Saturday, 3 December 2016

November has passed and two more species were added to the year total with a Woodcock(105) flushed from the alder wood on the 12th.
On the 19th of the month a Little Egret(106) flew SW over Kirkins.
Prior to this another high-lite was a pair of Ravens that flew over north on the 6th of the month,remarkably this is the third record this year,probably a sign of this species increase in the county!
Most early walks at the weekends have seen good numbers of Black-headed Gulls with a few Common Gulls on Swigs Hole side.
A Marsh Tit has been seen regularly around the lake and of some significance was a Chiffchaff in the ditch at the southern end.
During this week the lake has been mostly frozen over this had pushed out the Water Rails with two seen in the only bit of open water on the afternoon of the third.It was great to see them as I normally only hear them.
Today a skein of geese went over which was mostly Canadas but there was also a Greylag and a Canada/Greylag hybrid amongst them.
The morning got even better when I found a Chiffchaff behind the pumping station and better still when three more CHIFFCHAFFS were flitting around the reeds and trees at the southern end of the lake.Fantastic!!Only the second ever December record.
This afternoon, on a walk with my wife I was delighted to find 35 Lapwings in with the Black-headeds on Swigs side.
Lapwings on Swigs

I found some images on my coolpix camera which I had digiscoped on a holiday in Kefalonia so i've 
a few.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Last weekend started well with the first Greylag since March flying noisily over the lake.
Redwings and Fieldfare have become daily sightings but still not in any great numbers and the same goes for Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.

Maybe the last Chiffchaff of the year was seen on saturday 29th and there appears to be 2 Water Rail at the southern end of the lake.
Sunday was very foggy during my walk with the result that I gave up on seeing much and went home.
However later on I went out again as the sun had come out and was chuffed to find a Black Redstart(103) on the roof of the farmhouse.Brilliant!!

The good fortune continued on 2nd November when 2 Lapwings(104) went over( amazingly the first sighting of this species this year).
I managed a quick walk after work this evening and found four Teal on the lake plus fourteen Mandarin and a Water Rail.
As I watched a Snipe went over and as I left a Tawny Owl called.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The weekend started well with a Tawny Owl calling as I lay in bed on saturday,
As I walked in to Kirkins a Mistle thrush went over followed shortly after by my first Lesser Redpoll of the autumn.
Winter thrushes were very evident with plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares going over.
Lots of gulls were also moving with Black Headed,Herring and Common landing on the big field in Swigs and later a Great black-backed was also added.
Down through Kirkins a few flocks of Starlings numbering in the hundreds went over.
Skylarks and Meadow Pipit called as they went by.
In all five Chiffchaffs were seen and it was great to have a Reed Bunting over.
Two Kingfishers were on the lake but little else was on the water save for Mallard, Moorhen and a single Mandarin on the water.
On the Shirrenden side and the local blackbirds alerted me to a Little Owl.
The only raptor seen was a Kestrel but in all 49 species was seen.
Today a single Stonechat was found in the ditch at the end of the lake,
Todays Stonechat

Lesser black-backed Gull was added plus five Buzzards were seen this afternoon.
Interestingly a Common Darter was seen down at the lake and two Red Admirals were in the garden.
Red Admiral in the garden.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The week ending 16th was punctuated with a few more Fieldfare and Redwings arriving and probably the last House martins and Swallows departing.
Friday 14th produced a skein of Brent Geese(102) going over in a southerly direction.
About 160 Fieldfare were seen with just 4 Redwings. Other winter arrivals included 4 Siskins and good numbers of Meadow pipits.
Saturday 15th started on a brilliant note with a GREAT WHITE EGRET over at first light which I watched fly over the valley towards  Castle Hill before it veered south west.
I met up with Wez on the farm track who had found a Stonechat on top of the middle hedge.
Stonechat on the middle hedge.

It was good to have a Reed bunting on the days list and some Skylarks over.
Sunday I found a much awaited Yellowhammer in the hedge in Gibbet lane and heard two Water Rails down at the lake.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

It was a great couple of hours on the patch this morning with lots of birds about.
Summer migrants were still in evidence with at least 10 Chiffchaffs seen and Swallows and House Martins trickling through to the north east.
In contrast winter visitors have began to arrive with the first Fieldfares of the autumn plus a few flocks of Siskins and a large flock of Meadow Pipits.
Ten Skylarks landed on the field in front of the farm cottages and the flock of Linnets was still in the orchard where two Yellowhammers flew over.
It was good to see a Lesser spotted woodpecker which flew down the lake.
Three raptors were seen in the shape of Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.
In the afternoon a walk down to the lake produced a Brambling in the orchard.

Little opportunity to get any photos today but I did see a Migrant Hawker which reminded I took some pictures of dragonflies during the summer so I've attached them.

Migrant Hawker
Brown Hawker
Golden-ringed Dragonfly. (One of four present in August)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

October started with about 60 House martins and a dozen Swallows seen on the 1st of the month which were going south in the morning.The only other summer migrants were a single Blackcap and around 20 Chiffchaffs.
Also of note were two Siskins.
In the afternoon there was a mass movement of House martins and Swallows which were going west after the rain had passed.
On Sunday 2nd there were plenty of gulls on the large field in Swigs with 30 Black-headed, 22 Herring, 1 Common and a Lesser black-back with 27 Stock Doves there also.
Forty two species were seen and it was great to find a Marsh Tit on the path next to lake cottage.there were still plenty of Chiffchaffs about and Meadow Pipits totalled seventeen.
A walk after work on Monday 3rd produced the goods when a Stonechat (101) was found on the middle hedge at Hononton Farm,then a second appeared then a third and  fourth. Amazingly there were 3 males and a female flitting off the hedge catching insects.
Unfortunately I had no camera with me but a phone call to Wez had him driving down armed with his to take some shots.

Stonechats- Thanks to Wez.

I carried on my walk down to the lake once I had my fill of chats and was pleased to see a Reed Warbler in the lakeside reeds.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

100 UP!

Autumn is well under way but it's still a bit of a slog,due partly,I think to the loss of a lot of the decent habitats being removed by the local farmers.
The first Mediterranean Gull (96) flew over on 13th July with a small movement of Black-headed gulls.This was followed the next day by cracking Wood Warbler (97) which called constantly and was still around the following day.
On the 20th 3 Redpolls were present,an unusual record,for me.
On the 23rd a Yellow Wagtail(98) went over plus a Siskin was seen.
Mistle Thrush numbers increased during the month with 26 in the orchard on 27th as did Linnet with a flock of 300 on 29th.
Into August and it was good to find Willow Warblers around the lake plus a few Spotted Flycatchers in the paddocks in Shirrenden.
On the 21st Mistle thrushes peaked at 33 in the orchard and a flock of 40 Chaffinches was in the rape stubble on Swigs side.
The first Wheatear of the autumn was on Hononten farm track on 24th with another on the 30th
 and two more flyover Yellow Wagtails went over on 28th.

September came in with 2 Hobbies hunting over the orchard on 3rd and the next dat it was great to find a Turtle Dove feeding with 28 Collared Doves in stubble in Kirkins.
On the 6th a much awaited Sedge Warbler (99) was at the lake and on the 11th 2 Tree Pipits and another Yellow Wagtail went over.
A Whinchat (100) was at the top of Kirkins on 12th with another there on 16th.
Wheatears were found on 17th and 24th.
On the 17th two Ravens were circling over the bottom end of the lake before drifting off to the west and the same day,what appeared to be an Abietinus type Chiffchaff was feeding amongst a group of Chiffchaffs in the pine plantation.
House Martins were passing through in numbers on 24th when a Willow Warbler was also present.
Probably the last Reed Warbler of the year was in the southeast corner of the lake the same day.

A Little Grebe was on the lake on the 24th but little else has appeared recently.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

June has just about gone and the patch is in a settled mode.
Pairs of Common Terns were seen off and on until the 20th and probably the last calling Cuckoo was heard on 18th.
The Kestrel chicks are growing fast but look alittle way off fledging.

A lot of birds have been fledging including Treecreeper, Whitethroat and the first Reed Warblers.
The 14th saw 34 Stock Doves feeding in one of the cleared orchards.
A total of 32 Swifts were over the village on the 18th and Mandarin numbers have fluctuated as birds are coming on to the lake to moult.
Another Red Kite went south over the house on the 26th.
Two of the local Buzzard pairs have raised single chicks with one leaving the nest on 27th.
Young Buzzard on the nest
The two Great crested Grebe chicks are doing well down at the lake.
Hitching a ride!
Dragonflies have been few and far but I have managed a few shots
                                                                 Broad bodied Chaser
Downy Emerald
Beautiful Demoiselle

The local Grass Snakes have been seen occasionally and I managed to get ashot of one sunbathing:-
Grass snake enjoying the sunshine

Finally, a walk this evening produced my first Sand Martin(95) of the year amongst a group of hirundines feeding below the dam.

Monday, 6 June 2016

May into early June

After being away for the weekend of  28th/29th May I got out onto the patch in the late afternoon of the 30th.
On the way down Furnace Lane I found both Great and Coal Tit fledglings in the hedgerow and was pleased to find a Marsh Tit there as well.
Coal Tit fledgling
Down at the lake and I noticed that a few Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were heading into the cool N/W wind. As I walked up the orchard a Red kite drifted over heading towards Brenchley Wood. This was followed five minutes later by a second bird. I walked along the farm track watching it float west. As I turned to come back down the field , to my amazement I saw two more birds circling over the wood at the southern end.Incredible!!Four Red Kites in such a short amount of time.
The highlite of a walk on Saturday 4th June was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at the bottom of Shirrenden.
The day got even better in the afternoon when I nipped out for a quick walk and had a GREAT WHITE EGRET(94) fly over me,going north over Kirkins.Surely this will be my bird of the year.
The local birds doing well and more and more young are being seen.
Blue Tit Fledgling
Young Goldfinch
On the insect front and a Painted Lady was seen sheltering in a hedge in Maidstone Road
Painted Lady

Sunday morning and a Fallow Deer was seen in Shirrenden
Fallow Deer

Friday, 27 May 2016

Late May Update

Early May produced two Common Sandpipers (90) during a walk before work and later that day the first Hobby (91) was seen over the back garden as it hunted over the village.
The next day seven Mallard ducklings had appeared on the lake.
 On my early morning walk on the 6th 3 Cuckoos were heard calling down at the lake and later that day a pair were seen.
Common Terns seem to be seen most days at the lake but are coming and going all the time.
On the patch walk on the 7th no fewer than 56 species were seen and I was especially pleased to see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Only nine species were summer visitors though!
The next day five more species were added with the fourth Red Kite of the year seen.
I was relieved to see and hear my first two Turtle Doves(92) . It is sickening to see how this species has declined in recent years.
On a brighter note a pair of Spotted Flycatchers(93) were found below the waterfall on the 20th.
One of the Spotted Flycatchers.
On the 21st May a pair of Canada Geese appeared with five goslings.Unfortunately they were stuck behind the rabbit fencing so couldn't get to the lake. This called for drastic measures so I caught them all and dropped them over the fence and left the parents to hop over.
That same morning yet another Red Kite was seen!
I was well chuffed to find a Mandarin with ducklings on the 23rd.
Manarin with ducklings
I don't expect to be adding anymore species to the list for a while so will content myself with watching things unfold on the patch.
Whitethroat in the rape field.
Singing Reed Warbler at the southern end of the lake
Common Terns on the lake 

Monday, 2 May 2016

I returned to the patch on Sunday 1st May, after a few days in Devon, to a pair of Common Terns(87)
on the lake.

One of the Common Terns
On the walk back home I was delighted to see my first Swift(88) of the year wheeling over the village.
Todays walk started with the Lesser Whitethroat still singing at the top of Kirkins and as I walked down Furnace Lane a pair of Marsh Tits made their way up the hedgerow to the feeders in one of the gardens.Also there I saw my first Blackbird fledgling of the spring.
The Willow Warbler is still singing in the usual spot so I'm still hopeful.
As I walked down the farm track I watched a Crow chasing a Cuckoo down the new orchard. It seems that everything dislikes these birds!
The lake held four Mandarin drakes and the Coots appear to be nest building but unfortunately the Great-crested Grebes have lost their eggs.
The southern end held a singing Garden Warbler(89) but the Reed Warbler wasn't heard.Four Swallows and a single House Martin were flying around the lake and the Swift was flying was over the village again.
In total 44 species were seen of which 10 were summer visitors. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

With the nights getting shorter I am able to have a quick walk at the lake on my way to work and on 19th I found a Wheatear on the farm track and also a Fieldfare was present.A walk after work produced a Lesser Whitethroat in Kirkins and the Cuckoo was calling loudly.
The lake held a Coot plus the pair of Great-crested Grebes. The Kestrel pair were perched in the old dead oak and one of the local Buzzards circled over Shirrenden wood.
On the 22nd 4 Buzzards were seen plus a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel and the lake now had two Coots on it.
The following day the first Whitethroat(83) of the year was on the Swigs Hole side.
The 23rd was cold when I left home so I wasn't filled with optimism but it turned out to be a good day with another Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers,5 Chiffchaffs,3 Blackcaps, a flyover Tree Pipit(84) 4 Swallows,a Cuckoo and the first Reed Warbler(85) calling loudly from the corner of the lake.
One of the Swallow pairs

The following day one of theWillow Warblers was still singing from suitable habitat, so I am hoping it may stay.
A walk just into dark had me thrilled to find 2 Nightingales(86) singing.Fantastic!
                                                    The Fieldfare was still around today
This evening a single Siskin came to the garden feeders.

Monday, 18 April 2016

It has taken me till 11th of April to get my first Little Owl(76) of the year on the patch.
The following day I was delighted to find two Wheatears (77) in the old currant field in Furnace Lane which was particularly pleasing as I had been checking this field as I had a feeling something could turn up there!
The 15th turned up the first Cuckoo (78) but it remains the only one so far this spring.
The following day and I was greeted by a Willow Warbler (79) singing in the back garden.
Down at the lake I found a second Willow warbler in the lakeside trees.Unfortunately these delightful little birds no longer breed on the patch due to all the suitable habitat being destroyed.
Chiffchaff numers have increased to five singing males and two females.
One of the female Chiffchaffs
Four House Martins (80) added to the years list as they flew straight through.
That evening I decided to go out just before dark to listen for Nightingales just in case one had turned up. None were found but I did have two Snipe (81) going over just as the sun set.
The follwing morning there was a frost as I left the house so I was surprised to find a Lesser Whitethroat (82) singing at the top of Kirkins and even more surprised to have a second down at the lake.
Five summer migrants were seen on Sunday including the Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Swallow, Wllow Warbler and Blackcap.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The last week of March produced a few new species for the year list with a single Greylag Goose(70) and three of Tufted Ducks(71) on the 24th, followed the next day by the first Chiffchaff(72) of spring. The same day in the late afternoon as I went to fill up the feeder,down by the lake my second Red Kite drifted over west.
My good fortune continued on 26th with a Red-legged Partridge(73) in the small orchard on Furnace Lane.
All of a sudden the winter thrushes have cleared out with two Redwings seen on the 31st which will possibly be the last this spring.The same day there were 4 Chiffchaffs around the patch.
The first Blackcap(74) was found singing intermittently behind the pumping station.Chiffchaffs numbered five and a single Fieldfare was at the lake.The lake held a pair of Teal,4 Great-crested Grebes,2 Kingfishers and a pair of Mandarins.
Dropping in to the lake on my way home from work,on 5th, produced two Swallows(75) going west as well as 3 Fieldfares, a Marsh Tit and a flock of about 110 Linnets, the singing Blackcap and 4 Chiffchaffs.
Driving through Castle hill that afternoon I also saw another Red Kite going over.
On a walk after work this afternnoon I saw 6 Buzzards circling over the orchard plus a Kestrel and amazingly my third Red Kite of the year on the patch.
In the garden the Siskins are still coming to the feeders with the occasional Lesser Redpoll.
Siskin in the garden
Singing Linnet

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The middle weekend of March was spent up in Norfolk visiting my younger brother and some of the north coast.
Saturday 12th I visited Cley.A fantastic reserve and whilst there wasn't anything rare about I watched the sea for a while and found a Black -Throated Diver amongst the many Red -Throats and had a single Eider.I also had my first Chiffchaff of the spring (still none on the patch).
I took the opportunity to go to Blakeney to see some Lapland Buntings and try to get some shots of them.
Lapland Buntings

Back to the patch and not a lot has changed but Fieldfares and Redwings remain in decent numbers. On 19th two Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers were displaying in the alderwood at the southern end and the feeder was still attracting several Tit species including the Marsh Tits.
The lake was quiet as usual with 6 Mandarins and a Cormorant being the highlite.
In the afternoon we had a walk and had a flock of about 130 Redpolls fly over us at Bassetts farm, definately the largest flock i've ever seen!
On 20th there was the welcome sight of a Reed Bunting singing in the ditch at the bottom of the lake and 2 Kingfishers were present with 2 Grey Wagtails on the stream.
At lunch time I picked up a large raptor going over the house which turned out to be my first Red Kite(68) of the year and later in the afternoon we were treated to 6 Buzzards circling over the village.
On the morning of the 21st I popped in to the lake on my way to work to find two Reed Buntings singing and on the way home a drake Teal was on the lake plus a Grey Heron.
On the loop round past the sheep pasture I found a cracking male White Wagtail(69) in amongst the sheep but unfortunately I could refind it when I returned with my camera.
STILL NO CHIFFCHAFF but I'm sure it will be any day now. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

As I left the house at 07:00 on Sunday 06/03/16 Siskins were on the feeders in the garden.
Walking down through Kirkins and 2 Bullfinches were in the brambles at the top.As Iwalked down the track some Redpolls flew over and a Green Woodpecker took off from the small orchard.Into the paddock and Redwings and Fieldfares were in abundance.
Onto the lake where there were 4 Great-crested Grebes,a Kingfisher, Mallard and Moorhen viewable from the dam end.
Next down the lane past the pumping station and Grey Wagtail was on the stream and a Pied Wagtail was in amongst the sheep.Siskins and Goldfinches were feeding in the poplars.
 I have put up a feeder at the southern end of the lake and was delighted to find at least 2 Marsh Tits coming in with Great,Blue and Coal Tits plus a couple of Nuthatches and a Water Rail scurried away from under it.
Marsh Tit on the feeder.
Around on the Shirrenden side and three Kestrels were dislaying over the paddock.
The stock pond held a Grey Heron but still no Little Owl was found.As I left, the local pair of Buzzards came out of the wood calling loudly.
I spent some time watching the garden feeders and counted 18 Siskins plus 3 Redpolls amongst the Goldfinches,House Sparrows,Chaffinches and pair of Greenfinches.
Lesser Redpoll in the garden

I was very pleased with the 50 species seen durng the day even though no new species were added to the year total. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

 The patch has been a bit in the doldrums for the last couple of weeks.Around the orchards both Fieldfare and Redwing remain in good numbers but the lake is still quiet. The highlite was a second pair of  Great-crested Grebes on the 19th which stayed for a week before the first pair bullied them into leaving.
The local pair of Buzzards have become a bit more noticable of late and on the 27th a pair of Sparrowhawks were displaying over the lake.
On the 25th a pair of Kestrels were on the dead tree in Shirrenden and on the same day three Grey Wagtails were on the stream and a Little Grebe was hiding under some lakeside branches.
It's been great to have the Siskins in the garden with a dozen there on Sunday 28th joined by a couple of Redpolls.
 Siskins in the garden.

Cracking male Redpoll in the garden
With spring just around the corner I'm hoping that things will pick up on the patch.