Thursday, 18 January 2018

Stonechat close ups

Date: 18/01/2018
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Blue skies but cold
Species Highlights: 
Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Hawfinch, Linnet, Stonechat.
Full sightings
Blue skies today and a wander around patch was required, i was meeting Robert Hargreaves at Severn Acre. Across top fields a large group of Linnets still around and even perched up for some pictures.

Skylark only about 4 birds but the main highlight was Yellowhammer numbers 40+ birds constantly flying overhead in small groups. Down on the Globe fields 50 + Black Headed & Lesser Black Backed Gulls were feeding and usually for here 10 Rook flew over with the Yellowhammers seem to be defending their territory. A few Redwing taking Ivy Berries from Severn Acre.

On along Byway dropping some seed by Trigpoint then on in to the Village with Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail on Thatched cottage by the shop. Coal Tit but little else down through Send a Cow woodland. Across the drive and the 2 female Bullfinch almost in same place as previous walk feeding in butterfly alley.

4 Grey Heron on brook and a fly over, this one was apart from Billy the Mute and a couple of Mallard was the only bird on lower lake.

Nothing new on upper lake teal, Mallard and Mute numbers same as normal but Robert spotted this Hawfinch along with 2 others in Yew trees across by Keep.
(This taken from Pagoda)
While waiting for the Hawfinches to return 10+ Greenfinch, Chaffinch and a party of Long Tailed tits kept us company but the Hawfinches didn't return. 12 Meadow Pipits unusual for here, never seen then before in College grounds.

Out along drive and Rook and Crow feeding as normal in fields.

Just before end of drive, West of England Falconry were flying one of there Harris Hawks always great to watch.

Perched on the Falconers head!

Such impressive birds, why can't Buzzards fly past like this!!

After leaving Robert, he was gonna drive home and leave me to walk the mile or so home! LOL. 
I spotted a flypast Kestrel and these Snowdrops, its seems January the month for these to appear.

Redwing in horsefields a group of around 25+ with 2/3 Fieldfare feeding, you can really see the Orange underwing which probably would be a better name for them. While watching and wondering why i hadn't seen the Pair of Stonechats recently amazingly the female landed not 5 foot from me!

After stepping back a few feet managed a few nice shots of her.

Real little posers

Even the male showed up but a little more cautious, keeping his eyes on me checking out his missus!
That was it and a very enjoyable walk was had 45 species missing a few birds i always see but can't have 50+ every time.

Went to Blagdon Lake Wednesday met with Nige Millbourne to see Black-Necked Grebes did see them distantly, here's a picture. Also in pic the Pochard x Ferruginous Duck bonus!

Off to USA for 8 days so check blog as i'll do a USA special, hoping for a few snow covered birds!

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Sunday, 14 January 2018

Long Tailed Duck + Newton St Loe

Date: 14/01/2018
Location: Barrow Tanks-Chew Valley-Newton st Loe
Weather: Grey skies all day
Species Highlights: 
Long Tailed Duck, Cattle Egret, Goldeneye, Goosander, Greenfinch
The Long Tailed duck had been showing from Barrow Tanks nr Bristol airport so me & Lauren headed off with high hopes, on arriving the skies were grey and overcast but found the bird within a few minutes of looking on number 1 reservoir.

The reason it called a Long tailed duck......can you guess?
This is the male and looks particularly stunning although a bit distant, pictures taken with 560mm
Not much else of note but a few Tufted duck, Great Crested Grebe, Black Headed gull and Common gull.

We left after realising it was never gonna come any closer and headed for Chew Valley Lake. A Cattle Egret had been around so after searching its usual haunts found it on Herons Green Bay with two Little Egrets, we decided that as it was a small dot not to take any pictures but another year tick all the same. A quick search from Woodford lodge found a super Goldeneye duck, but again too distant for pics. 

We headed towards Newton St Loe and parked at Church for the short walk to lakes to look for Hawfinch and whatever else was about. It all seemed very quiet on the walk, we saw Billy the Mute and a Kingfisher on fishing lake. Top lake a single male Goosander plus all the regulars i'd say around 30 Teal also.

Scanning trees up towards the Keep Goldcrest, Long Tailed tits and plenty of Great and Blue tits plus this lovely Treecreeper.

We wandered around looking for Hawfinch but none were seen on our visit, a report was emailed to us from Simon Stuart who at 12pm saw 10 plus maybe up 20 in flight!!
I'll try again in week.
We did see a rather large group of Greenfinch, no really they are Greenfinch although looking at pictures you couldn't tell! i'd estimate around 15-20 birds.

Greenfinch in the Plane trees with the seed balls, I had to look it up, but now you know what they are. :)

I mentioned ticks, we generally keep a list of what we've seen in the year just to make it easier as what we've seen and not, so far i'm on 

103 year ticks the last 5 are:
 Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Long Tailed duck, Cattle Egret, and Goldeneye

Lauren's just behind  with 
98 species.
All to play for!

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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Hawfinch at Bath Spa University

Species Highlights: 
Yellowhammer, Linnet, Bullfinch, Teal, Hawfinch

All Sightings

Beautiful blue skies greeted me today and a patch walk was a must, out through Bath Mill with first sighting 2m 2f Bullfinch great to watch, carrying on up on to fields and Skylark, Linnets and a greater number of Yellowhammer with at least 30+ birds seen around the Trigpoint, my seed seems to be drawing them in, i've just put in another order of seed so i'll try to put a bit more down to see what happens, birds still very flighty but i'm sure i'll eventually get some great pictures of them.
On out in to Village 2 Fieldfare around still in the Church orchard.

Managed a few shots, not many apples left.

Fewer Redwing also about, total walk 7 birds only. 

But on towards lakes saw 4 Grey Heron on brook, Billy still bottom lake with a fleeting fly past from the Kingfisher. Top lake all the regulars happy to receive my seed. Water levels dropping nicely, hope they forget to shut sluice gate, might even get some waders !!
Teal numbers have hit a record 48 birds counted twice and verified by Robert who also counted 48 !!

Onward to the Keep and hopefully Hawfinches, its was really nice to see so many birders around patch, since i reported the Hawfinch i've seen more people on patch than the previous 10 years combined. 
It didn't take too long to get a glimpse of 5 Hawfinch but they didn't land and disappeared, it seems 20-25 mins and they come back to feed so i waited patiently. Then the same group came in to feed.

In the Blue skies amazing to watch them, and to help others also see them was even better. 

10 Greenfinch also in trees by Keep. While waiting for Hawfinch a massive group of mainly Black Headed Gull but a few Common gulls flew towards Lake and eventually landed on lake, never seen so many on lake. 
Picture doesn't do it justice but trust me lots of gulls!

I tried to locate where the Hawfinch were going but only saw them around keep.

Met Robert who within minutes spotted 2 birds in yews, nice spotting skills! 

A few shots and  i had to depart,  i'd been stood there for nearly 2 hours! 

Headed on home not seeing much else but ended the 7 mile walk on a respectable 46 species.
Nice to meet all the nice people today.

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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Freezing cold Sunshine

Species Highlights: 
Hawfinch, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Greenfinch
All Sightings


A bright sunny day but freezing cold wind today.I had to go out to check on those Hawfinch, so started off through Bath Mill with m/f Bullfinch on my feeders and a Grey Wagtail bobbing around the car park off to a good start. But very little through and up on to fields apart from Linnet c35 birds 2 small flocks. Yellowhammer also fewer than normal, the wind was blowing hard and cold so i guess all the little ones hiding keeping warm.

On into village and the normal House Sparrow, Goldfinches on feeders at shop, 3 Fieldfare with 5 or so Redwings in Church orchard. Crossing college drive this little Wren posed briefly my hands not yet numb.

While checking out the Waterfalls 2 female Bullfinch appeared alongside me feeding taking the Bullfinch count today to 4 birds.

Apart from Billy who rushed over to me for some food nothing else on bottom lake. Top lake a Cormorant looking splendid in the normal tree along with 41 Teal, 40 + Mallard and The Mute Swan Family. I spoke to around 8 people today on patch most looking for those Hawfinch which seemed very elusive. 

I patrolled the Keep area walking from main house then back down to top end of lake at first all i could find was a few Greenfinch (into the sun!) Goldfinch, Treecreeper and a single Nuthatch, but i kept hearing the sound of a Hawfinch. I spent around 2 hours searching, everytime about to leave i caught a glimpse of a fly past Hawfinch or someone chatting, also searching.

Almost about to leave and i Met Robert Kelsh another birder, i was just telling him i thought i'd saw 3 Hawfinch and then the unmistakable flight of 3 Hawfinches they flew from Yew trees across towards lake, and disappeared.
I really wanted a Picture but none, so here's one i didn't post from the 3rd Jan 2018.

At least the Hawfinch are still about, i wonder for how much longer?

My hands were now freezing so headed off, not much of note until the Horse fields, the Female kestrel trying hard to catch something.

She came up from ground empty clawed and i departed for home. 
Ended walk on 44 species 7 miles and 5 hours.

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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

17 Hawfinch!

Date: 2nd January 2018
Location: Newton Park Lakes
Weather: Cloudy, Light Rain and Windy
Species Highlights: 4 Coal Tit, 2 Bullfinch, 15+ Greenfinch, 2 Stock Dove, 1 Raven, 1 Kestrel, 21 Yellowhammer, 1 Buzzard, 26 Meadow Pipit, 15 Starling, 31 Common Gull, 2 Herring Gull, 1 Green Woodpecker, 24 Teal, 1 Goosander, 1 Treecreeper, 24 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 17 Hawfinch

Observation: First patch walk of the year planned after the rain had stopped, we received a tweet from Glen and a text from Robert, letting us know the Hawfinch were present and in large numbers.

We grabbed our stuff and left rushing all the way out the Lakes, it was raining so not alot about until the Globe Fields, still large numbers present mostly Black-Headed Gulls and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls today. We spotted 1 Yellowhammer in the normal bush, then they kept arriving with a final count of 21 in the hedgerows sheltering from the wind/rain.

On arrival to the Lakes, we spotted Robert/Anne and the rest of the BOC.

As the rain was stopping we slowed down after a chat with the BOC. Bottom Lake had 2 Mallard, 2 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron and Billy (the Mute Swan).

Top Lake, had 3 Mute Swan, 34 Mallard, 3 Moorhen, 24 Teal, 2 Grey Heron and a single Goosander (Male), there was a earlier Female Goosander, but not present once we arrived.

Walking around to the top of Top Lake, we heard some Hawfinch and seen a large flock fly into the top of some distant tree's. Most of them were Greenfinch with only 2 Hawfinch amongst them, after some pictures we headed to the Keep, to find the remaining numbers.

There were a few different flocks which would keep flying to nearby tree's, the first flock settled in the tree next to the Keep, but they were another flock of Greenfinch with a single Hawfinch.

After about 20 minutes of walking back and forth searching the flocks, we finally tracked down the Hawfinch flock!

Although not the full count in pictures, we got a confirmed count of SEVENTEEN Hawfinch! 

They landed a few times mixed with Greenfinch, but a count of 17 Hawfinch, was amazing and has more than tripled since the 26th December. A total of 15 Greenfinch counted also.

As we were leaving a few Hawfinch popped up in the tree's behind the Keep and were feeding on the tops.

We are both VERY happy and will keep checking back with them to see if numbers grow further or even stick around.

We walked back along the College Drive (both smiling away), a small flock of Starling were feeding in the fields, with Rooks, Jackdaw and Gulls (mostly Common Gulls)

Back into the Village, with the light fading, there wasn't alot spotted apart from the resident Kestrel and some Redwing.

A small flock of Meadow Pipit ended the walk on a steady 49 species. A superb walk and a great start to the year!

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