December 2012 Wildlife Update

30 December 2012

An after lunch walk in Holywells Park allowed me to catch some of the sunshine today. Between Ponds 1 and 2, a small party of six Siskins was found although they remained rather elusive whilst feeding high in the Beech trees. On Pond 3, 67 Black-headed Gulls were counted as they washed and cleaned themselves. I checked those birds standing on the grass for any leg rings but none were found. Seven Mandarins (5m, 2f) were on the small island. Whilst watching the gulls a high flying Little Egret (see below) was seen as it flew towards the river.

Out on the flooded meadows more gulls were found with another 23 Black-headed Gulls recorded making 90 in total. An adult winter plumaged Common Gull was also found (see below) and this was joined by a second bird just as I was moving away. Several small mixed tit flocks were encountered as I walked around the meadow edges and the regular Goldfinch flock was seen in tree tops around the Old Bat Roost enclosure. Four Mandarins (2m, 2f) were on the Canal Pond and a small Chaffinch flock numbering 15 birds was in the trees on the island.

29 December 2012

AM- A quick walk through the park this morning produced: 71 Black-headed Gulls on the flooded meadows but no Common Gulls were seen. A flock of 24 Greenfinches was seen “tree-topping” along the Moat and their behaviour and calls suggested that they were migrants. The “usual” Goldfinch flock was counted at 44 birds along with six Siskins. A single Cormorant passed over the park heading towards the River Orwell and two Sparrowhawks were seen too.

Midday- A Peregrine Falcon was seen over the nearby dock area being mobbed by corvids.
27 December 2012
I had a walk around the park this morning in the gloom and rain. Despite the weather conditions there were a lot of birds around and I was pleased to see large numbers of Blackbirds throughout the park. On the flooded meadows a lot of gulls were noticed “puddling” for worms and insects and the Black-headed Gulls were counted at 65. Whilst counting through them I found a single adult winter plumaged Common Gull which was a nice surprise. A Little Egret was feeding around the pools near to the play area and six Mandarins (5m, 1f) were on Pond 3. A mobile finch flock was seen numerous times as it made it’s way around the park. When settled I made a count of 50+ Goldfinches, three Siskins and best of all five Lesser Redpolls. Following a tit flock as it moved between Pond 1 and 2 allowed me to pick through the birds present and a Chiffchaff was found amongst Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. A few Goldcrests were also present along with a calling Treecreeper.
26 December 2012

Parrish Colman was in the park today and enjoyed a brief spell of glorious Winter sunshine. Luckily, a male Kingfisher was also enjoying the sunshine and Parrish was able to capture the moment as below. Parrish also recorded a female Kingfisher and a juvenile bird.

Parrish also saw three Siskins in Beech trees along with 40+ Goldfinches. Mandarins were counted at 12 (9m+ 3f).
22 December 2012

A change of park today. I had a good walk around Landseer Park despite the wind and rain this morning. The main interest was the gull roost around the flooded pools. Here, 140+ Black-headed, nine Herring and six Common Gulls were counted. A male Sparrowhawk was also seen hunting over the grass and a Green Woodpecker was feeding around the flooded meadows. A large Goldfinch flock was seen in Draymans Way and estimated at approximately 70 birds. In addition, a smaller mixed flock of 30+ Greenfinch and Chaffinch was also noted in this area.

Of interest, a male Blackcap was seen on my feeders this morning, hopefully it will stick around over the Christmas period.
21 December 2012

I spent an hour in the park this morning looking for Snipe and Woodcock but again no joy. All of the places that I have seen both species were checked along with other likely spots. I think it’s just not been cold enough yet to encourage them in to the park. Maybe the New Year will be different? Other birds noted during my walk were two Great-spotted Woodpeckers and a single Green Woodpecker, along with a handful of Blackbirds, Song Thrush and Redwings. Mandarin numbers were again high with five on the Canal and 18 on Pond 1 making 23 in total. Three Cormorants and a male Sparrowhawk were seen over the park. A large tit flock was seen briefly around the Walled Gardens but it moved away towards the allotments before I could get to grips with it. A few Goldcrests were heard calling as the flock moved away.
16 December 2012

A mid-morning walk in the park was enjoyed again in mild temperatures and sunshine. The birdlife encountered was very similar to the previous day but a Grey Heron passed over Pond 2 and a large gathering of Carrion Crows was noted. The Mandarin flock had reduced in numbers with only six birds countered. Good numbers of Goldfinch were seen and heard around the park but, unfortunately, there were no Siskins amongst them. An accomodating male Kingfisher (see below) was seen on overhanging branches within the Wilderness Pond and a probable second bird was on the small stream near the Canal Pond. I spent some time watching the male Kingfisher and was joined by Parrish Colman. We were both able to see it with a small fish before it flew with it’s catch to the Canal Pond and out of sight.

Parrish Colman has provided the following photographs from today, Goldfinch and Great Tit as below.

15 December 2012

Today’s visit to the park was in sunshine and mild temperatures, a complete contrast to the recent freezing conditions. Along the Canal Path a Kingfisher was flushed from an overhanging branch and then seen again on the Canal Pond. Here, 13 Mandarins (9m, 3f) were seen in amongst the Mallards and other farmyard varieties. Above the Wilderness Pond a Goldfinch flock was noted and was made up of perhaps 50 birds which were spread out through the Beech trees. No Siskins were seen or heard. On Pond 3, 30+ Black-headed Gulls were present but no Common Gulls were found. In the woods, several Song Thrush and Blackbirds were seen and heard with a few Redwings also being recorded. No large tit flocks were encountered with only a few Blue and Great Tits seen. A small flock of Chaffinches were in the Leaf Yard area. Overhead, a Sparrowhawk was seen along with several Herring Gulls passing through. Despite the recent cold spell there was no sign of either Woodcock or snipe, perhaps soon?
09 December 2012

I hadn’t managed to get to the park for a couple of weeks since bird ringing there due to work and family commitments. So, with a spare couple of hours this morning I headed straight to the park to see what birds and wildlife I could find. Along the Canal a single Kingfisher was seen in flight heading towards the pond. On the Canal Pond, seven Mandarins (4m, 3f) were present amongst good numbers of Mallards. Four Coots were also seen and a handful of Black-headed Gulls were also present. Several finches were feeding high overhead in the Beech trees and a count revealed: 27 Goldfinches, 11 Chaffinches and three Siskin. On the Wilderness Pond itself were four more Mandarin (2m, 2f) and about 11 Blackbirds feeding around the edges. These Blackbirds appeared to be continental birds due to the greyish tones of their plumage. In addition, they also appeared very slightly larger and longer winged. I had a good look along the Paddling Pool hoping for a Common Snipe but the dense vegetation provided too much cover and nothing was seen. On the Moat Pond a pair of Coot was present and a small flock of Goldfinches passed over. On Pond 3, I counted 42 Black-headed Gulls but there were no Common Gulls found. Hopefully, a Common Gull will appear soon and over winter with the Black-headed Gulls like last year. Ponds 1 and 2 were very quiet apart from two Great-spotted Woodpeckers that were bickering with each other. I had a look at the stream above Pond 1, again another Common Snipe hang-out. However, despite spending some time watching the stream and margins nothing was found. In trees high above the Leaf Yard another (or the same) small flock of Goldfinches were present and another dozen or so Blackbirds were seen in the Walled Garden area. In the Old Bat Roost enclosure a small tit flock was seen comprising both Blue and Great Tits. Whilst walking down to the Orchard a flock of 22 Siskins passed over and appeared to join with the other birds present around the Wilderness Pond. In the Orchard a large tit flock was present and comprised of Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits. Other bird species found within the flock were, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Chaffinch. Both Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were seen high over the park along with Carrion Crows and Herring Gulls.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks we should see Common Snipe, Woodcock and Common Gull arrive. In the weather worsens over northern Europe and Scandinavia then we should also start to see more finches, including Bramblings and Redpoll species.

08 December 2012

Parrish Colman was in the park today and reported good numbers of Long-tailed Tits (20+) and at least 12 Goldfinches in the Beech trees surrounding the Wilderness Pond. A good number of Robins (see below) are still present in the park with numbers increasing due to the arrival of North- European winter migrants.

Steven Bird

Bird Watcher at Holywells Birds
Investigating our natural environment, and how the impacts of nesting can inhibit and benefit the local ecosystem.

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