Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Thursday, 6 October 2011


September 1st:

September 8th:

September 11th:

October 6th:

September 26th 2012:

October 5th 2012:

Monday, 25 April 2011

Lightning strikes twice!

On April 9th, 3 days after finding a dead female Blackcap, I witnessed a male fly from the silver birch straight into an upstairs window with a thud.  This too never recovered.  We have had Pigeons and Pheasants do this in the past, but never small passerines, so to have two Blackcaps do this in 3 days is very surprising.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ups and Downs

Today was the hottest day of the year so far with the temperature reaching 22 degrees C in the afternoon.  Not surprising then that the garden was positively awash with butterflies - 7 species were seen, including 4 that were new for the year: Large White, Small White, Holly Blue and Orange Tip.  Brimstone, Comma and Peacock made up the numbers.

A Chiffchaff was seen in the morning and it or another could be heard singing from the adjacent wood.  A male Blackcap was also singing quite vociferously from next door's cherry tree - when I saw a female moving through the same tree, I could see why.

With the warm air and blue skies, raptors were very much in evidence.  Red Kites were well into double figures and Common Buzzards were approaching them.  An example of a typical overhead view today:

A male Sparrowhawk was in full display, his white undertail coverts puffed out looking almost Goshawk-like.  He was obviously paired to a female, but a third bird also appeared in the air simultaneously, though did not cause any friction.  Unfortunately, no migrant raptor or Crane/Stork appeared in the mix!

Later in the afternoon, my daughter found a dead female Blackcap on the back patio that had presumably succumbed after flying into a window.  The yellow pollen stains on the feathers around the base of the bill probably came from cherry blossom.  I wondered whether it was the female I had seen earlier - such a shame.

Bramblings are still regular visitors to the feeders, with at least 2 males and 2 females seen today.  Numbers are obviously dropping away from their peak and I also suspect that many are transient passage birds rather than regular visitors.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Summer's Here!

The recent mild weather with southerly air flows has seen the arrival of summer migrants earlier than I normally expect.  There has been a very early passage of House Martins, with single birds seen on several days since the first on March 26th and 2 together on March 31st.  I suspect that these are passage birds rather than local breeders, but it's difficult to tell whether I am generally just seeing a lingering bird or different birds passing through.  Yesterday, April 3rd, saw my first Swallows moving through.  Firstly a single bird in the morning, then 3 together and a further single in the afternoon.  All 5 birds were travelling either west or north west.  The only other summer migrant seen to date was a single silent Chiffchaff on March 29th moving through the trees.

Ever hopeful of seeing further migrants, I am always scanning the skies just in case.  Just after 3pm yesterday, whilst playing frisbee with the kids in the back garden, I glanced upwards and saw a very high flying raptor going due north.  Raptors flying in this direct manner tend to be interesting migrants rather than the local Red Kites and Buzzards that circle, meander, display, tumble etc.. By the time I'd grabbed my bins and located the bird again, I only had a quick distant glimpse before the trees got in the way, but I noted a long winged raptor with pale undersides and a distinctly bowed wing profile.  All these features are good for Osprey, of which one passed over the garden last August, albeit at a slightly lower altitude, but unfortunately on such a brief view, I cannot clinch the identification, so another one that gets away!

Thursday, 31 March 2011


Looking out over the back garden at 11:30 this morning, I was surprised and delighted to see a Waxwing flycatching just a couple of gardens away.  In fact there were 2 birds.  They settled on top of the same tree that a single bird had alighted on back in December giving me my first Waxwing garden tick!  This time, they remained long enough for a quick record shot before being flushed towards the front side of the house.  From the front drive, I found them again sitting at the top of a large Ash tree about 80 yards away.  Now I could see that there were 4 birds.  They began flycatching again, always returning to this tree - their gentle trilling easily heard even at this distance.  After a further 10 minutes, the final tally was actually 5 birds.  I watched them until about midday, taking some more record shots, which was not easy, as the wind was getting up and making the Ash tree sway quite a bit - the best of a bad bunch is shown below.  I did not see them leave, but shortly after midday they had gone and had not returned by late afternoon.  At one point, my view through the scope held Waxwing, Brambling, Goldfinch and Greenfinch - an interesting mixed flock!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Early House Martin

A run of mild sunny days has seen many of the year's first Spring migrants appearing in the country.  I was very surprised to look up on the afternoon on March 26th and see a hirundine flying over the north end of the valley and also over the garden.  Anticipating a Sand Martin, as they are the most likely early hirundine, I was amazed to see the white rump of a House Martin.  This represents my earliest ever House Martin and follows my earliest ever Swallow on the 22nd and more usual Sand Martin on the 24th (although the latter two were not from the garden!).  The House Martin was present for about 30 minutes before it moved on.