Sunday, 30 March 2014

Calm before the storm?

It's been a fairly quiet time on the patch although to be honest I haven't visited as much as I would like. CHIFFCHAFFS are around in good numbers and the MANDARIN have been seen a few more times after their long absence. The BARNACLE GOOSE (68) that seems to spend most of its time between here and Warrens Pittswood patch has been present on and off over the last week or two. Also a big surprise was the first RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE (69) for at least two years, when a pair flew up from the the field just below the moat, last Wednesday morning. This weekend saw a few LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS flying south with HERRING GULLS yesterday and today the first BLACKCAP (70) on patch was found close to the west end of the upper lake. Other birds have included KINGFISHER, LITTLE EGRET and 7 BUZZARDS yesterday. Here are a couple of pictures from the last week.
Early morning sun


Long Tailed Tit



Barnacle Goose

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bits and pieces,,

Just a couple of patch visits last week did result in my first MANDARIN (67) for over a year, when a pair flew passed me as I walked up towards the moat. A brief walk at the weekend had a real spring feel with 6 CHIFFCHAFF counted singing around the grounds, there were also again good BUZZARD numbers with 5 seen together.
Also at the weekend Bec and I headed to Elmley, as I hadn't caught up with SHORT EARED OWL this winter, we weren't disappointed, one bird and briefly two were watched from the track to the hides in some really nice light, occasionally coming close enough for a photo or two. Other birds included good numbers of AVOCET and still plenty of WIGEON and TEAL around the reserve. We were constantly accompanied by the sound of displaying LAPWINGS and treated to their fantastic aerial displays. Three MED GULLS called as they flew along the Swale, later two were sat on the far side of the flood. A few MARSH HARRIERS were present as expected, it was nice to see so many LITTLE EGRET along the entrance track some pretty close too.
Other sightings so far this week include CIRL BUNTING, WOODLARK (several), BLACK REDSTART and SERIN these were all seen on a short walk before breakfast this morning as work took me to Bologna, Italy for a couple of days.
Here are a few Elmley photos

Reed Bunting

Short eared Owl

Short eared Owl

Short eared Owl

Short eared Owl

Mute Swan


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Patch additions

The patch got some more attention over the last few days a singing CHIFFCHAFF on the 7th was nice and my first pic of the wintering WATER RAIL on the same was not great but just got it! Several MISTLE THRUSHES were being very noisy but otherwise just the usual suspects were around.
Just managed a Water Rail pic!

Today I managed a couple of visits firstly this morning there were at least 6 BRIMSTONE butterflies in the wood plus a couple of SMALL TORTOISESHELLS and a COMMA, the CHIFFCHAFF sang again and there were plenty of TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, LONG TAILED TIT and BLUE TITS there too.
Three LINNETS were the first for a while, lots of WRENS sang and 4 BULLFINCH were in their usual place in the car park.
Not sure what this pic was meant to be but thought I'd post it anyway!

One of several singing Wrens

At last a Bullfinch picture

Peacock on the second visit


The second visit was surprisingly productive, firstly a LITTLE EGRET (64) flew up from the stream and circled over the fields before heading south-east. A few seconds later I heard a 'cronking' noise and a RAVEN (65) flew from somewhere near the stream towards Roundshill Wood. The last record here was 2010 so a very welcome addition to the year list. Several BUZZARDS were again the only raptors of the day. The last addition of the day was a KINGFISHER (66) long overdue it seems and hopefully the first of many records this year and who knows maybe a photograph or two would be nice!
Record of Little Egret, love the way white can look black!

Raven record shot

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Patch and brief Dunge visit

A walk on Sunday morning round the patch produced another MEDITERRANEAN GULL with a mixed flock of COMMON and BLACK HEADED. Lots of birds were singing, notably a couple of YELLOWHAMMERS that have been much scarcer this winter, SKYLARK song also filled the air making it feel like things were on the up! Six GREY HERON flew along Digdog Lane and the second six of the day came in the form of COMMON BUZZARDS over Roundshill Wood. In the woods TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH and a couple MARSH TITS were adding to the general buzz of noise, WRENS called from various bits of undergrowth. No new birds for the patch but a nice walk nonetheless.


Grey Herons

The afternoon was spent having a quick look for the Chinese Pond Heron at Hythe but like several I talked to I didn't see it, mind you in just over an hour I would have to have been extremely lucky. A drive back via Dunge produced SMEW, GREAT WHITE EGRET, GLOSSY IBIS and 3 PEREGRINES at various points across Walland Marsh, one of which had just caught something and whizzed by the car with me scrambling to get the lens out of the window!
Glossy Ibis

Great White Egret on Arc

Scrambled Peregrine pic!

I have managed to get out to the patch each morning this week for a short walk, REDWINGS and FIELDFARES have been very noisy in the car park when I arrive and at least 3 BULLFINCH have also been seen there every morning so far, still they remain very camera shy, as do most of the Fieldfare and Redwing. Elsewhere a few REDPOLL are still flying around and the WATER RAIL was seen this morning.
On the way to work this morning 2 MED GULLS were over the fields in the lanes between Staplehurst and Marden and a BLACKCAP was in song again near Marden Station.
Another morning Robin