April 2022

 April 2022

Spring had finally arrived as we moved into April, a lot of birds were on the move and because it was decent weather a lot of migrating birds probably headed straight to their breeding grounds, missing out on stopping here. The male Brambling was still visiting the garden during the first week but seemed to have moved on after that, but not before having its picture taken.

The garden birds were still busy as ever and some were attending to their nest and young by the amounts of food they were carrying. The Long tailed tits didn’t seem to have started nesting yet as they could be seen together every day together, always making their presence in the garden known by their trilling calls.

The Dunnocks, normally 4 of them, busily displaying and trying to impress the female, they were forever chasing around the garden and on the lawn.

On the 11th 2 Curlew flew over the garden. The 12th was a great day, on the morning dog walk I finally caught up with a Wheatear this spring, and this male was in the company of a female bird too, extra bonus. 2 Swallows started of a slow trickle of birds heading up the coast, so nice to see them back again.

With two species in the bag for the year as it were’, the 12th was far from over. During the afternoon whilst scanning the skies from the garden I glanced just behind me to see a large raptor spiralling high, once I got my eye on the bird there was no mistaking I was watching an Osprey! It slowly spiralled higher and further out to sea towards Sidestrand, what a bonus.

But that wasn’t the end of my day….. a new garden tick presented itself on a neighbours roof, and one I had been waiting to get since moving here, a Black Redstart.

Now the 12th could end !

The next day I saw and heard 2 Blackcaps singing, they had finally arrived. We saw 2 Fieldfare pass overhead whilst walking the dogs. Swallows still passed albeit single birds and a House Martin was the first of the year. It was lovely to see and hear new species arriving each day. On the 14th I saw 2 Willow Warblers, one was very vocal and very showy, typical as I didn’t have the camera with me. A Common Whitethroat on the 15th was the first of quite a few to be holding territory around the village by the end of the month.  House martins were soon to be seen over the village and feeding over the fields near the village hall.

What a stunning colour on the Greenfinches  at this time of year.

On the 16th a female Marsh Harrier flew south past the house, easily told by the dark brown plumage and pale creamy hood.

Most mornings after the dog walk I would take time watching the skies for birds moving over before getting to work in the studio. On the 17th the walk produced 6+ Song Thrushes and more Common Whitethroat, 6 Jays were part of a wave that moved across the north coast area. From the garden I set up hoping to see something, and I ended up spending most of the day watching the skies, I had 21+ Buzzards pass over the garden, one of those got the heart racing as it very much resembled a Rough legged buzzard, but some plumage traits didn’t quite match up so it was relegated to Common, they are so variable in their plumage you think you’ve found something different. A smart bird nonetheless.

The day was a raptor day for sure as I also spotted a female Hen Harrier heading inland.

On the 18th I hoped for more raptors moving over, not quite as many as the day before but there were a handful circling on the thermals, one in particular was a stunning pale Common Buzzard. It seemed to stay in the area nearly all day, displaying and calling to nearby buzzards and putting on a great display over the house.

Sadly after the weather took a drastic turn for the worse, with cold winds and temperatures coming from the north and straight in off the sea it seemed to stop everything moving and indeed made it difficult to see any bird! There was nothing of note up to the end of the month and a real downer after such a promising start, but thankfully what a great start it was.

March 2022

 March 2022

Depending on the weather there were definite signs of migration starting and signs of spring. I had regular sightings of Common Buzzards and Red Kite most days at the start of the month. Small groups of birds tracked along the coast heading east/southeast, mostly made up of finches, especially Siskin, I had a different bird to the previous one feeding in the garden which is always nice to see, they are such a lovely little finch.

Two things that signify spring to me are sounds of a Chiffchaff singing and the sight of butterflies on the wing. On the 10th I saw my first Brimstone butterfly of the year, followed soon afterwards by a Peacock. I had to wait until the 15th before I heard a Chiffchaff singing in the trees behind my garden. On a morning walk Sarah and I noticed the leaves of the Early Purple Orchids just starting to emerge from under the roadside vegetation, and there seemed to be good numbers again too.

Early evening on a mid-month day mid month I received news of hundreds of Blackbirds passing over Sidestrand heading east/southeast, I looked and although most were flying at a height I did manage to see double figures flying along the coast and alighting the trees around the house. It’s great to witness migration events as they happen along the coast here.

The local birds seemed to be paired up and gathering nesting materials and the House Sparrows were taking grass and materials into a neighbours eaves. Buzzards peaked at 6 over the house one day, and mid month onwards saw a very large amount of Starlings passing east, hundreds were seen passing inland as well as along the coast on quite a few days when we walked around the village.

Clumps of frog spawn and frogs mating could be seen nearing the months end in the small drain off pools along at Grove Farm, I only noticed them when I watched a beautiful Grey Wagtail flitting around the edge of one.

A couple of bird species I normally see during the winter months showed in better numbers now than I had seen since the year started, Golden Plover and Redwings, the Redwings were part of a movement that happened as the month drew to an end, 5 together past the church was the highest tally I’d got this winter and the Golden plover numbered around 40 one day flying overhead before seeing a flock of 200 or so circling fields looking for somewhere to land.  So birds were obviously moving but the changing weather played havoc some days with the high winds, but as soon as a window of opportunity arose birds took to the air, other notable numbers were of Pied Wagtails, Rooks and Magpies passing over, and hopefully better weather in April will really liven things up.

February 2022

February 2022

It was looking like a very quiet report for February, the weather and especially the winds was horrendous, there didn’t seem to be a let up until the month neared to an end. Amongst the storms there were glimmers of change and the approaching spring. The daffodils were growing well along the lanes and ditches, one area will be less populated with flowering daff’s though as the farmer had decided to cut a whole length of bank just as they were gaining height and showing buds, why it couldn’t of been cut a lot earlier is only known to them, it didn’t really need cutting and wasn’t near a junction for viewing, all they had to do was look to see all the new growth and life emerging! 

But more pleasant to see were the snowdrops everywhere, the celandines were once again growing, the flower heads pushing up through the leaf cover, hopefully with some decent spells of sunshine the bright yellow flowers will soon be fully out adding colour to the lane verges.

Red Kites were still being seen from the garden and over the fields. Groups of Pink Footed geese were only seen passing a few times and not in great numbers. during the first half of the month I found 2 male Reed Buntings on overhead wires whilst out walking with Sarah and the dogs, the next day there were 5 Reed Buntings seen, these could be local birds or early movers, a nice sight to see though through quiet times. The hares were more noticeable during the month, already chasing eachother around the fields. On the 21st I saw my first butterfly of the year, a Peacock.

On the last day of the month whilst walking the lanes we came across a Stonechat flitting along the hedge and feeding in the field. With a lack of images for the month, due to the weather, I decided I would return with the camera hoping it would still be in the same spot, fingers were crossed as already the local Yellowhammers seemed to be moving it on whenever it settled. A short time later I arrived back where we had found it but I couldn’t locate it, perhaps the yellowhammers had seen it off their patch? Thankfully not much later I relocated it catching insects just along the adjacent lane. I spent some time watching it move from perch to perch busily feeding on the insects which the morning sun had seemed to have brought out in decent numbers. The Stonechats are a lovely bird with a nice orange colour to the underparts, a nice sight to see and know that changes are happening now we have reached March.

Stonechats can be a very confiding bird at times. As I headed home I noticed the flock of Yellowhammers coming down to puddles to drink, carefully approaching to within range of a record image I tucked myself up against the hedgeline and waited, just a couple of birds put in a brief appearance before the flock dispersed due to people and vehicles approaching. But the Yellowhammers are a stunning bird, the yellow colour on them can be so vivid as seen here. A wonderful end to the month.

January 2022

 January 2022

I had a fair bit of work to do in January and so birding was very limited to dog walks and garden, and on top of that it was a quiet month. Nearly every morning I woke to the sound of the Goldfinches calling from Dot and Johns Cherry tree, one count got up to 50 birds before they took flight! The lone male Brambling stayed around our two gardens for a couple of days but moved on, and what was likely the same bird a couple of days later associating with Chaffinches along Church Lane. On the days I did see it from the garden it was either tucked up against the branches or on the other side of the tree posing a challenge to get any photos, and besides that the weather was dull and grey and most birds only appeared as a silhouette, but I did manage a shot and there’s no mistaking a male Brambling with it’s lovely orange plumage.

Every so often we would see the Roe deer in some field or wooded area, and the last time we saw them this month there were 5. The ploughed fields and short crop field along off middle street still held a large number of Lapwings, and usually the flock held 300 plus birds! A group of 50 or so Golden Plover flew overhead one day and seemed to join the Lapwing in an adjacent field, not seen too many of those this winter. One day whilst talking to a neighbour at the back of our garden, I saw 3 Mute Swans fly from the coast direction, they then proceeded to turn and fly low overhead and follow the coast road southeast, quite a few swans had been reported around the the same time along points of the coast so a definite movement, which brings me to the final entry of the month and on a day that saw a decent amount of Red Kites reported from here to Overstrand. I saw 3 Kites low together that passed our garden enabling me to get a few images, a handful of Common Buzzards seen distantly towards Sidestrand, no doubt taking advantage of the blue skies and better weather, but the count from Overstrand were 11 Red Kites circling over the ridge.