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.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Out and About

On Saturday we were in York doing a little Christmas browsing, at dusk we were by the Christmas Market in the centre as Pied Wagtails started flying in to roost, it was an amazing sight, there were maybe a couple of hundred in the end with a few stragglers coming in as we walked about. A Sparrowhawk flew through them as they came in scaring a flock out of the trees, it didn't catch anything and soared off round the buildings. 

I caught this Wagtail in a car park in Morley, there have been a few in the town centre the past couple of weeks

In the Scatcherd Park I noticed, on the way to work, the Redwings arrived at the end of last week, I had a little time to walk around with the camera on Monday morning, however they are very flighty and are off at the first sign of people!

This Crow though was not in the least bit bothered!

There are Blackbirds everywhere, the one in the second photo had just swallowed a huge worm.


Blue Tit

The only decent shots I manged to get of the Redwings,

The park was beautiful in the sun though in parts it was still quite frosty.

A little closer to home I spotted this Mistle Thrush taking a drink from a dripping pipe!

There were a few Chaffinch nearby too. 

I'm going to miss my commute to work over the holidays!

Monday, 18 December 2017

In the Garden

A bit of an update from the garden the past couple of weeks. The cold weather has made keeping the water from freezing over difficult, though I did see a Blackbird stood on the ice in the middle of the pond and drinking from the edge! The Sparrows were skating round the bird bath about half an hour after i'd defrosted it most mornings!

We're still getting the Foxes overnight and Squirrels daily - up to three at a time but they do get a bit fractious with each other. There's been an influx of Blackbirds over the past week and our Robin has been joined by a 2nd but they just end up chasing each other round the trees. Starlings have started coming back in too, there's been a couple of flocks around the estate for a while but it's only since the temperature dropped they've been back at the feeder, we had 25+ last week. 

Flocks of Tits fly through a couple of times a day - Long-tailed, Great and Blue, the Blue tend to linger on and off all day. 

I am looking forward to the days starting to get longer in a couple of weeks though, I much prefer seeing the garden in the daylight during the week!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Churwell Urban Woodlands

Monday morning was freezing and frosty with a tiny hint of snow and I took about 20 minutes before work to walk into the woods.

It wasn't that long after sunrise, in fact the sky was still pink in the distance and birds were everywhere. Flocks of Tits - Long-tailed, Great and Blue, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Robins, Magpies, Wrens, Woodpigeon, Starlings, Gulls overhead plus Squirrels and the rat we usually see too.

I couldn't resist a few photos of the frost.