Monday, 31 December 2012

And finally..........

Finally a post, and finally the end of a traumatic year, hopefully 2013 will be a better one.
 Thank you to all those who have visited my blog this year and those who have taken time to comment, it's always lovely to hear from you all. I look forward to reading more of your blogs over the coming year.

Here are a few pictures from the last few weeks, taken on just 2 days really! My first sighting of a BLACKCAP in winter in my garden is the first pic. The others were taken yesterday, I caught up with the WAXWINGS at Staplehurst station just 3 miles from home, then a quick walk at the castle produced a WATER RAIL, 200+ FIELDFARES and good numbers of REDWING and 6 SISKIN flew north.

Wintering Blackcap


106 species this year was pleasing, considering the sporadic nature of my visits.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

December 2nd

The patch finally got a visit, the first for nearly two weeks!! It was a beautiful day, the orchards on the way to the castle were full of FIELDFARE, a few REDWING and REDPOLL. Bull and Birches wood had one small flock of tits which included LONG TAILED and 1 MARSH TIT. Roundshill was similar and when I arrived at the it was lake partly frozen over and held just a handful of MALLARD. Around the fields a KESTREL hunted and 25 LAPWING flew east. I heard a few YELLOWHAMMERS and REED BUNTING, as well as MEADOW PIPIT and SKYLARK.
Part of the 25 no. Lapwing flock




On the way back the corvid above flew north-east the picture and my initial impression point to RAVEN (106?) it was a little distant but heavy cropping, still points me in that direction any thoughts would be more than welcome :-)
The afternoon was spent looking for Waxwings around the Faversham area, despite driving around Yorkletts, where they had been reported, I failed in even finding Youngs Transport yard, let alone any Waxwings!!! A report of 80 birds along Faversham creek had me heading to Abbey Fields and the creek, REDWINGS were everywhere but no Waxwings, a Common Seal (I think) was in the creek, which was really nice to see. Last stop was Oare, I stayed until it was almost dark, there was nothing out of the  ordinary but a long string of STARLINGS headed across the Swale towards Favesham, the line of at least 30-50 birds deep spread for almost half a mile a really great spectacle.
'These berries are all mine!'

Common Seal

Common Seal

Late afternoon Egret

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Nov 12-18th - and Another Patch Tick!!

The first morning out was really the 13th, when it was pretty misty round the castle. There was a small flock which included a few GOLDCREST, BLUE TIT and GREAT TIT, I'm almost certain I caught a glimpse of the back of a Firecrest but after 20 or so minutes couldn't relocate it, one the that got away, still time though to find one though, with luck. There were a few FIELDFARE and REDPOLLS around as well as 4 or 5 SISKINS. A brief visit on the 14th produced a CHIFFCHAFF, a bird that rarely winters here, will this one be just the 2nd to so? With the light quite poor on the morning of 15th a fine male BRAMBLING that sat for several minutes in the top of a tree by the gift shop didn't manage to make it on to the camera, nor did anything else come to that!
After not venturing any where else other than the patch since about June it was nice to spend a couple of hours at Dungeness yesterday (17th). The highlight was without doubt the little asian gem which was a very active PALLAS' WARBLER, after an hour or so watching this I spent an hour alone in Hanson hide on the RSPB reserve, I didn't see loads but I was happy with 3 GOLDENEYE, MARSH HARRIER, WATER RAIL, KINGFISHER, CHIFFCHAFF and an assortment of commoner ducks.
So to this morning, just great to be out on such a bright clear day, 15 FIELDFARE flew into the trees at the top of the car park as I tried to sneak up on them and only managed to disturb a LITTLE OWL and not get any Fieldfare pics.Other birds included KINGFISHER, REDWING, BULLFINCH, GREY HERON, 2 KESTRELS and 1 SISKIN. The highlight though, came when Stephen called to say he had got a quick view of a CORN BUNTING (105) a new bird for me on the patch, (Stephen had 2 briefly last autumn) within 5 or so minutes I had re found the bird sitting on top of rares hedge where it stayed long enough for a photo. Later after I left Stephen actually had 3 together. Corn Buntings used to be common in the Weald many years ago but this is now a real rarity here so I think the management of this bit of land has made a significant difference to what we are seeing here. There were probably over 100 Buntings around this morning ,a couple of years ago I would have been happy with just getting into double figures!!
Corn Bunting



Sunday, 11 November 2012

5th-11th Nov - Patch Tick!!

After last weeks late Swallows and House Martin things slowed down a bit on birds flying through this week, although the 5th saw 4 BRAMBLING flying north and about 12 FIELDFARE. The 7th produced a calling LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER and 30 REDWING. The Lesser Spot called again early on the 9th, when a single CROSSBILL flew east. SISKIN numbers sort of improved as up until now I have managed ones and twos, so a couple of flocks of 10 were an improvement. One of those flocks was this morning (11th), also this morning I managed a KINGFISHER by the moat and 3 GREEN WOODPECKERS were in lake field and as I tried unsuccessfully to stalk them and get a photo, a flock of 6 small geese caught my eye flying north-westish, these, to my surprise, turned out to be EGYPTIAN GEESE (104) a new bird for the patch!! only the second new bird this year after the heard only Golden Oriole in the spring.

Egyptian Geese

With a few days being a little milder we did record some moths, I forgot to mention last week that Steve had a GEM only the 3rd record here from memory. This week we added a couple more moths for the year, DECEMBER MOTH, MOTTLED UMBER and SCARCE UMBER, other moths included BARRED SALLOW, 9 SPRAWLERS on the night of the 8th, when there were also 19 NOVEMBER MOTH.
Below are a few random images from the last week.
Another Yellowhammer

Random Bale!



Another Yellowhammer!!!!!!!


December Moth

Sunday, 4 November 2012

29th Oct - Nov 4th

To be honest there is not a lot to report but I did manage several pleasant walks this week. The first bits to report were on the 31st when 2 SWALLOWS flew south and a BRAMBLING was heard from near the pigs where I had just spent 20mins or so watching 20 or so CHAFFINCHES and the early morning piglets battling for their first feed of the day. A LITTLE OWL also called and at least 50 YELLOWHAMMERS were around the clover field.
Early morning Bullfinch

Reed Bunting

Busy feeding

November 2nd again produced a SWALLOW, several JAYS,a flock of 24 LINNET, KESTREL and GREY HERON. Little Egrets are currently notable only by their absence. More time on the 3rd did inevitably give better results, 9 SWALLOWS south, they just keep coming through, the LINNET flock had shot up to 60 + overnight and a couple of REDPOLLS were feeding in the hedgerows. A prolonged view across the valley helped me pick up a few FIELDFARE, KESTREL, COMMON BUZZARD and a PEREGRINE, as well as a late SMALL TORTOISESHELL butterfly. A brief walk today, (4th) after the heavy rain of the morning continued the late summer visitor theme with  HOUSE MARTIN near the Granary. Otherwise 50 FIELDFARE dropped into the bridleway hedgerow and about 5 or 6 JAYS were noted.

Yellowhammer again, I just can't avoid them at the moment!! Which is great.

Grey Squirrel

Lesser Redpoll

Common Buzzard

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Harrier x 2!

After a week of dark and misty mornings which produced a couple of CHIFFCHAFF and another flyover BRAMBLING, I was pleasantly surprised how bright it was this morning, a quick look at the patch was definitely in order.
When I arrived Stephens car was already there not surprisingly as it was probably gone 8.30am, very late for me. I spent sometime in the car park and looking over a field checking a flock of 50+ Gulls. REDWINGS were going over a BRAMBLING called and about 6 BULLFINCH kept away from the camera without too much trouble. I was glad I had text Stephen to let him know I was there as after 20 minutes or so he called to let me know he had just flushed a male HEN HARRIER (103) from the clover field!! Despite still struggling a bit with the back, I think adrenaline helped me down to the field where it had gone to ground in. On the way down I noted a couple of SWALLOWS before finding the bird on the ground in the stubble. We watched the bird briefly before it headed south into an adjoining field giving chase to some of the local finches and bunting, eventually it disappeared towards the lake, while we were watching this, Stephen picked up another bird just above Roundshill Wood, MARSH HARRIER, this headed off over the wood.  Two Harriers pretty much at the same time was great for the local patch, I did get a couple of photos but they are a bit ropey I'm afraid!!

Poor shots but a very pleasing sight!!

After the excitement a WEASEL posed just long enough for a picture and a good supporting cast of birds were noted this included, FIELDFARE (90), REDWING (40), SISKIN (5), REDPOLL (6), COMMON BUZZARD, JAY (4+), plus good numbers of REED BUNTING, YELLOWHAMMER, LINNET and SKYLARK.


While I've struggled to get far on my walks the warden and his team have been busy building a hide to overlook the new pond, with the promise of a feeding station and some planting, it will be very interesting to see what we get.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

15th-20th October

With the mornings getting darker, getting any bird pics has been tricky this week, which is a shame as 2 birds that have eluded the camera so far, actually posed long enough to get shots but in the poor light stay off the blog so far!
The temperature looked good for the night of the 15th so the the moth traps went on, it turned out to be windy and rainy so I was pleased to get 54 moths of 15 species. There was nothing new for the year, 12 CHESTNUTS were the most numerous and 1 DARK CHESTNUT probably the pick of what was on offer.
A short walk after recording the moths did produce 2 BRAMBLING which had landed in the tree next to the Head Gardeners cottage but poor light kept these off the camera. Elsewhere several REDWING, REDPOLL and SISKINS flew over and a CHIFFCHAFF called in the car park.
I do love early morning

I didn't get back out until the 19th when a KINGFISHER sat still for at least 30 seconds to a minute while I again missed an opportunity but as with the Brambling, I enjoyed the sighting, again a CHIFFCHAFF called.
Moths were the highlight again on the morning of the 20th, with 3 new for the year. MERVEILLE DU JOUR waded in with 3 individuals a particular favourite with it's somehow minty appearance, next was a VAPOURER, the caterpillar of which will bring you out in a rash if it touches the skin, I can tell you from experience! Lastly a GREY SHOULDER-KNOT was new too. There was a migrant SILVER Y as well as 9 GREEN BRINDLED CRESCENTS. Totals were 41 moths of 19 species.
Merveille Du Jour

Merveille Du Jour

The Vapourer
The Vapourer

Grey Shoulder Knot
  Another quick walk looking for some of our avian friends had the following highlights - REDWING 15, LINNET 4, REDPOLL 2, SISKIN 1, REED BUNTING 3, YELLOWHAMMER 10, SKYLARK 30+, LITTLE OWL 2, COMMON BUZZARD 1 and a single FIELDFARE which flew east calling.