Friday, 29 April 2011

April 29th

A pretty cloudy start but not too cold today, Stephen and I arrived at the same time and took a walk round the car park together, there were 5 BLACKBIRDS  around and 2 BULLFINCHES flew over, also a CUCKOO was heard, we headed off again to search different areas, I decided to count a couple of species today and the first of 15 singing WHITETHROATS, was heard as I left the car park, this is the most I've recorded here in one walk.
Eventually one of the Whitethroats posed breifly

A SWALLOW flew low north, the first of only two seen today. A couple of PIED WAGTAILS flew up from the veg garden and as I headed out into the fields I heard several SKYLARKS and a YELLOWHAMMER followed by a LESSER WHITETHROAT. I think there are possibly 2 pairs KESTREL on the estate and a male flew low, Sparrowhawk like, along the hedge, later a female was being quite acrobatic over the winter wheat. A GARDEN WARBLER sang from near the NIGHTINGALE, which I stayed and listened to for a good 10 minutes, most enjoyable! GREY HERONS were again commuting across the fields and LINNETS were flicked along the hedges.

A TURTLE DOVE purred from near the lodge. I didn't make it into the woods today,  probably because the fields and hedges were quite busy, 7 STOCK DOVES fed in one of the freshly sown fields and the Cuckoo which had been singing all morning finally gave itself up as it flew along the stream. The highlight for me this morning was while I watched a Skylark lift up from the field and a HOBBY appeared from nowhere chased it for a few seconds then headed off over the stream, fantastic!
I think this Mistle Thrush had just been having a bath

The Buttercups looked stunning today

Thursday, 28 April 2011

April 28th.

For some reason I thought I would still be warm enough in shorts this morning, wrong! I decided to find somewhere with a little shelter from the wind and wait to see what turned up, so with a hedge going one way and some mature trees in the bridleway going the other I was set, ready for anything passing through the valley or using the hedges etc. Unfortunately the birds were more sensible and kept their heads down for the half hour I was there! One CUCKOO sang, as did a CHIFFCHAFF from the hedge I was standing by, 2 SWALLOWS flew low north and there were sporadic bursts of song from 2 WHITETHROATS further along the hedge and a LINNET flew over and that was the action for the first half hour. Moving on in the hope of, a) warming up and b) finding some birds, I did add a few species but generally it was slightly harder work today, a MISTLE THRUSH flew up from a sheep field and another Whitethroat sang not far from the lake, a GREEN WOODPECKER was on the bank by the lake but much to quick to get a photo as it disappeared into the wood the GARDEN WARBLER sang well again and a couple of LONG TAILED TITS shared a hedge with a GREAT TIT as I made my way back to the car.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

April 27th

Driving in today 2 GREY HERONS were seen high over Bull and Birches, several CHAFFINCHES flew off the lane in front of me and luckily all the very small Rabbits chose to run the right way, disappearing into the hedge. A quick walk round the car park produced very little. So off towards the veg garden and the first bird I saw was only the second HOUSE MARTIN for the year, there are generally good numbers in the village nearby but not big numbers at the castle not until autumn at least. I met up with Stephen briefly, while we chatted  6 geese flew over, the BARNACLE GOOSE, making most noise, 1 CANADA and 4 GREYLAGS.
A first ever, 3 species of geese at once on the lake, taken by Stephen on Friday

A LESSER WHITETHROAT sang from from it's favoured hedge, one of three on the estate at the moment and a SPARROWHAWK, probably a male, was just seen as it skimmed the top of a nearby hedge. We also watched the resident Sussex Bull having a scratch on the gate which cracked as he did it!! We headed off in different directions.
The Sussex

At the lake I found it a little quiet although, GARDEN WARBLER, BLACKCAP and WHITETHROAT could all be heard, I suppose that doesn't make it that quiet really!
Through the woods I enjoyed the spring flowers including a few Red Campion, a Stitchwort type thing and of course all the Bluebells. The Nuthatches were quiet today and just one TREECREEPER sang. Back in the open looking up for a flyover, Whimbrel maybe, you never know proved fruitless but a KESTREL did put in appearance which is always a nice sight. Once again YELLOWHAMMER and SKYLARK were singing well as was the NIGHTINGALE. I walked back via the bridleway accompanied by a small flock of 6 LINNET and 2 LONG TAILED TITS.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

April 26th

A 5.30 start today and moths were back on the agenda, not before a quick look on the green in front of the castle though. It was actually quite cool and the a little windier than the weekend, when Steve and I got to the traps we found the moths had noticed this to, where there were 72 Brindled Pugs on the wall a few days ago this morning produced just 3! Despite this we did still add 3 new species for the year Clouded Border, Square Spot and Foxglove Pug, bringing the years total to 87 species.
As there weren't many moths I was walking by around 6.00am, a CUCKOO was singing early on, the first of 2 today, one of them being seen well. A couple of large gulls drifted over heading north a HERRING and a LESSER BLACK BACKED. There were 4 of us this morning looking around, obviously with Hoopoe in mind but after an hour or so looking in the most likely places there was no sign. I headed to the lake where a NIGHTINGALE was singing, this is away from the traditional sites here, it remains to be seen if this bird is just passing through. There were 2 GARDEN WARBLERS also at the lake otherwise it was fairly quiet. The Horse Chestnuts look particularly impressive at the moment and I think, here, we have not had many cases of the disease which has been affecting these trees recently.

COMMON WHITETHROATS were again in good voice today, there were at least 6 singing birds. A MEADOW PIPIT flew up guessed it, the meadow, this was the first of these for a couple of days at least. 2 KESTRELS flew from an Oak by the stream and I managed to find  3 YELLOWHAMMERS and a pair of REED BUNTINGS as I made my way back to the car. Before I got there, I got a call from Stephen, he had had a Red Kite yesterday evening and it was still around near Digdog Lane this morning, unfortunately from my view point I couldn't see it and didn't have time to look for it as it was nearly 8.00am. Whilst writing this, some 6 hours later, Steve Broyd text to say he has just seen a Kite species presumably Red, heading towards Sissinghurst village from Digdog Lane.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Would you believe it!!

So off I set this morning arriving at around 6.40am it was another lovely morning, with Saturdays Ring Ouzel still on my mind I headed to the top of the car park,  distant GREEN WOODPECKER called and I could also hear the usual WRENS and BLACKCAPS, the next bird I heard sounded a little like a Jay, the bird flew into the last row of trees at the top of the car park and promptly raised it's crest!! HOOPOE (94) I couldn't believe 3 weeks after first being seen it was still here and it's only been seen 3 times! it quickly flew to the hedgerow stopped briefly again and disappeared, never to be seen again?? What a start! Stephen and Steve came and had a quick look but with the birds short history, it did, as I say disappear again.
Click to enlarge it really was the Hoopoe!!

The rest of the walk was done with a very large smile, a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL flew north and there were reasonable numbers of SWALLOWS moving through. The BARNACLE goose is still around and down at the lake GARDEN WARBLER and BLACKCAP were vying for best song within a couple of yards of each other. In the wood I managed to add a calling LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER plus at least 5 TREECREEPERS were heard and several NUTHATCHES. I watched a MARSH TIT seemingly collecting nest material and heading off to a rotting stump and a COAL TIT called nearby. 

Out in the fields a KESTREL drifted along the stream, 2 NIGHTINGALES sang from different copses and 3 YELLOWHAMMERS were widely scattered around the field edges, as I walked along the edge of the patch  I looked up to find a BUZZARD circling with a HOBBY and a CUCKOO started singing, pretty much last addition of the morning was a purring TURTLE DOVE (95).

As well as the birds today, a Broad Bodied Chaser was seen to add to several Large Red Damselflies seen when we were with friends yesterday, there were a few butterflies around including Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma. Yesterday I also had a Yellow Wagtail fly over the house unfortunately not on the patch!
Just for a splash of colour took this in our garden

Saturday, 23 April 2011

April 23rd

Yesterday a quick trip to Fairlight, East Sussex, produced a couple of interesting things, after 43 years not seeing an Adder until last week, we saw another one yesterday.The highlight though was a Green Hairstreak, my first ever! On the bird front the highlight was a Raven along the cliffs. There were loads of Whitethroats including 1 Lesser Whitethroat and also a Cetti's Warbler sang when we had almost reached Hastings old town!
This morning was another guided walk morning, the car park was quite productive with a SWALLOW over, a confiding GOLDFINCH and a few other regulars. COMMON WHITETHROATS were in good supply and maybe 10 were seen, 3 types of geese wereseen which did include the BARNACLE GOOSE again. The Coot seems to have disappeared and we didn't even find a Moorhen! In the wood we added MARSH TIT calling, a COAL TIT sang and showed briefly as did a NUTHATCH eventually. By breakfast we had reached 42 species. A walk round the fields added a nice singing GARDEN WARBLER which again, eventually showed well. With the weather so nice and a really good group of people the birds weren't secondary but it would have been a nice walk whatever we had seen. We continued on and  a YELLOWHAMMER posed as did several of the Whitethroats, after a look at the GREY HERONS, I spotted a HOBBY (93) which was catching insects in the distance, straight after this a NIGHTINGALE sung close by and the second CUCKOO of the day was heard. All in all a lovely morning ending on 49 species, although after everyone had gone I picked up 4 BUZZARDS in distance, shame I didn't find them earlier!
There was one thing we didn't see this morning which Stephen rang me with as we were going round, he had found the sites second ever Ring Ouzel!! while I was taking the group round, another one that has got away for me but fingers crossed there'll be more if there has been 2 already??  Unfortunately no pics today.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

April 21st

A 5.30 start to record the moths was well worth it, an hour and a quarter and 395 moths later, Steve and I reflected on another mammoth haul of 240 Brindled Pugs!! (there were 72 just on the barn door where one of the traps is situated) a few of the other highlights included my first Frosted Green, the first Lobster of the year, 2 V- Pugs, several bright yellow Brimstone moths, a Pebble Prominent and the first Pale Tussock of the year, finally another of my favourites a Chocolate Tip, well, 3 in fact.
Above and below Chocolate Tip

Chinese Character

Frosted Green

So at 6.45 the hunt for new arrivals on the bird front started, the walk to the lake was fairly uneventful, there were still good numbers of the usual birds plus a JAY flew over the car park where a couple of BULLFINCHES were also seen, a COMMON WHITETHROAT sang from the hedge that runs away from the restaurant (I'm not sure why because the food is quite good!). 2 YELLOWHAMMERS, were in the newly planted crop along with now only a handful of corvids having their fill. Down by the lake the GREYLAG is still sitting on eggs and a wait of only a few minutes allowed me catch up with the GARDEN WARBLER (90), which wasn't singing but intent on finding food from what I could see. A female KESTREL then flew at treetop height across the lake.

Unsure about making my way round my usual loop I headed back up towards the moat a GOLDCREST was in very fine voice from the Holly by the gate and as I made my way towards the stream and the winter wheat the NIGHTINGALE, could be heard again.
Common Fumitory, I think!

Stephen called to say he had a Martin over the car park and when we met up I caught up with my first HOUSE MARTIN (91) of the year, as we chatted a LESSER WHITETHROAT sang nearby and 3 geese flew towards the lake, one of them looked smaller and we could hear a different call, against the light it was difficult to pick out any colour, they disappeared and a minute or so later came back allowing us to pick out the BARNACLE GOOSE (92) between the 2 Greylags, judging from the numbers on the ring on it's leg it was raised on a small tussock on a steep slope in the arctic tundra :-) (Ok maybe not)

Barnacle in the middle in both pics

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

April 20th

After a day in Derby yesterday didn't leave much time to get to the patch, I was once again looking forward to my visit this morning. It was another glorious morning, searching the hedges in the car park I found 2 male CHAFFINCHES duelling and a couple of WRENS trying to out sing each other, whilst listening here I also heard my first LESSER WHITETHROAT (89) of the year, as I was listening a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER flew low over the car park being lit nicely by the rising sun.
Chaffinch resting after a duel

Out into the valley and the fields, LINNETS again were most prevalent and a CUCKOO was singing nearby. I was joined by Alex and the short walk round the fields produced, YELLOWHAMMER, NIGHTINGALE, singing well and showing briefly, several SKYLARKS a GREY HERON, 3 COMMON WHITETHROATS, REED BUNTING and a second Lesser Whitethroat. Stephen was also out this morning and had Garden Warblers down by the lake, time was against me, so I didn't manage to go and get reacquainted with their song, which I will try to do tomorrow, with luck.

Steve Broyd recorded the moths this morning and there was a whopping 250 moths of 35 species with Frosted Green new for the site and a mammoth count of 123 Brindled Pugs!! plus 6 year ticks including one of my favourites Chinese Character.

Monday, 18 April 2011

April 18th

We spent the weekend with friends in Suffolk, if I had taken the camera I may have had some pictures of Red Deer, Dartford Warbler and Adder!! to put on this post, as it is I'll just have my memories, which is not a bad thing.
So over the weekend at Sissinghurst, Stephen did have a Cuckoo singing for about 15 mins before it flew off high south and he had about 10+ Buzzards. When I arrived this morning there were the usual mix of species round the car park, singing GOLDCREST, BLACKCAP, GREENFINCH, ROBIN and a couple of WRENS. I had good views of a male Blackcap briefly but only managed a photo of some foliage!
At least these didn't fly off

Once again there were LINNETS whizzing around everywhere it seemed, at least 4 YELLOWHAMMERS were seen this morning either flying over or singing from one of the many hedges. Two GOLDFINCHES fed near the shop and once down by the lake the GREYLAG numbers had risen to 8. A MARSH TIT called in the wood but remained unseen. Out in the fields there were two WHITETHROATS and the NIGHTINGALE sung. A MEADOW PIPIT flew north which seems to be the norm each morning at the moment, just as I thought there were no new migrants for me today a CUCKOO (88) sung as I reached the barn.
These were pretty safe too!

Friday, 15 April 2011

April 15th

I was looking forward to recording the moths today as it certainly felt a bit milder. There weren't loads of moths but there were a couple new for the year, the best find was our second site Blossom Underwing, after the one earlier this month, our third Dotted Chestnut of the year was also a nice record, new moths included a well marked Waved Umber, Angle Shades, Swallow Prominent and an early White spotted Pug.
Blossom Underwing

After the moths I met up with Alex, I was hoping for a maybe a first Cuckoo for the year, one has appeared on April 9th in 3 out of the last 5 years so they are running a bit late for me! We do now have our SWALLOW back in it's summer home where it roosts in the log shed, it headed off when we finished recording the moths. We stayed out in the fields today and were accompanied constantly by SKYLARKS, up to 5 and a SONG THRUSH, that could be heard from almost every point of our walk. Again LINNETS were everywhere but the light wasn't the best for photos. We came across the COMMON WHITETHROAT again and a male REED BUNTING sang from the top of a blackthorn in the hedge. Two smaller flocks of HERRING GULLS flew south west again, 14 and 9, probably yesterdays 23 having had some sort of argument!! I was hoping to hear NIGHTINGALE as Alex hadn't heard one before and just when I thought it wasn't going to, it did give us a few phrases as we approached it's favourite spot. Also whizzing around the fields this morning we saw 2 GREYLAGS 2 CANADAS a GREY HERON and about 10 STOCK DOVES.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

April 14th

Another morning that felt slightly milder than the last, it was still fairly grey with a blurry bright spot (a bit like some of my photos!) where the sun was thinking about coming through the thin cloud. A JAY announced itself as it flew from a nearby tree, I heard a SKYLARK quite early in the walk today as there seems to be a pair not far from the car park, the first of 3 BULLFINCH called as I made my way towards the veg garden, there always is a reasonable amount of activity here, a PIED WAGTAIL dropped on to a newly rotivated area where several LINNETS were coming and going, there was also a STOCK DOVE in the company of a couple Woodpigeons, round the edges of the garden were HOUSE SPARROWS, DUNNOCK, ROBIN a couple of GOLDFINCHES and half a dozen STARLINGS, certainly enough movement to keep me entertained. The first of several LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS flew north west as I headed towards the lake, where 7 GREYLAGS were in attendance, I thought the COOT had moved on but it called from the reeds as I took the track into the wood.
This Heron flew low over the wood

The first bird in the wood was a calling MARSH TIT which showed well briefly, NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER were also heard. Into the fields and I met up with Charles another local birder, who has got a busy time surveying coming up, we picked up a flock of 23 HERRING GULLS heading south east and a WHITETHROAT that sang by the stream also a couple of YELLOWHAMMERS were in their favoured hedge. The first single SWALLOW of the morning made it's way north east and back up at the veg garden 4 CANADA GEESE came through low.
This Great Tit posed briefly on the hedge yesterday

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


After yesterdays cold temperatures, it was straight on with the fleece this morning, the wind was less strong and made everything a little more pleasant. I attempted counting the moths on my own this morning, Pete is going to do tomorrow, luckily with fingers and toes I could count all the moths in both traps!! 17 moths of 7 species just a tad lower than the 350 of 27 species on Friday! it would be safe to say the temperature had a lot to do with it.
Once the traps were put away I started the walk, 2 BLACKCAPS were in the car park and 15 LINNETS flew up from the veg garden, which also briefly had a SWALLOW wheeling around over it. The next bird I saw making it's way north along the valley was large and had slightly bowed wings, without the bins I thought, Grey Heron, once I got the bird in the bins it was definitely not a Heron and as it lifted it's wings for another flap the shape and markings became clear, OSPREY (87), I've never had a spring record before and it's only the fifth one I've recorded for the site in 14 years, suddenly it didn't feel quite so cold, Stephen arrived just seconds after it disappeared behind the trees on the skyline, at least it's early in the year so we will have more chances to catch up with another maybe. I continued the walk and watched 2 GREY HERONS fly up the valley towards me. There were 5 GREYLAG GEESE on the lake with 2 CANADAS and the COOT, who was looking a bit lonely. The NIGHTINGALE was again in good voice and 6 HERRING GULLS flew south west.The YELLOWHAMMERS were feeding in the freshly sown field and I counted 6 this morning. Back up by the veg garden a MEADOW PIPIT flew high north followed by the second Swallow of the visit. Getting into the car a TREECREEPER was heard singing, a nice way to end.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Cool and Bright

It was a nice start to the day as I looked out of the window this morning, I didn't realise quite how cold it was though! So with fleece and scarf on (I know I'm a wimp!) I set off. The song of a BLACKCAP greeted me as I got out of the car and a few CHAFFINCHES called, wandering up to the top of the car park a few BLUE TITS gave away the presence of a large female SPARROWHAWK, that drifted north, I could hear CANADA GEESE, BULLFINCH and at least 2 GREEN WOODPECKERS as I left the car park. I didn't add a lot as I made my way to the lake but at the lake the COOT was still present and the Canada Geese were there as well as the GREYLAG sitting on the nest.
Reed Bunting


Canada Goose

The REED BUNTING was still singing well from the island, I haven't noticed a female here yet whereas the other territories have certainly had females in the vicinity. Another lone WILLOW WARBLER sang from a Silver Birch by the lake. The wood had most of the usual suspects apart from Marsh Tit and I kept an ear out for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers as Stephen had possibly recorded 4 individuals over the weekend!



Once out in the open a MEADOW PIPIT flew north and I only heard 1 SKYLARK this morning but it did feel much windier out here. Despite the wind though, the NIGHTINGALE was actually singing a bit more than yesterday, and as I finished up I heard a SWALLOW go over again heading north.

Monday, 11 April 2011

8th-11th April

On Friday, there were 350 moths in the traps of 27 species probably the most so far this year, the best find was the first Great Prominent of the year. Because there were so many moths the walk was shorter than usual. Walking the fields several CHIFFCHAFFS and BLACKCAPS could be heard and 4 JAYS flew towards the newly planted orchard, SKYLARKS again filled the airwaves, the best bird of the morning was a COMMON WHITETHROAT (84). Other birds included LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, COMMON GULL, BULLFINCH as well as good numbers of GOLDFINCH, LINNET and HOUSE SPARROWS.

Saturday morning was the first of 3 guided walks this spring, 18 people came at 5.30am and we spent until around 11.30am walking the fields and the woods, with breakfast around 8.30am. We saw 43 species on a beautiful morning, I was hoping for a few new migrants maybe a Cuckoo (Pete the Warden had one Thursday evening) or a Nightingale, unfortunately we struggled to find many migrants but BLACKCAPS were absolutely everywhere and the years first COOT (85) was found. 2 MARSH TITS showed well and while we watched them 2 GOLDCRESTS landed almost directly above our heads. We had great views of a pair of BUZZARDS and great views of a nice male YELLOWHAMMER. We also had 4 butterfly species and several Bee Flies. Stephen saw the Peregrine again over the wood during morning.
After an early start Saturday, I had a lay in on Sunday, lazy I know! and arrived at the castle at around 8am, during the morning 3 male REED BUNTINGS sang and the COOT was still on the lake with 2 GREYLAGS, I watched a female CHAFFINCH gathering what looked like spiders webs, then disappearing into a holly hedge.
Chaffinch collecting Spiders webs

'Is that nest ready yet?'

2 KESTRELS flew together and briefly and tussled for a few seconds, I managed a few MARSH TITS later and the first COMMON SNIPE for sometime.
This morning we were back on moths it was a cool night and a little windy so it was fairly uneventful probably around 5 Lunar Marbled Browns were the highlight. So another shortened walk meant I stuck to the fields, I was joined briefly by an old friend Ian who I've known since primary school! We had a nice view of a CHIFFCHAFF and Ian had heard Nightingale and Garden Warbler. I had a WILLOW WARBLER, which sang from near the barn also 12 LINNETS flew over there. I continued round the fields and heard a short burst of song from the NIGHTINGALE (86) but couldn't locate the Garden Warbler. Another REED BUNTING sang from the hedge and the COMMON WHITETHROAT was singing from well within a blackthorn. Several WRENS sang from the top of hedges nicely out in the open mainly when the battery had gone on the camera!! I think the pictures on this post look a bit better if you click on them, I still need lots of practice!
The Kestrel was seen at work again

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The morning after

After a long search yesterday, it was back to it this morning, although I forgot to mention a couple of things from yesterday, there were good numbers of butterflies of 6 species the most numerous being Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone with at least 5or 6 of each. Also there were 2 Little Owls just behind the veg garden.
Back to today, I decided against moths today and concentrate on birds, there were 5 new moths for this year though, which means I've lost track of the total so far! I'll check with Steve Broyd but it's over 40 species.
My first stop, next to the old orchard on the entrance lane, gave me great views of a male REED BUNTING and I could hear a BLACKCAP nearby, also here, the first of several MEADOW PIPITS flew north, needless to say there was no sign of the Hoopoe. My next stop was the car park and the field above it (sort of above!), a CORMORANT went high east and a SPARROWHAWK displayed over the wood, otherwise I could hear NUTHATCH, MISTLE THRUSH and several WRENS and a SKYLARK was high above me as I looked towards Hemsted Forest.

Heading into the woods via the lake, I added several LINNET, 2 JAYS, 3 MALLARD in the sheep field and a calling GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER. Next to the lake a newly arrived WILLOW WARBLER was singing and the GREYLAGS were joined by 2 CANADA GEESE. I finished the walk by heading back to the entrance road then back across Park Field, a YELLOWHAMMER sang from a hedge by the lane a BULLFINCH called from the edge of the wood, finally 1 COMMON GULL drifted south, so still no Hoopoe, Stephen was out looking as well this morning but the phone didn't ring!!
One of yesterdays Wheatears

The Wood Anemones look great at the moment.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Evening of the 5th and Gripped again!!

Yesterday evening I dropped in for another short visit, it was pretty quiet, dark and dreary really. I did see several LINNETS and a few YELLOWHAMMERS. I managed to find 3 BUZZARDS almost directly over the castle but the highlight was my first SWALLOW  (82) of the year.

This morning was a completely different 'kettle of fish', what a nice start. I was meeting Alex (assistant warden) to walk with him and try to pick out a few migrants maybe, I was there early and went to see Steve recording the moths, he had just found a new site addition in the shape of a Blossom Underwing (might be a pic tomorrow). I heard TREECREEPER singing and a COMMON GULL was over the ploughed fields, I met up with Alex and we added LINNET, NUTHATCH, GOLDFINCH and a newly arrived WILLOW WARBLER, the first of 3 today. By the lake there was the singing REED BUNTING and a GREYLAG GOOSE was on the lake, the Greylag now with  the female on the nest, before we got much further the mobile went off and Stephen had just seen the HOOPOE again flying over a hedge towards the Park Field!! It took a few minutes to get to the spot where Stephen was looking but the bird had disappeared!! I now had a slight problem half an hour before I had to leave for work. I had a lieu day owing, so decision made, we searched, with the help of Steve Broyd, for an hour or so but to no avail, we added 2 SWALLOWS whilst looking then Stephen left around 11 ish in the end after adding TREE PIPIT, which flew over with the many MEADOW PIPITS that went over this morning, we also upto 7 BUZZARDS and a couple of SPARROWHAWKS and at least 1 KESTREL. I heard another CROSSBILL whilst with Steve Broyd and later a couple of SISKIN.
I stayed until around 2.30 joined by my Dad for the last couple of hours. We did a fairly long walk right round the estate, our undoubted highlight were 3 WHEATEAR (83), in an emerging wheat field, overall there was alot going on today, the Hoopoe stayed elusive, Stephen counted 115 STOCK DOVES late this afternoon, a site record and probably not great news for the farmer in his newly planted fields!! Looks like an early start tomorrow!!
Trying out the camera still.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

April 5th

A really fleeting visit this morning, I arrived at 7.10am and left at 7.30am but still it was reasonably busy considering there was quite a cool wind and a little light drizzle. There were 2 BULLFINCHES in one of the middle hedges in the car park and as if to confirm the very slightly wintery feel 2 FIELDFARES flew south west. I could hear both CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP as I walked to have a look where the Hoopoe had been, with shoulders drooped!! I could hear MANDARINS calling, possibly from the Park Field or over the wood. A GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was in trees close to the veg garden and I added House Sparrow and Starling as I left the car park. A look across the valley produced STOCK DOVE, 2 GOLDFINCH, 2 HERRING GULLS again flying south west. A SONG THRUSH was in the bottom of a nearby hedge and the ploughed and planted fields held in excess of 150 Corvids. As I drove back to the main road a YELLOWHAMMER took off from a hedge bordering the Park Field.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Mothers Day miss!!

Yesterday morning, I headed out and got to the castle around 7 ish, I had missed the checking of the first moth trap but we looked through the second one and found 4 year ticks Lesser Swallow Prominent (my first Swallow of the year!), Red Green Carpet, Powdered Quaker and Lunar Marbled Brown, I missed Pale Pinion and Dark Chestnut on Saturday, so the list now stands at 35 for the year.

While recording the moths a LITTLE OWL called and 2 Canada Geese flew over. I was trying out my new (second hand) camera for the first time today, obviously not having read any instructions! the results were mixed so the photos on this post were taken with it, I don't think you'll tell the difference they're still a bit iffy! Although it does seems to be attracted to Blue Tits!
On the lakes there were the 3 Greylags looking more and more at home as time goes on, the male REED BUNTING was again singing on the top island and BLACKCAPS were everywhere, Stephen had 7 on Saturday plus a Swallow and there were still at least 6 around yesterday. In the woods I watched a COAL TIT collecting nesting material and found 3 TREECREEPERS, 5 MARSH TITS and NUTHATCHES were calling non-stop, I reached a recently cleared area just as a SPARROWHAWK drifted over, it started calling and landed in a tree just out of sight. Reaching a more established glade in the wood, Blue Tits were busy, as were a pair of Chaffinches and there was lots of noise, among the noise was a WILLOW WARBLER  (80) singing, fingers crossed that it stays and attracts a mate.

Blue Tit
 Out in the fields, I found another REED BUNTING singing well with a nearby YELLOWHAMMER sharing the hedge, 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS flew north and several GREY HERONS were commuting to and fro', I didn't see many BULLFINCHES but heard them fairly regularly throughout the walk. I left for home happy with my morning.

Pied Wagtail

A little later, as I drove for lunch with my Mother-in-Law, I got a phone call from Stephen around 12 o'clock, it transpired that he was looking for raptors coming in from the south and caught a movement in the corner of his eye as he turned a HOOPOE was flying about 15 ft above the ground passed him towards the newly planted orchard, he managed to catch up with the bird as it perched in an Oak tree for a few seconds before it disappeared towards Frittenden, so far, never to be seen again!! A fantastic bird and new for the site taking the total to 141, even if I wasn't having lunch (and it was a nice lunch), there wasn't much chance of me catching up with it but I love the fact you just never know!!

Another Blue Tit


Surprisingly I gave the moths a miss this morning! and checked out the places the Hoopoe had been and where it might be, but to no avail. There were a few things around though, a couple several BLACKCAPS still sung by the lake, with a female following the singing male around. 2 YELLOWHAMMERS flew over Park Field as did 2 REDPOLL and another year tick 3 CROSSBILLS (81), I think I've only had Crossbills landed at the Castle twice but it's nice to hear them call and they weren't very high as they flew over.
In the freshly turned fields there were 9 STOCK DOVES and many Corvids, I also took some time watching Blue Tits displaying, doing their parachute type flights between the branches.
Blue Tit!!