Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sunday 31st.January 2010

An interesting drive , to say the least , yesterday morning on the way to the Dorking area to coppice materials for the hedge at Lingfield . All due to the overnight snow , but once off the motorway , the amount on the ground reduced , resembling a hard frost at the coppice site . Worth it though , working in sunshine and under blue skies .
Got out today after an early lunch , and although a Sunday , decided on a return visit to Kelsey Park , and the woodland surrounding The Beck , before it enters the park itself . The woodland adjoins a couple of football pitches , and it seemed the world was out walking it's dog , with the kids enjoying their bikes too . Needless to say , not a lot was seen/heard , apart from a couple of GS Woodpeckers and of course several RR Parakeets . Crossing into the park , no sign of the Winter Thrushes seen during the snow , and no surprise really as they had cleaned the Holly trees as clean as a whistle . On the way around the top of the lake , I was nearly mugged several times by Grey Squirrels looking for peanuts , in shells , which several people were carrying around with them . Just the usual Mallards , Coots , Moorhens , Greylag and Canada Geese and Tufted Ducks on the water , but hundreds of BH Gulls , flying noisily about , and snatching what they could out of the bread thrown for the ducks .
Around the other side of the lake , there was no sign of the two people I found sitting on the seat around the tree , or the other one on the grass . At the Heronry , 2/3 of the nest seemed to be occupied , this adult , probably a female , was rearranging the twigs , and also seemed to be turning eggs , before settling down again , deep in the nest .
All if this going on under the watchful eye of what could be her mate .Quite a large section of the lake has refrozen , and amongst the large number of BH Gulls , there was a juvenile Common Gull , looking totally out of it's depth amongst the others .
The BH Gulls were mostly sporting their winter plumage , with the dark spot behind the eye ,But , every now and again , I came across individuals who have started to get the chocolate head colouring , their Summer plumage .I found the female Pochard , tucked up under the opposite bank , but , no sign of her mate , but whilst looking , this Little Grebe , bobbed up from feeding on the bottom .The Mandarin numbers have dropped to 6 ( 4M,2F) , from the 20+ on my last visit , and I was surprised to see that they were mating , as my book says 1 brood , April/May The female seemed quite happy about it , having a quick 'wash and brush up' afterwards , and then getting on with feeding . The males , when not mating , spending their time arguing , strutting and snorting amongst themselves . I never tire of looking at their plumage , and often think to myself that it would be almost impossible to paint the colours of the feathers on their head and neck .
Cloud started to roll in as I was about to cross back over to the woodland , but just before going out the gate , this Robin appeared out of nowhere and posed . The return through the woodland had no surprises , but with the temperature falling , it was a brisk walk back to the car .

Friday, 29 January 2010

Friday 29th.January 2010

This morning , the weather was dreary , damp and cold . This afternoon , although the showers eventually cleared , it was bitter . This is why I only refer to the 'S' word , and do not mention it , in all it's glory , as I have been asked to do . We still have to get through my most dreaded month of February , before I can type it in full . With the promise of better to come , I headed off after lunch for a walk around Hayes Farm . I arrived in a snow flurry , and seriously considered getting straight back into the car and returning home , but decided to wrap up and get out there . Not that there was much out there to find . If you took Gulls and Corvids out of the equation , very little . I was pleased to be scolded by this Wren after ten minutes , at least I knew that I was not completely alone on the site . The paddock that contained all but one of the horses , also contained a flock of 40/50 Redwing and a handful of Fieldfare , feeding on the ground at a good distance from the track , and very flighty . 8 rabbits were feeding in the field next to the Trout Fishery , right at the far end . The Fishery itself was the quietest I have found it this Winter , with the pair of Little Grebe diving for food , right over in the far corner . As I was leaving , an angler was putting his gear in his car and I asked if he had had any luck . 'No was his answer , and I can't even feel my hands' , no surprising , as the wind was really whipping across the lake , which is at the highest point of the farm , and really bitter . He did mention that about a week ago , there were 4 Egyptian Geese on the lake , 2 more than I have found there . Unsurprisingly , RRParakeets overflew several times during my visit , and on my way back to the car , I located , at a distance , the mixed Finch flock . I headed over towards them , hoping for a shot , but well before I got there , they lifted off and settled high in an Oak . Looking through the 15/18 strong flock , there were no Chaffinches with them this time , being alost entirely Linnets , with just a couple of Goldfinches amongst them . Tomorrow , coppicing near Dorking , to get materials for the Lingfield hedge , in forecasted temperatures , even colder than today .

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Thursday 28th.January 2010

Two cold days hedgelaying up on the Greensand Ridge , produced Common Buzzards , heard both days , somewhere down on the farmland below , but not seen . Not surprising , as I read a report of 10 in the air together last weekend at Bough Beech reservoir , a matter of a few miles away . Only other interest were Fieldfares , once again heard not seen , at regular intervals over the two days .
Today's task up on the Common , finished early , but interestingly heard news of two sightings of Woodcock , flushed during the snow , both on the heathland area .
The early finish meant that I could catch up with a few tasks and have a quick look in at South Norwood Country Park . I headed straight to the lake , now fully thawed , but was disappointed to find that all the Shoveler had moved on , and it was back to Mallard , Moorhen
Coot 9 sorry Warren ) , a single Grey Heron and Cormorant and a large float of BH Gulls was all that was to be found . No sign of Kestrels around their nestbox area , although I did find one hovering over the far end of the lake , with the sun directly behind . As I got into position out of the sun , a Carrion Crow chased it away , it was that sort of day . The walk over the top end of the park was very quiet after all the Winter Thrushes found on the last visit , just one Redwing was found this time . I did find a Fox along one of the ditches , but at the same time a chap came around the corner with a dog , that also spotted the Fox and started barking , and any chance of a shot went out the window . Odd mixed Tit flocks and a flock of about 10/12 LT Tits were seen and several Great Tits were 'teachering' incessantly . The odd Greenfinch and a few Wrens were all the smaller birds seen , until I came across this Robin , with attitude , giving it the old 'watching me watching you' scenario . A good number of Carrion Crows were gathered right in the middle of the park , a couple of RRParakeets flew over noisily , and the BH Gull numbers were still building as I got back to the lake . I noticed that the Lesser Black-backed and the Common Gulls were still in residence . A final scan of the lake produced the female Pochard , asleep amongst the overhanging branches , just a shame the sun wasn't on that brown head and neck . Just before leaving the platform , these two appeared from nowhere , looking for a final meal of the day ( sorry again Warren ) .
With the sun quickly sinking , when it showed , and the temperature dropping with it , I headed home .

Monday, 25 January 2010

Monday 25th.January 2010

Confined to barracks today , as a trip yesterday up on the Greensand Ridge , which I thought caused just a bruise , turned out to be a puncture wound in the muscle of the right thigh , from some old metal fencing that I landed on , and leaving me with a very dead leg . No I hadn't been to the pub Warren , nor will it be necessary to send flowers , as I hope to be hedgelaying tomorrow .
Over breakfast , Carol spotted movement on the patio , around the cage that she puts down to stop the Collared Doves and Woodpigeons hoovering up all the ground food . I got the camera and sat for a while in the sun lounge . One of the resident Dunnocks came and fed inside the cage , and I was beginning to think that this was what Carol spotted , until this little chap appeared . He's sitting still here , but made several dashes into the cage , to fill his pouches , disappearing for a short time , then re-appearing again , to refill the pouches . Not the best of shots , but it was taken through double glazing . Also putting in an appearance was the resident male Robin , who , I have noticed today , has found a mate . Another sign of the 'S' word , with the first Snowdrops in the garden coming into flower . With being imprisoned today , I kept a good eye on the feeders , hoping for that elusive Siskin or Redpoll , but it wasn't to be . Most of the usual suspects were seen , but no Winter Thrushes or Blackcaps , not surprising , as very few berries remain now . A pair of Coal Tits came to feed , but did not co-operate by getting in the same shot together . A pair of Blue and Great Tits also managed to evade the lens together . The Greater Spotted Woodpecker made morning and afternoon visits , and has got this Sunflower Heart thing down to perfection . As I said most usual species came through the day , but this Collared Dove posed best , so am posting it .
Two days hedgelaying , hopefully , wildlife ?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sunday 24th.January 2010

What with hedgelaying yesterday and spending four hours up on the Greensand Ridge today sorting out surveying for reptiles over the coming year , wildlife sightings were very few and far between . A large flock of mixed Corvids , mainly Jackdaws , were noisily feeding in the fields today , along with the odd Greater Spotted Woodpecker , Nuthatch and mixed Tit flocks . No reptiles were found under the refugia , not surprising given the recent weather , but always the chance of a Common or Great Crested Newt at this time of year . Two Pigmy Shrews were found , but unfortunately the weather hadn't slowed them down , and they disappeared into the leaf litter at a rate of knots . At the big house , a flock of Canada Geese were feeding on the lawn one side of the lake and one of Greylag were on the other side .
The only picture taken today was this Nectria cinnabarina-Coral Spot Fungus , found in large amounts on Sycamore brash around one of the glades that we have created .

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Wednesday 20th.January 2010

Today's hedgelaying up on the Greensand Ridge was cancelled , because of the forecasted bad weather , which never really materialised , but not the ideal conditions by any stretch of the imagination .
After Sunday's sunshine , the birds starting to sing and look for nesting sites again , and a pair of Foxes mating in an elderly neighbour's garden , another couple of hopes that the 'S' word is not too far away .
Both from up on the Ridge yesterday , Primroses
and Bluebells , pushing through the leaf litter , even after all that snow .
It can't come quick enough .

Monday, 18 January 2010

Monday 18th.January 2010

After the sunshine and excitement yesterday , today dawned overcast and damp . Admittedly the temperature wasn't too bad at about 7C , which was probably what got all the birds singing , especially the Robins , having changed to their Spring/Summer song over the weekend . The Blue Tits and Coal Tits were chasing each other around and looking in the nesting boxes . One Redwing appeared in the Cotoneaster next door , but apart from that , the most excitement came when this Starling spent a good 3/4 minutes bathing , and managing to completely empty it whilst doing so .
Very short spells of wintry sun encouraged me to go and have a look around Beckenham Cemetery and a return visit to South Norwood Country Park , now that the snow has gone . The cemetery held quite a few Redwings , but very flighty , as were the two Green Woodpeckers , who were off as soon as I got sight of them . From there , I followed the tram track into the Country Park , and immediately found a large flock of Fieldfare around the pitch and putt area , they too were very unapproachable . The odd Kestrel , Corvid , Tit and Finch showed up , but not a lot really . I was nearly down to the lake , when I found another flock of Winter Thrushes , feeding on the ground . It was a mixed flock of both Thrushes , and gave the opportunity to get one of each , side by side , on the ground for comparison , the Redwing being much smaller than the Fieldfare . The lake has much more open water than on my last visit , but a lot of ice still remains . Looking through the larger number of gulls present , gave a photo chance of three separate species in the one shot . They were a good distance off , in poor light , but shows Common on the left , Lesser Black -backed at the back , and two Black-headed . The area around the viewing platform was ice free , and about a dozen Shoveler were feeding , swimming along , and filtering food out of the top surface of the water , with their massive bills . unlike the male Tufted Duck , who was getting his food from further down in the water . The only new resident that I could see , was this female Pochard , no sign of a mate . Once again , I scanned the Alders , and once again , no sign of Siskins . I'm starting to think they and the Repolls are going to elude me this year . Heading back towards the Cemetery , I found a male Kestrel perched in a small tree where the paths cross . Could be the same one I photographed last visit . Crossing back into the Cemetery , I had another Green Woodpecker sighting , but not a picture . The only other picture opportunity was this Jay , a species I find very hard to get a decent shot of , and once again , the bird managed to get it's head behind a branch , I'll get a clear one , one day .

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday 17th.January 2010

After being stuck in the house all day yesterday , and with the promise of sunshine today , I left the house at 7 o'clock , with 3 sites in mind . RSPB Elmley , Capel Fleet/Harty Ferry and Oare Marsh , hopefully catching high tide there .
Rather than describing it all , I'm posting the day list , adding some information and pictures . Little Grebe , Grey Heron , Greylag Goose , Canada Goose , Mute Swan ( this one flying into the rising sun at Elmley ) , Mallard , Shoveler , Wigeon ( these two males were taking their ablutions this afternoon at Oare Marshes ) , Tufted Duck , Pintail ( female to left , male to right of Greylag Goose , neither lifted their head or moved at all ) , Teal ( female centre left , male centre right , again at Oare Marshes ) . Hen Harrier ( ring-tailed female seen at both Elmley and Capel Fleet ) . Marsh Harrier ( 2 seen at Elmley and 1 at Capel Fleet ) , Common Buzzard ( seen in orchard by side of A2 en route to Oare ) , Kestrel , Merlin ( seen at Elmley , flying low along side of ditch , then disappearing . Got first shot of this female shortly afterwards .She would not turn around , and flew of after a short while . I got this bad record shot of her in flight , she then headed across the other side of the site ) . Red Legged Partridge ( a flock of about 15/20 seen between Capel Fleet and Elmley , but always in a line , so couldn't get a shot of them all ) , Pheasant ( several seen at Elmley in the early morning sun , after not seeing any whilst the snow was down ) , Moorhen , Coot , Ringed Plover ,Lapwing ( probably the most numerous seen species today ) , Dunlin , Redshank , Curlew ( this was just part of a large flock lifting off from one area , then settling on another at Elmley ) , Common and BH Gull , Woodpigeon , Collared Dove , Great Spotted Woodpecker , Skylark , Wren , Dunnock , Robin , Blackbird , Fieldfare ( largest flock I've seen this winter at Capel Fleet , 30/40 birds ) , Redwing , Long Tailed , Blue , Great and Coal Tit ,Magpie , Jackdaw , Rook , Carrion Crow , Jay , Starling ( 1000s of them at Elmley ) , House Sparrow , Chaffinch , Goldfinch , Greenfinch and Little Egret . I make that a total of 52 bird species seen today .
Leaving the birds , as I drove along the track at Elmley , I spotted a brown patch in the longer grass , about 20 metres from the track . With binoculars , I could see that it was in fact a Brown Hare , in it's form , Looking as if he was warming up in the morning sun . It never did move , but on my return , it had gone . I saw two others bounding across the field in the distance , but by the time I got there , they had gone .
As I said earlier , I timed my visit to Oare Marshes to catch the high tide , and this picture shows that it worked out for me , but not for the driver of the car , parked on the slipway as it was so busy there .