Saturday, 30 December 2017

Ending On A High...

Date: 30th December - Last Blog of 2017!
Location: Newton Park Lakes
Weather: Cloudy, Windy, Light Rain Showers

Species Highlights: 3 Hawfinch, 1 Greenfinch, 3 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Goosander, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Raven, 100+ Linnet, 3 Yellowhammer, 1 Treecreeper

Full Species Count: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Long-Tailed Tit, Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Magpie, House Sparrow, Crow, Jackdaw, Pheasant,  Rook, Skylark,Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Black-Headed Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Teal, Grey Heron, Cormorant,  Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Meadow Pipit, Starling


Despite the weather, we headed out to do the last walk of 2017. First highlight of the walk wasn't until Seven Acre Woods where 2 Roe Deer were trying to shelter from the wind.

A smaller flock from previous counts but still 100+ Linnet counted and 7 Skylark.

At 'Globe Fields Lookout', there was plenty to watch as the lower fields were partly flooded, 
with counts of  15+ Lesser Black-Backed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 30+ Black-Headed Gull and 5 Herring Gull present along with 8 Grey Heron's on the banks along the River Avon.

A lower count of Yellowhammer today with only 3 seen, but still present in the same place.

The usual counts through the Village.
Onto the Lakes, Bottom Lake had no Mallard, 1 Moorhen and a single Grey Heron were present.

Billy (our Mute Swan) was also present and flew over to us for some seed, haven't seen him fly before, so glad to see he is okay.

Top Lake produced a good count of a few species including:

1 Goosander (Flew over the Lake twice, but didn't land)
60 Mallard (A record for the Lakes!)
3 Mute Swan (4 including Billy)
39 Teal
3 Black-Headed Gull
6 Moorhen
1 Kingfisher
2 Grey Heron
1 Coromorant
1 Little Grebe
1 Grey Wagtail

Walking up the hill towards The Keep (Old Castle), watching a Treecreeper and 2 Nuthatch feeding, we heard a Hawfinch call, so searched the nearby tree's and we both focused on a Female Hawfinch before it flew off with a further 2 Hawfinch, we walked back around the Lake to where we thought they landed, but couldn't re-locate, so happy to see they are still present after 4 days! No pictures today, but hope they stick around for 2018!

Around to the Yew Tree's, a single Greenfinch was the highlight with a further 10+Goldfinch.

Back along the Drive, some Rook and Crow's were present and didn't fly, so managed some pictures of them! Also 6 Starling perched in the tree.

Back into the Village, House Sparrow in the normal spots, also a female Kestrel took off by the Farm Shop and flew around into Horse Fields.

Approaching the Horse Fields, a large group of birds took off from the Fields we think a mixed group of Redwing, Fieldfare and Meadow Pipit, as seen small numbers land in the nearby tree's, managed a picture but it didn't help ID, due to a poor setting!

The Kestrel took off again and flew towards the large group and circled. A single Stock Dove also flew over.

As we arrived home, re-filling our feeders, a Male Sparrowhawk flew over the house and circled for a few minutes before chasing some Gulls off.

A belated mention, we also had a Female Sparrowhawk which landed in the feeder tree trying to catch some dinner!

Today's Sparrowhawk took the final count of 2017 to our record of 53!

We wish all our readers a Happy New Year, and a thank-you for the returning views, comments and favourites.

Fingers Crossed for another record year on the patch!

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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Mandarin made a visit

Date: 28/12/2017
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Blue Skies but cold
Species Highlights: 
Mandarin Duck, sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Linnet, Skylark.
Totally blue skies today and after the success of the 26th thought i'd head out to see if Hawfinches were still about. 
First highlight of the day didn't happen until the fields while looking across fields i saw around 20 Skylarks flying from left to right across field in front of me. As i followed on along towards Seven Acre again scanning across skyline a Sparrowhawk sped some 5ft from the ground giving me a great view of this brilliant bird, sorry no photo, it was closely following behind a large group of Linnets around 150 birds. Which has been here for a few weeks now. After seven Acre a Buzzard flew directly into the sun giving me a excellent view.  

At the Globe watch point the Yellowhammers were still present near the Trigpoint, a couple of Meadow Pipits overhead but nothing on lower fields.

Into village and busy with cars visiting the Farm shop only a few Redwing's and even fewer Fieldfare although this one stayed for a photo..

After a fly past in the church yard from a grey Heron, bit unusual there was little else until lake. Met a few other birders today always nice to meet fellow patch walkers.
Bottom lake Billy present but top lake a Mandarin duck!! Number 87 this year.
At first tucked away on far side.

But great to see, then a Little Grebe made a appearance too.

While eating my Apple the Mandarin seem to disappear, on scanning the lake noticed he was mixing with the Mallards so walked down towards him, giving me some excellent views.

Stunning in the sunshine.

Spent 30 mins checking out Yew tree's near the Keep but no sign of the Hawfinches, a birder earlier on walk said he spoke to someone else who saw 1 bird this morning , turned out Robert Kelsh on Twitter saw 4 birds in total, but i had no sign, did see a few Greenfinch.
Along College drive 2 Stock Dove in far trees.

The 3rd Buzzard of the day being hounded but the many Jackdaw.

We had some snow yesterday but little was left now, this is Kelston Knoll with a bit left, its 2 miles as the Jackdaw flies away.

Ended walk on 48 species, the blue skies continued and pleased that the last bird was to be the Kestrel who flew as soon as she saw me.
A great walk meeting some nice people hope to catch up again.

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Tuesday, 26 December 2017

A Knockout Boxing day Walk

Date: 26/12/2017
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Overcast grey
Species Highlights: 
Hawfinch, Linnet.
After eating excess foods yesterday I thought a early walk around patch was in order. It was clear skies and sunshine when I looked out the window it all looked good but on leaving the front door the skies changed to overcast and drizzle!
Out through Bath Mill not much going on, but the Fields around seven acre had 150+ Linnets darting from field to field with a couple of Meadow Pipits also. Looking down towards the Globe pub and 400+ Wood Pigeon feeding and hiding from the constant gun fire from Stanton Prior and off patch woodlands. A group of 15 Yellowhammer in normal spot and seed that i've been putting down was all gone. Across Pennyquick and Redwing in Sheep field and a couple of Fieldfare. This Mistle Thrush was one of many seen today along with 5 Song Thrush.

At lakes here's a picture of the new kissing gate (picture doesn't do the complicatedness)
Was very funny chatting to the welders as they were trying to explain how it was going to work, they were not sure either, still more welding to finish it too!

Bottom lake Grey Heron and Billy the Mute present.

As i walked along lakeside spotted this Kingfisher, water level had risen overnight and i think he had little hope of catching fish today. 
I was amazed at the colour difference a few meters make.

The brilliantly bright plumage of the kingfisher looks totally different from this angle.

Top lake and all the regulars present apart from Goosanders, Teal numbers at 25 birds Mute Swans doing well with the Cygnet still with mum and Dad despite the adults chasing off the other youngsters.
Now the main event!
Carried on walking up towards the Keep, on the College grounds and was checking out tree tops for Greenfinch which the other day had a few birds spotted 5 birds almost in same spot but a quick scan across tree tops revealed a Hawfinch! I nearly dropped the binoculars and quickly raised the camera up to take a record snap.

Saw 5 Hawfinch in total with them spending time flying between the Keep and Trees by Main house.

Birds were distant even though i had 560mm pointing at them, but a record shot i'm extremely happy with!

What with the amount of Hawfinch in UK at the moment i hoped it was only a matter of time before Newton St Loe had some.
The Hawfinch takes our Patch to 95 species and this year alone we've had 
Little Egret
Red Kite
Mediterranean gull
Sandwich Tern
Plus the return of Lapwing a amazing year for sure. Gonna have one more wander before the end of 2017 but surely nothing else can turn up ??
ended todays walk on 49 species another high scoring walk.

But the star if the Hawfinch.

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Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Eve & another 53 species walk.

Date: 24/12/2017
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Overcast, Grey.
Species Highlights: 

Yellowhammer, Treecreeper, Goosander, Tawny, Greenfinch.
Full list & spreadsheet here:

Lauren joined me today on the walk, still annoyed that she still hasn't got to the magical 50+ species on our patch after my 53 species record breaker. So today it was all to play for.

Headed out with the normal stuff but nice to see the Linnets and yellowhammers still on fields with a large group of  Fieldfare overhead 85+ plus a single Redwing, Yellowhammers number at 11 now.

Across Pennyquick and into village and a little quiet although the feeders by the village shop had Goldfinch, House Sparrow and Chaffinch on. Carried on through and On the Byway cottage more Fieldfare with a single Treecreeper.
Full moon in background (not)

Also here Goldcrest, Long Tailed Tits and Coal Tits.

Down through Send a Cow woodland and even more Long Tailed Tits plus a local resident who told us a Little Owl was heard last night (not included on the list today) but a Tawny Owl male was heard calling.
The Kissing gate still not finished at the lakes although it looks even more complicated!!
A Kingfisher seen perched up on lower brook, top Lake Goosander male just the one sadly, Moorhen seem to be doing well with 7 birds seen. All swans present including Billy on bottom lake.

Teal numbers have dropped slightly to 16, Mistle Thrushes bathing lake side and 8 Common Gulls washing along with Black Headed gulls.

Greenfinch scattered over patch today with a few at College feeding on Yew trees 14 birds in total, all high up unfortunately. At this point the species count was on 49. Couldn't believe we were gonna get to 50 Species again but a buzzard was seen in fields along side drive making 50 again !! 
Plus Laurens first 50 species walk.
Stock dove and Pied Wagtail seen the rest of drive taking it to 52, Amazing stuff!

Back into village and we were looking in all the the normal places for some missed regulars, Dunnock or Kestrel perhaps but nothing seen. But thinking we just spotted a Dunnock flitting across  the horse field which would have done but no A Stonechat  female and its mate feeding in scrub. 53 species and another record breaker and second time to 53 in a week! Lauren was very happy and it only took her 10 years to get to 50!
2 more Yellowhammer in cottage gardens was about our lot and truly great walk and to think looking out window this morning we nearly never went, so glad we did.

On that note i'd like to wish all are readers, local village residents and patch walkers a very Merry Christmas and a even better New Year.

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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

A Patch Record 53 species

Date: 19/12/2017
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Frosty start some blue, some cloud

Full list & spreadsheet here:

Linnets, Yellowhammer, Goosander, Kingfisher, Treecreeper.
Started my walk around 10am out through Bath Mill and a frosty start to the day Plenty of Robin, Blackbirds up onto Dog Track. Bullfinch being the best before fields.
On to fields and could see 3 Skylarks then 5 Meadow pipits. 
But main highlight here was the flock of Linnet at least 150 birds seen feeding on fields.

 Brilliant to watch.

Carried on along byway and the normal numbers of Wood Pigeon on Seven acre wood and surrounding trees 150+. Got to Globe watch point and sat down on my new tyre seat, making use of fly tipping!! 
A group of 10+ Yellowhammers were in their normal spot mixed in a few Chaffinch.

On along towards Pennyquick, Buzzard on tree, normal stuff into village but a lack of Redwing and Fieldfare only 1 Fieldfare in Church orchard, strange. 
5 Common gulls, Black Headed + Lesser Black Backed feeding with Rook, Crow and Jackdaws in back drive fields from Send a Cow.

Spoke to Welders who are making a new sty/kissing gate onto fishing lake, must take a picture, it's the most confusing kissing gate ever!! Even the welders were scratching their heads to how it was going to work. Apparently Bath Spa plans!!. Picture to follow.

Kingfisher perched up cleaning and Billy the Mute still on Bottom lake, really pleased to see a female Goosander appear.

After taking a few snaps, a male appeared overhead and landed on lake.

Then another male.

4 cormorants on fir tree in between lakes and then 4 Goosander flew and landed on top lake, i presume same birds from bottom with a extra male.

1 Little Grebe seen running across lake and then disappeared. Fed the Mallards and the 3 Mutes and then myself then carried on, while walking towards top of lake a small bird caught my eye a Chiffchaff feeding, RSPB says 500-1000 overwintering birds.

Carried on out through College, no students so all very quiet and peaceful. Walked out towards Stanton Prior then up conservation path to Park View Farm where a single song Thrush and 10+ Chaffinch were seen. 
Was hoping for a Hawfinch or Crossbill or even a Brambling but nothing going on! At this point i thought i'd count up on spreadsheet what i'd seen and was surprised i'd seen 48 species !! Carried on Treecreeper, Herring Gull and 50.

At this point i still had not seen any Redwing so i was keeping my eyes peeled, 3 Stock Dove on trees overlooking college, nice record broken! Previously record set with Robert Hargreaves and me 19/01/2017. On 51 then a Greater Spotted Woodpecker followed by 2 more back in village. while chatting to a local 8 Redwing landed in trees taking the list to 53 species amazing, still missed today Goldcrest, Kestrel all regulars.

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