My Patch – June 2018

So June’s blog is a little late! July’s will probably be a little later still! 

I have to say that I have spent a lot more time in the garden than I have out in the field because 1) the edge of the field was over grown and extremely difficult to walk around 2) the garden needed lots done to it 3) I’ve been working long hours at work and 4) 30 Days Wild happened 🙂

June 6th – I saw a Jay in the garden for the first time, it was a very fleeting visit but it was nice to see.  There are lots of fledgling birds about at the moment.  Starlings, great spotted woodpeckers, rooks and this evening I watched the house sparrows leaving their nest from under the roof tiles.  

June 11th – I heard the cuckoo again so he’s still here at the moment 🙂

June 12th – Seeing the slugs and snails have been making a meal out of the seedlings in the garden I decided they would be moving home, into the field! I found a brown garden snail and what I think is a white-lipped banded snail and a grey field slug – happy to be corrected if I’m wrong as I’ve not identified snails and slugs before! 

June 13th – I put the camera out last night to see how the fox is getting on in the field.  She’s still about and takes full advantage of any food that is put out for her 🙂

June 18th – For 30 Days Wild today I went out into the field to see what flowers were about, I found; Soft-brome grass, Corn Chamomile, Curled dock, Field Forget-me-not and of course Stinging nettles. 

June 25th – there was a Roe deer in the field first thing, a male.  I didn’t get a photo as only his antlers were visible in the rape!

June 26th – The cat showed his colours today – two dead birds, one juvenile robin and a blue tit.  There hasn’t been a ‘kill’ left on the doorstep for a while so not sure why its happened today.  

June 28th – Today I found my first Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens), I was looking at the plants in the raised beds and it caught my eye.  

June 29th – I was stood in the front garden and ‘something’ landed on a nearby tree – a Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus).  

I do seem to be writing about more insects this month; 30 Days Wild has started me looking for the smaller creatures in my patch and as I mentioned the field was a little difficult to get around so my attention diverted to what I could easily get too 🙂

I hadn’t heard the cuckoo since the 11th so I can only assume he’s left again for another year – safe travels little chap, hope to hear you again (and maybe see you!) next year…

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 06

This morning I noticed a lot of fledglings in the garden next to my patch. Unfortunately I was running late for work so didn’t have time to take any photos.  There were 12 starling causing chaos, 2 great spotted woodpeckers and 1 rook, all with their parents begging for food.  

This evening I managed to take some shots of the house sparrows that on appearance, fledged tonight.  The parents were still going into the nest hole under the roof tiles, as well as tending to the ones hopping around on the roof.  It seems like everything fledged in the garden today! 

My Patch – January 2018

January at the field has not been overly successful.  I have only spent one day in the field and not had many encounters in the evenings and mornings because of the lack of light at the moment – though it is improving 🙂

January 10th – the mute swans are still in the field this morning there were 16 🙂

January 26th – I took the day off of work to spend some time at the field. I was lucky it was a sunny as the days either side were wet and gloomy.  I don’t ever see a lot walking along the top edge of the field, I think part of that fact is I have to look down a lot!   There are lots of holes/burrows in the ground, though the ones I have mentioned before seem to have collapsed as the ground has sunk though new holes have appeared! I’m sure they belong to rabbits, but I am yet to see a rabbit in the field!  I did have a quick glimpse of a robin and a blue tit that were in the hedgerow.  There are a lot of paw prints along the track I was walking, though I am 100% sure they belong to the cat!

Walking down the side of the copse was again the most productive part of my walk. The squirrel drey is still securely in the tree and as I was looking up a heard a nose and looking at the base of the tree a saw the whites of two large back paws bounding away, I had disturbed a hare that I think was sunbathing in the cover of the part of the hedgerow.  I hadn’t seen it, if I had it would have made a lovely photograph.  I was looking out across the field and saw a couple of lumps, I had a look through the binoculars thinking they would be clumps of mud, nope TWO HARES!!!! They were a fair way off in the field and didn’t seem at all bothered by me watching, they were grazing, cleaning etc  I was having problems photographing them, I was looking into the sun and there was a heat haze across the field – typical! I have never seen two hares together before and I was so surprised to see them. My attention was drawn away to the birds in the hedgerow, two robins that were hoping about having a slight territorial dispute and then to long-tailed tits in the top of the trees.  Walking down the lower part of the copse towards the river I again spooked the roe deer.  I hear them moving then normally see white bottoms bouncing off through the trees.  I need to locate myself in the copse at some point to photograph them.  My guess is there is normally two or three that run off. 

The river was full.  It had obviously burst its banks recently as a patch of the field was a large puddle.  I have never seen it that full before.  It did look pretty with the sun shining and the neutral tones of the fields behind. Two swans flew over and later a cormorant.  I heard a wren and a moorhen but didn’t see them.  The holes that I have seen in the bank previously were fully submerged so if they were homes to any creature they were 100% flooded out.  I was stood watching three goldfinch flitting between the trees, I turned round to find a hare metres from me.  I slowly lifted the camera to take a photo but it was gone as soon as I moved a muscle, I hadn’t expected to see one right behind me!  I estimate there were 3 to 4 hares in the field! As the river receded from its original flooded level it has dropped lots of plastic bottles along the rivers edge, I did think about trying to get them out, however, I was on my own and didn’t know how sturdy the bank was! I will take backup and fish them out next time I go.  If the water level doesn’t rise again they look like they will remain wedged in the tree line.

Rather than walking round the field I walked back up the copse. Two wren were in the hedgerow and a blackbird was keeping a few meters ahead of me all the way along, I’d get close it would fly a little further along and the continued.  I heard a bee, a queen buff-tailed bumble bee, it was buzzing along the side of the hedgerow.

As I reached the top of the field I heard a buzzard calling, when I turned I realised there were three circling over the copse riding the thermals.  Looking over the slight ridge to the left I could see the mute swans, 24 of them 🙂

As I wouldn’t be able to visit the patch over the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend I decided to do a count in the garden for my own records.

Great spotted woodpecker 1
Blue tit 7
Great tit 3
Goldfinch 10
Robin 2
Collard dove 3
Starling 14
House sparrow 6
Dunnock 1
Carrion crow 1
Chaffinch 2
Total no. of species 11
Total no. of birds 50
Weather Light cloud

January 29th – It is now noticeable that the evening are very slowly getting lighter.  I am looking forward to February as I’ve scanned the sunset calendar and by the time February 20th rolls round the sun will be setting at 5:31pm which means I will be able to get about half an hour of light to have a quick look around or start work on the garden at my patch – the land owner hasn’t done anything with the garden for a while due to personal reasons and I have been granted permission to ‘improve its wildlife friendliness! 🙂

January 30th – 31 mute swans were just on the other side of the fence, I didn’t have my camera so I took a quick photograph on my phone.  I haven’t seen them that far up the field before.  Hopefully they will be staying around for a little longer, I think they will still be there for as long as the crop is still sprouting.  

My Patch – December 2017

So December was a more successful month for me out in the field, primarily this was down to having days off work (I had to use up my remaining annual leave) and what better way of doing it than out on the patch 🙂

December 2nd – So I had planned to go walking around the field, but, there was the sound of shotguns.  I wasn’t sure how close they were. I assume they were shooting pheasant or maybe the roe deer.  As I have stated before they aren’t allowed to kill anything in the field, nor should they shoot in the direction of the field but to be on the safe side I thought it was best to monitor the garden birds instead! 1 great spotted woodpecker, 4 robin, 2 dunnock, 5 goldfinch, 5 blue tit, 3 great tit, 7 house sparrow, 5 starling, a coal tit, 2 chaffinch and a blackbird 

December 13th – It snowed quite heavily in the region, unfortunately it had started to melt when I was back in work so only got to see a partially covered field.

December 14th – Today was a horrible day for travel, the road next to the patch was covered in black ice.  There was already one car in the ditch and as I watched another car snaked all over the road and ended up in the entrance way to the barn.  The lady was okay and got out of her car, though I later discovered she fractured her wrist.  I was stood with her in the barn area and there was a heard of roe deer in the distance.  

December 18th – Was another horrible day for travel.  I hadn’t long parked up and was getting ready to go round the field when another car ended up in the ditch, this time at the field’s entrance.  The road is horrendous for black ice.  The awful part is you just watch people driving like its a summer day and wonder why they can’t stop when they brake!  

I made my way out into the field through the owners back garden as the road wasn’t a safe place to be! The mute swans are back 🙂 there were six feeding on the crop! I’m sure the farmer isn’t too pleased to see them but I was 🙂  Last April there were approximately 40 grazing so I am expecting the numbers to increase.  I walked a different route to normal as I was trying to avoid the accident.  I didn’t see a lot, a pheasant that ran away very quickly and a great tit in the trees.  There were other small birds about but they were difficult to see as the sun was in my eyes and they were just shadows.  As I got closer to the river I noticed a huge number of woodpigeon; I counted approximately 96, they were all feeding on the crop too! The river is so much easier to see into now its Winter.  I can even sort of tell where the edge of the bank is! Today I only spotted a wren, grey heron and a moorhen.

On the walk back up I stuck to my normal route, I did however quickly realise it was the much muddier choice! There were three advantages though; I briefly glimpsed two roe deer in the copse, a brown hare ran out from the hedgerow in front of me and a buzzard flew over.  I know there are brown hare in the copse and I have seen them in the next field along but but this is the first time on my patch 🙂


December 22nd – I made a brief stop at the field, today there were 8 mute swans and the roe deer were grazing.  I finally got to see the pale/white deer.  Looking at the herd there are a wide variety of shades but the two pale ones really do stand out.  

The garden bird count today showed: 2 great spotted woodpecker (a pair), 2 chaffinch, a robin, 2 great tit, 5 blue tit, 9 house sparrow, 6 goldfinch, 1 coal tit and 8 starlings.

I put the TrailCam out overnight on the 22nd, the fox was back.  I think its the same one and I’m fairly sure now that shes a female 🙂

My Patch – May 2017

An early start for work on May 6th meant I heard my first Cuckoo! I drive past my patch to get to work and often stop for a few minutes if I have time.  I have now heard the Cuckoo a few times and it appears to have got closer but I’m not convinced its actually in my patch yet!

I have concentrated more on the residential (my friends house and garden) part of my patch this month, the crop has now got quite tall and I am unable to walk amongst it.

May 9th I spotted a Collard Dove that looked a little odd, on closer inspection I discovered that it has a broken beak.  It seemed to be feeding but took longer to pick up food than the other birds.  I’ll be be keeping an eye on it to see how it does as I’m not sure there is anything I can do for it.

On May 10th I wanted to get some images of the Starlings taking food into the roof space.  They were visiting fairly frequently and also removing faecal sacs.  Then their behaviour changed, at first I wondered if it was my presence but I had stood and watched them before with no effect.  One of the adults was taking food to the nest entrance, calling and then flying to the top of the roof calling again, this pattern continued for the next 20mins I continued to watch.  Once it was getting dark I left but apparently the calling continued, I believe they were trying to call their young out of the nest.

May 15th I believed the Starlings to have fledged, although I hadn’t seen any! The adults seemed to be collecting nesting material again so I am guessing they are aiming for a second brood 🙂

I have also now noticed that there’s a Blue Tit nest under one of the tiles of the porch.  The parents perch on the telephone wire before darting in to feed the chicks 🙂 While watching the Blue Tits I heard a lot of bees. Looking up I noticed a slightly broken fascia board and realised the bees were going inside – Tree bumblebee’s.  I did mention it to my friend, he doesn’t mind bees so is letting them stay as long as they don’t cause any trouble! 

The end of May and the Starlings have definitely fledged – 14 in total!

RSPB Lodmoor – April 2017

I decided it was time to take a few days off work, so that’s what I did just before Easter and headed to the coast.  I have been following Weymouth Wetlands on Twitter for a while now, knowing that it would be a destination I would be visiting. I think Twitter is great for researching what wildlife you can spot around the country, specifically when you are going to a named site.  

I arrived in Weymouth in the afternoon and quickly visited the Discovery Centre to have a look at their recent sightings board before moving on to Lodmoor.  Lodmoor is about 4 miles along the coast from the Discovery Centre and really easy to find.  Both of the car parks for the RSPB sites in Weymouth are council owned so make sure you take change with you.  The worse part it deciding how long you think you are going to stay!

I decided to walk the Marsh Trail and the Reedbed Trail which join together to make a loop.  One of my first sightings was a Canada Goose sat on a nest on an island fairly close to the path, it was nice to see. There were quite a few people out in the reserve, so I walked on until I found a free bench to sit on.  I could see, over to the left a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits but they flew off before I could get a proper look.  They did fly back over later and I managed to grab a quick photograph.

I was suddenly aware of movement to my left and a Rabbit hopped out of the grass, it didn’t seem bothered by me which is always concerning.  As I walked passed it only moved a few feet, it looked like it had been hit in the head, but I am more inclined to think it had Mixamytosis 🙁

It was a lovely sunny day though and as I moved along the Reedbed Trail I became aware of the Swallows that were flying overhead, my first sighting this year 🙂

There were about 20 House Sparrows darting in and out of the hedgerow opposite the houses and Blackbirds that kept hoping about on the grass.  All afternoon there was one bird that I heard continually, I had no idea what it was but was sure I was being stalked by it!! I would think I heard approx. 10+ of them on the site.  I am still in the very early stages of learning bird song’s but this one I will now remember – a Cetti’s Warbler! 

I ended my afternoon with a quick walk across the road to the beach, no trip to the coast would be right without seeing the sea 🙂

My full sightings list:
Birds: Canada Goose (1 on nest), Shelduck, Coot, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Black-tailed Godwit, Mallards, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Dunnock, Pochard, Teal,  Gadwall, Woodpigeon, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Magpie, Great Tit, Swallow, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow, heard Cetti’s Warbler, Black-headed Gull
Mammals: Rabbit
Butterflies: Speckled Wood

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2017

Every year the first date that goes in my diary is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. I always notice the birds in the garden, whether its the Woodpigeon’s squabbling over the grain, the Blackbirds digging around in the flower borders or the small charm of Goldfinches that are on the feeders.  But once a year I stop for a whole hour and really pay attention, counting them all.  

I perch myself on the kitchen counter to make sure I can see as much of the garden as possible and get as comfortable as I can! This year I felt more prepared. I invested in some binoculars last year which made identification quicker; its easy enough to complete the count without binoculars but there are loads of shrubs in the garden and the smaller birds hide in them, so with the aid of binoculars this time I could figure out who didn’t want to be counted 😉  In the past I have used a 500mm lens on my camera which gets a little heavy when holding it for an hour! This year I just used it to take some photos 🙂

I like to keep a table of what I have seen including previous years data for my own interest.

  2017 2016 2015
Coal Tit 1 2 1
Blue Tit 2 2 3
Great tit 1   1
Long-tailed Tit     1
Blackbird 7 4 2
Woodpigeon 4 2  
Goldfinch 7 9 2
Blackcap 1 1  
Greenfinch   1  
Robin 1 2 2
Collard Dove 2 3 1
Starling 3 1 1
House Sparrow 3 1  
Dunnock 1   1
Pied Wagtail     1
Siskin 2    
Total no. of species 13 11 11

 I had a surprise visitor today; the Siskin.  I have seen them in the garden before but only on one occasion, I was just lucky they turned up during my count 🙂  15 mins after I had finished counting I spotted a Greenfinch on the feeder! There have been Long-tailed Tits in the last few days but sadly none turned up today. I’m so glad the Sparrowhawk didn’t turn up or it would have really altered my count! When it shows it can be seen sitting on the fence waiting for the Goldfinches, we found a pile of feathers a few weeks ago!

The RSPB also ask what other animals you see in the garden throughout the year, we have: Hedgehog, Fox and Slow-worm.

Below are a few record shots of some of the birds I counted…