The monthly Bird Survey at Down House was due , so off I set . It was only 3C. when I arrived , and a cold wind was blowing down the valley below the grounds . Having seen the Redwings squabbling with the Mistle Thrushes on my last visit , I was quite expecting to see them again today , but it wasn't to be . In fact , the garden/orchard area was much quieter than usual , until I entered the walled vegetable garden , when the unmistakable 'chak-chak' call of Fieldfares broke the almost silence . A flock of 27 flew in from the direction of the cricket field , and seemed to be heading for West Kent Golf Course , an area abounding with Hawthorn and other berried shrubs . It was my first sighting of Fieldfares this season , and it probably heralds a period of colder weather . I have noticed in previous years , that when the Scandinavian Thrushes come in , at first they strip out the hedgerows of berries , before they can be found on the ground feeding on worms etc. Nothing fantastic to report , but a species count of 22 was quite respectable , but several expected species did not show . Of interest , along the Sandwalk , where Charles Darwin did a lot of his thinking , there was a flock of Long Tailed Tits numbering 15+ , it being very difficult to count as they were constantly calling and on the move .
As usual , Rose Ringed Parakeets were obvious from their continual screeching , and a conservative reording of 11 was made . Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were also recorded . Apart from a flock of 50/75 Starlings flying in the same direction as the Fieldfares , the only other bird of interest was a single Yellowhammer .
For anyone who hasn't visited Down House , this is the seat , at the end of the Sandwalk , where Charles Darwin actually used to sit , contemplating his theories . Not the exact seat , but you know what I mean .
In the adjacent woodland , tree surgeons had felled a very dead tree , with a very large amount of Honey Fungus around the base of the trunk . The felling cut revealed how the rhizomorphs of the fungus had spread throughout the tree . It would have been nice to leave it as standing deadwood , but as members of the public are allowed to walk the Sandwalk , the dead tree had to go . Also in the same woodland was a good example of Xylaria hypoxylon-Candle-snuff or Stag's Horn Fungus .
By the time I got back to the house and garden , I was chilled through , but warmed by the show of Waxcaps on the main lawn . The large number of Hygrocybe calyptraeformis , the rare pink species , had reduced from 30 to just 2 , one on it's last legs , and this one , just starting it's time . Also showing well were Hygrocybe coccinea-Scarlet Hood
Hygrocybe punicea-Crimson Wax Cap and Hygrocybe nivea-Snowy Wax Cap
After lunch , a couple of shots out of the back bedroom window . The first , a strange pigeon type bird that has been around for a few days now . It doesn't have the white or green roundels on the neck that one would expect with a Wood Pigeon , nor the green roundel and dark outline of a Stock Dove , but it does have the white wing bars of the Wood Pigeon , one of those strange ones . Not the best of shots because of the sunlight .
The last shot , a Carrion Crow , on top of the garage roof , looking more like a Starling with thebright sunlight reflecting off it's breast .