Monday, 31 December 2012

The last few days of the year didn't throw up anything unusual although the lake had a few Mandarins on it as well as a Coot!(not that common here). There is still a good sized Siskin flock in the alders and there are now 3 Great Crested Grebes.
A walk up to Haymans Hill orchard on the 29th produced just 4 Waxwings and a cracking male Brambling.
Yesterday I had a walk through the alder wood at the southern end of the lake and flushed 3 Woodcocks and found a Marsh Tit.Three Roe Deer ran across the paddock in Shirrenden.
This morning I saw the first Buzzard for little while and the pair of kestrels were around the orchard before it started to rain, yet again.
So the year came to an end with 113 species seen, with one new species (Cetti's Warbler).

Happy New Year and good birding to all!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A short visit this morning produced a nice variety of birds with the highlight being a Peregrine that was harassing the Fieldfares and Redwings in the orchard next to the lake.
On the lake I found a Water Rail in the S/W corner and a Kingfisher on the edge of the reed bed.
On the water there were 2 Great Crested Grebes, A Tufted Duck, 8 Mallard and 10 Moorhens.
A male Kestrel was sitting on a pole in the new orchard and 3 Mandarin  circled the lake before dropping into the wood at the southern end.The Alders held a flock of 40 Siskins.
 I had arranged to meet Glyn at 09.30 so met him at the dam end and we went to look for the Waxwings in Haymans Hill and soon found a small flock of eighteen feeding on some apples.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Waxwings in Haymans Hill

As the sun decided to shine this morning I went up to Haymans Hill to try to get some pictures of the waxwings.I eventually found 16 of them which posed nicely for me.
Todays images plus a group photo from yesterday

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The walk to Furnace Pond this morning didn't throw up any surprises although I did see both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk hunting around the orchard. The lake itself is very high and coloured after all the rain and held 12 Mallard, 2 Great Crested Grebes and 20 moorhens.
A single Marsh tit was seen behind the boathouse and a Reed Bunting was at the southern end.With so little on offer I decided to see if the Waxwings were still in the orchard in Haymans Hill.
As usual, the light was bad, but I did manage a couple of slightly better shots.

They seem to be enjoying the windfalls

 In the afternoon I decided to go and check them out again. On the track up to the orchard there were 3 Reed buntings and a pair of Bullfinches in the hedgerow. The orchard held a lot of Fieldfares and Redwings and it wasn't long before I found the Waxwings flitting between the apples and the overhead wires.As I was watching them the whole orchard errupted as a Merlin (113) shot low over the trees.FANTASTIC!!!!You never know what's going to turn up.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Despite the state of the weather today I took a walk up to the orchard in Hayman's Hill this afternoon. It was pretty dire, but was soon brightened up by the discovery of no less than 75 Waxwings(112) in the apple trees and beneath them.
As it was raining heavily I hadn't taken my camera, so I raced home to get it, to at least get a record shot of them. I've attached some pictures of them, even though they are not very good, because of the conditions.
Hopefully they will still be around at the weekend and if the weather is better I might get some better shots.
Some of the flock on overhead wires.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Week ending 16/12/12.

Not too much to get excited about on the patch at the moment with the highlight being 2 Kingfishers, a Water Rail, 140+ Siskins, 3 Lesser Redpolls, 12 Canada Geese, 2 Reed Buntings, Woodcocks and 2 Great Crested Grebes on Sunday.
The orchards are still full of Fieldfares and Redwings and I even had a walk around the orchards in Haymans Hill and found a similar amount of winter thrushes there.

On Saturday, a cracking male Redpoll visited the feeders in the garden. I've only had a handful of records of these in the garden and what a beauty he was!!!
The species list has ground to a halt but I'm hopeful that I could add to it before the year is out.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Managed a walk on Saturday before a dreaded shopping trip to Maidstone. Plenty of Fieldfares and Redwings in the orchard and it was great to find 2 redhead Goosander and 8 Teal on the lake which unfortunately took off as soon as they saw me.
This morning we ( Phyllis and myself) took a walk down to the lake and up to Sprivers. The lake held only the usual Mallards, Moorhens and 3 Great crested Grebes. We found the Little Owl hiding in a hole in the big oak on the dam end and as we walked up through Shirrenden we came across a first  winter male Sparrowhawk trying, unsuccessfully, to catch a Long Tailed Tit. As we walked up the footpath I found a second Little Owl sunning itself on the edge of the little conifer plantation.
In Sprivers we found three more Little Owls and heard another, bringing the Little Owl count to six, quite remarkable!!!
We decided to walk back through the orchards on the east side of the Lamberhurst Road where we found hundreds of winter thrushes and lots of Chaffinches but sadly I'm still waiting for my first Waxwing of the year.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The day started with a heavy frost, just right for a good walk.
The bean stubble in Kirkins still held 30 or so Meadow Pipits and as I walked around the edge I put up a Woodcock.
Down at the lake there wasn't much to be seen from the dam end except the Great Crested Grebes had increased to three. The pair of Gadwall which had been on the lake at 16.00 hours yesterday had disappeared.
The orchards were full of winter thrushes again, which is becoming increasingly frustrating without my scope which is awaiting parts from Japan so that it can be repaired.I spent an hour walking around them trying to get some pictures of them but only managed a few passable shots.

At the southern end of the lake I got a few glimpses of a Water Rail as it skulked in the reeds and found a pair of Mandarins sitting in a lakeside tree. As I walked back down towards the dam I could here the tit flock calling loudly and eventually managed to find a Little Owl hiding in the corner Oak.
On the dam I bumped into John, a local angler who told me he had seen five Goosander land at the far end of the lake earlier on but had not seen them since.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Popped in to the lake on the way home this afternoon and had a quick scan from the dam end and the first bird I saw on the water was a redhead Goosander, Great!!First one of the winter.Not much else on the lake though.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

As I left the house this morning I was greeted by the sound of Fieldfares flying over the village. These were joined by the local Jackdaws coming off the roost( in all about 90).
The walk through the bean stubble in Kirkins produced a flock of about 30 Meadow Pipits with a dozen Pied Wagtails.
Down at the lake it was evident that a lot of winter Thushes had arrived as the orchard held around 1100 Fieldfares, and mixed with them I counted around 200 Redwings, 300 Starlings and lots of Chaffinches.Frustratingly, as I had no scope (it's away being repaired) I couldn't find any Bramblings but I didn't want to disturb them so I kept my distance.
The lake itself held very little but the the alder wood held a nice mixed flock which included Coal and Marsh Tit and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
A total of 41 species was seen and for a change I didn't get wet!!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

I decided to let the rain clear before I started my walk this morning, so didn't leave the house till about 07.15am.
In the top field the first birds I came across were a couple of Mistle Thrushes,5 Fieldfares and 4 Redwings that I flushed from the wildlife area next to the new affordable housing. Also in this corner was a Reed Bunting, not a bad start to the day.Overhead 40 Jackdaws flew over with a couple of Rooks.As I continued towards the lake most of the commoner species were added to the list.A Kestrel was sitting on a fence post at the rear of the cottages in Furnace Lane, then something caught my attention as it flew low eastwards, a Swallow! only the second November date on the patch, the other being on 06/11/10.
In the field at the rear of the pumping station there were 300+ Woodpigeons and 9 Stock Doves.
The lake was once again quiet although the Great Crested Grebe numbers had doubled to 2. In the orchard adjacent to the lake was a flock of 300 fieldfares and 30 Chaffinches but interestingly I only saw 1 Redwing.
I decided to have a walk in the wet wood at the southern end as I could hear a Sparrowhawk calling and found a pair which seemed to be displaying to each other.
The tit flock in the wetwood held Blue, Great,Coal, Long Tailed and best of all 2 Marsh Tits as well as Treecreeper and Goldcrest.
By the end of my walk I had seen 46 species which I was very pleased with.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

 The nights are certainly drawing in, as the sun was dropping even though it was about 16.10, but least there was something different on the lake when I looked in on it after work.
On the water were 40 Mallard, a Great Crested Grebe, 15 Moorhens, a pair of Mandarins and a female Tufted Duck.
Overhead a Brambling called, as did a Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and 11 Fieldfares.
On the walk back to the van I flushed a Kingfisher from its lakeside perch.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Saturday 27/10/12

As expected there was a very chilly wind as I left the house. I decided to stand at the top of the field in Kirkins as this affords a good view of a lot of the area.
The wind was biting so I only managed to stand there for about an hour,but in that time I saw 63 Black Headed Gulls, 2 common Gulls, 3 Great Black-backed Gulls,43 Canada Geese,2 Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel plus the first Reed Bunting in quite a while..
The winter thrushes had arrived in better numbers and eventually I saw 130 Redwings and 413 Fieldfares.
Down at the lake a smart drake Gadwall was residing with the numerous Mallards and fly-overs included 9 Lapwings, 4 Skylarks,a Lesser Black-backed Gull , 2 Herring Gulls and 4 Lesser Redpolls.As I was leaving I had a 4th GBB Gull.
This afternoon when I popped into the lake on my way home, yesterdays Gadwall had gone but there were 2 Little Grebes and a Kingfisher.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

At last! Fieldfares arrived on the patch today, with a total of 56 seen, made up mainly of one flock of 34.
There was a good selection of birds with a couple of Skylarks over and both Siskins and Redpolls around the lake. Eleven Redwings were seen but today was my first walk without any summer migrants. The lake itself remains very quiet with just 47 Mallards and 10 Moorhens on it but a Grey Wagtail was on the Waterfall.
This afternoon I had a walk around Share Farm where I had a skein of 60 geese go over S/West but unfortunately they were too high up to ID with the binoculars. Consolation was a lone Lapwing which flew north.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sunday 21st

I left the house at 07.30 this morning with rain still falling, as it had been doing most of the night. As I walked into the field  behind Kirkins Close a pair of Canada Geese flew noisily overhead.The constant rain meant that there wasn't much flying over but as I neared the corner of the hedge in Gibbet Lane I heard a Ring Ouzel(111) call from inside the hedge(BRILLIANT!!). Unfortunately as I took a few steps closer it left the hedge and climbed higher before disappearing East over the village. Luckily this gave me some excellent views of it as it flew round. This is only the second I've seen on the patch,the other being a male which stayed a couple of days in May 2007.
Down at the lake there was a flock of about 70 Chaffinches which had at least half a dozen Bramblings amongst them. Apart from this there were 7 Siskins and a flyover Redpoll and 12 Redwings of note(still no Fieldfares).
On the way home a Chiffchaff was in the hedge in Gibbet Lane.
During the afternoon I went down to the lake and saw a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher in the gloom.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Saturday 13/10/12

The day started with a couple of Lesser Redpolls calling as I left the house. As I walked into what was Kirkins Orchard,before it was cleared , I was treated to a Brambling flying over. I stayed at the top of the field for about forty minutes as there is a a really good view from here and watched as a total of 53 Jackdaws flew south as they left their roost. There was a steady trickle of birds overhead which included 8 Redwings, 9 Redpolls, 18 Pied Wagtails, 5 Meadow Pipits, 6 Chaffinch, 4 Stock Doves, a Mistle Thrush, 3 Linnets, a Greenfinch, 2 Bullfinches plus the local Jays which were busy collecting acorns.
Down at the lake there were 30 Siskins and 11 Lesser Redpolls.
The water is still very quiet with just 22 Mallards and 12 Moorhens but the Kingfisher put in a brief appearance and the Water Rail once again called, unseen, from the reeds at the southern end.
In the bottom field  were 30 Pied Wagtails and 16 Meadow Pipits. A skylark called as it went south.Just as I was leaving a Drake Mandarin and then a Grey Heron flew in.
The only summer migrants seen were 2 Chiffchaffs.
In the afternoon I had a quick walk around Share Farm and added Yellowhammer, Canada Goose and Kestrel to the day total bringing it to a respectable 49!!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Week Ending 07/10/12

After a damp start on Saturday the sun decided to make an appearance which made for very a pleasant walk. The rain overnight had bought in about 150 House Martins and 30 Swallows over the lakeside orchard and meant there were still 6 Chiffchaffs around the lake.There was a good mixed flock of tits in the paddock on the Shirrenden side which had a rather smart Marsh Tit in it.
The Birch trees behind the boat house held a flock of 40 Siskins and 2 Lesser Redpolls.
The lake itself didn't throw up any surprises but there were 9 Mandarins(5 Drakes & 4 ducks) and a Water Rail called from the southern end.
By the end of my walk I had seen 46 species .
On Sunday I was hoping for a movement of birds and as it happens there did seem to be just that,with a few little flocks of Chaffinches and the odd Siskin going over West. The first flock of Redwings (18) went over plus a flock of 20 Song Thrushes.Unfortunately at this point I was called out to work so had to leave at 07.45am so I will never know if it got better.
This afternoon we went for a little walk in the rain and saw 50 Siskins, 12 Goldfinches and a flock of  35 Redpolls as we walked the footpath though Shirrenden.
There was also 14 House Martins feeding over the Oaks and 2 Swallows flew through going North.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Last weekend of September

Saturday started a bit on the chilly side but I went out with great expectancy. Bird numbers were good and it was pleasing to find some summer migrants still around. There were House Martins and Swallows passing overhead all the time heading a WSW direction and in all there I counted about 400 and 120 respectively. At the lake I found 6 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap and there were 20 Meadow Pipits & 16 Pied wagtails in the cleared field at the southern end.On the lake itself were 52 Mallard & 10 Mandarins and as I watched them a Kingfisher landed on a branch right next to me.On the waterfall a Grey wagtail was busy feeding.
In the afternoon I had a little walk with my wife and decided to walk around to the Shirrenden side of the lake and was delighted find a Cetti's Warbler(110) in the South East corner which called a couple of times before disappearing into the undergrowth. FANTASTIC!! Not only a new bird for the year list but a new one for the Patch.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

September update

Unfortunately birding has rather taken a back seat during the last month due to work and other commitments at weekends. The shortening days have also conspired to prevent me from making visits before work which is rather frustrating!
The first week of the month was spent on the Isle of Wight on a family break. We were very fortunate to have a sunny week. I did get to do some birding every morning before the rest of the family were up and found a few migrants during my forays.We were staying not too far from Bembridge Harbour which is where I did most of my watching( which is a great place to see good numbers of Med Gulls).
There seemed to be Redstarts everywhere we went which was great as I've not had one on the patch this year.

I spent some time in the pursuit of Red Squirrels which proved very difficult to photograph although I did get some iffy pictures.
Anyway back to the patch. I did add Yellow Wagtail (109) to the year total with a flyover on Sunday 8th Sept, which had been a long time coming!
On the 17th of the month I got a decent walk on a day that looked promising but didn't turn up anything new although I saw 5 Buzzards and a juvenile Hobby circling over the lake.There were still about 30 Swallows, 10 House Matins and 2 Sand Martins over the orchards and plenty of Chiffchaffs around the lake with a few Meadow pipits going over plus 2 Siskins.
The first Water Rail of the Autumn was seen on the edge of the reeds on the 22nd.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

First week of August

The patch week began on the third with the appearance of 2 Mallard ducks with ducklings (6 & 5). In the lane there were 2 newly fledged Spotted Flycatchers which have come from the pair at Lake Cottage.The ditch opposite the pumping station held the first Sedge Warbler(108). At the southern end of the lake the field had 22 Mistle Thrushes feeding among the poles for the fruit trees.On the lake there were 8 Mandarins and on the waterfall 2 Grey Wagtails. Around at the paddocks 16 Pied Wagtails on the mowed grass.          
                                                    Spotted Flycatcher at Lake Cottage
On the sixth I popped in after work and saw 6 Swifts, 2 Kingfishers, 10 Swallows and the first autumn Sand Martin.
Today when I stopped off at the lake there were good numbers of birds in the lakeside trees, which included 6 Willow Warblers, 10 Long Tailed Tits, 4 Whitethroats, 8 Chiffchaffs and 3 Reed Warblers. The 2 Kingfishers were chasing each other around the lake and the 2 Grey Wagtails were on the stream.Nine Mandarins were resting in trees on the east side. A decent flock of Swallows, numbering about 50 were flying over the water with half a dozen House Martins and 2 Sand Martins and a Hobby was hawking insects over the wet wood and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew down the lake disappearing into the Alders.
On the insect front I managed a picture of a Roesel's Bush Cricket at the weekend (see Below):-

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Going Cuckoo

Had a good walk this morning. Nothing unusual to report although I did see a few raptors in the shape of a Sparrowhawk,2 Buzzards,a Kestrel and a Hobby.One of the Little Owls was active around the paddock and there were 11 Pied Wagtails and 2 juvenile Green Woodpeckers.
On the lake there were 8 Mandarins and a Tufted Drake.
I managed to locate the fledgling Cuckoo and spent my time trying to get some shots of it.So below are some of my efforts:-

Sorry about the layout but I'm a bit of a technophobe!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Sunday Revisited

After Sunday mornings highlight the day got even better in the afternoon when I went for a walk down to the lake to see what dragonflies were around.I saw plenty of Black-tailed Skimmers, 2 Brown Hawkers,an Emperor, a male Broad bodied Chaser and a Common Darter but only managed some shots of a pair of B-T Skimmers :-

The best was yet to come! As I walked back up Furnace Lane I heard a bird calling in the hedgerow on the side of the lane.I tried but couldn't get any decent views of it as it made its way along the hedge. Eventually as it got to Kirkins Cottages it flew up into an Ash and last I was able to confirm it to be a Wood Warbler!!! (107) BRILLIANT!!!
This morning I only had a quick walk but was very pleased to find the recently fledged Cuckoo being fed by both it's Reed Warbler foster parents, so raced back home to get my camera.Even though it was dark inside the trees I did manage a couple of shots:-

Interestingly this only the second fledgling Cuckoo I've encountered at the lake.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A walk in some Sunshine

For a change the sun shone this morning as I made my way out for a patch walk. There were plenty of birds about and in all I managed a count of 51 species! It was great to see my first juvenile Willow Warbler of the year.I love these little summer visitors!
Down at the lake there were fewer gulls than yesterday with just 2 Med Gulls in amongst 70 Black Headeds, but whilst I was watching them they all took off at once, so I thought something must have spooked them although I couldn't find whatever it was. Just when I was about to leave I noticed something soaring high up which I thought was a Buzzard but as I put the scope on it, I found it was a Honey Buzzard (106) FANTASTIC !!
A very enjoyable couple of hours in the sun.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

More Med Gulls

Had a walk down to the lake this afternoon to see if there were  any gulls on the field adjacent to the lake.
To my surprise there were even more Black headed gulls (84 in all). Even better, there were seven Mediterranean amongst them! These comprised 4 adults, a first summer, a second summer and a juvenile. They proved to be very difficult to get close enough to to get any decent photos of but below are a couple of record shots.
                                                   Adult Mediterranean Gull
                                                    Juvenile Mediterranean Gull.
Whilst standing and counting the gulls I heard some birds calling overhead and it took a little time for me to realise that they were Redpolls.In all there were eleven of them, although I've had them during the summer previously this was a good number and made me wonder if they may have bred somewhere nearby.
I had intended to try to photograph any dragonflies that may have been around the lake but unfortunately it clouded over and started to rain so I only managed to get one picture of a Black Tailed Skimmer.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A quick round-up

This week began with a short walk before work on Monday morning, as I didn't have to go in until lunchtime.
It appears that the one Great Crested Grebe chick had disappeared,so not a good start! There were two pairs of adults still on the lake along with 24 mallards and two Herons.
The only waterfowl that have done OK is the local Moorhens as there have been 5 broods raised successfully.
The Reed Warblers on the lake appear to be doing well as I sat and watched a few adults diving into the reeds with food and could hear one brood calling as they were being attended by their parents.
On the field at the southern end that had been grubbed out during the winter there were 2 Herring Gulls, 3 Black Headed Gulls and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull and on scanning around I found no fewer than 34 Mistle Thrushes, this is far and away the greatest number I have ever seen.
Before I left for work I sat watching the feeders in the back garden this produced 20 Goldfinches, 6 Greenfinches, 2 Chaffinches and a dozen House Sparrows and an invasion of about 30 Starlings. I did manage a half decent shot of one of the juvenile Goldfinches(see Pickie below)

Tonight I had a look in on the lake on my way home and noticed a few gulls on the field at the southern end, so decided to check them out. There were 48 Black Headed Gulls(including 10 juveniles), A fine adult Mediterranean Gull, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a summer plumaged Common Gull(this is the first time I have had this species during the summer).On the walk back to the van I had a Grey Wagtail. I was very pleased as I almost didn't bother to stop because of the weather.
I realised after I had posted my last blog that I hadn't added Common Tern(104)and Red Legged Patridge(105) to the year list, both of which I had seen the week before my holiday.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sunday 08/07/2012

Just returned from a family holiday on the island of Skiathos. The weather was hot and dry but there wasn't much to be seen in the bird department although I didn't actually do any serious birding as I was restricted to just early morning walks or sky watching whilst sitting by the pool.
Any way, back to the patch!
It was good to get out for a walk on Sunday morning.There were a few juvenile Whitethroats about and I also saw a Lesser Spotted woodpecker in an oak next to the lake. The one Great Crested Grebe chick was still on the lake with its parents in close attendance. My species tally grew as I continued and eventually ended up at 53!, which was 20 more than I'd managed on holiday.On the walk home I came across the first two fledgling Bullfinches of the year.
On the way home from work today I popped into Furnace Pond and in about 20 minutes I had 2 Buzzards, 3 Kestrels, Sparrowhawk, Heron, Mandarin and a Hobby.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Review of the last couple of weeks

The patch is  quieter at the moment and I've had little chance to get out for any length of time due to work and the weather.
However I did a full walk last Sunday(10/06) which didn't throw up any surprises.
The lake held at least 4 singing Reed warblers, 3 Blackcaps and it was nice to hear a Garden warbler singing from the southern end.The family of Canada geese were still on the lake but have been commuting between here and the stock pond, which seems a very dangerous walk across the field but they are still all there.
An additional 3 adults were with them and another 7 flew over.
Mandarins totalled eight but are looking rather tatty in their various stages of moult.
Three species of raptor were noted with Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.
Around on the Shirrenden side there were ten Mistle thrush and both Little owls were sitting on fence posts around the paddock.
At home the garden feeders held three juvenile Goldfinches and a juvenile Greenfinch.
Later in the afternoon I went with Eric Philp to ring some Barn owls in a nest box and was very pleased to find it held five.
Today I had a  shortened visit just down to the lake.I found that the Little owl brood had fledged and found two of them in trees adjacent to the public footpath. The Kestrels were very active and one had left the nest leaving it's two siblings still inside.(see picture above) I also had some cracking views of an adult Hobby.
After lunch I went for a little walk with Phyllis and sat by the lake and saw what I think was a Downy Emerald Dragonfly and got a picture of a Beautiful Demoiselle

On the way home we found four recently fledged  Little owls in Sprivers. It was nice to be able to walk in the sunshine for a change.  

Monday, 4 June 2012

Monday 4th June

It was a bit grim when I went out at 6.30am this morning so my expectations were not that high.On Furnace Pond a pair of Canada Geese had turned up with five well grown goslings. These birds have not nested on the lake but I suspect they may have nested on a nearby pond then walked across fields to get here.
There were a total of eleven Mandarins, mostly drakes which are in moult. It was nice to find a couple of recently fledged Blackcaps being fed by the female and also a family of Nuthatches in the lakeside trees.
The constant drizzle had bought down a group of about 30 Swallows and a couple of House Martins. Both pairs of Coots now seem to be without chicks and only one Mallard has a couple of ducklings. It's sad that there seems to be such a high morality rate amongst the water fowl. There wasn't any chance of photographs this morning so I've added one of a cute fox cub I took last week.
The Little Owl was out around the paddock in Shirrenden where I also saw 2 of the recently fledged Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
So although the weather was grim it was a very enjoyable walk.

Damsels and Dragons

I haven't had a lot of opportunity to get on to the patch this week, but after working most of the night on Thursday I did manage a walk on Friday 1st. The sun was shining in the morning so I decided to try to get to grips with the Damselflies and Dragonflies on the lake.
There were plenty of Red-eyed Damsels and a few Common Blues on the lily pads and in the long grass I found some White-legged Damsels. On the dragonfly front there was a rather fine looking Emperor Dragonfly.
                                                  Red-eyed Damselfly on lily pad

On the stream which runs away from the lake I found my first Banded Demoiselles of the year which included 2 males(always a delight to see them skipping around).
                                                           Banded Demoiselle

In the afternoon I popped down for another try but unfortunately it had clouded over and I only managed one unidentified dragonfly. However whilst there I did see a family of Great Tits and Long tailed Tits and just as I was about to leave a Red Kite circled low over the lake before gaining height and drifting off South.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Week ending 27th May

Didn't get much chance to do a lot of birding at the weekend , just an early morning visit on Saturday. It was pleasing to see that both pairs of Coots had young with at least 7 between them.The Great Spotted chicks are looking close to fledging. The story around the lake was one of nest building and chick rearing.
On the insect I had my first Hairy Dragonfly of the year and also Large Red Damselfly.
Back home there were 2 recently fledged Blackbirds and a second brood of House Sparrows.
                                               Blackbird fledgling

                                                   House Sparrow

Monday, 21 May 2012

Summary of the last 10 days

Work and the weather have conspired to limit my birding in the last ten days but the 15th did at last see me add Turtle Dove(103)  to the year list.
On saturday the 13th I went with Phyllis, my wife, on a trip to the London Wetland Centre. Not much was seen in the way of bird species although there were masses of Swifts and apparently a Pallid Swift which we didn't connect with. It was however a great place to photograph Marsh Frogs(see picture above).
Back on home turf the story of the week has been that of birds fledging. There have been lots of Starlings around the village and down at the lake one of the Moorhen pairs has appeared with 9 youngsters.A few of the Mallards have had broods but sadly most have already perished. It was nice to see one of the Mandarins on the lake with 7 ducklings.
                                                               Mandarin with ducklings in tow
Finally i've attached a photo of a recently fledged Wren which was hiding in the lakeside vegetation.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Had a quick walk down to the lake this evening. the overcast conditions had brought a flock of around 30 House Martins & 6 swallows onto the lake.One of the coots was sitting tightly on her nest( presumably on eggs). Despite the gloom 3 Reed Warblers were singing as was a Garden Warbler from the cover at the southern end of the lake.
Five Mandarins were tucked under the trees by the boathouse.
After chatting to Andy( a fishing friend) I thought I would go around to the sheltered side of the lake to check out the far corner. I was soon glad that I did as flitting around in the lakeside trees was my first Spotted Flycatcher(102) of the year.
Not a bad little visit.
I didn't manage to get any pictures today but here's one from the weekend.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Saturday 05/05/12

All the usual suspects were seen today but still no Turtle Dove.
My morning was however brightened up by a small bird which flew up and perched on the top of a tall tree in the field behind the pumping station in Furnace Lane.
As I lifted my binoculars I saw a superb male Whinchat(101). Although I very often get one or two on my patch in the Autumn this was the first Spring record so I went home a very happy man.

Friday 04/05/12 at Furnace Pond

Spent the day fishing at Furnace Pond, although the fishing wasn't very good it gave me a chance to spend some time there watching the local wildlife. The drizzle in the morning brought plenty of Swallows plus 3 Sand Martins and a couple of Swifts. There were also 2 Cuckoos about one of which was my first female of the year which was emitting its strange bubbling call as it flew around. The local Willow Warbler was singing on and off all day as was a Lesser Whitethroat(98) and a couple of Reed Warblers.
Twice the Hirundines were disturbed by my first Hobby(99) of the year as it shot over the lake.In the middle of the morning I picked up on the call of a Common Sandpiper(100) and was pleased to see not one but two drop out of the gloom and onto the lake margins.
Sitting about in one spot for a few hours was very productive as a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker returned to the oak tree I was under a couple of times calling as it did so.
Late in the afternoon two flocks of Herring Gulls totalling 29 (11 + 18) went over.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


I laid in bed this morning trying to decide if it was worth getting out of bed to walk the patch. I eventually steeled  myself into action and was glad that I had as five minutes from home I came across a fantastic male Pied Flycatcher(95) on the edge of Horsmonden Sports Field ( this is the first spring record). After watching it for about 15 minutes I carried on in the pouring rain, eventually arriving at Furnace Pond. Here there were 30 Swallows & 2 House Martins and the first Garden Warbler(96) of the year.
So drenched but very happy I made my way home.
In the afternoon I popped down to the lake and on the way back found another Wheatear in the field behind the cottages in Furnace Lane and had 2 Swifts over the village(97).

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Got up in darkness to get out early to do some more Nightingale survey work. As expected I didn't find any in my TQ74 squares. Eventually got to the patch in heavy rain but did add Reed Warbler(94) to the year list.Hope to get out again this evening, weather permitting.
Yellowhammer from yesterday

Friday 27/04/2012

It was a nice change to be able to walk the patch in the sunshine.Not much difference in the number of summer migrants though the Cuckoo was calling well and I did find another Whitethroat on a territory. Still no Turtle Dove or Garden Warbler in any of the areas that I would have expected to find them by now.
Down at the lake there were 3 Mandarin Drakes and a second Mallard with 2 ducklings.
Sadly it looks as though a Mandarin's nest in one of the boxes may have been robbed as there was eggshells and down below it.A female Reed Bunting was in the reedbed in the S/E corner as was a Robin busy feeding it's young somewhere in the cover.

On the way home I decided to check the field at the rear of the cottages in Furnace Lane(formerly Kirkins Orchard) and was delighted to find 2 male Wheatears (92) feeding on the turned over turf, unfortunately they remained distant but I did get a shot of one of them.

In the evening I went out to survey for Nightingales but was unsuccessful but did add a Tawny Owl (93) to the year total.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Saturday 21/04/12

A decent walk around my new patch route this morning produced 4 Willow Warblers singing on territories, so was very pleased. On my way passed the children's play park I found a Robin feeding 2 fledglings.
The lake held 8 Great Crested Grebes ( the highest total ever) and a rather smart summer plumaged Little Grebe. There were also 3 Mandarin drakes and 2 pairs of coots ( one pair busy nest building).
  One of the local Chiffchaffs

4 Sparrowhawks displayed over the lake and a Cuckoo called from Swigs Hole.
In the afternoon I had a stroll with my brother Mick and found a Robin sitting tight on a nest in TQ74A and on the way home a pair of Canada Geese with 6 goslings.
So nothing new for the the Year List but a very enjoyable day nonetheless.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Saturday 14/04/12

Spent a couple of hours walking the Patch. I've had to alter my route somewhat since the old orchard in Kirkins was grubbed out in the winter. This is a devastating loss to my patch as it held good numbers of breeding warblers and was the only part of my patch that regularly had breeding Willow Warblers.
However I did find two singing Willow Warblers in suitable habitat so I'm hopeful.
The Cuckoo was calling well today, the first time I've heard one since the 7th April.There was little change at the lake but 5 Swallows and 2 Sand martins were zipping around and a Cormorant flew over( the first this month).
A Whitethroat (91) was singing from a territory near the pumping station in Furnace Lane. On Shirrenden side of the lake a Little Owl was sitting in one of the mature oak trees.

Little Owl on guard!
On the way back up Gibbet Lane a Willow warbler was singing from a corner of what is left of Kirkins Orchard.
In the afternoon I popped down to the lake and treated to 4 Buzzards displaying over the orchards.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Stopped off at Furnace on the way home from work to see if anything had dropped in and was greeted by the sight of a couple of Swallows over the lake. A pair of Mandarins flew in just as a Sparrowhawk shot across, low to the water.I spoke to an angler( Andy) who said that earlier he had seen about 25 Swallows flying around in the middle of a downpour and that he'd also seen 70-80 Fieldfares.Other than that it was just the usual suspects.The first Mallard ducklings appeared with 15 trailing behind their mother.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


A quick look at the lake on my way to work this morning at 06.15 revealed a pair of Greylags and a pair of Canada Geese. A Blackcap sang as did a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest. The three pairs of Great Crested Grebes were still present and at least one pair of Coots.
I received a text from Glyn to say that he was fishing and had some photos of last weeks Osprey with him and to tell me had seen a couple of House Martins this afternoon, so I popped in on my way home. I picked up the memory stick from him and was pleased to see one of the House Martins (90). A Mandarin Drake flew in just as I was leaving.

                                              Distant shot of last weeks Osprey.

Sunday, 8 April 2012


A productive two hours at Furnace Pond today!
Damp weather this morning but still managed three new bird species for the year list. The highlights being the following:

Shoveler - 2 (pair) (87)
Egyptian Goose - 2 (pair) (88)
Sandmartin (89)
Mandarin - 5 (3 drakes, 2 ducks)
Willow warbler - male singing behind boat house
Blackcap - 5 (4 male, 1 female)
Lesser spotted woodpecker
Fieldfare - 90