30 April 2011

Thursday 28th - Saturday 30th April

I have been covering the area over various times in the last few days and to be honest its been hard work especially in these horrid north/easterly winds. Covering the bushes has pretty much been impossible producing just the normal singing migrants including Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps with the main highlight being 2 Lesser Whitethroats which were the first this year on the 30th.

Wednesday 27th April

I couldn't be present for the buzzard rush today!! as I had to leave by 11:30am, but it didn't detract from what turned out to be a good few hours. I certainly wasn't expecting to much in a brisk northerly wind but it was definitely the opposite when the gulls got upset at 9:35am, and when looking up I was more than surprised to find 4 Ravens heading east over the cemetery being pursued by 10 Herring Gulls, this is certainly the best ever total recorded here in which has so far turned out a good year for this species. There was a few other arrivals including my first Hobby of the year, followed by 3 Sand Martins, 30 House Martins and 30 Swallows feeding over the paddocks. Other bits noted were 1 White Wagtail, 6 Whitethroats, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 30 Linnets, 2 Jackdaws and 7 Skylarks.

Tuesday 26th April

Just a quick watch today between 11:55am - 1:30pm, to which I spent most of the time raptor watching, even with the conditions not being at their best it still produced a total of 6 Common Buzzards,1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Kestrel. Other bits noted included 1 Yellowhammer, 4 Whitethroats (with more calling in the allotments alongside Blackcaps), 1 House Martin, 25 Swallows, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Pheasant, 2 Grey Partridges, 15 Linnets, 1 Rook and a Great Black-backed Gull which was worthy of note.

Monday 25th April

I watched the area along with Dave Gilbert which produced a few bits but we certainly do need a good spell of overnight rain to ground some more migrants. The main highlight once again belonged to a total of 15 Common Buzzards with 11 heading west at 12:10pm, followed by another 4 also west at 12:50pm, strangely around this time there was also a few other raptors appearing including a male Marsh Harrier which was briefly hunting near the paddocks before heading off north, followed by 2 Sparrowhawks, 5 Kestrels and a possible Hobby which was to distant to properly identify. Grounded birds noted were 11 Whitethroats, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears, 3 Yellow Wagtails and 15 Swallows most of which headed south.

Saturday 23rd April
Just a very quick watch this morning between 6:05 - 9:05am, which produced 17 Whitethroats, 10 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Swallows, 1 Sparrowhawk, 7 Corn Buntings, 1 Pheasant, 2 Grey Partridges, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 1 Green Woodpecker.

Friday 22nd April

I was busy working today so I could only watched the patch between 8:45 - 10:45am, in that time I recorded a nice adult Mediterranean Gull heading east at 9:40am, also 5 Wheatears in the paddocks, 1 White Wagtail west, 7 Blackcaps, 7 Whitethroats, 4 Swallows, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Grey Partridges, 1 male Pheasant (the long staying rarity for the patch!!), 2 Kestrels, 7 Skylarks, 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Green Woodpecker and 10 Linnets.

Thursday 21st April

Ring Ouzels (3 of 10 this morning)
They never let me down it's one bird I have always done well with (especially in the spring) ever since I watched this place, and they always seem to turn up in exactly their favoured area, today I was delighted to find 10 Ring Ouzels 9 of which were in the garden of rest with a further bird in the paddocks, the only down side was that on this occasion they only stayed around for 10 minutes from 6:45 - 6:55am, when all the birds headed of north. Once again Dave and I covered the area for most of the day with another (NYT) being 2 Tree Pipits which headed off north from the allotments at 6am, there was also 2 Blue-headed Wagtails by the paddocks and 11 Common Buzzards heading west between 11:20 - 11:40am, (to which Dave and I have potentially recorded over 200 birds this spring). Other bits recorded were 2 Wheatears, 8 Blackcaps, 10 Whitethroats, 6 Yellow Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 9 Swallows, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Fieldfares, 3 Sparrowhawks, 1 Pheasant, 1 Grey Partridge, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker, 20 Linnets, 15 Ring-necked Parakeets 8 Skylarks, 1 Corn Bunting and 1 Jackdaw.

Wednesday 20th April
NEW BIRD FOR THE PATCH (Ringed Plovers 3 of 4)
I started off at 5:45am, and straight away it was pretty much buzzing with activity, Dave came over just after 9am, and between us we covered the area for most of the day. The best bird and new for the patch was 4 Ringed Plovers which were seen late on at 5:45pm, in fields by the paddocks, the birds stayed around for 10 minutes but flighty I managed a distant couple of record shots before they headed off north over the cemetery. Also today a Short-eared Owl headed west being mobbed by several angry gulls, and 3 Common Buzzards also followed suit early morning. Other bits included 11 Whitethroats and 13 Blackcaps which were pretty much all over the place, and 5 Wheatears including a 1st summer male which was so tame I could of picked up the bird of the horse paddock fence post. Also noted was 5 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Brambling, 1 White Wagtail, 2 Chaffinches, 13 Swallows, 3 Sparrowhawks, 1 Pheasant, 1 Grey Partridge, 3 Meadow Pipits, 10 Linnets, 6 Jackdaws, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets and 2 Long-tailed Tits.

Monday 18th April

It was hard work on a very hot and humid day, Dave and I covered the area for several hours with the best bird being a ring-tail Hen Harrier which was hunting by the paddocks and in nearby fields for a good hour before heading west. Other bits included 1 Grey Wagtail west, 2 Wheatears, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 2 House Martins, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Blackcaps, 4 Swallows, 4 Sparrowhawks, 3 Grey Partridges, 9 Meadow Pipits and 2 Kestrels.

Sunday 17th April

This day last year was certainly a lucky one not only was it glorious weather but I managed to find a Stone Curlew in fields behind my house, and also recorded 60 Common Buzzards which was not surprisingly the most ever recorded in one day over the cemetery along with a Red Kite. Today was a little different it was a lot more quiet but Dave and I still managed 21 Common Buzzards which all headed east at 11:15am, also noted was 1 Wheatear, 6 Blackcaps, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Swallows, 1 Peregrine east, 4 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels, 7 Meadow Pipits and 3 Grey Partridges.

Saturday 16th April

I couldn't arrive on the patch until 11:00am, which was just a little late for an early migrants, I had a good look round for 3 hours which produced 1 Common Buzzard west, 1 Peregrine east, 3 Wheatears, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 7 Yellow Wagtails, 8 Swallows and 1 Cormorant east.

Friday 15th April

Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Today yet again was dominated by a nice buzzard feast, so far on the patch its been an incredible year for this species and once again there was a few more birds to enjoy. Today went very quickly firstly I was out at the crack of dawn for 2 hours, then out doing some private survey work, and then back onto the patch for a 2 hour raptor watch from 11:00am - 1:00pm alongside the company of Dave Gilbert, the raptor watch produced no fewer than 24 Common Buzzards, all the birds came through from 11:50am, in groups of 7, 9 and 8 with all of the birds eventually heading high north/west. Once again these groups were tail gating each other and at 12:25pm were all present together for about 5 minutes. The daily total produced an excellent 49 species including a rather smart Raven which headed north at 6:05am, and the Sedge Warbler which was still present by the horse paddocks. Other bits noted were 2 Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatears, 10 Blackcaps, 9 Swallows, 1 House Martin, 4 Chiffchaffs, 5 Fieldfares, 1 Reed Bunting, 8 Yellow Wagtails, 8 Redwings, 4 Sparrowhawks, 7 Grey Partridges, 4 Meadow Pipits, 2 Corn Buntings, 7 Skylarks, 20 Linnets, 2 Kestrels, 2 Goldfinches, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 20 Ring-necked Parakeets, 6 Jackdaws, 1 Lapwing, 1 Pheasant, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 20 Magpies.

Thursday 14th April

The main point of interest today was my earliest ever record of Sedge Warbler which was singing by the horse paddocks, apart from that it was pretty quiet with others of note being 1 Merlin south, 5 Yellow Wagtails, 2 House Martins, 3 Swallows, 1 Wheatear, 3 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels and 60 Linnets.

Wednesday 13th April

Between us Dave Gilbert and I covered the patch for a good 4 hours, in general it felt pretty quiet but we did manage to record another 10 Common Buzzards which looked like pin dots as they headed very high south/west over the cemetery at 1pm, also noted was 4 House Martins, 3 Wheatears, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 11 Swallows, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 23 Meadow Pipits, 1 Kestrel, 1 Chaffinch, 15 Linnets, 2 Grey Herons east, 20 Rooks and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Tuesday 12th April

I had a very busy working day so could only watch the patch for a poor 45 minutes, in that time I recorded a Raven heading south at 2:20pm, also 3 Wheatears and 13 Swallows.

Monday 11th April

Very High Common Buzzards part of the group of 36 birds heading east over the cemetery.

Well what can I say it was once again another enjoyable day wandering around the patch in such glorious conditions, I started off at 6am, and straight away the feeling was good as it seemed quite busy pretty much everywhere and certainly was the case with the arrival of 13 Blackcaps, but probably the star of the day was a Serin which was heard calling and then seen heading north over the cemo at 8:15am, with the other new arrival being a House Martin which headed west, the allotments produced a single Whitethroat and there was also 2 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Wheatear, 1 Yellow Wagtail, and 5 Swallows. But yet once again the later part of the day stole the show when to start with a group of 13 Common Buzzards headed slowly east at 12:25pm, followed by a Red Kite south at 12:40pm, and then a further 23 Common Buzzards were noted also heading slowly east at 12:50pm, at the time I was sure that these birds were part of the 13 I just had but when looking up there was actually 36 birds in the air together so to my delight I was proved wrong, I managed a record shot of some of the group as I couldn't get them all in the camera, the only unfortunate thing was that all of the birds were very high up so it was a little difficult but who cares I just enjoyed the spectacle of seeing such fantastic raptors in superb numbers, and there was also 4 Sparrowhawks in with them enjoying the ride. Dave Gilbert had 2 more CB north at 10:25am, bring the overall total to 38 Common Buzzards, we couldn't quite beat the total of a few days ago but there are plenty left. Also noted was 30 Linnets, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Goldfinch, 5 Meadow Pipits, 2 Corn Buntings, 1 Chaffinch, 2 House Sparrows, 9 Rooks, and 9 Jackdaws. I also had a probable distant Hooded Crow west at 8:05am. I'm off down the pub tonight to watch Liverpool v Man City so lets hope the day finishes even better with a Liverpool win.

Sunday 10th April

I met up with Dave Gilbert and between us we watched the area for about 5 hours, there was a few bits around including 3 Wheatears, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 15 Swallows, 1 Merlin, 1 Yellowhammer, 11 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels, 4 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff, 30 Linnets, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Cormorant east, 1 Grey Heron west and 1 Corn Bunting.

Saturday 9th April

Just a very quick wander round today between 6 - 7am, the best highlights included 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Brambling, 3 Blackcaps and 2 Chiffchaffs.

Friday 8th April

Distant Common Buzzard (1 of 55 today) (8th April 2011)

Wow what another fantastic April day with glorious weather and good birds what else could you ask for, well that was to come. I done another early spell this morning and then met up with Dave Gilbert just after 9:00am who had just found the earliest ever record of Garden Warbler which was present by the allotments, and with my Hooded Crow seen heading south over the cemo at 9:10am this was a sign of a good day. we both ventured on covering the whole site in detail and then decided to do a raptor watch, little could we believe that between 11:55am - 2:15pm, we were to record an excellent 55 Common Buzzards the best count was between 12:05 - 12:40pm where a total of 33 birds were present at once, they were all seen coming in from Westwood Cross at some height originally in 3 groups of 3, 21 and 9 and then eventually met up and all drifted off west together, they were then soon followed by a further group of 12 birds which were basically tail gating as the other large group were still together heading towards the direction of Quex Park, after they disappeared north/west there was another 10 birds seen very high up also heading in the same direction. Eventually it stopped around 2:25pm, but what a spectacle I must admit Dave and I were lapping it up and its always nice when someone else like Dave also witnesses and enjoys this special occasion and between us we have now recorded over 100 birds so far this year. This is also the 2nd highest Common Buzzard count for the area with the record being 60 birds that I recorded on the 17th April 2010. A total of 48 Species were recorded today with others being a Blue-headed Wagtail by the paddocks, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 4 White Wagtails, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Wheatears, a different and 2nd Hooded Crow west at 1:20pm, 4 Swallows, 1 Pheasant, 1 Peregrine, 4 Sparrowhawks, 1 Siskin north, 3 Kestrels, 3 Corn Buntings, 10 Skylarks, 1 Pied Wagtail, 10 Jackdaws, 3 Meadow Pipits, 3 Goldfinches, 3 Chaffinches, 40 Linnets, 2 Grey Partridges, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 4 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Rooks, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 20 Magpies, 1 Ring-necked Parakeet and 25 Black-headed Gulls, and after all this we both went home very very happy.

Thursday 7th April

It was another glorious day to be out and about, and even better when a local patch rarity was discovered singing on wires by the horse paddocks, in fact on a further investigation there was actually 2 Yellowhammers which showed on and off for most of the morning, its a shame these birds are becoming so scarce. Dave and I then proceeded on to find the first Willow Warbler of the spring in the cemo with other bits including 6 Wheatears, 7 Swallows, 1 Sand Martin west, 3 White Wagtails, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Peregrine west, 1 Pheasant, 10 Jackdaws, 1 Kestrel, 7 Linnets, 5 Goldfinches, 2 Grey Partridges, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Corn Buntings, 10 Skylarks, 7 Meadow Pipits, 1 Common Gull, 50 Black-headed Gulls, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 18 Magpies.

Wednesday 6th April

Signs of times gone by
Wandering around the cemo of late has in a way felt a little on the eerie side purely on the basis of one particular species the House Sparrow, which like many places across the UK has seriously declined/and/or disappeared from some areas and this place is no exception. In years gone by they were so common here with breeding numbers in double figures that House Sparrow surveys were organised, as competition for nest boxes between them was pretty fierce, even along with their natural sites but now that seems a distant memory as they seem to have gone as a breeding bird with no activity so far this year, in fact I am pretty lucky to record even a couple of birds, yesterday was my first 2 birds in 2 weeks. Even during the autumn numbers could reach up to 500+ mainly around the allotments but last year as an example they were barely recorded. It is very very sad and looking at this old used House Sparrow nest box from the 1990's it certainly does feel like a ghost town. Anyway now for today's news, I watched the area from 6:05am - 11:15am, which produced 1 Whitethroat in the allotments and a little fall of 8 Wheatears by the paddocks, I had an early Common Buzzard heading west at 9:10am, and thought it may be the start of a good day but although I had to leave probably around the best time for raptors this was the best of the day. Other bits noted were 1 Blackcap, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 4 Swallows, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrels, 16 Jackdaws, 35 Meadow Pipits north/west, 1 Pheasant, 21 Ring-necked Parakeets, 35 Linnets, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 25 Magpies, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Green Woodpecker, 2 Corn Buntings, 10 Skylarks and 2 Grey Partridges.

Monday 4th April

I started off today at 6:00am, and went straight into the allotments where to my surprise the first decent bird I saw was a Common Whitethroat which was also in full song, for the stats this is my earliest ever record for this species with the previous being on the 8th April. I needed to be home by 11:30am, so Dave and I had a good wander around the recording area followed by a short raptor watch which produced 8 Sparrowhaws and 3 Kestrels, but at 10:30am, a/or another Raven was seen heading west could this be another bird. There was a few other bits today including 1 Yellowhammer east, 1 Blackcap, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 2 Wheatears, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Bramblings west, 1 Siskin, 55 Ring-necked Parakeets, 10 Jackdaws, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Corn Buntings, 3 Grey Partridges, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 10 Chaffinches, 10 Meadow Pipits, 10 Skylarks, 23 Linnets, 3 Goldfinches and 20 Magpies.

Sunday 3rd April

Corn Bunting
On an important day it wasn't a surprise to find the cemo extremely busy, so Dave and I decided to spend most of the time on the outside, between us from 11:00am - 1:00pm, we noted 1 Yellow Wagtail north, 3 White Wagtails, 2 Swallows, 1 Chiffchaff, 7 Sparrowhawks, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Linnets, 2 Kestrels, 1 Corn Bunting, 12 Jackdaws, 1 Rook, 8 Meadow Pipits, 18 Magpies and 10 Skylarks. There was also another 2 Swallows sitting on wires by my house this evening.

Saturday 2nd April

just a very quick 20 minute watch before football which produced 3 Wheatears in the Paddocks.

Friday 1st April

The start of the new month was certainly a strange one, I watched the area for 4 hours from 9:00am - 1:00pm, and to be honest the first 2 hours were complete rubbish with just 2 Chiffchaffs noted and literally nothing moving overhead, yes the weather was a bit on the blustery side but it was still disappointing with the only highlight being a nice flask of coffee and sandwiches whilst I was waiting for something to happen. Strangely enough it seemed to do the trick as all the goodies arrived between 11:10am - 12:25pm, first of all was a Swallow which was feeding alongside the paddocks, followed with a Raven which headed east at 11:25am, and then the first Yellow Wagtail a nice male which was also seen in the paddocks. After that I recorded 2 White Wagtails, 1 Brambling, 6 Siskins and then the 2nd Raven of the morning which had a rather weird looking tail, I presume this may be the bird Phil Milton had at Pegwell a couple of days ago, this bird also headed off east at 12:20pm, getting pursued by 2 Jackdaws. Also noted was 2 Peregrines east, 1 Reed Bunting, 4 Sparrowhawks, 2 Redwings, 1 Cormorant south, 9 Chaffinches, 10 Meadow Pipits, 20 Linnets, 3 Kestrels, 26 Magpies, 4 Jackdaws, 2 Corn Buntings, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Alba Wagtails, 1 Pheasant, 4 Jays, 20 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 10 Stock Doves and 7 Skylarks.