Tuesday, 15 April 2014

More Bluebells! These carpet the floor of the Wet Woods
The fine and settled weather continued today, allowing for another five hour patch visit, before I left home I noticed the first fledgling BLACKBIRD of the spring in my garden, one more species for the 2014 'successfully bred' list.

Cloud came and went whilst I was out, and a cool N wind blew at times, but it was reasonably warm. Early in the walk I saw 2 CORMORANT fly over, and a bit later a group of 7 flew past in a well disciplined equidistant line, all these after only seeing one in the first two weeks of the month!

The LITTLE OWL sat at its nest box by the old shack in the Ashes lane Field, where a pair of SKYLARK sang, one allowing for a distant photo.
Skylark
The Wet Woods, Scrubby Woods and Lake areas, didn't provide me with any new migrant species, but most of the regular songsters were heard, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, TREECREEPER, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK and BLACKBIRD being the most vocal. I checked up on all the nests again, GREYLAG and CANADA GOOSE, COOT and MUTE SWAN were all still sitting, as was the MISTLETHRUSH. The male Mute Swan was getting very territorial, and attacked a newly arrived family of MALLARDS, the day old ducklings scattered and two adult males acted as a decoy, to distract the Swan, allowing mum to escort the young to some nearby reeds.

If that was a crow, or a fox attacking the young ducklings no doubt it would be used as a valid reason by the shooting brigade to ''control'' them, but would anyone shoot a Swan for killing ducklings ? At least the Crow and Fox have a family to feed, the Swan does it out of aggression!  All sorts of birds/animals prey on each other, they dont need some hero with a shotgun to interfere just for there own sporting amusement.


Mistlethrush on nest
I don't usually take photo's of bird on their nests, but this one is 4m up a large Oak tree and I was well away from it. As you can see it is reasonably well concealed considering the small amount of cover it has available, it's still vulnerable to a predator though, but if it's predated the Mistlethrush learns a lesson for next year.
GREEN WOODPECKER on the floor of the Scrubby Woods
A second visit to the fields of Migrant Alley, in some warm sunshine, had me watching the sky for raptor species, I saw the male KESTREL, the 2 local BUZZARDS and a few distant ones, plus a SPARROWHAWK. The best sighting of the day however was of my first YELLOW WAGTAIL (65,82) of the year flying low over the sheep pasture, calling as it went. It's arrival is the the joint earliest arrival date for my patch, joint with 2011, and is ten days earlier than the 13 year median average arrival date. It looks like the great majority of the SWALLOWS have now arrived, at least 5 pairs were feeding over the paddocks and sheep pasture.

Here's a few more Dunnock images, they really belt out their little, thin, warbler like song!
Dunnock
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Bluebells in the Greenhouse Copse
The decent weather of late has always been at the expense of fog or early cloud to blight the dawn, but this morning it was sunny from the off, allowing the camera to come out  :-)

After yesterdays mammoth species count, with additions to both year and months lists, todays patch walk was a little more subdued, only to be expected I suppose. The five hour walk produced a much more representative species tally for my patch, with 45 species being found, the only addition to yesterday was a flyover MEADOW PIPIT, they are getting few and far between now, and will cease to be recorded here anyday now.
Dunnock
Plenty of these on my patch, and they always oblige for the camera
I checked the MISTLETHRUSH nest, it was ok, but the male was seeing off a Squirrel that had strayed to near the nest, the GREYLAG GOOSE, CANADA GOOSE, MUTE SWAN and COOTS are all incubating at the lakes, but nothing else was of much note o the water.

Song was much more subdued in the Scrubby Woods this morning, maybe because of the wind, which had picked up a bit, BLACKCAPS, CHIFFCHAFFS, WRENS, DUNNOCKS, ROBINS and BLACKBIRDS dominated, but occasional song from GOLDCREST and COAL TIT was also heard. A pair of MANDARIN DUCK flew from the Wet Woods, where GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER and NUTHATCH called from near their nest sites.

Out on the fields at Migrant Alley there was no sign of a Wheatear for the April list, most unusual not to find one in April, nor much else out there really, just the ROOKS foraging for leather jackets to feed their offspring.

My hour long sky watch was reasonable, with BUZZARDS seen in whatever direction I looked, two of them being local birds, a pair of SPARROWHAWKS were the only other raptors seen today. Only 4 HERRING GULLS went over, and 1 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, the local LINNETS, PIED WAGTAILS and GOLDFINCH'S moved around the Greenhouse Grounds and across the sheep pasture, the only other noteworthy sighting was of 3 SKYLARKS chasing about over the Ashes Lane Field.

Lots of Orange Tips about today, males and females, but the males weren't sitting open winged for me today!
Orange Tip, Female
Orange Tip, Female
Orange Tip, Male
Orange Tip, Male



Sunday, 13 April 2014

It took a while for early cloud to clear this morning, but when it did, the remainder of the day was left sunny and warm.

My five hour full patch walk yielded a mammoth 53 species, just about every bird species that resides on my patch was found! The undoubted highlight of them all was hearing, then watching, my first CUCKOO (81,63) of 2014, alas it didn't stay, but continued NW across my patch. Its arrival here is just one day earlier than the 12 year median average arrival date.

I checked up on all the nest sites I know about, MISTLETHRUSH, MUTE SWAN, GREYLAG GOOSE, CANADA GOOSE and COOT, finding them all ok, I also saw 2 male MANDARIN DUCKS on the main lake while checking the geese nests. The LITTLE OWLS at the old shack in the Ashes Lane Field, may be nesting, and one was heard to call this morning.

Much bird song was heard in the Scrubby Woods, but the most pleasing song was from the WILLOW WARBLER - one of my favourites  :-) Whilst I stood and listened to the singing, I saw my first CORMORANT (64) of the month flyover, the April list is slowly creeping along, but is still in 11th place out of the 13 Aprils so far recorded, another 11 species will need to be found just to equal the average species count of the previous 5 years.

My sky watch today produced a few HERRING GULL, 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, 4 BUZZARDS up together, a sparrowhawk, and the male KESTREL, the female hasn't been seen for a few days so she may well be in the nest box at the greenhouse Grounds. More SWALLOWS have arrived, at least 6 were feeding over the sheep pasture, and the SKYLARK pair sang for most of the hour I sat at my seat.

Later in the morning I spied my first HOLLY BLUE butterfly of the year, the 10th species so far for 2014, and also added Red Admiral to the April butterfly tally.

Not much action for the camera today, just these from my garden.
STARLING
Wood Mouse
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Saturday, 12 April 2014

The first two hours of my patch walk this morning were plagued by a dense fog, it wasn't until 08:30hrs that it started to clear, allowing a short spell of sunshine to appear before cloud rolled in.

The early part of my walk around the fields was a waste of effort really, as the fog was so dense, the only notable species seen were the SKYLARK pair and a couple of MEADOW PIPITS in the Ashes Lane Field. The latter species are the last of the winter visitors here, they will soon finish moving through, the 12 year, median average last sighting date for Meadow Pipit is the 19th April.

I was in the Scrubby Woods as the sun finally broke through, which immediately had an effect on the birds, which started to sing, BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, BLACKBIRD, SONGTHRUSH, WREN, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, and CHAFFINCH were the most obvious, the wall of sound all threaded together with the calls of BLUE TIT, GREAT TIT, STOCK DOVE, BULLFINCH, and GREEN WOODPECKER, plus the reverberating sound of the drumming GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

I could now see across the lakes, where a male MANDARIN DUCK, was seen, 2 pairs of MALLARDS were also there, as were the family of MOORHENS that were seen on the 9th. The MUTE SWAN, GREYLAG GOOSE, CANADA GOOSE and COOT all sat tight on their nests, but no other waterfowl were seen.

I made my way back out to the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley, checking up on the MISTLETHRUSH on her nest as I passed, and watched the pair of white Squirrels in the wet woods for a while, hearing the NUTHATCH and TREECREEPERS calling as I did so.

A thin cloud blotted out most of the sunshine as I arrived at the Greenhouse Grounds and Migrant Alley, where little was seen as I checked the bushes and brambles for a the possible arrival of a Whitethroat.

I headed off home for brunch, then returned an hour later to my seat at Migrant Alley for a sky watching session. This proved quite good, for as well as watching the local SWALLOWS, I also saw a pair of SPARROWHAWKS, the two local BUZZARDS ( with at least four more seen on the distant horizon) and the male KESTREL which flew in to perch on the greenhouse roof. I then picked out three pointy winged long tailed birds, which I initially, and perhaps wishfully, thought were Cuckoo's but as they drew nearer I could see they were RING NECKED PARAKEETS (80,62) - oh well, not the species I was hoping to find, but it increments the year list by one, just 30 species behind last years tally now, and 17 species behind last Aprils tally, which with the lack of long staying winter visitors is unlikely to be reached this year.

I got a couple of Butterfly images while the sun weakly shone, nice to get the Speckled wood on the camera for the first time this year  :-)
Speckled Wood
Green Veined White