Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Well, the year has come to a very soggy end.
On Sunday 29th there was a total of 10 tufteds on the lake and in the afternoon we had a walk up to Sprivers and back, with me on crutches and I was delighted to find a single Waxwing with some Redwings and Fieldfares on Hazel Street farm orchards.
 I managed a little walk down at the lake at lunchtime today but there weren't any last minute species to add to the years total, so it finished on 116.A really good total for a patch like mine and maybe if I'd been able to get out a bit more in the latter part of the year, I could have got a couple more.
One species was added to the patch total (Woodlark) in March.The Waxwings found in December 2012 were still around into the new year and were a great year tick which I never tired of trying to photograph.
 Insect highlights included my first Golden-ringed Dragonfly and Clouded Yellow butterfly.
All that is left is to wish everyone reading this blog a Very Happy and bird-filled New year.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

With the festive period nearly upon us I was really looking forward to getting out on the patch as I am now off work until 6th January.
Unfortunately I've chipped a bone in my right ankle whilst out walking on Sunday 22nd December, so eventually had to give in and go to A&E on Christmas Eve.I received a very friendly and efficient service but left wearing a boot on my right leg which I have keep on twenty four-seven until my appointment at the fracture clinic on New Years Eve. Hopefully it will come off then.
After moping about the house I convinced my wife to drive me down to the lake this morning. We managed a slow hobble for half an hour  in which time we saw a tick for the year in the shape of a drake Pochard (116). There were also a few Mandarin, a Coot, a Great Crested Grebe, Kingfisher, a drake Tufted as well as quite a few Redwing and Fieldfares plus Goldfinch and Siskin in the lakeside alders and a flyover Brambling and Meadow Pipit.
This cheered me a little but the thought of being confined to the house is not a pleasant one.

Friday, 29 November 2013

November update

The month has passed with little chance to get out into the field for any great amount of time. Bird numbers seem to be low with a high count of just 200 fieldfares on the 28th when there was also a flock of 100+ Siskins in the lakeside Alders. The 14th produced a flock of 34 Lesser Redpolls and there has also been the odd Brambling seen.
                                                 Distant  Brambling
The first Goosander (a drake) of the winter appeared on the 22nd but the lake itself has been very quiet with just the odd pair of Mandarin to brighten it up plus a Little Grebe appearing a few times and on Thursday 27th a Grey Wagtail and 2 Kingfishers.
On Sunday 24th I had some great views of a female Lesser Spot through the scope but unfortunately we were on different sides of the lake.
I did photogragh a couple of interesting fungi earlier in the month:-
                                                  Orange Peel fungus?
Stagshorn fungus?
Hope I've got them right. Perhaps someone could let me know if I haven't.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Arrived at the lake just as the sun was about to appear over the trees at the northern end.

There were a few birds moving after the change in weather, with Chaffinches going over bringing my first Brambling of the Autumn with them. I soon added singles of Siskin  and Reed Bunting. Then Fieldfare and Redwing went over. A lot of Wood Pigeons were going East.
On the lake there were 25 Canada Geese, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 9 Mandarins, 8 Moorhens, a Coot (a bit of a rarity here, plus best of all a Litttle Grebe (115).
Little Grebe in the mist.
So a nice little walk plus a species for the year list, Excellent!!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

October started with a walk on the 3rd which produced the first Water Rail for a little while. The lake  also held a Kingfisher,14 Mandarin and 14 House Martins and 11 Swallows. All three woodpeckers were seen and I managed a rather distant shot of a female Lesser Spotted
                                                   Female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
A quick look at the lake on my way home on the 4th produced 230 Black headed Gulls plus 30 Herring Gulls going over East as well as 85 Stock Doves going south. The first Siskins of the Autumn arrived over the house on the 5th , with 7 over the next day and a flock of 30 at the lake on the 6th.
A stroll around the lake after work on the 10th gave a female Teal and a high count of 23 Mandarin,
                                                 Teal taken in the gathering gloom
2 Grey Wagtails, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Kingfishers, 5 Meadow Pipits, 43 Mallards and 10 Moorhens.
At last the sun shone and I managed a two and a half hour walk on Saturday 12th. I was hoping for a decent bit of movement and soon had my first Redwings of the autumn. I soon added Lesser Black-backed Gull, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Rook.
Down through Kirkins and passerines overhead were very few with a few Blackbirds and Song Thrushes but I did get Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit. The only summer migrant so far was a lone Chiffchaff.
Down by the pumpng station I found a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Mistle Thrushes with some Stock Doves over. As I walked along the farm track between the rows of apple trees I was greeted by the call of Brent Geese(113) and was amazed to see two massive skeins, really high up, going south east. In total there were at least 450. Truly jaw droppng! Things got even better when a Stonechat(114)appeared on top of one of the wind break hedges, before flying off.A lone Swallow flew south east.
On the Shirrenden side I found my first Lesser Redpoll of the autumn with a couple of Siskins. I saw a total of 8 Great Black-backed Gulls, which is a fantastic count on my patch. 55 Species were seen in all, a really great total for the patch and I also saw 4 Roe Deer. Brilliant!!
I had a walk in the rain this morning and saw another Swallow, poor thing, I reckon this could be my last of the year.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Late September Update

Well the month has just about gone now and so have nearly all the summer migrants. Unfortunately I've been working one day at the weekend, so with the nights drawing in, visits have been short.
Meadow Pipits have arrived on the patch, with 55 on 22nd Sept. The morning of 26th yielded two juvenile Hobbies and a quick visit on the evening of 27th had me dashing off to get my camera as three Wigeon(112) were on the lake.
Drake Wigeon ( Juvenile or Eclipse?)

There are still good numbers of Mandarins with 14 being seen yesterday. I did manage a two hour walk yesterday ( 28th) and managed 43 species, which included the first Siskin of the autumn plus  a Willow Warbler, a Blackcap, a few Chiffchaffs and 31 Swallows.
On a quick walk after work today I saw 2 Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel in the air together over Shirrenden.
There were still a few Small Coppers in the ditch opposite the pumping station and three species of dragonfly were seen around the lake( Common Darter, Brown Hawker and 3 Migrant Hawkers.
Migrant Hawker
On a sombre note yet more valuable habitat has been lost from the patch with an area of scrub being cleared to make a field a little bit bigger. I'm particularly upset as this held two pairs of Willow Warblers and a pair of Turtle doves this year. What is wrong with these GREEDY, IGNORANT B******S!.
More habitat gone forever!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

August ended with warbler numbers dropping dramatically. There were still numbers of Spotted Flycatchers around with 10 in the paddocks at Shirrenden, 2 in Sprivers and 2 at Share Farm on the 31st of the month.
On the second of September the lake contained 9 Mandarins as well as a few Chiffchaff in lakeside trees plus 2 Reed Warblers and on the Shirrenden side a couple of Blackcaps and 8 Spotted Flycatchers during a brief visit after work.
On 3rd a very short visit produced a Grasshopper Warbler(111) which I nearly trod on in the ditch opposite the pumping station in Furnace Lane. A fantastic addition to the year list and only the second I have found on the patch.
A visit to the lake at 06.00am on the 4th produced the first Peregrine since June and on my way home from work I had a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which flew over my head.
On the butterfly front there have been a few Clouded Yellows around with four present on the 4th along with a G-R Dragonfly, a Common Darter, a few Migrant and a Brown Hawker.
Common Darter

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Late August Update

The month has moved along at a great pace and the patch is still busy with migrants passing through or sticking around whilst they moult.
Warblers are still around in good numbers although they have dropped off a bit.
The 20th produced the first Coot for quite a while and the following day I had a Hobby. On the 22nd there was a flock of Mistle Thrushes in the orchard which totalled 31! In the paddock in Shirrenden there was also an impressive 20 Spotted Flycatchers.
Early morning on the 25th  sixty House Martins flew east over the lake which also had 35 Swallows and 10 House Martins flitting up and down it.
The 26th produced another species in the shape of 4 Yellow Wagtails(109) going over and a Tufted Duck visited the lake on the 27th.
The most extraordinary sighting occurred at 17.30pm this afternoon when I was at the kitchen sink. As I looked out towards the village hall roof a bird appeared on the apex of it but before I could get my binoculars had disappeared again. A couple of minutes later it reappeared and as I got my binoculars on it, I could see that it was a Wheatear(110).Unfortunately it disappeared again as I went for my camera, a fantastic addition to the garden list and one I don't expect to repeat any time soon.
With the sunny weather there have been god numbers of Butterflies with plenty of Common Blues, Small and Large Whites,Tortoiseshells plus 2 Clouded Yellows.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Saturday 17th August

As I left the house this morning I was greeted by the sound of House Martins over head, There seems to be a few more around at the moment.
Into the top of Kirkins and I soon found a group of warblers in the mass of brambles which included 4Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler,a Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, a Reed Warbler and 2 Lesser Whitethroats( the first since 9th May) a truly wonderful collection of birds.
As I watched them a lone Herring Gull went over, quickly followed by a Lesser Black-backed Gull. As I walked down the field I added Goldfinch, Linnet, Swallow Jackdaw and Rook.
On the rape stubble in Furnace Lane I found 5 Stockdoves, 7 Wood Pigeon and a Collared Dove.
I decided on a look in the small horse paddock opposite the lake where I found 6 Spotted Flycatchers with some more warblers.
At the lake the overgrown ditch produced absolutely nothing! You can't win them all! The lake itself held the usual Mandarins, Moorhens and Mallards and as I approached it a Cormorant flew off and a Kingfisher shot past.
Around the other side of the lake, on the Shirrenden side I came across the mixed flock which also contained some tits in the shape of 8 Blue, 2 Coal, 3 Great and 6 Long-tailed Tits plus 10 or more Willow Warblers and 9 Spotted Flycatchers. As I was trying to sift through them 2 Turtle Doves went overhead.
I checked the stock pond where the water level is dropping, hoping I might find a wader,but alas.
Whilst here I found a Clouded Yellow :-
Male Clouded Yellow Butterfly
On the other side of the field I found a Painted Lady and Small Copper as well as lots of whites, Meadow Browns and Common Blues.
Painted Lady
Small Copper
The only dragonflies were a Black tailed Skimmer, 2 Migrant Hawkers and a Brown Hawker.
 The only raptor seen was a female Sparrowhawk but in all 48 bird species were seen during two and a half hours.

Friday, 16 August 2013

This weeks patch visits have been restricted to early in the morning, before work and on the way home.
The large flock of warblers was still in evidence on Wednesday morning with good numbers of Willow Warblers still around.Wednesday evening produced a flock of 22 Long-tailed Tits in the trees on the dam end.
On Thursday evening 15 House Martins plus 6 Swallows were feeding over the lake.
This morning the overgrown ditch at the southern end turned up another Sedge Warbler along with 2 Whitethroats and a Reed Warbler at 06.00am. During a walk in the drizzle this evening 5 Sand Matrins dropped in before flying off to the South East.The lake held 14 Mandarins and a kingfisher of note.
On the butterfly front I had my first ever Clouded Yellow on the patch on Wednesday and there were 2 G-R dragonflies in the ditch opposite the Pumping station.
I'm looking forward to a good walk tomorrow morning.  

Sunday, 11 August 2013

End of week round-up

At last I've managed a bit of birding on the patch!
There certainly has been an increase in the number of warblers around the lake and Wednesday produced a new species for the year list when the overgrown ditch at the southern end of the lake gave me my first Sedge Warbler(108) this year.
This morning there were about 15 Willow Warblers, 10 Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler,4 Coal Tits, 10 Blue Tits, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Spotted Flycatchers  and a couple of Goldcrests in a large roving flock. Surprisingly I only found about 6 Chiffchaffs with them. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was also seen in the trees nearby.
The lake held 16 Mandarins but little else of interest.
Round on the Shirrenden side I stumbled across this Roe buck which took flight into the wood, barking and as it did so.
Roe relaxing in the sun
On Thursday evening I saw a Roe doe with two fawns in the same area.
There were plenty of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on the Ragwort :-
Cinnabar Moth caterpillar
I also got a reasonable shot of a Common Blue :-
Common Blue male
I couldn't resist taking another shot of the G-R Dragonfly which was still about in the week :-
G-R Dragonfly

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The patch has been somewhat neglected of late due to work commitments and that fact that we have been away at weekends.
A couple of weeks ago we spent a long weekend down at Fleet in Dorset where we camped with friends overlooking Chesil beach. A great campsite!
I managed a bit of birding at Studland where I spent a bit of time photographing butterflies and a Dartford Warbler which wouldn't keep still.
                                                  Painted Lady


                                                        Any ideas what this is?
Wood Tiger Beetle
Dartford Warbler in gorse. Honest!!
Back at home a walk on Sunday 4th produced plenty of warblers with a few Willow Warblers around the lake, including a singing male in a large mixed flock with tits, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Goldcrests. Around the paddocks there was a family of Spotted Flycatchers and a juvenile Kestrel. The stock pond held 18 Canada Geeese and 2 Grey Herons. On the lake itself were 82 Mallards and 5 Mandarins.
The overgrown ditch that leads down to the lake held a few juvenile Reed Warblers and Whitethroats. This looks like it might be a bit of habitat that might produce a few birds in the next couple of months.
As I was leaving the lake two Kingfishers flew up the lake.
On monday 19 Mandarins were on the lake and a G-R Dragonfly was still in the ditch opposite the pumping station in Furnace Lane.
Hopefully I should get to do a bit more birding in the coming weeks. 


Monday, 15 July 2013

A walk on Friday afternoon produced some brilliant views of a Hobby which circled over the orchard with a flock of 100+ Swifts which were feeding low over the fruit trees.
Our walk took us up to Sprivers where we found three adult Spotted Flycatchers feeding over one of the ponds.
Spotted Flycatcher
Saturday afternoon saw me looking for more Damsels and Dragonflies down at the lake. I found my first Common Darter of the year:-
Common Darter
I also refound the Golden-ringed Dragonfly:-
G-r Dragonfly
and photographed a White-legged Damsel:-
White-legged Damselfly
Sunday saw me adding a species to the year list in the shape of two Crossbills(107) which flew over the lake and landed on the pine trees on the Shirrenden side.A most unexpected  bonus! 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Time just flies by!

It's been quite a while since my last post and I don't know where the time has gone.
June continued with lots more species producing young. Both Great Spotted Woodpeckers nests that I found fledged three young successfully, as did Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. I think that Willow Warbler have also fledged. Interestingly another brood of Grey Wagtails have appeared on the stream below the lake. Do they double brood are or these likely to be a different pair?
On a more sombre note the Kestrels don't seem to have been successful.
I saw a male Peregrine a couple of times in the month and on the 29th I saw another Red Kite. Hobbies don't seem to be very abundant on my patch although my time has been very limited during the last month so I could just be unlucky.
A Mallard has appeared on the lake in the last couple of days with six ducklings, here's hoping they make it!
Mandarins have pretty numerous with double figures most days.
I've managed to have a walk this afternoon. Still trying to get my head around Damselflies. I've taken a few pictures and attempted to name them, hopefully correctly.
Large Red Damselfly
Blue tailed Damselfly
Azure Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly?
Black tailed Skimmer
Whilst photographing the Damsels I noticed a large Dragonfly on the small stream opposite the pumping station, which turned out to be a Golden-ringed Dragonfly,what a beauty and the first time I've seen one on my patch and only the second one ever.
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
There were also a couple of Emperor Dragonflies plus a Downy Emerald on the lake but all refused to sit for a picture.Still I went home very happy with my efforts.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Review of first week of June.

Last weekend was great in terms of species seen, with 53 seen on Saturday and a further six seen on Sunday.
There are three Great spotted Woodpeckers nests around which are becoming increasingly noisy.Mandarin numbers had gone up to twelve yesterday evening(11 drakes and a duck).
Monday evening I added Peregrine to the months tally when a fine male was circling over the orchard. This is the first time I have had Peregrine on the first six months of the year.
The pair of Canada Geese have returned to the lake with three goslings:-
Canadas with goslings
The increase in Mandarins is due to the drakes going into moult,I think? Last weekend I picked up a rather attractive feather(see pic)
A Kingfisher was seen yesterday evening plus I found a Mistle Thrush feeding two youngsters
One of the juvenile Mistle Thrush
Finally on the insect front I saw my first Banded Demoiselle of the year(see below)
                                                                  Male banded Demoiselle.
So here's hoping for a productive weekend.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

21st -27th May Update

The last week has been an interesting one on the patch! One of the Long-tailed Tits nests have fledged and the Great-crested Grebes have grown fast.
Great Crested Grebe with chicks

It has taken a while to catch up with local Spotted Flycatchers but I managed to find them again at Lake Cottage.
On Sunday I was delighted to find two singing Turtle Doves on the patch (up to then things were looking pretty grim on this front). I also found another Garden Warbler in another area.On the stream below the waterfall a female Grey Wagtail was feeding two juveniles.Fantastic!I also saw three Cuckoos together until one male was chased off and the pair then mated.
There are three Willow Warblers still holding territories but interestingly one of them appears to be a dual singer. It sings a few Chiffchaffs then breaks into the usual song.It also looks quite pale on the front(see attached photos).
Dual singing Willow Warbler

The Treecreepers at the lake continue to feed their young, it shouldn't be long before they fledge.
It would seem that although the weather has been changeable the birds seem to be doing OK.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Sunday morning provided a Common Sandpiper(106) sitting in the end of the jetty. Unfortunately it wasn't there when I got home from work and was armed with my camera and scope.I did get some other shots:-
                                                     Mistle Thrush in sheep pasture
Resting Swallow
Speckled Wood
In the early evening I got a text to inform me that a Red Kite was heading towards the village from the South but unfortunately I was in Paddock Wood picking up daughter so dipped on it. 
However some good news was finding out that one pair of Grebes actually had 2 chicks left. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

It was a good few hours in the field this morning with 52 species seen. Three Willow Warblers  are holding territories and the lake held at least three Reed Warblers. I didn't manage to find the Spotted Fly at Lake Cottage but it was nice to see a Moorhen with six chicks. Sadly one of the pairs of Great-crested Grebes has lost it young and the other pair only have one left.
The Cuckoo was in excellent voice as were the local Skylarks.
The only raptors seen in the morning were a pair of Kestrels and a Buzzard. At the southern end of the lake a Garden Warbler continues to sing, on and off.In the paddock in Shirrenden a Little Owl was dropping onto the ground catching insects. On the way back up the hill the male Cuckoo was chasing the female around the top of Kirkins.
There were a few more Swifts and House Martins about over the village in the afternoon.
I went for a little walk with Phyl in the afternoon and the first thing we saw when we entered Kirkins was a pair of Hobbies, nice.On the way back to the village a large bird drifted in from the east. It was very low and turned out to be a Red Kite, fantastic!! We watched it for a while as it gradually gained height. I decided to try to get home to see if I could see it and amazingly when I got into our back garden I found that it was still circling over the village and was visible. A great garden tick for me.
In the evening I went down to check the lake and had a Turtle Dove fly over my head. This is only the second sighting since 24th April. A sad sign of the times i'm afraid.
i was very pleased with the days total of 55 species.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

At Last!

Last Sunday saw me adding Hobby(103) to the year list. This was one of four species of raptor seen with Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk also seen.Both pairs of Great-crested Grebes have young and all the summer visitors appear to be concerned with nesting.
Yesterday evening I had a pair of Common Terns(104) which flew around the lake a couple of times before disappearing off to the North and this evening I Found a Spotted Flycatcher(105) in the garden of Lake Cottage. At last !!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Had a walk this afternoon with the hope of finding a Spotted Fly, but was amazed to find a Black Redstart (101) in the corner of the field at the top of Kirkins where I found a Redstart on the 27th April. Hopefully this is going to become a productive area on the patch. Things got even better when I found the first Lesser Whitethroat(102) of the year in the same corner.
Down at the lake the wind was so strong I gave up trying to find a Spot Fly or Hobby. I'm sure they will turn up soon.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Review of the last week

I didn't manage to break the 100 barrier by the end of April , finishing on 99 with the addition of Feral Pigeon(98) and Barn Owl(99).
On Friday 3rd May I had a single Egyptian Goose on the lake, the 2nd record this year.
On Saturday 4th I met Hugh, who joined me for a walk of the patch.In total we had six warbler species which included Whitethroat(5), Chiffchaff(9), Willow Warbler(3), Blackcap(10), Garden Warbler(3)and a Reed Warbler.
We also heard a Water Rail calling and a Lesser Spot drumming and calling.One of the pairs of G-C Grebes had one chick on it's back and whilst we were watching it a Grey Wagtail flew over our heads. The only raptor we saw was a Kestrel.
This mornings walk got off to a great start when a Swift(100) was wheeling over the house as I left.The only additions to what was seen on Saturday was a pair of Lesser Redpolls which were displaying over the lake
and the G-C Grebes also had a second chick.
In the afternoon Phyllis and I sat in the back garden and I watched the sky which eventually produced 6 Swifts, 5 House Martins, 4 Swallows and a Sand Martin, plus a Sparrowhawk and best of all a Peregrine which drifted in from the East, circled the village for a while then drifted off East again. Brilliant!!!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

It was great to have a whole weekend off work and even better with the sun shining.
The highlight being a female Common Redstart(97) which was in the little scrubby area at the top of Kirkins on Saturday.
This was the first spring record I've had of this species, so I was very pleased.
As well as this, the spring migrants were in fine voice with the Cuckoo calling and showing well and the surprise of two Lapwings on the stubble field in Kirkins on Friday evening.
Today I found a total of 7 Common Whitethroats, 4 Willow Warblers as well as 2 Reed Warblers and lots of Chiffchaff and Blackcaps.
I also found a Lon-tailed Tits nest and a pair of Linnets nest building.
It remains to be seen if I can break the 100 barrier before the start of May,but it seems unlikely as the commoner species I am relying on don't usually turn up till the first week of May.
Here's hoping!!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A walk at the lake before work on Wednesday 24th produced the first Garden Warbler(95)of the year plus a Marsh Tit. In the evening I had a quick stroll around Kirkins and heard a Turtle Dove(96).
This evening 2 Cuckoos were calling from opposite ends of the village.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The highlights of the patch walk on Sunday were a Red-legged Partridge(92)which was in Kirkins on the way to the lake(see photos),which is a very uncommon bird on my patch!

At the lake I witnessed a male Lesser-spotted Woodpecker feeding on the stems of reedmace in south east corner, it spent quite some time drilling and pulling insects from within the stems but unfortunately stayed deep in the reed bed.
The other highlight was a Tree Pipit(93) which flew over going North west.
On Monday morning I heard the first Reed Warbler(94) calling from the reeds at the southern end.
Today I managed a walk in the morning and saw 1 Buzzard, 3 Mandarin drakes, 1 Reed Bunting
, 1 Reed Warbler,5 Blackcaps and 4 Chiffchaffs at the lake and also heard a Water Rail calling.
Elsewhere on the patch I saw 2 Willow Warblers, 6 Whitethroats(including the first female of the year) the Red legged Partridge and a Buzzard.
I also saw a Grass Snake , a Toad and a Peacock Butterfly.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

At last the first Willow Warbler(90) and Common Whitethroat (91) turned up on the 17th.Unfortunately I missed out on a Reed Warbler on the lake which was seen by Andy.
Back to today and although the sun shone later on, it started off with a sharp frost which soon turned into a heavy mist when I left the house at 07.00am.
I was soon in Kirkins and the first thing I heard was the Cuckoo as it called from a tree behind the farmhouse. It didn't take too long for the mist to clear and with the sun shining I was hopeful it might be a half decent walk.
As I skirted the field I eventually managed to get some great views of the Cuckoo atop an Ash tree.
In the hedge I found my first Whitethroat of the day. There had been an increase in Blackcap numbers and I eventually found 2 pairs and 3 more singing males.
Two Willow Warblers were singing from territories which were occupied last year and interestingly both territories also held Whitethroats.
As I walked up the track towards the lake a female Lesser-spotted Woodpecker landed in a tree to my right and as she flew off, calling a male landed a little ahead of me before following her. Fantastic, it's always a joy to see these little beauties.
As it warmed up raptors got up and 5 Buzzards, 2 Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel were seen.

Three butterfly species were seen today, Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.
On the walk home I saw a group of six Jays.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Although there has been a distinct change in the weather it is still proving difficult to locate any warbler species apart from Chiffchaff and Blackcap.
I have fared a little better with hirundines adding both Sand Martin(88) and House Martin(89) in the last couple of days.
Sunday saw me having probably the last Redwings of the spring.
Hopefully things will change in the next few days.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Wednesday 10th April 2013

At the lake a few of the resident species have started to nest with both pairs of Grebes and a Moorhen sitting tight. Four Mandarins were on the lake, consisting of 3 drakes and a duck(hopefully they are nesting somewhere nearby).
There were still 120 Fieldfares and 20 Redwings feeding in the orchard with a few Chaffinches mixed in amongst them. I'd put on my wellies as I had decided to walk through the alder wood at the southern end.
This produced Blue, Great and Long-tailed tit as well as Treecreeper and Nuthatch. As I neared the edge of the wood I heard a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker so doubled back and eventually got two fleeting glimpses.There was also a little group of a dozen Siskins and as I watched them a Buzzard called somewhere above me. It was nice to here Chiffchaffs calling and in all three were heard around the lake.
As I came into the open on the Shirrenden side a Coal Tit called and a male Kestrel flew from one of the pines.
As I walked up though the paddock a large raptor came into view heading straight for me, this turned out to be my first Red Kite(87)Fantastic!! A few years ago this would have been unheard of on my patch but in recent years I've almost come to expect at least one siting in the year.
Just as I was about to leave a couple of Swallows zipped through going north.
In the garden Siskins continue to come to the sunflower hearts with 11 coming in late in the afternoon. I don't think i've ever had so many in the garden and at such a late date. This certainly has been a strange start to the year!

Monday, 8 April 2013

A quick look at the lake at 06.10 this morning produced two pairs of Teal and a Mandarin drake.
Popped in on my way home and saw a Grey Wagtail and had a flyover Snipe.
At 18.50 a phone call from Andy,fishing down at the lake, had me jumping in the car to get my first Swallow(86) of the year.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sunday 7th April

At last the sun has decided to shine and to brighten up my morning I found my first singing Blackcap(84) of the spring. There were also three singing Chiffchaffs on the patch this morning.Happy days!
The winter thrush numbers had dropped as I found only 12 Fieldfares and 22 Redwings in the paddock at Shirrenden.
There weren't many gulls today but I did find 2 Med Gulls going over with some Black-headeds. This spring has easily been the best for Med Gulls on my patch.
The only raptors I saw today were Buzzard and Kestrel even though it looked very promising.
From the back garden I later saw 2 more Buzzards drifting over east.
In the afternoon I went for a walk with Phyl (my wife) and soon found another Buzzard.In Furnace lane we watched a Chiffchaff as it alternated between singing and grabbing insects.
On the way back up the lane we had a surprise when a Cuckoo(85) called a couple of times but annoyingly we couldn't find it and it didn't call again.
On the animal front, there was a common lizard on the bank in Furnace Lane and earlier I startled a pair of Roe Deer which were in a ditch on Swigs Hole farm.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

April 1st 2013

April started as March had left off with a cold North easterly which started as a light breeze, when I left the house, but slowly picked up as I continued. I was soon counting my lucky stars when, at 07.55 I had a Marsh Harrier(83) going north. Brilliant !! and only the second patch record.
Apart from this, for the most part, the same species as yesterday were seen, although I did add Common Gull and Treecreeper.
In the afternoon I popped out to the patch and added Peregrine and  Lapwing.

Monday, 1 April 2013


I walked the patch for 3 hours on Sunday morning as it was the last day of the month.
With the cold wind I wasn't expecting too much in the way of spring migrants and to be honest there weren't many about.
Plenty of gulls were going through and I saw five species, Great Black-backed, Herring, Black-headed,  Mediterranean and Lesser Black-backed all passed overhead.
The Grey Wagtail was once again on the stream below the waterfall and from the dam end 3 Mandarins could be seen further down the lake.
A walk down the west bank to the far end produced Kingfisher, Canada and Greylag Goose and the usual 2 pairs of Great crested Grebes. At the bottom end of the lake a Reed Bunting was singing and a Water Rail called from the reed bed.
Woodpeckers were drumming in the woods and I added both Green and Great spotted to the tally. It was nice to see a male Goldcrest singing and on the edge of the reeds there were 2 Chiffchaffs(the only summer migrants seen during the visit).
A lone Siskin called as it flew over and a Cormorant circled the lake before drifting off.
There was a flock of 30 Redwings in Shirrenden and as I was about to leave a Lesser spotted Woodpecker drummed then called from the alder wood.
In all 53 species were seen during the walk, most of which I expect to see during the winter months

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Dropped in to Furnace Pond on the way home from work and at last had a Chiffchaff(82) which was making it's way through the reeds at the dam end as this was out of the breeze and in the sunshine.
This is easily the latest date for Chiffchaff on my patch as the usual date is around the 17th March.
I had a quick walk adding Fieldfare, Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail which came off the little stream opposite the pumping station.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sunday 24th March

I left the house with snow falling.
The field in Kirkins held Fieldfare, Redwing, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Yellowhammer and on the little spring at the bottom of the field there was a pair of Grey Wagtails.
On Furnace pond there were the usual Great-crested Grebes, lone Coot and Moorhens.
These were joined by a Tufted drake a Kingfisher and a Mandarin drake.
There were a few gulls moving and I soon added Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed,Herring and best of all two Med Gulls, all going N/East.
In the alder wood I found Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker as well as Siskin and Goldfinch. There was a loose mixed flock which contained Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal tit and Treecreeper.
Back out on the Shirrenden side I found Stock Dove and Pheasant. A look across the lake produced a pair of Buzzards circling over the wood. As I was leaving a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker called from behind the boathouse.
In total 38 species were seen, not a bad total and one which still didn't contain any spring migrants.
When will this horrible cold weather end?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Last couple of weeks (Best Bits)

In the last couple of weeks haven't had much chance to do the patch justice but on Saturday 9th I added Gadwall(78) to the year list when two drakes were seen from the dam end on my way to work.
On the Sunday I did manage a walk in the morning and found 5 Tufted Ducks on the lake as well as 2 Coots, 5 Great-crested Grebes and a kingfisher. A total of 12 Canada Geese went over followed closely by a pair of Greylag Geese(79).
Monday 11th produced 3 Goosander on my way home from work which included 2 drakes.
On Wednesday 13th there were 3 Teal and 2 drake Mandarins when I looked in on my way home from work.
Despite the appalling weather yesterday, I left the house at 06.45 determined to get a decent walk in. As I entered the bean stubble field on Kirkins Farm it was evident that a lot of Fieldfare were on the ground. So not wishing to disturbed them I skirted around the edge of the field  and out into Furnace Lane then re-entered the field at the bottom.
As I did so a small flock of Meadow Pipits got up and drifted further into the field and with them I noticed a slightly larger bird which on closer inspection was a lark.I was pretty certain what I had seen was a Woodlark but wanted to make sure so tracked them into the field and eventually re-found them. They weren't easy to get nearer to, but with a little stealth I found the Woodlark(80) feeding with them. Absolutely Fantastic!!!a new species for my patch list.
This morning when I entered the field it was totally devoid of birds but at the lake I found good numbers of thrushes around the orchard. The water held the usual suspects bur a walk around the ditches to the north of the lake produced a Snipe(81).a drake Mandarin flew over and as I got to the southern end I spooked 3 Grey Wagtails from the little stream and a Water Rail squealed from the reed bed nearby.
So although my watching has been fairly limited it has been quite productive.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Dropped in to the lake on the way home to see if anything had appeared. The lake held two pairs of Great-crested Grebes and three Tufted Ducks. Not much else to be seen so departed.
In the parking area I bumped into Dick, the bailiff, who told me that two anglers had flushed a Bittern at the weekend, so I decided to go home and get my scope.
On my return I went to the southern end of the lake to scan the reed beds but was unable to find anything so thought I'd stay until it got dark. As the light began to fade two pairs of Mandarins came in to roost and just when I had given up a noise to my right had me turning round to see the Bittern(77) fly from a small patch of reeds and drop into the reeds in the south east corner.Brilliant!!!I've seen a few at Furnace in previous years but these days they don't turn up as regularly as they used to.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

This week had been a complete write-off due to the fact that I have been suffering with the flu since Monday and although I haven't been to work I hadn't really had the energy to get myself out of the house.
I've spent my time looking at the feeders in the garden and found that about ten Siskins have been coming in to fed with the many Goldfinches, up to six Greenfinches, five Chaffinches, twenty odd House Sparrows and a single Redpoll. Interestingly one of the male Siskins was carrying a pink colour ring on it's right leg(see photo)I hope to find out where this was ringed.
Today I did finally manage a walk around the patch and it started on a high note when I stepped out of the back door at 08.05 and saw five gulls coming straight over the house which comprised four black headeds and an adult Mediterranean Gull(75),a great garden tick!!the walk down Furnace Lane then produced a Peregrine going south. As I got to the lake a pair of Grey Wagtails dropped down the waterfall and a scan from the dam end found a pair of Mandarins sitting in the trees at the southern end.
The orchard produced Fieldfare, Redwing, Chaffinch and a Mistle thrush.
A walk into the Alder wood found a good flock of Siskin and singing Coal Tit and Treecreeper and a Nuthatch.Then came the call I had been hoping for, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker(76)and before long I was watching a female going about her business. As I was watching her a second bird called a bit further away but I couldn't locate it.Fantastic!! Theses are such exquisite little birds!
As I came back into the open ten Canada Geese then two more and a single flew overhead.
A last look to count the Great-crested Grebes(five) and a coot plus a Kingfisher and I decided to make my way  home. As I did a Buzzard circled low over the Alderwood.