November 2012 Wildlife Update

24 November 2012

I spent an enjoyable bird ringing session with Brian Thompson in the Orchard this morning. Despite our best efforts we only managed to catch ten birds: Song Thrush (1), Goldcrest (1), Blue Tit (3) and Long-tailed Tits (5). However, two of the three Blue Tits were found to have been previously ringed along with two of the Long-tailed Tits. By re-trapping these birds important data as to longevity, movement and weight change has been secured. Whilst present in the Orchard a flock of eight Fieldfares were seen flying over along with several small flocks of Blackbirds. A male Kestrel was also seen and it’s behaviour suggested that it was hunting the mobile Goldfinch flock that was present around the Wilderness Pond trees. Several Lesser Redpolls and Siskins were also recorded passsing overhead albeit in smaller numbers together with plenty of Chaffinches. A Chiffchaff was seen briefly and heard calling, unfortunately it arrived just after we had taken down our final net! A Muntjac Deer was seen early morning shortly after our arrival.
18 November 2012

A quick visit to the park this morning revealed some visible migration taking place with lots of Blackbirds, Redwings and Starlings flying over in small flocks. Of note however, were the six Great Spotted Woodpeckers seen in flight over the park- migrants or a local gathering, either way an extraordinary sighting! Talking of good numbers, 22 Mandarins were counted in the park too.

Parrish Colman was also present in the park and recorded several Goldfinches in the Wilderness Pond treetops including the individual captured below. Of particular note was a very late Speckled Wood butterfly seen by Parrish, another very good record for the day.

15 November 2012
Helen Saunders reported the finding of at least 5 Toads and 4 Frogs during conservation work on the meadows today.
13 November 2012
Matt Berry reported both Red Admiral and Comma butterflies today in Holywells Park. Not doubt aroused by the sun and mild temperatures the butterflies were seen jostling for the last of the Ivy flower nectar.
11 November 2012
A late afternoon circuit around Holywells Park today was all I could fit in this weekend. Still, the sun was shining so it was a good to be alive day. On the Canal Pond a male Kingfisher was seen in flight before disappearing behind the island. A pair of Mandarins were hidden up on a branch in the Wilderness Pond and a small flock of Goldfinches numbering 11 birds were in trees high above the canal path. A mixed flock of Greenfinches and Goldfinches were seen in flight over the Moat and Play area and both Pied Wagtail and Grey Wagtail were also seen in flight in the same area. Another flock of Goldfinches, this time with a few Chaffinches was present in trees around Pond 1 and 2 and whilst watching these birds five Lesser Redpolls flew over calling.There were still plenty of Blackbirds present although most were focussed on feeding up on berries. A Mistle Thrush flew over the allotments and another, or, the same bird was calling from a tree in the Orchard. A Long-tailed Tit flock was seen in the hedge running along the Orchard and allotments but only a few Blue and Great Tits were noted with the Lotties. Up to 30 Black-headed Gulls were present on or around Pond 3 and another pair of Mandarins were on the Duck House island.
05 November 2012

A Little Egret was seen in flight low over the park this morning and flocks of Blackbirds and Redwings were also recorded passing over. Unusually, for the park a pair of Herring Gulls were “puddling” on the sodden meadows in amongst numerous like minded Black-headed Gulls.

Waxwing alert!

Good numbers of Waxwings are being seen in the UK with several reported from the Suffolk coast and as close to us as Levington. Time to check any trees or shrubs with berries, Rowan trees are a real favourite. If you do see some locally then please let know.
04 November 2012

AM-Rain, rain and more rain! Despite the incredible downpour I had a walk through the park to see what wildlife was daft enough to be out and about. The first thing I noticed was the amount of Blackbirds that were present. Whether there had been a fall of these thrushes overnight I’m not sure but perhaps 50 were counted on my brief walk. A mixed tit flock was noted around the Stable Block gardens and was made up of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits along with several Goldcrests. A probable Chiffchaff was seen briefly but as it was so wet it was difficult to be certain. Numerous Moorhens, Mallards and Black-headed Gulls were present on the wet meadows and a several Song Thrushes and Blackbirds were seen pulling worms out of the sodden ground. A flock of 22 Starlings flew over the park and did appear as though they would land but they then flew high in a south-easterly direction. Several Magpies and Jays were also seen bickering amongst themselves no doubt put in a bad mood by how wet it was. Leaving the park and walking down Cliff Lane I came across more Blackbirds. These were pulling berries off Rowan trees and some early Pyracantha bushes. They were busily feeding and appeared unperturbed by my presence, hungry migrants no doubt.

PM- With the sun finally putting in an appearance Parrish Colman reported a Little Egret on Pond 3 and a small mixed flock of Siskins and Goldfinches in the Wilderness Pond treetops. Several Black- headed Gulls were also noted including the one captured in flight below.

One of the park’s Robins also showed itself off to Parrish and a lovely close up image was taken, as below.

03 November2012

After a manic week at work it was good to get out in the park and see what wildlife I could find. On entering the park, through the Cliff Lane Sluice gate, I immediately came across a flock of Long-tailed Tits. Checking the flock thoroughly failed to locate anything other than the Long-tails but it was nice to count 23 of them. Further along the Canal, a male Kingfisher was seen in flight towards the big pond. On the big pond were five Mandarins (2m, 3f see pair below) and a pair of Coot along with the usual rag-tag group of Mallards and cross-breeds. Checking the margins for any lurking ducks I came across the male Kingfisher again but then there were two! Unusually, two male Kingfishers were seen perched on overhanging branches and within a couple of feet of each other. Normally two males wouldn�t tolerate each other being so close but these two didn�t seem at all bothered.

Around the Wilderness Pond another drake Mandarin was seen and high above in the tree tops were nine Goldfinches. On the Moat Pond a female Kingfisher was seen in flight and a pair of Coots was also present too. On Pond three, two drake Mandarins were on the Duck House Island and 26 Black-headed Gulls were present. The woods were generally quiet although a flock of 30+ Chaffinches was found. Whilst walking across the meadows a Grey Wagtail was seen in flight, again in a direction that would suggest it was heading to Bourne Park. A male Kestrel was watched as it attempted to hunt by hovering but the park�s Carrion Crows were having none of it. Despite some valiant flying the Kestrel was forced away from the meadows and was last seen flying along the Canal. A few Blackbirds were found in the Orchard feeding on fallen fruit and several Robins were heard �ticking� from amongst the hedges.

Ash die-back disease.

As I walked around the park today I started to look closely at the Ash trees. Given that Ash die-back disease is now spreading throughout the UK I wonder how the park’s Ash trees will fair over the years to come. For anyone interested in finding out more about the situation then please follow this link$FILE/pest-alert-ash-dieback-2012.pdf. Please alert the Park Rangers if you think that you have found signs of an infected tree.

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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