January 2013 Wildlife Update

26 January 2013

Following sightings of Common Snipe, Woodcock and Lapwing this week I visited Holywells Park in anticipation of catching up with at least one of these bird species. However, despite a good search all three species eluded me again. However, there were plenty of other birds to enjoy and a splash of colour too. Myself and a few other observers have been worried about the low number of Mandarins about this year and especially the fact that the drakes are significantly outnumbering the ducks. This morning I was pleased to find 16 Mandarins but with only 4 females amongst them I have concerns for the breeding season ahead. Around the Wilderness Pond was a large mixed finch flock made up of 55 + Goldfinches, 25 Chaffinches and 30+ Siskins. A small party of six Greenfinches flew over the Wilderness Pond but were not seen to land. Whilst in this area a single Skylark passed over calling. A few Redwings and Fieldfares were seen in the Playground area and a Little Egret was seen roosting in tall Ivy clad trees.

On Pond 1, a male Kingfisher was noted amongst the overhanging branches at the rear of the pond and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming in the trees above. A Mistle Thrush was heard calling in the Stable Block area and a flock of 14 Long-tailed Tits passed through here too. Six Coal Tits were present in the Orchard Hedge and a gathering of seven Jays caught my attention along the allotment fence.
25 January 2013

A Woodcock was finally seen in the park today by Parrish Colman. Parrish came across the bird in vegetation surrounding the Paddling Pool. In addition, Parrish also saw a single Lapwing (see below) along with Little Egret, in flight towards the docks and a flock of about 40 Goldfinches.

23 January 2013
Joe Underwood, Park Ranger flushed a Common Snipe from the stream path between Ponds 1 and 2. In addition a Kingfisher was seen feeding in Pond 2. In the tree tops around the Wilderness Pond a decent sized flock of finches was present which included several Siskins and a Treecreeper. Other great finds by Joe were four Fieldfares and two Lapwings that he saw feeding on a melted strip of snow on the meadow near to the Myrtle Road gate.
21 January 2013

Parrish Colman was in the park today looking for Winter birds but despite a good look around none of the sought after trio (Common Snipe, Woodcock and Water Rail) were found. That said Parrish did see a large Goldfinch flock that he estimated to be 200 in number. Although we are still a few weeks away from the Spring a number of birds are starting to sing including this Robin which Parrish managed to photograph so well on the park’s railings.

20 January 2013

The park seemed much quieter this morning from a wildlife perspective, however, it was a couple of hours later than I normally visit and lots of families were out enjoying the snow. First bird of note was a Little Egret found in the Dell Pond which added to the snowy theme of the day.

Near Pond 1, a large Long-tailed Tit flock was found and this comprised of a noteworthy 32 birds. A number of Goldcrests were also seen with the Long-tailed Tits and a Treecreeper was heard calling. Two small flocks of Siskins (five and seven) were in trees along the Play Area and a flock of 25 Greenfinches and 37 Goldfinches were seen in restless flight around the Conifer Hedge area. The reason for their nervous behaviour became clear when a male Sparrowhawk was seen chasing a splinter group of Goldfinches. On the Canal, eight Mandarins were counted along with five Coot and a dozen or so Moorhens. A few Redwings and Blackbirds were in trees along the canal path but no Fieldfares were seen or heard.
Please feed the birds in your garden!

Many small birds die of cold over the winter months. By putting out a little extra food you can really help them out and you get the added bonus of being able to enjoy watching these amazing animals close up and personal.

Top tips for feeding birds this winter:

Don�t give too much. Amounts provided should allow for rapid turnover to reduce the chance of food becoming mouldy or contaminated.

Natural foods are best but in cold weather good leftovers with a high fat content such as bacon rind, grated cheese, cooked rice and pasta will be beneficial.

Don�t put out salted nuts, desiccated coconut, highly spiced food or very dry bread.

Food that has been contaminated with droppings and saliva can be a reservoir for some diseases that affect birds so clean your bird feeder, table and bath regularly with boiling water and disinfectant.

Always wear gloves when cleaning your feeders. Brushes and equipment used for cleaning bird feeders should not be used for other purposes and should be kept and used outside.

Many birds die in cold weather due to dehydration as water in bird baths freeze. Remember to put out fresh water everyday and never use any chemicals to de-ice your bird bath

Supplementary feeding can never provide all the natural proteins and vitamins that birds need so try to also include natural food sources in your garden. Why not plant a native hedgerow or a couple of fruit trees? Let your plants go to seed and don�t prune shrubs until late in winter.

Reproduced from an article by Jess Price, Sussex Wildlife Trust

Another good link for feeding birds comes from the BBC- http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/17754543

Making fat balls- http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/projects/wildlife-gardening/how-to-make-fat-cakes-for-birds/34.html
19 January 2013

A walk in the snow this morning at Holywells Park allowed me to catch up on some Winter birding. Along the canal nine Mandarins were seen hogging a patch of open water with lots of squabbling and bickering noted amongst the males. At least five Coot were seen on the ice covered Canal Pond. A small party of five Siskins were in tree tops alongside the Play Area and a flock of 30 Goldfinches were seen in flight between the Wilderness Pond and the Leaf Yard. In trees by the Moat path three Treecreepers (see single bird below) were seen together and I was able to watch and hear them call as they hunted for food on the tree trunks and branches. One bird was noted as being ringed. A couple of Goldcrests were also with them and it seemed that they had become seperated from a flock of 20+ Long-tailed Tits that flew towards Pond 2.

Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard drumming, one near Pond 1 the other high up in the trees near the Myrtle Road gate. Several Black-headed Gulls were present around the frozen ponds and a Common Gull was seen in flight over the meadow. Watching the sky produced a male Sparrowhawk and good numbers of thrushes passing overhead-counts made were:- 60 Blackbirds, 85 Redwings and 170 Fieldfares. On leaving the park I saw seven Jackdaws fly over the Canal heading towards the river and another, or, the same Sparrowhawk was seen over Cliff Lane heading towards Landseer Park.

Parrish Colman was also in the park today and managed to photograph some of the park residents including one of the many Blackbirds that are present (above). Of interest, Parrish also found and photographed a Dunnock (below) with a silver BTO ring on it’s left leg. With some ring details visible I will try and find out a bit more about the ring.

17 January 2013

Holywells Park- Helen Saunders saw a Fox this afternoon in the park close to the Nacton Road gate and Pond 1. Given the recent cold snap I’m sure we will see more foxes and Mutjac Deer as they are forced to find food in these difficult conditions.

Landseer Park- Up to three Kestrels (adult male, two adult females) have been present in the New Year and Maddison Pitman managed to take a photo of the adult male Kestrel perched (as below).

Other: Given the easterly winds this week, large numbers on thrushes have arrived with Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares present in good numbers. Finch numbers have also increased with quite a few Bramblings being reported especially in amongst Chaffinches.

12 January 2013

A cold and crisp morning today reminded me that it was still January and Winter. Looking for Winter birds I checked the watercourses but failed to find a Common Snipe, Woodcock or Water Rail. On Pond 3, 65 Black-headed Gulls (see below) were counted and by checking nearly every one I was able to locate a single bird with a silver BTO ring. However, despite trying I could not read any ring details.

In the Leaf Yard a mixed finch flock of approximately 40 birds was located and comprised of Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Siskin. Close-by, a mixed tit flock was found in the Dell and it was great to see at least five Coal Tits amongst the flock. A good number of Goldcrests were also present and a number of male birds were actively singing. In the trees surrounding the Play Area, three Mistle Thrush were found and two Song Thrush were singing against each other. Other birds of note were a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker on Pond 1, Sparrowhawk over the Orchard and allotments and 13 Mandarins on Pond 1.
05 January 2013

A really productive walk around the park this morning despite the grey conditions and slight drizzle. A nice mixed tit flock welcomed me as I entered the park from the Sluice gate on Cliff Lane. Here, several Goldcrests were identified along with at least one Treecreeper in with Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits. Further along the canal three Mandarins were seen in flight with another three on the canal pond. The canal pond itself was alive with the sound of bickering Coots with some very aggressive territorial behaviour witnessed. Given that there were five Coots present I can only think that a male interloper was trying to break up one of the established pairs. The Wilderness trees were full of birds with at least 30 Goldfinches, 25 Siskins and a dozen or so Chaffinches. Whilst watching these birds a flock of 18 Lesser Redpolls dropped in briefly before flying off high north. Out on the meadows, 48 Black-headed Gulls were counted along with a single adult winter plumaged Common Gull. Around the Old Bat Roost enclosure two Mistle Thrushes were seen in the tree tops along with two Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Further scrutiny of this area revealed seven Redwings and a good number of Blackbirds. A small flock of Goldfinches were feeding in the Elms behind the Bowling Green hut and two Fiedlfares and several Chaffinches were also seen here. In the conifers close to the Stable Block, a small flock of Goldcrests was found and at least two Coal Tits were present with them. Around Pond 1 another Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen and a Green Woodpecker flew over. Around the Nacton Road gate at least five Collared Doves were seen with the same group (?) seen again near the main gate on Cliff Lane.

Photographs from today by Parrish Colman- Above- Blue Tit (bearing silver BTO ring on left leg), Below- male Blackbird.

03 January 2013
A walk through the park at dusk revealed a singing Song Thrush and a long line of corvids passing over the park in a North-Easterly direction. In amongst the 60+ Carrion Crows were at least 20 calling Jackdaws.
01 January 2013

Happy New Year to you all, hope it’s a great one for you. Hopefully the park and it’s wildlife will thrive too.

PM- I ventured out into the park mid-afternoon. Unfortuately, I missed the sunshine as it seemed to cloud over as soon as I arrived! Still, I had a good walk around and managed to record 28 species of birds and get the park year list going for 2013. Species seen were: Mandarin, Mallard, Common Pheasant, Sparrowhawk, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher (m), Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Siskin.

AM- Parrish Colman made the most of some really nice New Years Day sun and captured some great images today including the winter finches- male Siskin top and Goldfinch below. A Little Egret was also seen along with a Kingfisher.

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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