Sunday, 27 January 2013

With the change in the weather there seemed to be fewer birds around the patch on Saturday. The sun shone for a change and down at the lake a lot of the ice had at last melted.
On the water there was a single Great crested Grebe and  dozen Mallard. Twenty six Siskin were feeding in the alders with three Lesser Redpolls.
In the ditch running down the orchard there were three Linnet(70) feeding amongst the weeds. A pair of Sparrow hawks were circling over the orchard, which held forty Fieldfares and a kestrel was sitting on a post in the new orchard.
In the s/west corner a Water Rail called but remained unseen.
There were a few gulls going over with five species being seen(Common, Black-headed, Herring , Lesser black-backed and a single Great black-backed).
One of the Little Owl pair was sunning itself on the edge of the conifer plantation in Shirrenden. As I left the lake nine Mandarins(71) flew in and disappeared into the alder wood.
It was good to see that the local Kingfisher had made it through the cold snap.
I had a quick look on the lake on my way home from work this afternoon and was pleasantly surprised to find a smart drake Teal(72) in the south west corner.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

I managed a short walk on the patch this morning. Once again it was cold and grey.My walk down to the lake didn't produce much of interest and a look from the dam end showed a distinct lack of bird-life.
I steeled myself to walk around the orchard which produced about 20 Fieldfares and a Mistle thrush.
At the bottom end of the lake I disturbed a pair of ducks which turned out to be Shovelers(69). They were decidedly flighty so I took a a couple of pictures from distance so as to not disturb them.
                                               Shoveler drake on Furnace Pond

                                              Pair of Shoveler
On a flowery note, the first Snow Drops have started to show themselves near Lake Cottage.
First Snow Drops

And in the garden this morning I have taken a leaf out of Warrens book and put some apples out for the birds which has paid dividends straight away with my first record of Fieldfare in the garden.

Monday, 21 January 2013

With no work today I managed a bonus walk on the patch this morning.
It was rather grey as I walked down through Kirkins and the first thing I noticed was flocks of Fieldfares going south in parties of between 40-80.
As I went around the edge of the field the first Skylark(65) of the year passed overhead.
In Furnace Lane I skanned towards the lake and picked up 5 largish birds coming towards me and as they drew nearer I realised they were Egyptian Geese(66)FANTASTIC!They circled the lake before flying off to the north.
I once again tried the ditches but the only bird that flew from them was a Meadow Pipit.
As I walked onto the dam end a Grey Heron(67)got up and flew to the other end. I made my way round the lake with Fieldfares still going over plus some flocks of Redwings. In total over 1000 Fieldfares and 180 Redwings went over. The sound of them going over was occasionally punctuated by the sound of the odd Skylark.
A walk along the  centre path of the orchard produced some Lapwings going south and in the south west corner of the lake I flushed a Kingfisher. The pair of Great Crested Grebes was still on one of the patches of open water and 3 Common Gulls were sitting on the ice. As I stood watching them and trying to get some pickies a large dark bird flew in from the south east and over my head. It was quite high up but as it went over I heard the unmistakable cronk of a Raven(68)BRILLIANT!!!This is only the second record for my patch.

As I walked back towards home a Buzzard went over being harassed by one of the local Carrion Crows.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

With a light dusting of snow as I left the house at 08.00 on saturday I was hopeful of a cold weather movement which might produce something of interest.
As I walked down through Kirkins the first tick of the day, a Lapwing(60)  took off from a small puddle in the bottom of the field. A few Fieldfares flew overhead plus some Black-headed  and 2 Common Gulls.
When I neared the lake I decided to walk around the ditches that feed into the stream and was delighted to find a Grey Wagtail(61) in the bottom of one.
The lake itself was mostly frozen over but with a couple of holes in the ice.Unfortunately not much was on it, the only thing of note being a Lapwing which may have been the one I had seen earlier.There were also 22 Mallard, 8 Moorhens and a pair of Great crested Grebes.At the dam end the Little Owl was sitting in a hole in the old Oak.
Next I had a walk through the Alder wood where there was a flock of about 70 Siskins plus a mixed flock of tits which included Blue, Long tailed, Great and a Coal Tit plus 2 Treecreepers and a Goldcrest.
I also managed to flush 2 Woodcock(62). On the walk back up Furnace Lane I found 2 Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting in the hedgerow and 3 Bullfinches in Gibbet Lane.
Whilst eating lunch I glanced out of the kitchen window to see 34 Lapwings going over S/W.
In the afternoon I had another walk down to the lake in the hope that something may have dropped in and as I entered Kirkins a Peregrine(63) flew east. Nothing had appeared on the lake but 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls(64) went over followed shortly by a couple of Herring Gulls and a Great Black-backed Gull. 
                                               Little Owl in the old Oak on a sunnier day
                                              Goldfinch in the garden
                                              Gulls on the ice

Monday, 14 January 2013

Sunday 13th January

There was a distinct chill in the air as made my way down towards the lake at 08.00 on Sunday. Even in the half light I could see there were a few gulls moving, with a group of 6 Herring Gulls going east as I neared the dam end.
As I reached the stile in the N/W corner I saw 2 large birds coming towards me which turned out to be Mute Swans (this is the first time I have had more than one record in a year, let alone a month).
As I walked along the bank on the orchard side 60 Black-headed Gulls flew over north.
Remarkably the Coot was still on the lake as were 4 Great Crested Grebes. A Cormorant circled the lake before flying off.
The Gullfest continued with 3 Common Gulls and then 2 Great Black-backed Gulls(59) going over east.
A walk behind the boat house produced Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long tailed Tit and a Marsh Tit.
In the afternoon I spent some time watching the feeders in the back garden which produced Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Blue tit, Great Tit, Long tailed Tit plus 2 Lesser Redpolls.
Feeding beneath these were Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Collared Dove, Wood pigeon and Robin.
Quite a nice selection!!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

With not much chance to visit the patch this week the list has increased by three, with Tawny Owl(56), Herring Gull(57) and Coot(58) being added.
Today's walk was a short one before the weather closed in again.At the lake there was a flock of 120 Siskins but very few Lesser Redpolls are about with just three seen.I saw the Water Rail again in the South East corner of the lake and second bird called from the other side of the water.
It was good to find a Coot on the lake plus 27 Canada Geese as well as the usual 3 Great Crested Grebes.
A walk through the alder wood still didn't put a Woodcock although a Sparrow Hawk was seen.
On the walk back up the hill I found 4 Yellowhammers and 2 Reed Buntings in the hedge in Furnace Lane.
Off patch this afternoon, there were once again some Waxwings at the junction of the A21 and Hastings Road, Pembury. The ones around the village have departed as there are no more apples left in the orchard.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Oh well, the sunshine didn't last long and with a return to dreary days, photo opportunities have gone.
The list is creeping along with five new species added in the last couple of days. These being- Pheasant(51), Buzzard (52), Water Rail (53), Sparrow-hawk (54) and Common Gull (55).
A walk up to Haymans Hill orchard today found five Waxwings still present.
I've attached a few photos from sunnier days:-

Dunnock in the back garden
More Waxwings in Haymans Hill orchard

sorry to be a bit boring!!


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A great day on the patch with the sun shining and the birds singing.I started my walk at 08.00 and by the time I'd reached the lake I had 23 species under my belt.This included all the thrush species I get here in the winter.
At the lake I decided that a walk through the Alder wood would be a good, if a little perilous, idea.This turned out to be both as I added Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Goldcrest to the tally. Siskin numbers were down on recent counts, about 25, plus 1 Lesser Redpoll.
As I was watching them I heard the unmistakeable sound of wings and looked up to see 6 Mute Swans flying south over the trees, BRILLIANT!! Even though I have the lake I have very few records of this species( less than one a year).
In the wood there was also a Brambling feeding with some Chaffinches.
By the end of my walk I had 49 species, with just one raptor (a Kestrel) and one species of gull ( Black Headed).
So even though I had a really good tally there are still a few species to be had before spring migrants start arriving.
In the afternoon I went for a walk up to Haymans Hill orchard and found 17 Waxwings to make 50 Species for the day.