Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Patch week 17

23rd April An early morning walk on Norton common brought two additions to the Patch list, a Tawny owl  female that called and a coal tit, singing high in a fir tree. I also popped down to the lagoon but the only interesting sighting there was a quartet of swimmers in skin diving suits for warmth who were doing a lap of the lake, two men and two women I think, and certainly hardier than me, that water must have been very cold.                                                               Patch list 83

24th April  Another early walk around the common brought another coal tit singing and also at least three tree creepers calling, very few warblers though, just blackcap and chiffchaff

25th April Tim and I had decided that this should be our big day out on the patch, I joined him on the common at 0420 and he said I had just missed a couple of foxes and a muntjac passing where he was waiting. It was a heavily overcast misty morning, not ideal for birding but we pressed on. Robin was heard at 0430, woodpigeon mallard and blackbirds were heard by 0453 and at five we were fortunate enough to hear a woodcock. Very soon afterwards we had a probable wryneck fly over us calling loudly but the view and the call were too brief to say with absolute certainty which was most unfortunate but encouraging. Blue tit, crow, great tit, wren, song thrush, green woodpecker, magpie chaffinch and blackcap took us to 0452 and a minute later we were surprised to hear a cuckoo calling from somewhere towards the allotments. At 0546 a tawny owl called and we saw a jay chase it form a nearby low bush. Mistle thrush, great spotted woodpecker and Canada goose took us to twenty birds found by 0600 when we left the common to walk to Tims and get the car as the weather forecast had determined we should use it to maximise our time prior to the expected rain. Collared dove, house sparrow and starling were added on the trip to the car and then we headed off to Radwell lake. Mute swan, tufted duck, moorhen, coot gadwall and pied wagtail were on the lake,  pheasant, chiffchaff, jackdaw and greylag goose were found in the surrounding area and then Tim found a pair of kingfishers nearby at 0710. Our next stop was Nortonbury where we had a bite to eat,  we walked North west along the Greenway in the hope of finding some resident little owls but they could not be found, I then watched a female blackcap trying to pull animal hairs off of the barbed wire for her nest.A pair of linnets were added, closely followed by bullfinches, dunnocks, willow warblers, skylark and grey partridges taking us to 40 species seen. A whitethroat called at 0847 and we watched him briefly. We saw our first swallow at Nortonbury farm at 0901 and we then went to check out the flooded horse fields adjacent to the farm, goldfinches were added en route. Another pair of linnets on the horse fields lead us to seeing four yellow wagtails, when we scanned the wet edges of the fields this total rose to eleven, there was quite a large number of swallows hawking over the flood and quite a few mallard ducklings dodging about . Nearby were a lingering pair of fieldfares and a pair of greenfinches were noted en route back to the car at 10.00. We then headed for the Standalone area of the greenway, stock doves were calling at 1030, a drake teal and a pair of little grebes were seen and a long walk brought us our 50th species in the form of a Corn bunting at 1153. A number of rooks were seen (1204) and grey wagtail at 1239. After a bit more light refreshment we headed to the blue lagoon and quickly spotted great crested grebe at 1321. Tim then spotted some house martins mixed in with the swallows over the lagoon and while I was getting onto them he saw a pair of buzzards being mobbed by crows (1324), I saw a long tailed tit below us under the cliffs and then we headed back to the car finding a lesser whitethroat en route at 1341. Our final destination as it turned out were the fields next to the Norton to Baldock road near the dump. We found our last birds of the day, yellowhammer and feral pigeon and the the predicted rains came so we headed for the car at ten past two with a total of 59 species. Patch list 87

26th April no visit today, we had a wedding to attend

27th April I had a walk in the Nortonbury area, Willow warbles had arrived in force and were singing from lots of places, there were also a lot of swallows in the area but little else of note.

28th April  no visit

29th April  I had an early walk between Standalone and Stotfold along the Pix brook, the weather was raining through a heavy mist but it was totally windless. There were lots of whitethroats on territories, i disturbed a buzzard up from the ground in a horse pasture, lots of skylarks were singing in spite of the weather but I only heard two whitethroats. I was rewarded upon my return with my first garden warbler of the year behind the old pig testing station. On my way home i also saw yellowhammer and bullfinch.                                                                  Patch list 88
This takes me to approximately one third of the year gone and adding species will become a lot tougher now...............

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Week 16 on the patch

16th April  Three hour walk before breakfast brought a mixed bag, the lagoon was quiet except for a fox worrying the rabbits, a pair of swallows and a few common warblers. I met ken at Radwell and we spent a pleasant half hour watching a kingfisher he spotted  diving for his breakfast from an assortment of perches, with some success, while I tried to digiscope it on my phone. Les and I spent the afternoon at Fowlmere but that was totally uneventful, except for hearing our first reed and sedge warblers of the year.

17th April.  A visit to the lagoon at last brought the sounds of a Willow warbler song from below the cliffs. Ken had a Raven flying over his house which was a good record.  Patch list 81

18th April  A proposed trip to Grafham and Little Paxton had to be called of as the A1 was locked, luckily we were able to get off and went to the lodge but all it turned out to be was a pleasant walk, we did hear a cuckoo though.

19th April and 20th April  no trip

21st April   After a damp and misty start to the day a walk on the patch revealed three more Lesser whitethroat territories, it seems they had a good winter in Africa.

Next week Tim and I will be doing a big day out on the patch on 25th, aiming for as many different species as we can manage on the day, hopefully somewhere between 50 and 65, watch this space.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Patch week 15

9th April  A pair of Greylags flew over the Blue lagoon, uncommon on the patch. Dunnocks were being promiscuous as usual signalling with wing flicks etc. Two pairs of yellowhammers were present with the cocks in full song together with lots of Chiffchaffs. An excellent day for butterflies along the Pix brook, Tortoiseshells, Brimstones, Peacocks, Speckled wood, Commas and Orange tips were about. A Blackcap was singing at Norton well and a pair of Buzzards were soaring together.         Patch list 76

10 April  The following  were seen today on a walk along the Greenway:- Linnets singing, Grey partridges, blue tits, dunnocks,  jackdaws, skylarks magpies, goldfinches, kestrels, greenfinches, blackcaps, wrens, swallows, chaffinches, blackbirds, great tits, green woodpeckers, great spotted woodpeckers, song thrushes, house sparrows, mute swan mallard, Canada geese, coot, moorhen, long tailed tits, crows, bullsinches, chiffchaffs galore, starlings, pheasant, black headed gulls, stock doves, robins, wood pigeons, yellowhammers, teal and a green sandpiper. Also noted was a partial albino crow with white wings, it looked very odd. It begs the question as to why I have not seen it before.                                                                                                                           Patch list 77

11th April We took my great niece to the Bird of prey centre at Woodhurst.  She was thrilled to see a buzzard along the roadside en route, and wild kestrels and a red kite over the BOP centre.

12th April An early morning walk along the Greenway brought both Whitethroat and Lesser whitethroats onto the year list on the patch.                                      Patch list 79

13th April  RSPB trip to Pagham harbour. The highlights were a pair of spoonbills, a number of spotted redshanks, some of which were in summer plumage and gannets over the sea.

14th April  Two hours at the Blue lagoon from six fifteen was worth a cold start to the day in bright sunshine. Along the new fenceline I saw a pair of swallows, a male wheatear and a pair of sand martins took the patch list to eighty. A small flock of six Lesser black backed gulls put in a brief and unusual appearance and then moved on. A pair of sparrowhawks did a courtship flight above me. I watched a newly arrived whitethroat for about 45 minutes, bouncing from bush to bush and occasionally popping up just feet away from me.                               Patch list 80

15th April  We went to Rutland water for the day, Minsmere had been planned but the weather forecast brought a change for the sunshine. Highlights were a pair of Ospreys,  inland Sandwich terns and avocets and our first Willow and sedge warblers of the year. All in all a very good week

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Patch week 14

For a variety of reasons I only had two quick trips to the patch this week, the visibility was awful thanks to the Sahara dust smog and I found nothing at all to write in my blog diary. Next week though apperas to be very prominsing.................watch this space.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Mirror mirror on the ..........................

A little egret doing what photographers enjoy, setting itself up for a picture.

Patch week 13

26th March  A greylag goose from the greenway

27th March  A great spotted woodpecker using the frame of the power cable uprights along the Pix brook to drum – a very strange but timpanic sound. Lots of song,  a surprising number of yellowhammers appear to be setting up territory along the greenway, also a little egret in the Pix brook.

28th March A day in the Brecks with Tim, the highlights being :- Hawfinch feeding on the ground, common crossbills in abundance, two stone curlews and a brambling.

29th March A trip to Lackford lakes with Les.


1st April nothing new noted., these were my only visits this week.