Summary of birds and wildlife recorded in the park during April 2012
If you wish to report any bird or wildlife sightings then I would love to hear from you please email me on: email@example.com.
30 April 2012- With it still being sunny and warm I decided to visit the park after work and immediately bumped into Parrish Colman along the Canal Path. We then spent an hour wandering around together checking various spots, looking for any sign of Large Red Damselflies and migrant birds. There was no sign of any damselflies but both Large White and Green-veined White butterflies were seen. Of note Parrish had seen Brimstone earlier in the afternoon (see below).
Only Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were seen, but other birds of note that we recorded were a pair of Mistle Thrushes (see single bird below) and several pairs of Long-tailed Tits.
The sun then disappeared behind cloud and it started to rain. At this point several Swifts were noted flying over the top of Pond 2 with one group of seven and one group numbering 12. Whilst watching these Swifts pass through several other birds were seen following them and these turned out to be seven Swallows (Yr 64). Then, almost as soon as they had appeared they were gone. At this point we noted that two Canada Geese had appeared on Pond 3 and another pair appeared on the meadow near the Wilderness Pond. Both pairs were calling to each other and then another two geese were seen flying in from the direction of the river. This new pair turned out to be Greylag Geese (see below) and they soon joined the Canada Geese in grazing the meadow grass. I parted company with Parrish but was able to watch the geese for a few minutes before they flew to another part of the park. Given that the rain had picked up I headed home but it had turned out to be another enjoyable session in the park.
29 April 2012- Despite it being another morning of heavy rain I ventured out and did a circuit of the park in the hope of some new wildlife encounters. Along the Canal there was no sign of the Garden Warbler seen two days previously and the only warblers found were singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap. On the Canal Pond, an adult Coot was seen feeding the two remaining chicks (see below) but it was pleasing to see how much they had grown and, hopefully, they will survive this ongoing wet weather. The other adult from this pair was seen to be back on the nest and is no doubt sitting on another batch of eggs.
A Canada Goose was on the Canal Pond with it's "other half" on the island, presumably on eggs. The Wilderness Pond was quiet but in the trees a large gathering of Goldfinches was seen and counted at 32. Given the large number this must be a migrating flock that has been forced into cover by the rain. On the Moat Pond the pair of Coots were observed continuing to build up the new nest and a single Black-headed Gull was on the water. On the meadow bordering the Conifer Hedge and Paddling Pool three Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen in flooded pools along with several Moorhens and Mallard Ducks. A Little Egret (see below) was seen feeding along the flooded margins of Pond 2 and a Grey Heron was feeding in the reeds on Pond 1.
Walking through the woods I counted three singing Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs but no other warbler species. Whilst on my walk I count five singing Song Thrush and a single Mistle Thrush. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen along with a party of five Jackdaws that flew low over the park towards the river. A cock Pheasant was heard calling from the Orchard and a Muntjac was seen along the Orchard/ Allotment edge.
PM Update- What a difference to this morning. The rain stopped, the sun came out and the temperatures rose. With better conditions, Parrish Colman was able to catch up with several butterflies and he saw: Green-veined White, Small White, Orange-tip and Brimstone (see below).
Parrish also recorded several Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs but no new migrant species were seen or heard. Local birds were seen and photographed with Parrish capturing great portraits of both female Blackbird (below top) and Magpie (below bottom).
27 April 2012- A walk along the Canal Path early this morning whilst enroute to work revealed a singing Garden Warbler (Yr 63) in the area of Kissing Gate Lane and the Orchard. Seen very briefly on a couple of occasions this skulking warbler gave bursts of song to compete with it's neighbouring Blackcap cousins. Garden Warblers seen in the park in Spring never seem to hang about but maybe this one will break tradition? With the current southerly winds good numbers of migrants are being seen at coastal sites now and like todays Garden Warbler are slowly moving inland. Hopefully, over the next week or so we should have a good chance of seeing and/or hearing Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and with lots of luck a Spotted Flycatcher! Keep looking and listening!
25 April 2012- I managed to avoid the showers during a late afternoon walk around the park. Given the recent and prolonged heavy rain the meadows were sodden. Mallards, Moorhens, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a single Black-headed Gull were all seen feeding on worms and insects which had been displaced by excess water. Around the meadow edges several Song Thrush and Blackbirds were noted pulling up worms before disappearing into cover to feed unseen young. At least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in flight and a single Green Woodpecker was feeding on grass within the Walled Gardens. Whilst watching gulls passing over the park I saw my first Common Swift (Yr 62)of the year. It flew very fast over the park and in a north-easterly direction. Despite some further sky watching no others were seen. It seems odd to have seen a Swift before a Swallow or martin Sp but it has been a crazy few weeks weather-wise! On Pond 1, a Grey Heron was seen along with a single drake Mandarin and on Pond 3, a pair of Canada Geese were present. On the Moat the pair of Coots were watched as they built a new nest and it appears that their first nest has now been abandoned. Another drake Mandarin was on the Wilderness Pond and a pair of Greenfinches were seen to alight from the tree tops. On the Canal Pond, three Coot were seen and the pair of Canada Geese were seen on the island. Whilst walking back along the Canal Path a Muntjac Deer was flushed from the path edge and it was watched as it ran towards the Orchard fence line before I lost it from view.
22 April 2012- A quick visit this morning during a sunny spell paid off with several butterflies being seen: Orange-tip (2m), Large White (1), Small White (2) and my first park sightings for the year of both Green-veined White and Speckled Wood (see below).
Parrish Colman was also in the park this morning and was able to capture a great photograph of a Chiffchaff (as below). Ths bird was one of a pair that Parrish observed mating and gathering nest material!
Parrish also saw the cock Pheasant in the Orchard and captured the event with a cracking photo (as below).
21 April 2012- AM- Both Paul Sherman and Sarah Kilshaw were in the park this morning and both have kindly provided updates. Sarah saw three broods of Mallard ducklings: a female with two ducklings in the Paddling Pool and a female with three ducklings and a female with nine ducklings on Pond 3 (see below). Sarah also saw the two Coot chicks on the Moat Pond and at least six Mandarins including one female with four drakes chasing her!
Paul reports that there are now four Moorhen chicks on the Canal nest and a Pheasant was at the bottom of Kissing Gate Lane by the footbridge. Paul was also lucky enough to see two male Orange-tip butterflies near Pond 1 (see below image).
PM- After finishing my chores in the garden I had an hour in the park this afternoon. Unfortunately, as soon I got there the sunshine vanished and my hopes of a damselfly or butterfly disappeared. Walking through the meadows produced a pair of Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker and six Magpies. I decided to check the water features just in case especially for any evidence of Large Red Damselfly exuvia. On the Canal Pond the pair of Canada Geese were found along with a single drake Mandarin Duck. Interestingly, five Coot were also present and the two chicks were seen hidden up in the islet nest. Along the Moat edge no exuvia were found but a pair of Coot and a Kingfisher were seen. Amongst the Paddling Pool reeds I couldn't see any sign of exuvia but I did find the female Mallard with two very small ducklings, probably no more than a day or so old (see below).
Whilst watching the ducklings I noted some movement within the reeds and expected to see a Brown Rat. However, what appeared in front of me was a Water Vole! It was almost the size of a rat but it had a blunt nose, a chubby round face and was dark chestnut brown in colour. I watched for about 15 minutes as it moved through the reeds before pulling a root up and gnawing on it. It then allowed me a few photographic opportunities as shown below. This is my first Water Vole for the park and it was wonderful to watch as it went about it's business.
I'm not sure on the status of Water Vole in the park, perhaps someone out there can tell me more?
20 April 2012- A Speckled Wood butterfly was seen by Matt Berry in the Walled Garden area. Parrish Colman captured some great images of Blue Tit (top) and Great Tit (bottom).
19 April 2012- A ride through the park this morning by Richard Crosby resulted in three Canada Geese being seen on Pond 3. Parrish Colman was also in the park this morning with his camera and noted two more Canada Geese on the Canal Pond in addition to the trio on Pond 3. Parrish also reports that two Coot chicks remain (including the individual photographed by Parrish being fed below) and a single drake Mandarin was in trees above the Wilderness Pond.
Despite the wet weather, both Chiffchaff and Blackcaps (see Parrish's excellent photograph below of male Blackcap) were heard singing in good numbers.
Elsewhere, the park's Robin population are on territories and getting into the swing of breeding. Parrish's photograph below shows food being exchanged between two adults as part of their courtship and display behaviour.
Not wishing to miss out on being photographed the Blue Tit below is seen on top of Reed Mace which provides both seeds in the Autumn and nesting material in the Spring.
18 April 2012- Richard Crosby saw a pair of Mistle Thrush this evening between Pond 2 and the Stable Block. One was noted gathering nest material.
17 April 2012- Despite the heavy rain showers and gusting winds I had an early evening walk around the park and then around part of Landseer Park. A few birds were seen and Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were heard singing in good numbers along with a solitary singing Mistle Thrush. Unusually, for Holywells Park a flock of 32 Starlings were noted "tree-topping" before flying off towards the nearby "Rivers" estate. Despite the winds a male Kestrel was watched hovering over the allotments, almost oblivious to the windy conditions before it to headed off towards the "Rivers". Continuing the raptor theme, a pair of Sparrowhawks were watched as they displayed over the Conservation Area and then again over the woodland along the north end of Landseer Park. Some tremendous "stoops" were observed along with some "wing-fluttering" and "mirror-flying". Given this display, all bodes well for this pair getting together and breeding again this year.
16 April 2012- I had a quick walk around the park late afternoon and only saw two Coot chicks being fed by adults on the Canal Pond. The three Moorhen chicks remain but a Brown Rat was noted showing a close interest in the nest. Hopefully, the adults will be on the look out for it as a rat will make short work of a Moorhen chick. Two very vocal pairs of Mandarins were seen in flight between the Moat and Pond 1 and the pair of Canada Geese were today on Pond 3. I had a look for migrant passerines in the Orchard and meadow bushes and found Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs along with a pair of Goldfinches. A cock Pheasant was in the long grass by the allotment fence and a Green Woodpecker was seen entering it's nest hole close by. On the path leading to the Orchard gate I watched a Song Thrush (see below) pulling up worms. With it's beak full it disappeared off into the Orchard, hopefully to feed some hungry chicks?
Elsewhere, I was fortunate to see several Goldcrests, Treecreepers, Chaffinches and a high flying Sparrowhawk. A Grey Heron was seen in flight over the park and bizarrrely a Grey Heron (the same?) was seen on the roof of my house no doubt checking out my pond!
15 April 2012- Paul Sherman is keeping an eye on the Canal's Moorhen chicks and has shared another photograph of the Moorhen family (see below).
Unfortunately, it looks like only two Coot chicks remain on the Canal Pond, as captured in Paul's photograph below. The high mortatlity rate seen with the Coot chicks may be down to predation, poor adult feeding or perhaps the extreme changes in the weather? As last year I'm sure we will seen additional Coot broods this year so hopefully more will survive.
14 April 2012- Richard Crosby reports that there was a Woodcock in the Orchard area of the park and a pair of Greylag Geese on the Canal Pond island today. (Of interest the Greylags were feeding on the grass meadow between Pond 3 and the Moat Pond on Friday evening). Richard also recorded a Whitethroat in nearby Landseer Park. Sarah Kilshaw and Paul Sherman both reported that the pair of Moorhens on the Canal had successfully managed to hatch chicks with at least three being seen. See Paul's photo below. Paul also noted that the number of Coot chicks on the Canal Pond had sadly dropped to three. In addition, Paul saw male and female Blackcap along the high path between the Nacton Road entrance and the car park. Sarah also recorded both Blackcap and Chiffchaff near to the park's Nacton Road entrance.
Parrish Colman was also in the park today and took a great photograph of a Wren gathering nest material, as below.
13 April 2012- A mid- morning walk today revealed a similar picture in the park birdwise to yesterday. The four Coot chicks were seen again on the Canal Pond and were busy pestering their parents for food. A pair of Mandarins and the pair of Canada Geese were also seen. On the Moat Pond the pair of Tufted Ducks (see drake below) were present and the pair of Coots were also seen.
Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen several times with both species observed at nest holes. One Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen busy excavating a tree hole and pushing wood shavings out with it's beak (see below).
Both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were heard singing but no new warbler species were encountered. A Sparrowhawk was seen again this time over the Orchard and two cock Pheasants were seen and heard in this area. Sky watching failed to reward me with any Swallows or martins but I'm sure it won't be long before we start seeing them. A single Peacock butterfly was seen along with two Small Whites and my first Large White butterfly of the year.
12 April 2012- I spent a couple of hours in the park this afternoon to catch up on the birds and wildlife. With frequent and heavy showers nature observation was difficult at times but I still manged to see a few bits and pieces. On the Canal, a pair of Mandarins were seen along with a singe Coot. On the Canal Pond I found the pair of Canada Geese in company with another Coot. The Coot chicks were seen with their attentive parents but only four chicks were counted today (see below).
It does appear that the second pair of Coots that were nesting previously on the Canal Pond have failed as their nest was noted to be empty. Another reason could be that the pair with chicks have chased the other pair off in order to protect their own offspring, a behaviour not uncommon with Coots and indeed, Moorhens. On the Moat Pond, the third pair of Coots were found with an adult bird still on the nest. Hopefully, this will lead to a second brood of Coot chicks in the park. Another pair of Mandarins were seen briefly on Pond 3 before flying back to the Wilderness Pond. A pair of Goldfinches were seen several times in flight around the moat area and appeared to be nest prospecting. At least five singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were counted and all appeared to be on territories in various parts of the park. Hopefully, a few more will join them along with some other warbler species. Overhead, a Sparrowhawk was seen circling high over the park and good numbers of gulls were seen to be constantly flying over the park. Locally and in the town centre both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are breeding on roofs and office buildings so the gulls we are now seeing over the park relate to these birds. On leaving the park a single Black-headed Gull was seen on the Canal Pond.
07 April 2012- Sarah Kilshaw reports that there are now six Coot chicks on the Canal Pond as can be seen below in Sarah's photograph.
01 April 2012- I spent a very enjoyable morning ringing session with Brian Thompson and Dennis Kell in the Orchard area of the park. On approaching the Orchard a Woodcock was seen in flight over the path and then away towards the allotment area. A total of 19 birds were caught- Blackcap (3), Chiffchaff (1) (see below), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (2), Robin (3), Dunnock (1), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Long-tailed Tit (1) and Chaffinch (1).
Whilst present in the Orchard, Brian heard a Bullfinch calling but unfortunately it was not seen. Other birds recorded whilst in the Orchard were a Grey Heron and Little Egret that flew over, two pairs of Pheasants, at least six Jays together and two Green Woodpeckers. A pair of Sparrowhawks were watched as they engaged in some limited display flight high over the park. Also of note were the 35 Carrion Crows which gathered in the tree tops around the Conservation Area. As you can imagine this turned into a very vocal affair as the crows exchanged information, gossip and generally bickered. Elsewhere, the pair of Tufted Ducks and pair of Coots were still on the Moat. Also seen here was a single Kingfisher. On the Canal Pond, four Canada Geese were seen and good news came in the form of two very tiny Coot chicks that had probably only just been born in the last day or so and which were being tended to by an adult. The second adult was still on the nest so perhaps a few more chicks will appear soon?! Despite the initial low temperatures several butterflies were noted late morning: Comma (2), Peacock (2), Small White (2) and a single Red Admiral.