Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Someone asked me......

Before I get into the birds etc.. bit, an old friend asked me if I would do them a drawing/painting of a bird for her Aunt, I haven't done any sort of artwork for about 20 years so was slightly nervous. I didn't know what bird she wanted as we spoke and I thought maybe a stooping Hobby would be nice or something colourful like a Kingfisher. It soon transpired that the subject was colourful, actually going to be a Budgie!!! So a Budgie it was, rightly or wrongly the result is below, as you can see I'm no expert but actually enjoyed picking up a paint brush again especially as it wasn't one for decorating anyway!
My dodgy attempt at Painting!!

So the I haven't been out much in the last few days but a couple of visits have produced a little bit of movement, firstly on Sunday morning I was sitting in my Dads sitting room in Sissinghurst and a MARSH HARRIER flew over the village heading west, later a SWIFT went through with a small flock of SWALLOWS. Monday the patch walk started with 2 flyover TREE PIPIT (99), a good start as I had already seen a HOBBY flying south before I left Dads house. Once again though the lack of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and the like was striking, there was very little noise. Stephen was out as well and after a chat I headed to the veg garden where there were 3 CHIFFCHAFF and a WILLOW WARBLER, then Stephen called to say he had just seen a WRYNECK!! after a bit of searching we couldn't relocate the bird, which was very reminiscent of the bird I had in 2004 that just disappeared after it flew into a Silver Birch. There was a SEDGE WARBLER further on and 5 COMMON WHITETHROATS still around, a KINGFISHER called and a LITTLE OWL flew up from the rough grass as I approached it. The morning session finished, I came back later for a walk with Bec, there were more butterflies about and I counted 6 CLOUDED YELLOWS, by far the best year here as in many places this year. 3-5 BUZZARDS were seen and 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS flew from the hedge as I looked again for the Wryneck.
Another hedgerow Sedge Warbler

Clouded Yellow

Common Buzzard

Back in our little garden the Buddleia was full of butterflies, no less than 31 SMALL TORTOISESHELLS, incredible especially as just a handful of years ago I went a whole year without finding one!! There were 2 PAINTED LADIES, 1 RED ADMIRAL and 3 PEACOCKS, the highlight though was my first garden PURPLE HAIRSTREAK which landed on the small sycamore briefly.
Full of Butterflies! Small Tortoiseshells and a Peacock

This morning another look for the Wryneck proved fruitless but a SEDGE WARBLER was again in the hedges and 2 more TREE PIPITS flew south then circled round round and looked to land. I could also hear some HOUSE MARTINS in the mist, the first for a while.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Some Butterflies

It's been a quiet week on the bird front although both Stephen and my Dad have had WHINCHAT, Stephen also managed a WHEATEAR. Personally I've been counting CHIFFCHAFFS and COMMON WHITETHROATS, with maximums of 12 and 5 respectively. I did see my first raptors for a while in the shape of 1 COMMON BUZZARD and 1 SPARROWHAWK also I heard a GREEN SANDPIPER. A dodgy addition to the year list was Warrens BARNACLE GOSE (98).
Last weekend I had a good walk with Phil, Sam and Dave, we managed 39 species but the highlight for me were the 8-10 CLOUDED YELLOWS. The day was actually quite good for butterflies last Sunday, others included COMMON BLUES, BRIMSTONE, WHITE ADMIRAL, PURPLE HAIRSTREAK and loads of GATEKEEPERS and WHITES, these were all at the castle. At home the Buddleia was a new species for the garden SILVER WASHED FRITILLARY also RED ADMIRAL, SMALL TORTOISESHELL, COMMA and plenty of PEACOCK.
Not great photos but here are some I took over the week mainly last Sunday.
Common Blue

Clouded Yellow

White Admiral


Silver Washed Fritillary

Purple Hairstreak

Barnacle Goose with Greylags
The Rowans seem really heavily laden

Friday, 16 August 2013

12th - 16th August

Another mixed week started with TURTLE DOVE and SEDGE WARBLER as highlights on Monday. Tuesday was quieter before Wednesday produced a nice little mix of migrants and birds in general. Firstly it was evident that WILLOW WARBLER numbers were up, I found 6 for sure but probably there were double figures around. A YELLOW WAGTAIL (96) called 4 times as it headed south and 2 SEDGE WARBLERS were in the hedgerows with several WHITETHROATS and BLACKCAPS.
Sedge Warbler

 As I headed into the clover field a quick scan of the fence posts produced the first WHINCHAT (97) of the year, while a LITTLE EGRET flew south west, the first for a couple of months. Other birds on Wednesday were young SPOTTED FLYCATCHER and a LITTLE OWL called and was seen sitting on a post near the overflow car park. Later that day Stephen had 15-20 CLOUDED YELLOWS, certainly a record here.

Willow Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher

Lots of birds cleared for Thursday morning but 4 WILLOW WARBLERS remained and 1 SEDGE WARBLER stayed other birds of note were TURTLE DOVE and a LESSER WHITETHROAT. Quieter again this morning as just 2 WILLOW WARBLERS were all I could find.
On Thursday I did get up early and record the moths with Steve which included 3 year ticks BULRUSH WAINSCOT, SMALL MOTTLED WILLOW and MAGPIE MOTH which was the first record for 5 years
Magpie Moth

Bulrush Wainscot

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A few bits

Numbers of passerines seem really low here at the moment, with hirundines almost non-existent! The reliable car park area usually full of young Chiffchaffs, flocks of Tits, Greenfinches and the like, is deathly quiet each morning. There was a LITTLE OWL calling at the top end this morning a CHAFFINCH, 3 ROBINS and 2 GREAT TITS were the only other occupants. I'm sure this must change soon and as Stephen said maybe the slightly delayed breeding season might account for some of it, which certainly seems likely at the moment!
Little Owl


Around the fields a couple of WHITETHROATS were heard and 1 SEDGE WARBLER 'tacked' before it found it's way briefly into the open. A TURTLE DOVE was a nice surprise just the 3rd sighting this year.
Last week did finish well, with GREEN SANDPIPER, REED WARBLER, SEDGE WARBLER and GREY WAGTAIL all seen on Thursday with a KINGFISHER being seen on Friday just before 40 SWALLOWS flew through in front of a heavy shower.

A quick trip to Oare Marshes with my my nephews, 10 and 13 yrs old on Saturday was nice, they enjoyed the large numbers of  BLACK TAILED GODWIT, the AVOCETS and just the surroundings in general. CINNABAR MOTH caterpillars were found as well as a single WHINCHAT, they did well to last a morning but did say they want to go again!!
Golden Plovers - Oare Marshes

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A quiet week so far

My visits have been more regular of late, getting out every morning before work for the last 3 weeks. This week has been the quietest so far, the migrant tally is 1 WILLOW WARBLER on Sunday and then 2 REED WARBLERS this morning! The best of the rest as it were, has been the odd appearance of a LESSER WHITETHROAT, 1 SPARROWHAWK, the first for several weeks, NIGHTINGALE calling from the hedge this morning and the continued presence of good numbers of YELLOWHAMMER. SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS are still feeding young and I did see one young bird yesterday morning. The most numerous birds at the moment, aside from a good number of Corvids, are the GOLDFINCHES, flocks from 10-30 birds have been milling around mainly in the Veg Garden area.
Steve is continuing to find new species of moths for the site this week BROWN VEINED WAINSCOT and ROSY MINOR were added, 450 is not far away.
Sunday I actually did a butterfly count, not for anything in particular just that I often start one then get distracted and never finish it! I ended up with 85 butterflies in an hour and half of seven species just around the fields. The highlight was probably the 2 PAINTED LADY, the first I had seen at the castle this year.
Click on the pictures for a larger image, they seem a bit clearer when you click on them as well, I think?
Nice to see sharing amongst Butterflies, these were in my garden.

There must be something in the New Pond


Song Thrush

Friday, 2 August 2013

More from this week...

Wednesday saw 8 CROSSBILL fly over and a GREY WAGTAIL, two birds that are not common here but still just about regular. This was only the second Grey Wagtail of the year, a come down from when they bred on the estate.
Long Tailed Tit - drying out!

Typical hedge line around the castle

Thursday was a moth morning meeting Steve at 4.30am, there were good numbers, especially COMMON FOOTMAN, we did have 4 moths new for the year as well COPPER UNDERWING, WHITE SPOTTED PUG, STRAW UNDERWING and SUSPECTED. The current total for macro moths this year is 285 although I know Steve added at least one more this morning with a new site record, ROUND WINGED MUSLIN. Below are a couple of micro moths from Thursday morning and a KENT  BLACK ARCHES.
Acleris Holmiana

Pyrausta Purpuralis

Honeysuckle Moth (Ypsolopha Dentella) and above.

Kent Black Arches

It was quiet for birds Thursday, as was this morning until I was watching a young GREY HERON in the new pond, just after it flew off a V formation of waders came into view from the east, unfortunately not onto the new pond but 50+ WHIMBREL (95) continued west, my highest count here. These are a slightly less the annual sighting and nice addition to the year list.
Part of the Whimbrel flock this morning