Wednesday, 6 December 2017

On Plastic....



.....'when faced with abundance humans consume abundantly - an idea that has survived to become the basis of our present economy.  It is neither natural nor civilized, and even from a 'practical' point of view it is to the last degree brutalizing and stupid.'

'We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world.  And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us.  We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behaviour toward the world....'

'We undertook the privilege of the virgin abundance of this land without any awareness at all that we undertook at the same time a responsibility toward it.  That responsibility has never yet impressed itself upon our character, its absence in us is signified on the land by scars.'

                                                                           Wendell Berry

Duck On!

0915 - 1225 overcast, dull, chilly WSW f1-3

Met up with DH for a walk round....always good to have a chat and some light heartedness....

Very few birds on west pit today....most being concentrated on middle and island pit with a few on big pit.

Pretty chilly wind so not too much time spent in the open areas though an exception was made for big lump which overlooks the fields and gives good views along hedgerows east and west.

Arriving on site there were large flocks of Woodpigeons around most of the time, ranging from 30 to 250+ birds.  Initially it seemed hard to find any winter thrushes, but soon there were plenty sitting round, both Redwing and Fieldfare and many groups passed over.

We found 2 Kestrels, 2 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk....Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowgammer, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Starling....

The main theme though was ducks....and a nice number is now present and I'm pretty sure some of the totals are the most i've seen on the pits since I started watching....

41 Gadwall, 76 Tufted Duck, 23 Pochard, 86 Shoveler, 11 Mallard, 3 Teal, 2 Common Gull, 1 Water Rail.....

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Brrrrr-ducks

0930 - 1130 bright on and off, clouding over, chilly NW f1-2

Out of the wind and in the sun it wasn't too bad....but the west end of the site was pretty chilly standing counting ducks....

45 Gadwall, 57 Tufted Ducks, 24 Shoveler, 1 Little Grebe, 14 Pochard, 16 Mallard, 6 Greylag Geese, 1 Common Gull, 70+ Black-headed Gull.....

I accessed via the top east entrance today as they continue to remove the aggregate from the quarry area as per last entry.  Its still pretty boggy under foot around the quarry and puddles area if you are visiting.  The site can also be accessed by walking from Hartlake Bridge or Five Oak Green of course.

In top north field 4 Skylark were around, none found south of the pits.  A particular highlight was Nuthatch near the eastern entrance.  The main action, as per my last two visits, was either side of warbler corner.  The Reed Buntings are all over this area, I would say at least 40, probably more, flew in off the south field in to the hedge accompanied by Chaffinches, Goldfinches and  Yellowhammers, there were also several Bullfinch in the same area....lump 2 remains a good viewing point in both directions.....lump 1 giving good views of the Shoveler on island pit.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Cold and Finchy

1500 - 1600 some cloud, chilly and getting cold....

An afternoon visiting Bedgebury for another go at Hawfinch....having been pointed in the right direction by JK with some excellent maps to go.....

I arrived just in time, the light was already fading due to the cloud that had moved in during the day.....and having had a bit of a rush to get on site I was actually warm to start, though that would fade with the light....

First bird was Great Spotted Woodpeceker soon followed by Green Woodpecker.....though this was on the way in....so should really go from the roost position...

There was plenty going on....Chaffinches arrived almost immediately and were regular arrivals throughout....Brambling were in less numbers but kept them company....

poorer picture than usual, light wasn't good....

Soon followed a flock of Siskin with a few Goldfinches in tow....the Chaffinches and Brambling kept coming....some choosing to sit in a tree and preen, some landing in the nearby Larch and feeding, but others simply going straight in to roost....

The Ravens were calling and one eventually flew in to sight....a few Fieldfare and Redwing came by and plentiful Blackbirds were around.  A few Goldcrest dropped in and the Tawny Owl hooted the evening in.  Crows and Jackdaws called and flew by as did Wood Pigeons.....

So....no Hawfinch....my new bogey bird now Osprey has been slain thrice this year....

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Boggy sand and wind

0930 - 1130 bright, cool, sunny SSW f2-4

A not really looking for small birds kind of day...blowing a bit....understatement....out of the wind it was reasonably warm....but standing in the wind for a period of time was somewhat cooling....

So more a day for duck counting....though arriving was to be interesting....

....sandy boggy mess...


The guys contracted to take the aggregate around the quarry area have been doing exactly that....and with the added water around the area it has all tuned a boggy sandy quagmire....what looks like solid path allows your boots to sink.....the above picture is the puddles area, the right hand side should hold a pile of sand which has now gone completely...along with the mining bees I guess....

Still...for the foreseeable there shouldn't be any further encroachment on the pits...

So, very few small birds to report...7 Fieldfare and some Bullfinches......a Kestrel and at least 3 Buzzards probably being the highlight...

On the pools...

Tufted Ducks

38 Tufted Ducks, 33 Shoveler, 9 Gadwall, 10 Pochard, 2 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 200+ Greylag, 3 Little Grebe, 19 Cormorant, 400+ Black-headed Gulls, 11 Herring Gulls, 2 Common Gulls, 1 Little Egret

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Two....and All Change

Two visits to report.....

Thursday 16 Nov 1030 - 1315

Well, it was supposed to be a quick visit just to see what was on the pits...but bumped in to DH and stopped for a chat and then stopped for another chat with the contracted workers currently removing the material from the quarry area that had already been raised from the pits....

All Change...

The Feral Pigeons may have been upset that a Buzzard was sitting just to the left of this photo a couple of weeks ago and had made them scatter....and now a bunch of workmen are giving them the same issue....but very soon their home will disappear completely....its being pulled down.....the big, grey corrugated iron 'box' will soon be gone....so look out local houses here comes up to 50 new tenants....

A walk along the footpath produced.....a....

.....bin.....?

Along the long straight the contractors have ventured a little way, possibly just a scout round....


So what was around...

5 Mallard, 38 Gadwall, 24 Shoveler, 59 Tufted Duck, 50+ Greylag Geese, 300+ Black-headed Gull and 1 Herring Gull.

Smaller birds included Linnet, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Skylark, Redwing, Fieldfare.


Saturday 18 Nov 0915 - 1130

Jumping out of the car three Starling flew off the line, leaving two birds that weren't Starlings...but were in fact....

Mistle Thrush

Nice start.....followed by most of the usual birds.....Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Buzzard, Jackdaw, Redwing, Fieldfare, Jay.....and 11 Skylark just south of island pit was nice,

On the water among the 250 or so Black-headed Gull was this Common Gull....

Common Gull with Black-headed Gull

At the west end of middle pit is a large dead Oak.....it has hosted Grey Heron (2 present on pit today) and Little Egrets (1 present on west pit today) in the past...and regular visitors are Kestrels....today there were two....

'I wish I was a Kestrel, floating high in the sky....
...I'd pick you out among the crowd and down to you i'd fly'....
                                       Ashley Hutchings, Phil Beer (Albion Band)

On the water a couple of new species had arrived in the past day or so....

47 Tufted Duck, 11 Greylag Geese, 24 Shoveler, 24 Gadwall, 14 Pochard, 1 Teal....and I think the highest number of Cormorants I have seen at the pit, 29.....

And to finish....Autumn is ending and Winter is beginning....there are still some nice colours around...

Field Maple, Acer campestre




Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Winter sets in....

0915 - 1215 Overcast, grey, occasionally brightening, occasional light rain, N f2-3 cold

Well....okay....winter set in a few days ago with the first couple of frosts.....slightly warmer today for the visit but a cold northerly....however....a great morning anyway....get out there and bird...!

There has certainly been a lot more access to the pits the past couple of weeks....hang on....these are MY gravel pits....how dare they....Tarmac are steadily using the sand and aggregate deposited a few years ago around the quarry area...the Feral Pigeons were constantly moving around....annoyed?...excited?...or looking forward to some fag ends and sandwich bits no doubt distributed by the workmen....

There were 10 Magpies in the field just east of the gate....no idea what ten is worth...?  But the first inkling of a good morning was getting to the paddocks and spotting half a dozen Blackbirds on the far hedgerow....a few Fieldfare cackled and then the Redwing began to move....at least 100 along with a good number of Fieldfare and at least 12 Blackbirds around....in fact all morning the Fieldfares and Redwings went there and back across the site......

East pit, for a change, held a good number of Gadwall.  The place on site to be today was near island pit....having viewed the pit itself from small lump it became clear many smaller birds were moving along the field, east to west....moving toward big lump it became obvious there was a bunting/finch flock....Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and one Brambling, a new species for the site I believe....

A Dunnock was hanging around....possibly bemused by the activity.....but hopefully this is the new spot for the buntings this winter, slightly west from last winter......

Heading back a Merlin whizzed across the path and over the trees....a flock of thrushes appeared almost immediately.....

So...on the water....

1 Kingfisher, 50 Tufted Duck, 46 Gadwall, 16 Shoveler, 1 Mute Swan, 1 Herring Gull, 50+ Black-headed Gull, 5 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret....Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Moorhen.