Tuesday 28 February 2017

This morning I made the final patch visit of the month, hoping to add to the measly 55 bird species that have occurred so far this February, but despite a good 3 hours out, nothing new was added.

February 2017 will go down as the second worst species tally of the 16 recorded, it being 3 better than the lowest tally achieved back in 2003 - but then I was working and visits were fewer and shorter. My patch year list is also suffering, at 63 species it is 5 behind this date last year.

Species that did not show this month, but could have been expected, include - Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Lesser Redpoll, Coot, Reed Bunting, Peregrine Falcon ( which are still at the village tower, just off my patch), as well as Brambling, Snipe, Mandarin Duck or any other of the common Duck species! Numerous flyover species were missing too, such as Little Egret, Great Black Backed Gull and Mute Swan.

Not too much of note was seen during this mornings visit, the best of what turned out were the KESTREL pair, seen at the Greenhouse Grounds, a BUZZARD which flew from the Greenhouse Copse, a GREY WAGTAIL that flew out of the now very Wet Woods, plus the 3 Gull species on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, those being HERRING GULL, BLACK HEADED GULL and COMMON GULL, no sign of a Mediterranean Gull - another species which has occurred in the past two Februaries.

A TREECREEPER sang from an old Oak tree along High House Lane, where SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPITS were also heard over the adjacent pasture at Bustard Hill.

Friday 24 February 2017

Nothing out of the ordinary has been recorded during the last 3 short patch visits, which were mainly spent checking the lakes, but today, during my final full patch walk of the month, I recorded the first LINNETS (63,55) of the year, when at least 7 flew over Migrant Alley, then NW over the Greenhouse Grounds.

A couple of BUZZARDS were seen, as was a SPARROWHAWK which circled high up over the Ashes Lane Fields, but the KESTREL wasn't recorded until a second visit later in the day, when the female was back on the greenhouses.

Plenty of FIELDFARE and REDWING were moving about the sheep pasture, forced up by dog walkers mainly, as well as the nearby gas cannon going off every 20 mins! A YELLOWHAMMER sat on one of the battered hedgerows at Migrant Alley, where a SKYLARK was heard singing overhead, plus a couple of SISKINS flew over.

All the regular woodland species were recorded as I checked the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods, except Coal Tit. A scan of the lakes had nothing more than a couple of GREYLAG GEESE, CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS and MOORHEN present.

My plan for early this afternoon was to get some images for todays post from my garden feeding station, but cloud rolled in as I just as I set up, all I got was this BLACKBIRD photo, which has an annoying feeder in the way!

Monday 20 February 2017

A full patch walk this morning, in some remarkably warm weather, produced 43 species in all, but they were all the normal 'core' species, so nothing new was added to the months list, I was hoping to find  the months first Little Owl, but they seem to have gone quiet over the last few weeks.

With the warmer weather arriving, the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods were positively ringing with birdsong, I noted GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, COAL TIT, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLETHRUSH, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, DUNNOCK, ROBIN and WREN all giving some song, NUTHATCH and STOCK DOVE gave their spring calls, plus the GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were drumming. I also heard JAY, GREEN WOODPECKER, GOLDFINCH and SISKIN calling, the only species missing this morning was the Bullfinch.

Nothing but a few CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS and MOORHENS were on the lake, but a GREY HERON did visit briefly.

SKYLARKS carried on the springlike theme, with at east 3 up singing over Bustard Hill, where 2 MEADOW PIPITS called as they flew up and over to the Greenhous grounds, where of course the female KESTREL was seen hunting, later in the morning as the sun made things warmer than some May days I have known, the BUZZARDS began to rise and soar on the thermals.

A pleasant morning out, but lots of bird species are still missing from the February list, which at 54 species is still 12 short of the mean tally for the previous 5 Februaries and is the second lowest February tally as things stand!

Saturday 18 February 2017

After adding KINGFISHER (52), which was at the lakes and CORMORANT (53) which flew over, to the February list on Wednesday, I was keen to get out for a full patch walk today, as yesterday I spent the morning at Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve ( pics at end of post).

The weather was full on springlike this morning, being windless and very mild, with spells of sunshine later, making it feel warm. The four hour visit provided a good tally of 46 species, however  LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL (54) was the only addition to the months list.

Most of what else I recorded this morning concerned the core breeding species, with the exception of 3 SISKIN that were around the Scrubby Woods area, a few flyover BLACK HEADED GULLS plus the fields full of gathering REDWING and FIELDFARE, which will soon be leaving our shores.

A SPARROWHAWK whizzed through the Wet Woods. the KESTREL pair were seen mating at the Greenhouse Grounds, and a couple of BUZZARDS were up displaying over the area.

Teal (Male) - Oh for one of these on my patch, they used to be quite regular during the winter months.

Teal (Female)

Tufted Duck (Female). These are even rarer than Teal on my patch!

Tufted Duck pair

Wednesday 15 February 2017

It was back to the overcast, gloomy weather this morning, but at least it was windless, making it feel quite warm out.

My four hour full patch walk today yielded 44 species, but still nothing new for the month or year lists, so many species are just not visiting, or flying over this month! It was at least good to hear so many of the local species in song, with SONGTHRUSH, MISTLETHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, GOLDCREST, TREECREEPER, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH and SKYLARK all heard, plus GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were busy drumming - just two weeks more until the first spring month!

A SPARROWHAWK flew over the farmland, putting up a mass of WOODPIGEONS, FIELDFARES and REDWINGS, it did a much better job of clearing the field than the constant and annoying ''boom'' of the gas cannons! The KESTREL pair were seen, the female at the Greenhouses, where a GREY WAGTAIL was present, the male was hunting along High House Lane, where MEADOW PIPITS called over at the adjacent Bustard Hill.

Seven CANADA GEESE, plus a few MALLARDS and MOORHENS were on the lakes, oh for a Coot to come and visit, well, any Duck species would be a real bonus, but the lakes just dont seem to attract much.

Monday 13 February 2017

At last, some sunshine!
The change in weather made all the difference to my full patch walk this morning, it doesn't increase whats seen, but it sure makes it a more enjoyable task! The 43 species I recorded were all 'core' species, that I would expect to see at this time of year, so no additions were made to the month or year list, a bit disappointing.

The best of what was found were the two raptor species of BUZZARD and KESTREL, the former flew low over the lakes, which were only occupied by 3 CANADA GEESE, the latter was found at the Greenhouse Grounds, only the female today, but the male was seen mating with her yesterday.

All the 'scarcer' woodland species of GOLDCREST, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, STOCK DOVE, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and GREEN WOODPECKER turned out either in the Wet Woods or Scrubby Woods, while the sheep pasture and paddocks at the Ashes Lane Fields, Pub Field and Migrant Alley, all had a good sprinkling of mixed winter thrushes, a couple of hundred FIELDFARE and REDWING in all I'd estimate.

YELLOWHAMMER, SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPIT were seen along High House Lane and over the silage field of the adjacent 'Bustard Hill', but I still await the first Linnet of the year to return to breed here.....if they can still find a suitable place!

Notable flyovers today were few, involving mostly Gulls, of which BLACK HEADED, COMMON and HERRING GULL were seen, but a few a SISKIN also went over, calling as they went, I still haven't recorded a Cormorant going over this month, unusual  :-(

Later in the morning, with the sun now flooding into a much larger part of my garden due to sun getting higher in the sky at this time of year, I was able to take a few images of the Long Tailed Tits that come daily to feed on the suet I put out, up to 14 are seen cramming on one feeder!

Long Tailed Tit

Long Tailed Tit (1/800th of a second later)

Friday 10 February 2017

A short patch visit to the lakes and back, in the still dismally grey, cold and damp weather this morning, did at least add three more species to the February list, the first being PHEASANT (49), one was seen out in a field just off Ashes Lane.

The was nothing but MOORHENS on and around lakes when I arrived there, but in some adjacent Alder trees 3 SISKIN (50) were seen feeding, bringing up the 50th species for the month. As I walked back across the Ashes Lane Fields a flock of around 20-25 LAPWING (51) flew low over, a nice sight, the February list moves into the 50's at last!

Wednesday 8 February 2017

This morning was particularly grey and dismal, with leaden skies and a light, cold drizzle falling - typical February fare!

In the conditions I wasn't surprised to find that there were very few passerines about, just one WREN featured on the list of 38 species that were seen today, however I did add COMMON GULL (48) to the months list, one was seen feeding with a couple of dozen BLACK HEADED GULLS over on the sheep pasture at Migrant Alley, where I also heard singles of SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPIT fly over. I now have to find 18 more species for the months list to reach the mean average tally for the previous five Februarys ( I mistakenly wrote on the last blog post I needed just 9 - I should have written 19!) in any case, it's a target not likely to be reached!

Very little else to report from todays full patch walk, no Raptors were encountered, nor any Geese, the most numerous species recorded were the 200+ mixed flock of REDWINGS and FIELDFARE spread on the various fields of sheep pasture.........oh, plus the singing of a couple of TREECREEPERS and drumming of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS to remind me spring is almost here  :-)

Monday 6 February 2017

There was a slight frost for this mornings full patch walk, when it remained dry and windless with the odd sunny spell.

Among the 42 species I recorded on todays visit, two were new for the months list, a GREY WAGTAIL (46) and a YELLOWHAMMER (47) both of which flew over Migrant Alley, the only other flyover species noted were HERRING GULL and BLACK HEADED GULL.

Once again, as has been noted for the past 3 days, there was a mixed flock of a few hundred FIELDFARE/REDWING  that had spread themselves over the farmland parts of my patch and again they were supported by the odd MISTLETHRUSH, SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD and small numbers of STARLINGS.

The female KESTREL hunted along High House Lane, where SKYLARKS were singing and MEADOW PIPITS calling out on the adjacent pasture at Bustard Hill, but the only other raptor species seen today was a male SPARROWHAWK that I spied on the edge of the Wet Woods.


Just another 9 species needed for the month to reach the mean average number of species recorded for the previous 5 Februaries!

Saturday 4 February 2017

Spits and spots of rain fell throughout my full patch walk this morning, but it was totally windless, making it feel quite warm for the time of year.

By the end of my 3 hour visit, I had tallied up 41 species, but had missed the 2 female and 2 male GOOSANDER (45) on the main lake that were reported to me ( thanks K&A for the record ), just the usual MALLARD and MOORHENS were left by the time I arrived!

I recorded all of those sometimes 'hard to find' species, with the Wet Woods and Scrubby Woods providing the likes of TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, JAY and STOCK DOVE between them.

Plenty of FIELDFARE and REDWING were scattered around the farmland parts of my patch, with STARLING, BLACKBIRD, MISTLETHRUSH and SONGTHRUSH mixed in with them. There were also small numbers of BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS out on the sheep pasture and paddocks at Migrant Alley.

The KESTREL pair were sitting together on one of the Greenhouses, where the only PIED WAGTAIL of the day was also seen, the only other raptor seen today was a BUZZARD that was watched over at Bustard Hill as it hunted for field voles, up above it both SKYLARK and MEADOW PIPIT were heard.

The only flyover species noted today was a GREY HERON!

Thursday 2 February 2017

A combination of poor weather and a bout of man flu has meant no patch visits since Monday, but there was a window of opportunity this morning to get out, before the rain moved through, even though I still felt a bit rough!

During a blustery 3 and a half hour visit I manged to kick off the February list with a decent tally of 42 bird species, nothing unusual, mostly the regular stuff, so here's what was seen as I recorded it..........


GREAT TIT, STOCK DOVE, GREEN WOODPECKER, MALLARD, MOORHEN, GOLDCREST and TREECREEPER were all seen or heard as I made my way to the lakes, where I added CANADA GOOSE, GREYLAG GOOSE and GREY HERON to my list. A walk through the Scrubby Woods added BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, LONG TAILED TIT, MAGPIE and JAY for the month.

The next species for the month was a BUZZARD, which flew across the Ashes Lane Field as I passed through, but the only other species seen there which had not been recorded yet was the MEADOW PIPIT, 2 flew up and gave their distinctive call notes. The female KESTREL was seen hunting over the adjacent Pub Field, unusual to see her there.

I visited the Greenhouse Grounds and picked up GREENFINCH and PIED WAGTAIL then did a circuit of the fields and paddocks of Migrant Alley, adding just BLACK HEADED GULL, ROOK, and a flyover HERRING GULL. Walking homeward along High House Lane I heard SKYLARKS singing over Bustard Hill to finish the morning off.

The February list was incremented by two more species, when both SPARROWHAWK and COAL TIT were seen at my garden feeding station  :-)