Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sunday December 30

Well, this is likely to have been my last vist to the patch this year. I was joined by Dave S, and we spent a relatively uneventful few hours walking round.

The flash contained four Wigeon, 44 Teal, nine Snipe, and 174 Lapwings. Elsewhere we reached totals of 100 Linnets, 130 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, and a distant flock of at least 200 thrushes, mainly Fieldfares.

I have finally resolved my map-making problems, although I haven't worked out how to show the map on the blog without all the free map tools blurb. This gives the general idea of the size and shape of the area I cover though.
As its the end of the year I feel I should do some kind of round up, and indeed provide a full list of the birds seen in 2012. So here goes:

A total of 121 bird species were recorded on the patch as far as I know (plus Feral Pigeon if you like). I saw 117 of these, my highlights being a Corn Bunting on Jan 28, an Iceland Gull over on Feb 18, a Great White Egret over on Mar 25, a Spotted Redshank on Mar 28, a drake Garganey on Jun 7, a Black-tailed Godwit on Jul 7, a Grasshopper Warbler on Aug 5, and up to two Wood Sandpipers for a fortnight from Aug 15.

The birds I missed were a Red Kite (DJScanlan), two Oystercatchers and a Pink-footed Goose (JJYardley) and a Crossbill (MWillmott).

My full list was:
1.Mute Swan, 2. Greylag Goose, 3.Canada Goose, 4. Shelduck, 5. Wigeon, 6. Teal, 7. Mallard, 8. Pintail, 9. Garganey, 10. Shoveler, 11. Tufted Duck, 12. Red-legged Partridge, 13. Grey Partridge, 14. Pheasant, 15. Little Grebe, 16. Cormorant, 17. Little Egret, 18.Great White Egret, 19. Grey Heron, 20. Sparrowhawk, 21. Buzzard, 22. Kestrel, 23. Merlin, 24. Hobby, 25. Peregrine, 26. Moorhen, 27. Coot, 28. Little Ringed Plover, 29. Golden Plover, 30. Lapwing, 31. Dunlin, 32. Ruff, 33. Jack Snipe, 34. Common Snipe, 35. Curlew, 36. Black-tailed Godwit, 37. Common Sandpiper, 38. Green Sandpiper, 39. Wood Sandpiper, 40. Redshank, 41. Spotted Redshank, 42. Greenshank, 43. Black-headed Gull, 44. Common Gull, 45. Lesser Black-backed Gull, 46 Herring Gull, 47. Iceland Gull, 48. Great Black-backed Gull, 49. Stock Dove, 50. Woodpigeon, 51. Collared Dove, 52. Cuckoo, 53. Barn Owl, 54. Little Owl, 55. Tawny Owl, 56. Swift, 57. Kingfisher, 58. Green Woodpecker, 59. Great Spotted Woodpecker, 60. Skylark, 61. Sand Martin, 62. Swallow, 63. House Martin, 64. Tree Pipit, 65. Meadow Pipit, 66. Yellow Wagtail, 67. Grey Wagtail, 68. Pied Wagtail (and White Wagtail), 69. Wren, 70 Dunnock, 71. Robin, 72. Redstart, 73. Whinchat, 74. Stonechat, 75. Wheatear (and probably Greenland Wheatear), 76. Blackbird, 77. Fieldfare, 78. Song Thrush, 79. Redwing, 80. Mistle Thrush, 81. Grasshopper Warbler, 82. Sedge Warbler, 83. Reed Warbler, 84. Blackcap, 85. Lesser Whitethroat, 86 Common Whitethroat, 87. Chiffchaff, 88. Willow Warbler, 89. Goldcrest, 90. Spotted Flycatcher, 91. Long-tailed Tit, 92. Blue Tit, 93. Great Tit, 94. Coal Tit, 95. Marsh Tit, 96. Nuthatch, 97. Treecreeper, 98. Jay, 99. Magpie, 100. Jackdaw, 101. Rook, 102. Cattion Crow, 103. Raven, 104. Starling, 105. House Sparrow, 106. Tree Sparrow, 107. Chaffinch, 108. Brambling, 109. Greenfinch, 110. Linnet, 111. Goldfinch, 112. Siskin, 113. Lesser Redpoll, 114. Bullfinch, 115. Yellowhammer, 116. Reed Bunting, 117. Corn Bunting.

I am now looking forward to next year, which for me may start on January 5, but I may get a chance to have a quick look on New Year's day.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Wednesday December 26

I was in a rather grumpy mood this morning for reasons I will enlarge on later. I didn't get out until 11.00 am by which time heavy grey cloud had rolled in.

I walked from Church Farm again, and saw nine Siskins in the trees overlooking the corrugated barn.

These were nice to see, and were to prove to be the highlight of the morning. The Flash contained a respectable 215 Lapwings, but only 17 Teal and two Grey Herons. While the walk back added 50 Chaffinches and not a lot else.

The reason for my grumpiness was that I had seen a site called which invited participants to submit their yearlists into some sort of playing field leveller in order to produce a yearlist competition which all competitors would have a chance of winning. Well that sounded a fun idea so I tried to produce a map of my area to send them in order to prove my patch was less than 3 square kms (it's under 2 square kms) and to register my interest.

This should have been straightforward apparently, but after downloading (or possibly uploading) various relevant (or possibly irrelevant) applications or whatever they were, I got myself into a complete tangle. Hence the bad mood. The sad truth is that I only have a limited grasp of information technology and it doesn't take much to get me out of my comfort zone, so unless I get a flash of inspiration I won't be joining in.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Sunday December 23

Preparations for christmas are starting to take priority over birding, and with the fear that yesterday's heavy rain may have made the patch difficult to get to, I settled for a late start and for parking at Morton Bagot church.

In fact the roads were fine, and the change in my normal circuit allowed the opportunity to check out the public footpath hedge which runs down to the pool. It contained 30 Greenfinches (I wondered where they had gone) and 40 Chaffinches. I also noticed that three fields below the road and below Bannam's Wood now contain tree tubes, so the tree planting really has started. In fairness those fields never really contained Skylarks in the summer so there may not be any negative impact.

The main feature of the day's visit was revealed when I reached the pool and the flooded flash. The wildfowl numbers have exploded. At least 120 Mallard took off from the pool, while the flash was a swirl of Teal and Lapwings. I managed to creep into position without losing too many, and a count of the remainder produced 167 Teal and 242 Lapwings.

A partialy albino Lapwing amongst the Lapwing flock
  While the numbers were spectacular, the variety wasn't. Four Wigeon flew off as I tried to get closer to the flock, and I counted 16 Snipe and seven Moorhens, but that was about it.

Pretty encouraging though.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Sunday December 16

Another late start (cricket watching), and a major phone malfunction meant that I seemed to have the patch to myself today. The weather has turned mild, but was also largely sunny.

Perhaps as a result of the milder weather I saw far fewer Thrushes, just 29 Fieldfares and 14 Redwings. I also struggled to see all of the finches which I suspect may still have been in the crop, and counted only 90 Chaffinches, 70 Linnets, and single figure totals of the rest.

The flash produced 10 Wigeon and 58 Teal, while the walk back added 59 Starlings heading east, and a single first-winter Common Gull going north.

Common Gull
 With the year now well advanced, it doesn't look as though I am going to add any more year ticks. The arrival of my 2010 West Midland Bird Club report prompts me to reflect on the Morton Bagot list.

There were two species in the report which I have yet to see here. A Willow Tit was recorded on January 23, and there is a note that up to ten Waxwings were seen in December at various sites, one of which was Morton Bagot. The only other species which I know to have been seen in a previous year, but which I have not seen myself, is Turtle Dove. Therefore I believe the Morton Bagot list stands at 140 excluding the pseudo-species Feral Pigeon, which I don't count.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Thursday December 13

I have taken a few days off work, mainly to watch the morning cricket coverage, but as thursday morning was very cold and frosty a late morning visit to the patch seemed a good idea.

At Netherstead Farm I was heartened by the sight of six Lesser Redpolls, including a pink-chested male, clinging to the bird feeders, with a Marsh Tit also present. My plan was to target the very south end for finches, and the flash at the north end, to see if the freezing conditions had lured in any wildfowl.

Initially the south end looked less promising than it had done at the weekend, but then a great swirl of finches and winter Thrushes rose from the crop and it was apparent that I would have my work cut out. Counting the Thrushes was fairly straight forward as they were all ground feeding and turned out to be dotted around most of the fields on the farm. I counted 150 Fieldfares and 70 Redwings, but only a handful of Starlings.

The finches were much more difficult as they quickly dispersed and dropped into the hedgerows and back into the crops. Nevertheless, based on an estimation of the numbers seen in flight I reckoned there were 280 Chaffinches (my highest count here to date), 150 Linnets, many more than previously this autumn, and maybe a dozen or so Bramblings, Goldfinches and Lesser Redpolls.

In the distance a flock of 40 or 50Skylarks circled the stubble field. I headed that way and eventually reached the frozen pool. I considered checking for Jack Snipes, but decided not to bother. A later text from Matt Wilmott, who evidently was on site after I had left, told me he had seen two, I assume in this area.

The flash pool looked pretty promising as a substantial flock of Teal flew up. I waited for them to return, and eventually counted 134 standing on the ice. As this is a spring-fed field, I think that the reason numbers always go up in freezing conditions is that there are plenty of ice free channels in the field. I could only see nine Snipe, and was slightly disappointed to see no other wildfowl apart from 13 Greylag Geese.

The cold snap is due to end, and the return to mild westerly winds could mean that finding new birds before the end of the year will be pretty challenging.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sunday December 9

I was a bit late starting after a long evening entertaining friends, and so Dave had been kicking his heels for half an hour before I turned up. Compared to last thursday there were positive signs from the off.  Plenty of Starlings and Redwings were in evidence, and the first Tufted Duck for a while on the pool. The flash hosted 48 Teal, and I just missed a Wigeon which Dave spotted as it briefly flew with Mallards.

Later, 150 Lapwings flew over, but looked to be associating with fields to the west of the patch.

The real revelation was the south end. It looks as though tree planting may have started, and the disturbed muddy field contained about 100 Starlings, 175 Redwings, 60 Fieldfares, and 150 Chaffinches. With the latter were at least 10 Bramblings.

  The Brambling in the photograph posed nicely on an isolated bush, which occasionally also contained several Lesser Redpolls. It was very difficult to work out the numbers of birds in this area, and I would regard the estimates as minimum figures.