with a lone immature HERRING GULL.

The Greenhouse grounds were similarly bereft of birds, PIED WAGTAIL was the only species added to the days list from there.

Skylark and Yellowhammer seem to have left the area adjacent to Bustard Hill, hopefully they will return soon and join the months species tally!

Thursday 5 January 2017

 A bit of sunshine, but for how long?

A few bits and pieces to report from this mornings frosty, but sunny visit to the lakes, which were almost entirely frozen over, so just a few MALLARDS were seen standing on the ice. There were however flyovers from firstly a GREY HERON, then a little later the first LITTLE EGRET (49) for the year, a good species to get on the list.

SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD and KESTREL were all seen up hunting as I walked across the Ashes Lane Fields, where there are still plenty of FIELDFARE and REDWING present, along with a few MEADOW PIPIT.

With the total lack of light recently, photo's have been hard to come by, if at all! So I had a bit of a session at my garden feeders this afternoon, at this time of year the light is very transitory, plus it comes from the wrong angle ( never happy me!) Here's a couple of images I rescued from the ''delete'' button  :-)

COAL TIT, one of the 20 species to visit this afternoon


Wednesday 4 January 2017

A quick visit to the lakes this morning added a couple of species to the year list, when, at last, the first geese since November turned up, 15 being CANADA GEESE (46) with just a single GREYLAG GOOSE (47).

Another nice addition to the year list was LAPWING (48), a large ( by todays standards) flock of at least 120 flew over, heading southwards towards the fields adjacent to the river Medway.

Nothing else new for the day, plenty of FIELDFARE and REDWING about though, spread over the farmland parts of my patch.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Another full patch walk was undertaken this morning, this time in some sunny, but frosty conditions, much better than the gloom of late, it was, however, a shame about the scumbag shooter in some nearby fields, the sound of his shotgun ruined the ambience of the visit.

The four hour walk yielded a reasonable tally of 40 species, of those, BUZZARD (43) joined the year list, one was seen exiting the Wet Woods, also new for the year was a GREY HERON (44), which fished in the last small piece of unfrozen water at the small lake, where a CORMORANT (41) and 3 GOOSANDER (42) had also gathered, two being superb males, the latter two species were also seen here on a short visit to the lakes yesterday afternoon, a visit that also added SPARROWHAWK (39) and LITTLE OWL (40) to the years tally, both being seen at the Small Holding area as I passed through to get to the lakes yesterday. The only other species added to the year list this morning though was STOCK DOVE (45), two flew low over the Ashes Lane Fields.

Other birds of note today were: a KESTREL at the Greenhouse grounds, as per usual  :-), plus the mixed flock of 100 or so REDWING/FIELDFARE at the Ashes Lane Fields, where once again   a few MEADOW PIPITS were seen.

SISKIN, HERRING GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL were the best of the flyover species.

Sunday 1 January 2017

The first full patch walk of the new year is always eagerly anticipated, trying to get as many of those common and regular species on the year / months list as possible........this is how I got on this new years day, the species are listed in order of appearance.....

leaving the house as it was just getting light ( not that it got much lighter during the 4 hour visit!), the first bird on the year list was a BLACKBIRD, closely followed by BLUE TIT and a SONGTHRUSH which sang in the distance. JACKDAW, STARLING, MAGPIE, HOUSE SPARROW and COLLARED DOVE were all found as I walked along Ashes Lane towards the Small Holding area, where GREAT TIT, DUNNOCK, WOODPIGEON, ROBIN, WREN, CHAFFINCH and CARRION CROW were all recorded.

Entering the Wet Woods a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was added to the days list, but no other new species were seen there, I had to wait until reaching the Scrubby Woods to add the next few species, which were; GOLDCREST, MISTLETHRUSH, GREEN WOODPECKER, a TREECREEPER in full song, GOLDFINCH, NUTHATCH, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, JAY and a small group of flyover SISKIN. The adjacent lakes were, as ever, pretty dead, just MALLARD and MOORHEN were seen there.

The next species for the years list were found as I crossed the Ashes Lane Fields, here there were a good number of REDWING and FIELDFARE on the sheep pasture, maybe a hundred all in all, plus there were a few MEADOW PIPITS around.

Rain started to fall as I walked the Greenhouse grounds, making for an even more gloomy morning, I found PIED WAGTAIL for the years list, plus the male KESTREL that was perched up on one of the greenhouses, but nothing else was found that hadn't already been recorded.

A circuit of Migrant Alley, then a trundle across the fields to high House Lane and a look over Bustard Hill, proved very disappointing, Just BLACK HEADED GULL, HERRING GULL and ROOK were found, making for a miserly 37 species to kick off the year, the worst tally for a new years day walk on record! I dont like to have to keep saying it was the worst tally for this and the worse tally for that, but they are the facts, I cam only report what I find!

I did at least add GREENFINCH for the day, when two turned up at my garden feeders this afternoon, they are alarmingly scarce out on the farmland now, 17 other species also used my garden habitat today, which were ; GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, COAL TIT, HOUSE SPARROW, DUNNOCK, ROBIN, STARLING, COLLARED DOVE, WOODPIGEON, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, JACKDAW and MAGPIE.

So, in all, 38 species to kick off the January list, will I get anywhere near the record January species tally of 68, which was recorded in 2009, 2011 and again in 2013 ?