Wednesday, 7 June 2017

May went out on a high when no fewer than 44 Mediterranean Gulls went south over the garden on the afternoon of the 27th and two days later 4 Red Kites went north over the lake.
A walk on 3rd of this month produced some god species with Cuckoo,2 Kestrels,Mandarin,Coot,Reed and Garden Warbler plus Blackcap,Whitethroat and Chiffchaff seen.
Cormorant was a flyover as was a Peregrine(96) in the morning.
In the afternoon a Turtle Dove was found behind the pumping station and a single Red Kite went over s/west.
The next day good numbers of Swallow,House Martin and Swift were over the lakeside trees and amazingly another Red Kite was seen.
A quick walk after work on the 5th saw a Red-legged Partridge in one of the fields in the orchard.
As the patch has settled into its summer rhythm I have been photographing insects and flowers on the patch:-

                                                Beautiful Demoiselle
                                                Ovipositing Emperor Dragonfly
An unknown spider. Any Ideas???
I have recently found some interesting plant species on the patch:-
      Twayblade                                                          Southern Marsh Orchid  
Both of these are new species for the patch and I was super excited to find the Southern Marsh Orchid.    

Monday, 22 May 2017

The last weekend was a quiet one on the patch but a female Cuckoo turned up on Saturday and seemed to spark the male into life with him calling constantly and on Sunday he was chasing her round the lake.
There have been plenty of Mandarins on the lake with ten on Saturday and they look like they are already coming in to moult.

Three Cormorants over the same day was an unusual record for the patch at this time of year.
Common Terns have visited regularly but don't hang around for long.

The Reed Buntings are still on the lake as are the Coots so I'm hoping both will breed. This evening twenty House Martins came down to the lake before drifting off to the north.
With the sun shining I've been down at the warmest times to try to photograph Dragonflies and Damsels but so far have only seen the latter.I did manage to take some pics of a Broad bodied Chaser elsewhere:-

I was pleased to find a Brown Argus on Saturday
and a a few Banded Demoiselles

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

On the 8th of the month the Coot that has been on the lake was joined by another and the pair remain on the lake.
The following day I was relieved to find a Turtle Dove(92) singing. Sadly this enigmatic little dove is now hard to find on the patch.
On the 11th the first House Martin (93) flew over the house and a Sand Martin (94) was briefly over the lake.
Last weekend  54 species was seen on the patch, a really great total and one which included a flyover Yellow Wagtail (95) and another Med Gull and a Lesser Whitethroat.
On Sunday 14th whilst we were working in the garden four more Med Gulls went over south (It's been a good year for this species).
During a sunny afternoon I went on a foray to look for dragonflies and found a newly emerged Banded Demoiselle and a Large Red Damselfly.
                                                               First Banded Demoiselle
Large Red Damsel

Sunday, 7 May 2017

April passed with two more species added to the year list in the shape of a Nightingale(84) singing at Stonebridge and a Red Kite(85) over the orchards on the following afternoon.
Finally, on the 29th two more Med Gulls were recorded going south over the lake.
Into May and with a cold wind blowing from the north east not much was happening until on the 5th the first Spotted Flycatcher(86) was found at the pumping station on my way to work.As I walked along the farm track two Shelduck(87) passed overhead, going north and amazingly within a minute a GREENSHANK(88) followed them calling loudly as it went.Brilliant!!! To add to this two Swifts(89) were flying over the lake.Possibly the best twenty minutes I have ever had on the patch.
The good fortune continued on Saturday 6th when what I thought was my first Hobby of the year approaching distantly from the south turned out to be a large swift. As it got closer I was stunned to make out the white belly and throat of an ALPINE SWIFT(90) which, unfortunately carried on to the north without stopping.INCREDIBLE!
Then down at the lake two Common Terns(91) circuited before flying off to the south.
I was pleased to have two Cuckoos duelling in the orchards.
Two distant Cuckoos

This afternoon a Red Kite flew over the village as we were in he garden and down at the lake a Buzzard was being mobbed by the male Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk was circling amongst the pair.
In the garden I took this shot of a Robin fledgling:-

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The first Red legged Partridge(79) was calling somewhere behind the pumping station on 20th April and the same day two Reed Warblers(80) were singing at the southern end of the lake.
The lake produced a real rarity the following day in the form of a COOT(81).It's amazing how few appear on the lake!
Furnace pond rarity.

As I left the house on Sunday 23rd I saw two gulls going over the village and was delighted to see that one was an adult Mediterranean Gull(82). It's always good to get this one on the list and was followed by a Cuckoo calling loudly as it went towards the lake where I also added a Garden Warbler(83).With a southerly breeze picking up a few gulls were going over the garden in the afternoon and I was gobsmacked to have eight  Med Gulls over the house, a brilliant garden tick.
Later in the day I looked at Bird guides to find that a Lesser Yellowlegs had turned up at Dungeness so later on we headed down and were delighted to connect with it-a first for me.
We had a walk round the reserve and found Sedge Warblers all over the place.
One of the many Sedge Warblers.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The 14th saw the arrival of the first Lesser Whitethroat(77) of the year,singing at the top of Kirkins which is still there holding territory and the earliest I have recorded it. I had a good walk that morning and eventually saw fifty species. Other spring migrants were Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Swallow.
I also had a flyover Siskin.

On the next three days I recorded Wheatear with a pair,single female and another single.
Wheatear in the weed killed field

On a walk before work today my first Cuckoo(78) of the year put in an appearance. It seems to be getting later each year.
Finally, I found the first two Mistle Thrush fledglings in the sheep field.
Mistle Thrush fledglings

Thursday, 13 April 2017

This week has so far been a bit of a mixed bag with the first Willow Warbler(74) arriving on the lake on Monday 10th and the next day there were two. Sadly they no longer stay to breed on my patch
as all the suitable habitat has been removed.
On most days Swallows have been seen but all appear to have just gone through. On the 11th the G C Grebe pair had been joined by another bird which was duly chased off. A pair of Reed Buntings were at the southern end and two Mandarin drakes flew in.
Both Sand Martin and House Martin were seen by Glyn on the twelfth but sadly I missed both.
The week picked up a bit today when a Whitethroat(75) was found singing at the top of Kirkins and down at the lake two Wheatear(76) were in one of the fields in front of Hononton farm house.
One of the two Wheatears.

This week has been good for butterfly species with Holly Blue,Comma,Small Tortoiseshell,Peacock.Small White,Speckled Wood and Orange Tip seen.In fact I don't recall seeing so many Orange Tips before.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

This evening I saw my first two Swallows(73) of the spring when they flew low over the orchard. Three buzzards were circling overhead and the Grey Wagtail pair were at the dam end.
Grey Wagtails

The only other spring migrants were Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps but there are good numbers of both.
The sunshine has been a real benefit to the butterflies with 5 Orange tips seen today.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

 The first Blackcap(72) arrived on 23rd March when one was singing in the back garden. The earliest date I have recorded the species on my patch.
Today three were recorded with the one still in the back garden and two in Swigs.
On Sunday 26th it was a bit misty and chilly when I went out which cleared relatively quickly although it was still chilly so I was  to find a Grass snake on the bank of the lake. It appeared to be half dead but I guess it was just cold as it moved a little once it warmed in my hands. I put it in a nice sunny position and when I checked later it had gone.

I was able to walk the patch on Tuesday 28th and had a very enjoyable walk in the sunshine.
Skylarks were singing in three areas of the patch and eight singing Chiffchaffs.
A single Blackcap was singing behind the pumping station in Furnace Lane. The lake held 5 Mandarin and the pair of Great crested Grebes of note.Woodpeckers were drumming everywhere and I was delighted to see a pair of LSW which were chasing each other around.
Raptors were also displaying with Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk seen.
Five Lesser Black-backed Gulls went over north.
The sun also brought out the insects with Peacock,Small Tortoiseshell and Green Veined white seen plus the first Bee fly and something I photographed but don't know what it is.
Bee Fly
Interesting-any ideas?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

March is racing by and the only summer migrants on the patch so far are Chiffchaffs. Sunday 19th produced 11 with 2 in the back garden,1 in Kirkins,2 in Swigs and 6 at the lake.
On the 12th a pair of Greylags were prospecting on the lake.
The Reed Bunting continues to sing and Mandarins are present most visits and the Great crested Grebe pair have returned.
I've been getting about a bit and was excited to find a male Hooded Merganser on Dungeness RSPB but it was short lived when it was later found to be wearing a ring.Never mind,it was still a cracking little bird.

My original idea was a trip to get e photo of the Long eared Owls but as I arrived at the reserve it clouded over. I took some shots of one which was showing really well
The best I could do!

At the entrance the Tree Sparrows were at the feeders.
One of the Tree Sparrows
Thursday 16th my wife and I went to the Ashdown Forest to my young brother who was down from Norfolk with his partner. We had a delightful work at the old airstrip finding a few Dartford Warblers before coming across a Great Grey Shrike.
Always distant
Last weekend I went to the RSPB at Broadwater Warren to look for Woodlarks and was lucky to locate a few.

Walking around the reserve I was reminded what great work they do in habitat creation to attract birds such as these turning a conifer plantation into splendid heath land.
It has been great to get about a bit more but I still relish the challenge of my own patch.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Yesterday morning I checked my phone, only to find that Wez had text me the afternoon previously with news of 10 Waxwings outside his house. I was a bit gutted but it was great for him to get this garden tick.
I took my usual walk with little of note seen except the usuals and decided to check around village but found no Waxwings and went home disappointed.
After lunch I went back out as it occurred to me that a house on Orchard Way had apples on a tree in the front garden. On arrival there was nothing to be seen but unbelievably as I walked up the road 20 Waxwings flew over me and landed in the rear garden of one of the houses. They then landed on an aerial before descending on the apple tree.Fantastic!!!
some of the Waxwings
Enjoying the apples.

They flew off as I phoned Wez but we found them near the school where Wez took this great shot:-

I had a look for them this afternoon but didn't find any although they were seen by someone in the village.
I made my way down to the lake to refill the feeders and saw two Marsh Tits and the Water Rail put in an appearance.
Water Rail enjoying the sunflower hearts.
In the garden today there were two Siskins on the feeders.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Sunday 19th February was the last walk for a while due ti illness but it started well with Tawny Owl (70) calling as I lay in bed.
The morning walks highlights  included a flyover Yelowhammer, two Cormorants and a Lesser spot drumming. More surprising was a male Stonechat (71) that was on the middle hedge along Hononton farm track.
Distant shot of Stonechat

This Saturdays walk was a pleasant one that was notable by the reduction in winter thrushes.There was a nice flock of Siskins with a couple of Lesser Redpolls with them.Skylarks were singing over Kirkins and over Hononton.
The local Buzzards were vocal in their displays as was the female Kestrel. On the lake there were 12 Mandarins, the pair of Great crested Grebes and a pair of Canada Geese.Three Marsh Tits were seen with one at the feeders and two in Shirrenden wood.
A Grey Wagtail was on the stream and the first Chiffchaff heard Chiffchaffing was moving through the hedge towards the lake.
Spring is just around the corner and I for one am looking forward to the challenge of working my local patch!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Got out for an hour after work this evening which was very nice.
Down at the lake as I got to the pumping station a Grey Wagtail flew overhead. In the orchards there were plenty of Fieldfares and Redwings.
At the feeders four tit species were seen- Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh and the Water Rail was pecking around underneath.
Water Rail under the feeders

On the water the pair of Great Crested Grebes were displaying and a pair of Mandarins were under the trees at the southern end where two Reed Buntings were in the reed bed.
On the walk back up Furnace Lane a Goldcrest was in the hedge and as I got further up he hill I heard the call of a Chiffchaff(69) ,then found it flitting around in the hedge. A great end to my evening stroll.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

  1. Walks after work didn't produce anything new but it was good to see that the Waxwing was still in Gibbet Lane and was joined by a second bird on Wednesday 8th.


           Waxwing in Gibbet Lane

Saturday was a surprise with snow falling as I left the house.
Down at the lake,I found a Water Rail under the feeders, which I photographed from a distance, through the heavy snow.

The feeders were busy with plenty of tits and goldfinches attending including the usual Marsh Tit. Two Reed Buntings were in the reeds in the south west corner and a Grey Heron was on the stream.
In Kirkins there was flock of Meadow Pipits which numbered around fifty.Inevitably a Waxwing was seen in Gibbet Lane but it appeared to be a different individual.
The feeders in the garden were alive with birds with lots of Goldfinches and six Greenfinches which included five males plus Chaffinches and House Sparrows.The cold weather had also bought in a Pied Wagtail.
Today was cold with a little drizzle and the lake held a Great Crested Grebe,Mandarin,Mallard and Moorhen.A kingfisher was on the Shirrenden side and the Water Rail appeared briefly by the feeders.
A flock of Siskins flew over me on the farm track and four Bullfinches were on the Shirrenden side.
Undoubtedly the highlight was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that called and drummed before flying towards Furnace Lane.
The Waxwing was seen on the way home and a Marsh Tit was in Furnace Lane.  

Sunday, 5 February 2017

I managed a quick walk down to the lake on Friday 3rd after work before the rain came.
I checked the feeders and watched the comings and goings of the various Tits which included 2 Marsh Tits.
Unfortunately I flushed a Little Owl(68) that was roosting in a lakeside tree.As usual the lake held few birds with just Mallard, Moorhen and Mandarin.
Saturday produced a pair of Reed Buntings in the ditch at the southern end and a Brambling feeding with Chaffinches under the alders in the bottom corner,
Walking back up Gibbet Lane I was pleased to find 5 Waxwings in the rear garden of one of the houses. It was great to re-find them as I hadn't seen any since Monday afternoon.
During the day they were very mobile but I did get some shots of them in the school grounds.

Today, down at the lake a Yellow hammer was seen along with a good flock of Siskins and a flyover Lesser Redpoll and Grey Wagtail.
The Kestrel pair were very vocal on the Shirrenden side and two Skylarks were singing over the cleared orchard.
Just 4 Waxwings were seen today with three in Gibbt Lane and one in the school as I walked home.
Waxwing in Gibbet Lane

Monday, 30 January 2017

It was rather dark when I got home from work but I decided to have a look around the village to see if the Waxwings were still about.
After looking at most of the places I saw them yesterday,with no luck,I ended up at the school were I found they had increased in number to twelve. Brilliant!!
Although it was rather dull and dark I took some more photos so I've attached a few.

Here's hoping for some sunshine.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

As the lake has been frozen all week there hasn't been much around, although with a partial thaw yesterday, nine Mandarins were on the open water that was.
In the morning yesterday, I went up to Little Murston NR to see the Pine Bunting which showed briefly and also saw a fine male Hen Harrier and Merlin whilst waiting for it to come in.
On the long walk back to the car I also saw three Long Tailed Ducks on the creek.
A pretty good mornings birding.
Today I went down to the lake and found little open water but contented myself watching the feeders.
As usual the Marsh Tits showed well and a Grey Wagtail flew over calling.
On the dam end I bumped in to Patrick who said he had seen a Waxwing in Gibbet Lane.I made my way back home but found nothing.
After dropping my daughter in to Tunbridge Wells I decided to walk up to Haymans Hill but only got twenty yards from my door when I found a WAXWING in an oak tree on the edge of the school. I hurriedly took a shot before it flew off. On walking round the corner I found that in fact there were five.I rang Wez to give him the news but he was at work. The birds flew off so I walked round the village to re-locate them.When I did,in Morley Drive, there were seven.
I phoned Wez again and he joined me to try to get some better shots.They were quite mobile but they eventually settled in trees in the school and the final total was eight.
Waxwings in Morley Drive
Six of the eight

Unfortunately it was grey and only got greyer but I'm sure Wez has got some good shots.
Whilst the birds were mobile they attempted to drink from a puddle opposite my house then settled in a tree in the back garden. A brilliant garden tick as we went round the back to get a look.
I'm hoping they will be around when I get home from work as it is meant to be brighter tomorrow.