Monday, 31 October 2011

Stephen finds a 'Patch Tick'

Before I get on to the Patch Tick, there have been a few moths in the last few days and we have now reached 361 species of Macro moth so far this year. On Friday we had over 100 November Moths, Saturday we had a migrant Pearly Underwing. This mornings new moths were Cypress Carpet, Sprawler and December Moth.
Cypress Carpet


Pearly Underwing

So to this mornings bird walk, I started in the car park and was pleased to have a BRAMBLING call as it flew south, once again there were lots of finches whizzing around, a few going over and some feeding in birches etc. 14 REDWINGS flew high south but I didn't hear or see any Fieldfares. Todays summer bird was a CHIFFCHAFF in the hedge below the veg garden which was associating with a small tit flock that also had a GOLDCREST for company. The phone rang and Stephen asked if I could see a bird perched on the very top of one of the birches, as I got into position it flew off!! His suspicions were that it was possibly a Corn Bunting. Work beckoned and the bird had disappeared. You know what's coming next as I pulled into work Stephen rang again he had found 2 Corn Buntings!!! feeding with the Yellowhammers, great stuff a first for the site, although I expect they have been here before but before my time? Hopefully they'll be around tomorrow???

Sunday, 30 October 2011

30th October

A walk from 8.40-11am produced 45 species, it was particularly warm and pretty grey with occasional fine drizzle. Leaving the car, a couple of MISTLE THRUSHES called and stopped off in one of the car park hedges, a GOLDCREST was busy feeding nearby. A few BLACKBIRDand FIELDFARES were also in the car park but I couldn't turn anything into a Ring Ouzel!! I headed towards Park Field and found a BLACKCAP on the way, Park Field held JAY and GREEN WOODPECKER, also 2 GREENFINCHES flew over, the first for a while. 5 REDWINGS flew over the wood just before I entered it. In the wood there were a couple of TREECREEPER and a couple of COAL TITS, SISKINS and REDPOLLS were heard throughout the morning. As I left the wood I caught sight of a BUZZARD being mobbed by a crow, it appeared quite long tailed but was too far away for me clinch anything other than a strange Buzzard?? I bumped into Stephen a bit later, he had also seen possibly the same Buzzard earlier in the week. We decided to take a look across the valley for a while, there were very good numbers of SKYLARKS and PIPITS but raptors were hard to find, with just one KESTREL being seen. A distant CORMORANT was the only other bird of note to be seen from our viewpoint. With a little more light in the morning, hopefully there will be more to find especially after the news of an inland Eastern Crowned Warbler today in Hertfordshire who knows!! ;-)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Back on the Patch.

After a busy long weekend, I've had a couple of much quieter visits over the last 3 mornings back at the castle. Arriving at 7am, still almost dark and leaving at my usual time of 8am. With limited light there hasn't been lots going on. I've just barely managed to reach 30 species each morning and the camera has hung forlornly by my side for much of the visits!! The main feature so far this week has been what is to be expected this time of year, finches and thrushes, not massive numbers but a few of going over each morning. I haven't managed to catch up with the Tree Sparrow yet but hopefully will get a longer look round at some point over the weekend. Stephen and I have both recorded LITTLE EGRETS over the last couple of days, usually a few winter in the area. I had a RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE calling from the roof of the restaurant yesterday morning at first light. Two KESTRELS were hunting this morning before it was fully light and were just silhouettes in the dull grey skies. I'll try again tomorrow hoping maybe to pick up a Barn Owl as it gets light :-)

There was a glimmer of light first thing this morning!!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A Good Day at Dunge, Monday 24th October.

I got up knowing I had the option to take the day off as arranged with my boss last Thursday, my decision being weather dependent. So it was, I headed to Dunge and was there for around 7.40am for a seawatch. With the southerly wind, I was hoping for a lot of movement, it was obvious from the start that it was busy out there, auks were going by continuously sometimes in small flocks and KITTIWAKES were also moving west in large numbers.


I stuck with the seawatch until around 10.40am. The highlights were, GREAT SKUA 5, POMARINE SKUA 4, (originally I thought these were Arctic, lack of experience with juv. Skuas being my downfall, thanks to Bob Price for putting me right), MEDITERRANEAN GULL 50+, COMMON SCOTER 12, SWALLOW 13, BRENT GOOSE 20, ARCTIC TERN 5, DUNLIN 3, AUKS sp. 300+, (including about 20 definite RAZORBILLS), KITTIWAKES 200+, GANNETS 200+, CURLEW 1 and the GLAUCOUS GULL put in an appearance on several occasions, notably when I joined for a while by Bob Bland and Alan Woodcock.
The other highlight was the constant flocks of GOLDFINCHES passing along the shore with a few SISKIN and REDPOLL thrown in probably numbering a few thousand in all.
Great Skua

Pomarine Skua

Mediterranean Gull

Glaucous Gull


Next stop was Hanson hide on the reserve, it started quite well when I picked out a RING OUZEL flying over towards the water tower, the next bird to arrive, in between at least 3 MARSH HARRIERS that were coming and going, was an immature SPOONBILL, it stayed for nearly an hour before leaving with 3 LITTLE EGRETS. There were a couple of PINTAIL on the water and WIGEON were arriving sporadically, as we watched these, a BITTERN flew up from just in front of the hide, it flew directly away and ended up over towards the viewing screen, I was quite enjoying my prolonged stay in the hide!! I think it was getting close to 2pm and I was thinking about moving on when the PENDULINE TIT came into view on the bull rushes in front of the hide!! It's fairly sure that this ringed bird is returning to winter for maybe the third time, let's hope it continues to do so and give great views.



Penduline Tit

There were a few children in the hide, half term I think, but hearing their excitement when they saw the bird was great, we certainly need these youngsters to have an interest for the future of our wildlife. I left the hide with the bird still showing and headed to Dengemarsh, for once my luck was out with the Great White Egret, I took a slow drive back across the marsh adding a couple more SWALLOWS and a fine male HOBBY, surely the last one I'll see this year.
I had a call from Stephen while I was out, and back on the patch he had found a Tree Sparrow, now a rarity at the castle, with maybe one or two records a year, I looked for it this morning with no success.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Another day out and the Year List grows again!!


A day out with Bill and Tom on Saturday took us to Oare Marshes and Grove Ferry. The weather was good again with some great light as we made our way around. Starting at Oare at high tide produced good numbers of waders, they included AVOCET, DUNLIN, BLACK TAILED GODWIT, RUFF, RINGED PLOVER, REDSHANK and GOLDEN PLOVER. On the Swale we added CURLEW and a small flock of BRENT GEESE. We walked the circuit and found a pair of STONECHAT and one of the showiest CETTI'S WARBLERS I've ever seen as it sung from the top of a small bush on more than one occasion! BEARDED TITS were heard all along the seawall and eventually they showed well too. Click on photos to make larger.

Bearded Tits

Black Tailed Godwits

Gradually lots of whirring wings passed us as the waders left the flood to feed along the edge of the receding tide. We didn't loads more before we left, apart from a couple of GREY PLOVER. At Grove a CHIFFCHAFF called in the car park and there were loads of TEAL seen from the ramp plus 3 RUFF, 2 BLACK TAILED GODWIT and a SNIPE. The walk along the river produced KINGFISHER, MARSH HARRIER, SPARROWHAWK and a late HOBBY. The paddock held several REDWING and FIELDFARE and a last look from the ramp produced a WATER RAIL, kindly pointed out by a group that were enjoying the view from the ramp.


This morning Tom joined me for a walk round the patch at Sissinghurst, a BULLFINCH showed well in the car park and as we walked towards the barn a few gulls were circling in the distance, among them was a ring tail HEN HARRIER (112) what a bonus, only the second one I've had on the patch!! It was a long way off by the time the camera came out, so I only managed a poor record shot.
Hen Harrier!!

REDPOLLS were whizzing around with the odd GOLDFINCH. The wood was quiet and we only managed to hear MARSH TIT. A GREEN WOODPECKER finally gave itself up in Park Field and back out in the arable fields the YELLOWHAMMER flock was around 50 birds. Lastly a COMMON BUZZARD came over low being chased by a ROOK.
Buzzard and Rook

A taste of Autumn

Friday, 21 October 2011


Had a really nice day today with a couple of people new to birding. So there was lots see as ever at Dunge. The day started with probably our highlight, on the way to the obs. when a female MERLIN showed really well and was intent on chasing Magpies and a Crow, we probably watched it for nearly 10 minutes, it flew right passed the car on a couple occasions and gave reasonable scope views when stopped for a breather every so often. Heading on to the Observatory, we managed to see several Siskins and Redpolls being ringed, great to see close up.
We went to the reserve next and walked the trail. Duck numbers are starting to build, WIGEON noticeably on the increase and a few PINTAIL about. There were 2 female GOLDENEYE on ARC and across the reserve SHOVELER were in various stages of eclipse. A deep call alerted us to 2 RAVENS flying over Burrowes Pit and several CETTI'S WARBLERS called from a few areas around the reserve and we heard BEARDED TITS at Christmas Dell hide but they only showed briefly in flight. A single STONECHAT  was outside Dengemarsh Hide. We ended the day on around 60 species and managed a great meal in The Pilot!!

Great Crested Grebe on Hooker's Pit

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Oct 20th

 There isn't loads to report today and time is short, so I'm just going to put on a couple of photos. The highlights today were the two summer visitors hanging on CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP, also the fact that it was a lovely morning!! Hopefully there will be a fuller report of things over the next few days.

More Goldfinches and Redpolls!!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Oct 19th

It was a bit too cold for the moths last night!! just 16 moths of 7 species were recorded. With widespread frost forecast for tonight, I think I'll wait for the southerlies forecast over the weekend before trapping again.
There was little sign of movement again today, 4 REDWING flew west followed by one FIELDFARE. Most of the other birds seen were hopefully here to stay. Large numbers of YELLOWHAMMERS were at the bottom of the veg garden with a few REDPOLLS, GOLDFINCHES, GOLDCREST, BLUE TITS and a couple of SONG THRUSHES, it certainly seemed pretty busy there for a while.


A flock of 6 BULLFINCHES fed on the hedge next to the veg garden with 2 actually showing quite well but not close enough for the camera, when I did get close, I dithered too much trying to get a shot without any twigs in the way and the birds moved along before I took the picture!! a CHIFFCHAFF was also in the same hedge along with a calling LITTLE OWL. On the horizon I picked up a distant GREY HERON and several reasonable sized WOODPIGEON flocks, I was scanning for Brent Geese cutting across Kent, which happens occasionally here and always an outside bet to add to the year list :-)
This evening I managed a quick view of the Little Owl and heard a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER!
Little Owl

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Oct. 18th

For some reason I decided to record the moths this morning after being woken by heavy rain and strong winds about 4am. It wasn't quite the washout I thought it might be, 33 moths of 15 species were recorded. Dark Swordgrass was the only migrant, other moths included Angle Shades,Shuttle Shaped Dart and 1 November Moth.
Out of the darkness around 6.50 this morning a GOLDEN PLOVER (111) called twice, from the direction of the calls it was flying south, I normally get one or two records a year. This one was very welcome taking me passed my previous best total for the year. After the Plover there wasn't a lot to add, 5 BLACK HEADED GULLS flew north as did 20 HERRING GULLS, the only winter thrush was one FIELDFARE, west, there were also singles of MEADOW PIPIT and KESTREL. The large LINNET flock remains and 2 CHIFFCHAFFS are still hanging on. I couldn't find any Redpoll flocks settled this morning, though several birds were heard throughout the visit.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The weekend and this morning

A short walk Saturday afternoon produced the first 2 LAPWINGS of the autumn plus SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD and a few gulls, it also produced the first grounded FIELDFARE of the autumn.

Yesterday my timing was poor! I got up reasonably early but should have planned my day better and had a lie in! it was frosty and foggy from when I got there and foggy to almost when I left at 10.30am, after that it was a beautiful day.
Greater Knapweed

I managed 46 species in the fog, from the sound of it there wasn't much flying over, I heard a few SISKIN and REDPOLL plus 1 REDWING and 1 FIELDFARE only. The woods were reasonably productive with 4 MARSH TITS, 4 COAL TITS, 3 TREECREEPERS and more of the rest of the tit family! GOLDCREST was also seen with the feeding flock plus 1 of 3 CHIFFCHAFF seen or heard during the walk.

This morning Pete and I recorded the moths and ended up with 51 moths of 23 species, certainly more than we were both expecting. The highlight was a Streak!, the first one of the year. Others included Black Rustic, 2 Silver Y's, 2 Red Green Carpets, Brindled Green, Yellow Line Quaker, Large Wainscot and Rosy Rustic to name a few.

I spent my short birding time this morning with Stephen, we were studying the Redpolls. Stephen had a nice pale rumped individual that was spooked by a passing, car not something that happens much at that time of morning here, I didn't connect with it but after looking at Plodding Birders blog the rules for Mealy Redpoll have got more confusing for me. There were a couple of good candidates in the flock that was left, with bright supers and very pale breast and possible paler rumps but it wasn't quite enough to add to the 110 species total so far this year! Maybe another look tomorrow and a few shots my help my cause. Otherwise I haven't got a lot more to report, 1 FIELDFARE flew west, a CHIFFCHAFF called nearby, a few SISKINS joined the Redpolls briefly and Stephen had a BLACKCAP before I arrived.

Friday, 14 October 2011

October 14th

I think we had the least amount of moths that I have seen in the traps this morning, just 4 in the greenhouse trap, well 3 and 1 on the greenhouse itself!! The barn trap had a few more moths, maybe 10 or so. Pick of the bunch was again Merveille Du Jour with 2, Dusky Lemon Sallow 1, Large Wainscot 1 and Pink Barred Sallow with 3. The other moth of note is a yet to be identified and was some type of Pug, a group of moths that are proving difficult to get my head around, I await Steves findings on that one.
Dusky Lemon Sallow

I almost did the same as yesterday, as again small flocks of REDWINGS were flying west, todays total got to 71 before I moved on. 2 LITTLE OWLS called from Park Field and a CORMORANT flew north. SISKINS and REDPOLLS were again well represented and 6 FIELDFARE were an improvement on yesterdays lone individual. I heard a GREY HERON call as walked by the veg garden, when I looked up 4 of them were flying north west. As with a lot of patch watching the rest of the birds were fairly predictable but welcome all the same!! A couple GOLDFINCH posed for a short while, in the morning light and it was light this morning certainly enough to try a couple photos. No sign of Chiffchaff or Blackcap this morning but after yesterdays Yellow Browed Warbler in Maidstone, a really nice find, anything is possible :-)

Goldfinch selection!!


3 out of 4 Grey Heron