Friday, 12 January 2018

Patch Update

The first patch bird of the year - a Magpie, heard from the comfort of my bed!

I started off with a couple of walks around the patch on New Years Day (due to late nights, getting up early and getting out for a day of birding is not something that's going to happen in my house anytime soon!). Still I was up and out before anyone in the house stirred and it was a quiet but damp walk around town.

I managed to disturb a Pied Wagtail, which flew off chirping crossly! Overhead I had a flock of 7 Pink-footed Geese, a Sparrowhawk chasing flocks of Feral Pigeons and Starlings, Black-Headed Gulls and Crows. Lots of other birds around too, it was such a dull day though every bird almost looks black and white!

In the park the trees were full of Blackbirds, there was a large flock of Redwings too, but they scattered pretty quickly. Lots of Goldfinch in the treetops, their song accompanied me around the park. 

I saw that the Kingfisher had been spotted again down by the dipping pond in Churwell Woods so in the afternoon I went to have a look. Of course no luck, really there was too many people out for a walk at that time of day. Walking the length of the woods brought plenty of other birds including Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tits and my first Greenfinch in months. 

Then a bird appeared on a tree that i've not seen on the patch before - a Treecreeper! It was running around the trunk and posed beautifully. That made up for the lack of Kingfisher, such a cracking little bird.

Since then i've picked up a few new birds over the past week or so on my walks to work and a couple of short visits to the Woods. The Kingfisher has eluded me and i'm not sure it's been seen again.

It's been a dreary foggy dull wet week this week but every morning about 6.30 i've heard a Robin singing and today despite all the damp fog for the first time in a while I walked to work surrounded by birdsong, the dawn chorus is on it's way!

So far my total is 31 birds, which is a big chunk of my overall total from last year so a good start? We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Snowy Catch Up

These are a few photos from the last Friday in December when we finally had a decent amount of snow, even though it had all been rained off by the evening.

It started off beautifully when I spent a good half hour or so watching one of the Foxes in the garden as it got daylight, it's rare they come in during the day so this was a real treat.

This Blackbird flew in several times and each time the Fox chased it out of the garden!

We saw a few birds in the garden through the day

Snow is not something that happens too often in winter anymore (don't anybody try telling me global warming isn't happening!) so I went out and made the most of it, I had a walk around town and Dartmouth Park.

The park had plenty of birds around, Blackbirds, Robins, Sparrows, Magpies, Woodpigeons...

I wonder if this Rose survived the snow?

Maybe we'll get a little more snow before winter is out but half a day is better than none at all I think!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Old Moor

This is from a visit last Thursday, which I didn't get chance to post till now. It was a gorgeous sunny day despite the icy nip in the air and it made for some lovely views around the reserve.

The garden and Tree Sparrow Farm were both busy with the usual small birds, a couple of Moorhens and a few Squirrels.

We took a walk around the Reedbeds and Bittern hide seeing a GS Woodpecker in a distant tree, from the hides we saw Gadwall, Shoveler, Coots, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Teal and Snipe.

If you look closely you can just see 4 Snipe under the reeds between the Shovelers

Robins followed us around all over the reserve

Walking up towards Wath Ings we stopped in the hides along the way spotting, Teal, Cormorant, Swans, Heron, Shovelers, Wigeon, Goosander, Black-headed and Common Gulls and at one point a Peregrine flew over the mere to the left of the family hide spooking some of the birds up off the water. 

It was good to get out and walk off some of the Christmas excess!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Patchwork Challenge

It's the end of 2017 and the end of my first Patchwork Challenge. I'll be ending my count with 51 species and 54 points overall, which at the moment has me 53rd out of 60 on the Inland North league and 471 in the national league out of 540, this may change as people finish updating their lists though I don't think by much.

Now compared to most this means my little patch was not the most outstanding (to say the least).........but I knew this when I started (and I love it regardless), it doesn't have a huge variety of habitats and is based around a town. It's lacking in water apart from a tiny stream through Churwell Woods with a dipping pond and so any water based birds I see are usually flyovers with the occasional Heron perching in the neighbours garden (by their pond).

I know i've missed identifying some of the flyovers especially on the walk to work when I'm not carrying binoculars and the birds are just too far off for the naked eye. Plus i've also missed Gulls, there are a lot that fly over the house and I struggle with them stood in front of me at times, never mind in the air! Something to work on there!

On the other hand some of the flyovers I have ID'd brought new birds to the patch - including Cormorant, Pink-footed Geese and an amazing sighting of a Peregrine over the house carrying it's prey!

I've also been able to add other new birds to the patch including Mallard, Nuthatch, Buzzard, and Whitethroat.

One of my highlights though was the Waxwings, only the 2nd time i've seen them on the patch in the 14 years i've been here and this time they stayed around for about 6 weeks, I ended up seeing them nearly every day after panicking I wouldn't see any at all.

Doing the challenge has got me out more, walking the local parks, visiting the woods once or twice a week if I can and I walk to work nearly every day now, which takes me almost from one side of the patch to the other. That in itself is a joy and i've pretty much got the local birds and their movements down now. I've noticed more about the migrant birds, their coming and goings over the year and i'm looking forward to seeing how that differs (if it does) next year.

I've also been submitting lists to Birdtrack, though I joined Birdtrack a while back it's only this year i've started to contribute more regularly, especially with the patch lists thanks to the challenge. I joined the BTO Gardenwatch too, which has me sitting most mornings after I get up with a cuppa and the birds for company.

So despite the low number of species i've thoroughly enjoyed adding to my patch list and getting out and exploring the area more than I have in all the time i've lived here. There have been sightings of Tawney Owl and Woodcock in the woods and just today a Kingfisher by the dipping pond, wouldn't it be good if I could add those next year, bring on 2018!

Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Fairburn Ings

I didn't have time to post this before Christmas (I hope everyone has had a good one!) but we called into Fairburn on Saturday morning for a quick walk around.

This Robin was by the path from the car park, working as a greeter for the RSPB perhaps!

The feeders were all busy, we saw Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Great, Blue, Coal, LT and Willow Tits, Tree Sparrows, Dunnock, Blackbirds, Reed Bunting, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, Pheasants and Moorhens! We even saw a Nuthatch in the garden by the visitor centre, possibly, from what I can remember the first time i've seen a Nuthatch there.

Up on the coal tips trail we saw Coots, Swans, Shoveler, Tufted Ducks, Meadow Pipit and looking down into the moat Little Egret, Cormorants, Canada and Greylag Geese. In the big hole mostly Black-Headed Gulls and a couple of Common.

We ended with a walk to the lake to feed the birds there - Mallards, Moorhen, BH Gulls, Shelduck and Teal.