October 2012 Wildlife update

30 October 2012

A walk through the park on my way to work was rewarded with a flyover pair of Grey Wagtails which appeared to come from the Bourne Park direction. Watching these birds fly away from me led me to notice several Skylarks passing over head, given away by their “cherrup” flight calls. About 30 were seen in a loose flock along with several Blackbirds and Redwings. “Vis-mig” before work!
27 October 2012

Given the last two days of northerly winds and rain I was hopeful that a few winter migrants would be found during my walk this morning. Several Waxwings had been reported from the coast along with winter finches such as Brambling, Redpolls and Siskin. Along the Canal I found eight Mandarin (5m, 3f), a Grey Heron and on the Canal Pond were five Coot. A male Kingfisher showed well briefly before flying to the rear of the island. Another three Mandarins (2m, 1f) were on Pond 3. Two Coot were on the Moat Pond and another male Kingfisher was seen in flight along the Moat channel. Whilst in this area a Grey Wagtail was seen in flight and it looked as though it landed near Pond 1. Also, on Pond 3 were nine Black-headed Gulls. Looking for winter birds in the woods was rewarded with a flock of 16 Siskin and five Lesser Redpolls. Another finch flock was found and this one comprised of 32 Chaffinches. Despite checking the flock carefully I couldn’t find any Bramblings. Both flocks were very mobile, vocal and appeared restless which suggested that they were migrant birds. Several Robins, Blackbirds and Redwings were also found and their presence suggested a small fall of northern birds. Around the Bat Roost enclosure I experienced some incredible close range flight views of a female Sparrowhawk as she tried to hunt a flock of tits that were passing through. Given the rain, I had left my camera at home and so missed out on a real opportunity to capture some close up flight shots! Following the tit flock along the edge of the allotments and orchard I managed to find within it; Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits along with Wren, Treecreeper and Goldcrests. The female Sparrowhawk was seen again several times but appeared to have picked up an unwanted escort of Magpies and Carrion Crows.
21 October 2012
An incredibly grim morning in the park today. The overnight rain continued and showed no sign of easing up. Despite this I braved the damp conditions and had a quick walk around. Along the Canal a large mixed tit flock was encountered around the Kissing Gate Lane area. Some 30-40 birds were seen consisting mainly of Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tits. Several Goldcrest were also present along with singles of Chiffchaff and Treecreeper. On the Canal Pond a single drake Mandarin was seen and a Kingfisher was heard calling. At least three Coot were on the Moat Pond and a trio of Mandarins were seen on Pond 3. Another mixed tit flock was encountered along the main path between Pond 2 and 3. Here, I was able to get some shelter from the trees overhead and check the flock closely. Again, good numbers of Long-tailed Tits were seen but I was struck at the amount of Goldcrests with at least 25 counted. Of particular interest, was the fact that three Goldcrests were seen with BTO rings on their legs. Were these migrants ringed elsewhere or birds previously ringed here in the park? Other birds seen with this tit flock were Blackcap, Robin, Chaffinch and a trio of Wrens. Out on the sodden meadows were a pair of Song Thrush, a single Mistle Thrush and several Blackbirds.
19 / 20 October 2012
An incredible overnight movement of Redwings was noted late on Friday night whilst walking the dog along Cliff Lane. With numerous birds heard calling as they flew over in a westerly direction a series of timed counts was undertaken. This suggested 100-125 Redwings passing over every minute! A number of over observers via Twitter also enjoyed this event. On Saturday morning I walked through the park early on my way to work. Again, good numbers of Redwings were still passing overhead and there were several hundred present within the park’s trees. Several small flocks of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch were also seen high over the park and also appeared to be part of an immigration of birds from continental Europe. Needless to say a pair of Sparrwohawks were seen soaring high above the park no doubt on the look out for stragglers. Around the Wet Dock, the Pied Wagtail roost had almost finished their morning dispersal but some 15-20 birds remained around the College car park. This roost became quite large last Winter with some 60-70 birds seen regularly at dusk. I will try and monitor it again this winter.
15 October 2012
A late afternoon walk around the grassland areas of Landseer Park gave me views of Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail and Meadow Pipit. A long “string” of Jackdaws was noted flying over the Cliff Quay dock area as they made their way north. A pair of Sparrowhawks were seen being bullied by a large group of Magpies and a male Kestrel was hunting over the higher ground on the Landseer Road side.
14 October 2012
I was able to spend an hour in the park this afternoon and despite it being very busy I still managed to find a few things of interest. Along the Canal Path a Chiffchaff was heard calling and a “fluffed up” Kingfisher was seen perched at the rear of the Canal Pond. Also on this pond were six Mandarins (3m, 3f). More Mandarins were found on Pond 3 with five (3m, 2f) being present and a single drake was present on Pond 1. This made a dozen Mandarins and represents a very good Autumn total. Despite looking and listening throughout the park I failed to connect with any sizeable tit flock. I only found two small flocks of Blue and Great Tits, one along Brimstone Alley, the other in the hedge between the Old Bat Roost enclosure and the Bowling Greens. The Conifer Hedge held a few Song Thrush and Goldcrests but no Redwings or Fieldfares were seen. Overhead, several large flocks of Woodpigeons were noted heading south-west and given their height and direction these were probably immigrants from continental Europe. A Pied Wagtail was seen in flight heading towards Bishops Hill and a Cormorant flew north-east. With the sun out I decided to check a few sun traps and was rewarded with butterflies in the form of Comma (2) and Red Admiral (3). A Migrant Hawker dragonfly was seen hunting over the freshly cut meadow and five Common Darters were seen on Ivy patches.
13 October 2012

Gi Grieco had a walk through the park today and reported good numbers of tits between the Orchard and the Old Bat Roost. Mixed in with the tit flock were a couple of Goldcrests and at least one Chiffchaff. Two Mistle Thrushes were seen on the meadows.

Parrish Colman was also in the park today and took a great photo of a Little Egret in flight as above. I know a lot of readers of this website are fans of Parrish’s photography so you may be interested in his own new website: http://parrishcolmanphotography.zenfolio.com/
09 October 2012

Early AM- Whilst walking to work this morning I noticed a flock of Jackdaws high over Holywells Park. A Jackdaw flock is normally loosely strung out but this one was tightly formed and the reason soon became clear. A Peregrine Falcon was seen soaring high above the flock and they were clearly worried as to it’s presence. I didn’t see it stoop but no doubt it was watching the flock closely for any possible victim.

Late afternoon- A Firecrest was heard and seen briefly in amongst a mixed tit flock in Landseer Park. The bird was present approximately 200m from the Cliff Lane entrance to Landseer Park. Due to it’s close proximity to Holywells Park I was again wondering if this is the same Firecrest that has been recorded over the last few weeks or a new bird. A good number of Firecrests have been reported from the coast in the last couple of days so it quite possible it is another bird that has penetrated inland.
07 October 2012

As it was such a nice afternoon I spent an hour in the park after work. On Kissing Gate Meadow, a 1st winter plumaged cock Pheasant was seen and a Tawny Owl was heard to call briefly from the Conservation area. Watching the sky from the meadow revealed several high flying flocks of migrating thrushes. One flock that passed over a little bit lower was found to contain about 30 Blackbirds and it made me wonder what had been passing over the park throughout the day. The now regular pair of Grey Wagtails were seen flying over the Canal Pond and then again as they flew back towards the Moat area. Whilst walking along the canal path I came across a large mixed tit flock and watched as they passed by. Scrutinising tit flocks is one of my favourite birding activities and with about 80 birds present I had to work hard to go through them. The flock moved quite quickly but I was able to find Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits along with several Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Treecreepers and numerous Goldcrests. Despite looking and listening hard I failed to locate anything else especially Firecrest. Several Yellow-browed Warblers and Firecrests have turned up on the Suffolk coast in the last day or two so, with any luck something may find it’s way into the park. Fingers crossed.

Paul Sherman was in the park again today and saw a couple of Red Admirals and a Comma butterfly. He also recorded several Common Darters (see below) and a Migrant Hawker. Paul was fortunate to see a couple of Kingfishers which he then watched as they appeared to chase each other around the moat and pond. A pair of Mandarin were seen on Pond 3.

06 October 2012

With the sun shining and temperatures up I spent a couple of hours wandering through the park early this afternoon. I have neglected the Dell in recent times so I decided to start my walk here. On entering, I immediately found myself listening to Goldcrests and very soon I was watching a small but mobile mixed flock of about 25 birds. Checking as many birds as I could I was able to pick out Long-tailed, Blue, Great and at least a dozen Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff and a single Coal Tit. Not a bad start. Around Pond 1 and 2 the same or another mixed flock was encountered and this time at least three Blackcaps were found. Other birds seen in this area were Jay, Stock Dove, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Robin, Wren (see below) and Blackbird.

Moving on I found a few more Goldcrests in the trees around the Stable Block but despite looking and listening hard there was no sign of a Firecrest. With the sun still out the Ivy in the Walled Garden was covered in hoverflies, flies, bees and wasps. With so much going on I stayed here for a while and was amazed at the variety in flying insects attracted by the Ivy flowers. Soon a few butterflies arrived and I counted three Red Admirals and a Comma. Several Large and Small Whites passed through the garden area and a Migrant Hawker was also noted. Another Comma was found on the Michelmas Daisies (see below).

In the Old Bat tree enclosure several Redwings (see below) were seen in deep cover but they did come out a few times to take a blackberry. Several more Blackcaps were seen along with another Chiffchaff and both Goldfinches and Greenfinches were also present within the bamboo cover.

Out on the meadows several more Large and Small White butterflies were seen along with another Migrant Hawker. The Orchard contained several Blackbirds and Robins all of which stayed in cover and their behaviour suggested that they were migrant birds. The ponds were busy with birds (and dogs) with Mallards, Moorhens and Black-headed Gulls all noted in good numbers. Walking back along the Canal Path I encountered another Red Admiral on Ivy as well as some very large rats!

Paul Sherman was also in the park today and recorded a Kingfisher on the Canal and Canal Pond and a Grey Wagtail on Pond 3. Paul also saw several Common Darters no doubt encouraged out by the sunshine. Of interest Paul saw an adult Black-headed Gull (see below) trying to swallow a fish that it had caught in the Canal Pond. As it was such a large fish the gull tried several times to swallow it before giving up and flying away with the fish still in it’s bill.

05 October 2012

I walked through the park late afternoon in the rain. Not expecting to see much in the grey gloom I was pleasantly surprised to find two Mistle Thrush on the meadows and at least three Song Thrush feeding along the meadow edges. A Long-tailed Tit flock was heard calling distantly from behind the Stable Block/ Walled garden area and a Treecreeper was calling from trees by the Leaf Yard. Several Robins were present and some “clicking” was heard between them. Overhead two Canada Geese were seen flying in a south-westerly direction perhaps heading to the river.
02 October 2012
A late afternoon walk through Holywells Park was rewarded with two first-winter plumaged cock Phesants along the Canal path and a Kingfisher on the Canal Pond. Whilst walking around the moat two Grey Wagtails flew over heading south-east. A large Long-tailed Tit flock was found feeding around the Pond 1/ 2 area and whilst watching and listening to them I heard a Firecrest calling from within the flock. Although not seen it was heard calling several times as the flock moved excitedly around Pond 1. Whether this is a new bird to the park or the same individual seen several weeks ago (16th September) I’m not sure. It’s quite feasible that a Firecrest could over winter in the park so it will be interesting if one is seen or heard again in the coming weeks.

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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