Monday, 31 December 2018

Patchwork Challenge

An end of the year look back at the patch and the patchwork challenge. It looks like at the moment i'll be finishing 64th out of 79 on the Inland North league and 389 in the National League, with 53 species and 54 points, this is two more species than last year but the same amount of points!

I think the birds suffered around the woods this year somewhat, due to the stream and pond drying out completely for a few weeks over the summer with the heat and lack of rain. The number of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs there were definitely down on last year.

The flip side of the weather this year of course was the 'Beast from the East' in February, this caused a lot of bird disruption and brought flocks of Lapwings over the patch and Fieldfares and Mistle Thrush to the garden. Also one morning  a flock of several hundred Starlings filled the sky as I walked to work, a highlight of the year, quite an amazing sight!

I managed to add a new bird to the patch the first day of the year with a Treecreeper and then only added a further two new ones the whole year - Skylark and my favourite - Yellowhammer!

Not for want of trying though, I spent a lot of time walking around this year, I now know where and when to expect certain birds through the patch and really anything else is a bonus. I think i'll be staying around the same number of species again next year (unless someone decides to create a wader lagoon instead of the 500 houses planned on the farm in Churwell!!).

I'm still birdtracking all over the patch, mostly the walk to work, i've just checked i've submitted 366 patch lists this year which has surprised me, I didn't think i'd done that many! I've kept up with the garden birdwatch too, sitting with a cuppa and watching the garden come to life first thing in a morning is still one of my favourite things to do.

So despite the low numbers compared to many patches i'm pleased there's some consistency with last year!

The full patch list (in order of sightings)

1. Blackbird
2. Black-headed Gull
3. Robin
4. Wren
5. Pied Wagtail
6. Goldfinch
7. Greenfinch
8. House Sparrow
9. Starling
10. Carrion Crow
11. Great-spotted Woodpecker
12. Magpie
13. Treecreeper
14. Coal Tit
15. Great Tit
16. Blue Tit
17. Long-tailed Tit
18. Collared Dove
19. Woodpigeon
20. Feral Pigeon
21. Sparrowhawk
22. Pink-footed Goose
23. Mistle Thrush
24. Redwing
25. Herring Gull
26. Rook
27. Jackdaw
28. Song Thrush
29. Dunnock
30. Chaffinch
31. Goldcrest
32. Nuthatch
33. Jay
34. Canada Goose
35. Grey Heron
36. Buzzard
37. Bullfinch
38. Stock Dove
39. Lapwing
40. Fieldfare
41. Siskin
42. Cormorant
43. Chiffchaff
44. Blackcap
45. Swallow
46. Swift
47. Red Kite
48. House Martin
49. Skylark
50. Kestrel
51. Lesser black-backed Gull
52. Yellowhammer
53. Willow Warbler

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Out and About

This will likely be my last post before the holidays as life seems to have been overtaken by Christmas and crazy work busyness (not to mention the stinking cold that has struck, at the worst possible time as usual!!).

Even though the days are short at the moment i've managed to get in some garden watching and the birds and Squirrels are non stop all day long. We only get one or at the most two Squirrels but recently we've had four. We have an old hanging basket by the patio doors so have been putting nuts in there, it's been popular not just with the Squirrels but Coal Tits have been using it and sneaking in when the Squirrels aren't looking.

Not everyone's favourite but I love watching them

There is a good roost of Sparrows by the garden still and they spend the day by the bird bath and devouring sunflower hearts from the feeders.

There has been an increase in numbers of Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tits, they seem to be in the garden from dawn till dusk. We've had the odd Goldcrest, Wren and Dunnock too. Blackbird numbers have increased and they spend a long time picking at the lawn. A Sparrowhawk tried to grab one of the Blue Tits early one morning, it failed but gave some beautiful views as it sat on the fence for a minute.

Some of the Black-headed Gull flock that roost near the house

Down in the woods it's been a bit hit and miss with the birds, we've seen a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk down by the Pit Hill fields, lots of Woodpigeon, one morning had both Song and Mistle Thrush in the woods

There's been some beautiful foggy mornings

The resident rats

We took a walk in Dartmouth park one morning and noticed one of the trees had lost one of its main branches, it was full of Blackbirds.

There's a tree nearby that is full every year of berries and if you time it right it's full of birds - Blackbirds, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, it's lovely to watch.

The walk to work has also been full of birds, the Gulls that roost near the house spread out and most seems to head to Morrisons spending their time hanging about the lamposts along with Crows, Rooks and Magpies. In the park there's often a large charm of Goldfinch, up to 40 at times. I finally saw my first Redwing back in the park last week though none since. Two more days of commuting and that's it till the New Year!

A couple of the photos taken on my new phone from the walk to work, believe it or not without any filter!