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Barn Owl Success

November 18, 2007 at 10:19 am


A good weeks autumnal weather since my last report and the big news is the fledging of three young Barn Owls locally. This is a second brood and the first breeding at this farm since 1972 and yes, I have checked this site twice a year since then and finally, thirty five years later, it has happened again. It just shows that perseverance and good faith will work, although it has to be said that I cannot wait another thirty five years for a repeat!

During the week I have flushed three Woodcock from different places so it can definitely be said that Winter has now arrived with their appearance.

In the good sunshine I videoed some Siskins and even better a male Brambling on larch cones. I have never seen Brambling on cones before so this was a pleasant surprise. All we need now is an influx of Waxwings and the prospects for the rest of the Winter will look good – time will tell.

A Wet Week

November 11, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Grey WagtailThere have been several wet days this week and only one visit to the local Golf Course. Goldcrest and two Grey Wagtails were the only decent birds seen. Grey Wagtails must be on the move as today, one was in our front garden on our bird bath – an unusual garden bird.

A visit to Dovestones reservoir produced a Green Woodpecker and a flock of thirty plus Siskins feeding on the good crop of Larch cones. Although there was some good sunlight they stayed in the tree tops but there may be opportunities to film them during the rest of the Winter once they start feeding lower down. Coal Tits were also present though they were taking their seeds and burying them in the forest nearby.

There are very few Hawthorne and Rowan berries around this Winter and all the Redwings and Fieldfare have moved through.

Home Again

November 6, 2007 at 10:05 pm


Well here I am back home again after seventeen days on Islay.

The first week provided some good weather for October but the last week has been dull and mild with one day raining all day – an unusual event for Islay.

There has been a continuous passage of Whooper Swans through Islay with some family parties not even touching down and flying straight on to Ireland. Not a bad feat after flying non stop five hundred miles from Iceland at 40mph!

Islay is always a brilliant place for raptors and on one day I saw five Hen Harriers on my travels around the Island but this time failed to see any Golden Eagles. The highlight was disturbing a Hen Harrier and a Hobby fighting one morning at dawn. The Hobby is a very rare visitor to Islay and late October is not the time of year you would expect to find one.

Ardnave is always one of Islay’s most popular places to visit and walk around and during my visits two Snow Buntings and three Slavonian Grebes were seen as well as thirty plus Chough feeding in the high tide seaweed.

In the very mild Autumn weather forty two species of flowers were found which is an incredible number for November – global warming perhaps?

I only went looking for Otters once and found two in the Sound of Islay. One of these climbed a rock to spraint and then entered a cave to sleep.

Writing from Islay

October 27, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Hen Harrier

Here I am writing from Islay after our first week. The weather has been sunny at times but there has always been a strong wind and rain on a couple of days.

As usual the Barnacle Geese have been very impressive, especially at dusk as they come to roost in their thousands at Bridgend.

I have had several sightings of Hen Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and one Peregrine. Thirty plus Chough were feeding in some seaweed on one day and a flock of forty eight Twite were in the dunes nearby.

There have been good numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares during the week and the highlight photographically has been filming the Fieldfares devouring the last hawthorne berries.

Siskins have been seen in several places and an exceptional number of cones on pines in one of the forests has produced five Crossbills. In fact we have seen Crossbills on all three visits to this plantation.

So far we have not looked for Otters , perhaps next week we can turn our attention to them.

We are off to Islay

October 18, 2007 at 9:44 pm


Only a few days since the last entry but we are now busy packing for a visit to Islay to complete filming there for this year.

On the 14th October two female Stonechats were on the golf course feeding and calling from the Umbellicas – only the second time I have seen Stonechat locally. Two Reed Buntings also present and the Green Woodpecker is still hanging on.

A Warbler in the garden also on the 14th proved to be a Chiff Chaff with the Nuthatches still present most days, in fact on the 14th we had eighteen different species of birds in the garden which is not bad for a garden measuring no more than 5 metres x 10 metres.

A visit to Dove Stones reservoir in the hills this morning produced twenty plus Siskins, twelve Fieldfares and a Comma Butterfly, the first and definitely last I have seen this year.

A Late Wheatear

October 13, 2007 at 9:25 pm


High pressure has dominated all week producing dull, cloudy and calm conditions. With only a light southerly wind there has been no further influx of Redwings and Fieldfares.

On the local Golf Course the Green Woodpecker is still very vocal especially in the mornings. Reed Buntings and Grey Wagtails are still present and even better a Dipper was feeding along the stream on the 13th – only the second in the area in the last twenty years. Better still occurred on the afternoon of the 11th when a bird feeding under some pine trees turned out to be a female Wheatear, the latest record I have for a passage Wheatear.

There has been considerable activity in the garden with a record count of nineteen Goldfinches on the 8th and then today, the 13th, a new bird, in fact not one but two Nuthatches feeding all afternoon. It’s taken them thirty nine years to reach our garden!

With a talk in Leek during the week I was able to watch over the North Staffordshire moorlands one evening and had a good view of a female Goshawk and one hundred fieldfares going to roost in a pine forest – perhaps Winter is just around the corner.