28 March 2010- Parrish Colman saw a Peregrine Falcon today and also a large raptor, possibly a Common Buzzard over the park. A Comma butterfly was also seen and photographed (as below).
24 March 2010- With sunshine and soaring (!) temperatures early butterflies were on the cards today. Park Ranger, Matt Berry made the most of the favourable conditions and saw the first reported female Brimstone along with three males around the Leaf Yard and Pond 2. He also saw two Commas in the same area.
21 March 2010- Early morning saw me at the park to check for new migrants especially given the previous evenings rain. On entering the park my attention was drawn to a large falcon flying high over the Minor Injuries Clinic on Landseer Road. Watching it as it came into view the shape soon turned into Peregrine Falcon! Not a bad way to start the day. On the Canal Pond the drake Wood Duck (as below) was present along with the pair of Canada Geese. At the rear of the pond a Kingfisher was seen in flight and high up in the trees above the pond were two pairs of Mandarin Ducks.
Around the Myrtle Road gate the singing Chiffchaff was seen and heard and a male Blackcap was in the trees around the Wilderness Pond. The Pheasant was heard again near to the Old Orchard fence line and then seen in flight as it flew into the allotments. Here, (see below) it was watched as it picked it's way through the plots.
Elsewhere several Song Thrush were seen and both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard. At least three Goldcrest were singing from the Conifer Hedge and a Coal Tit was found in the conifers near to the moat viewing platform.
NB- A phone call at 0930hrs from Gi Grieco alerted me to three Common Buzzards that he had spotted drifting west over east Ipswich and towards the park. Five minutes later saw me watching two birds drifting west and then circling back over the park before eventually going out of range. This is my first record of Common Buzzard (90 & 58) for the park and my thanks go to Gi for the "heads up".
18 March 2010- Wildlife Ranger Matt Berry saw a Brimstone and Comma butterfly (first park record for the year) today. At least two Chiffchaffs remained along the western treeline including a singing bird near the Myrtle Road gate.
17 March 2010- An early morning visit proved rewarding for me as the first Chiffchaffs (55) of the year were found. Walking along the Canal Path to the small footbridge my attention was drawn to a familiar call high above me in the tree tops- "Chiff-chaff- chiff"- Spring had arrived! Although not in full song this single bird was very active and very bright in colour and a pleasure to see. Watching it carefully, a second and then a third bird was seen and it became clear that a number of birds had "landed" in the park on their migration. Pulling myself away I carried on along the path and saw the pair of Mandarins flying around again high over the Canal Pond. Watching them as they flew around noisily I also noticed a Grey Heron heading west towards the river. Checking the Wilderness Pond another two Chiffchaff were found and a single Coal Tit also made an appearance. Deciding to check the Conifer Hedge in the hope of finding more Chiffchaffs I wandered out onto the meadow. Whilst waiting for a singing Goldcrest to appear from the hedge, the distinctive call of a Greenshank was heard overhead. Scanning the sky quickly I managed to see a single Greenshank (56) flying north east towards the Bishops Hill gate and away. Whether this too was a migrant or simply a locally wintering bird it was still a great year record for me. With waders on my mind I again heard a distinctive call, or, rather calls and looked up again to see five Oystercatchers (57) pass over chasing each other. Making a real noise they appeared to be in dispute with one another and continued their racket as they flew back towards the Cliff Quay area. Last year, several pairs of Oysterctchers bred on top of the nearby dock buildings and it appeared that I had witnessed either a territorial spat or a fall out over breeding partners! Continuing on with my walk I found the pair of Canada Geese on the Moat Pond and another pair of Mandarins flying between Pond 3 and 1. A female Sparrowhawk was watched circling low over the Eastern Woods and another two Grey Herons flew north over the park. Amongst the woodlands good numbers of tits were seen and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard drumming. Given the arrival of todays migrants a male Pied Wagtail walking along the tiles on the Stable Block buildings received special scrutiny to eliminate White Wagtail. White Wagtails are the mainland Europe species of Pied Wagtail and tend to pass through the UK in the autumn on their migration to southern Europe and Africa. The males have a grey, rather than the black back of a Pied Wagtail. However, this bird was "just" a local Pied Wagtail although very handsome in it's black and white colours and still very welcome!
16 March 2010- A quick charge around the park before setting off for work allowed me to check the usual haunts and "hot" spots. With much milder conditions I had hopes for a singing warbler but all I could hear was the pair of Mandarins as they flew around the park in tandem display and then as they sat up high in the treetops as if they were nest hole prospecting. A second pair of Mandarins were on Pond 1 and behaving in a much calmer manner!
Above- Tree top Drake Mandarin.
With the sun breaking through, it turned out a good morning for woodpeckers with at least three Great Spotted and two Green being seen and heard. Numerous tit flocks were about and a single Coal Tit was seen with Long Tailed Tits in the Eastern Woods near to the Nacton Road gate. A single Redwing was present in trees near the Bishops Hill gate and at least three Song Thrush were feeding around the Moat aea and another two up by the Stable Block. A Mistle thrush was singing from the Old Bat Roost tree and seven Greenfinch sat in the tree tops near by. A male Sparrowhawk was seen flying along the edge of the Old Orchard and whilst here I heard a strange call. Listening again it became very familiar and careful checking through the Old Orchard fence revealed the owner- Pheasant (54 & 89)! Watching the bird move through cover it eventually disappeared and may have flown up into the allotments. Where this bird has come from is a mystery but it may have been displaced from farm shooting or simply flown in from local countryside. Pheasant has been recorded as a breeding bird in the park after a pair bred successfully in the allotments in the late 80's. It will be interesting to see if it stays around for a while.
Other news from today- A Common Buzzard was seen flying over the park by the Ipswich RSPB group and by Park Ranger, Joe Underwood. This is a geat record and certainly an expected one given the increase in numbers of Common Buzzard throughout Suffolk. It is the only record that I know of for the park for at least the last three years!
Butterflies- The Ipswich RSPB group also saw a single male Brimstone within the park and Matt Berry, Park Ranger also saw a Peacock at lunchtime.
Above- Song Thrush, taken today in the park by Parrish Colman
14 March 2010- A visit to the park early this morning found the temperature to be much milder and with the sun trying to break through. The brighter conditions seemed to have woken the birds up and the dawn chorus is now starting to come together. Up to three Song Thrush were singing along with a single Mistle Thrush. Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch males were also singing and a flyover Siskin added it's buzzy chorus. Checking the ponds found the drake Wood Duck on the Canal Pond. Interestingly, it was actively displaying to a female Mandarin Duck despite there being an equally fired up drake Mandarin Duck escorting the female! Several large tit flocks were again present including a very large Long-tailed Tit flock in the Old Orchard. This numbered some 40 birds and a male Blackcap was also found flying with them.
Above- Long Tailed Tit in flight (a classic example of the camera's autofocus picking up mainly on the tree bark rather than the bird!)
A Green Woodpecker was seen feeding on the ground on the grass to the north of the Childrens Play Area and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in tandem flight heading towards the Myrtle Road corner. A commotion amongst the Carrion Crows revealed them to be hot on the heals of the male Sparrowhawk. Despite it's superior flight ability through the woods one of the crows managed to side-swipe it resulting in at least one flight feather being dislodged! Walking along the main avenue had me checking the numerous nest boxes and it was good to see several of them being inspected by both Great and Blue Tits. One box, close to the bridge between Ponds 2 and 3 had a pair of Blue Tits in and out of the access hole and both birds were then seen to copulate on the concrete path below (see below)!
13 March 2010- Another grey morning in the park, despite the TV weather forcaster promising a sunny start! It appears that the grey gloom is also affecting the birds as things have gone relatively quiet again. Hopefully, the first Spring migrants will be appearing soon to brighten things up. Apart from Mallards, Moorhens and a few Black-headed Gulls nothing else was found on the ponds or canal apart from the pair of Canada Geese who were on the Moat. In the Eastern Woods, 11 Redwings were heard and seen as they darted tree top to tree top before eventually heading off in a south-westerly direction. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling and a Green Woodpecker flew over. Several small tit flocks were present but despite checking them thoroughly no other species were being "carried" by them. Four Goldcrests were in the Holly bushes at the top of the sledging slope and a Mistle Thrush was calling but could not be seen. High over the woods a Sparrowhawk was seen before drifting slowly eat and out of sight. On the meadows, good numbers of Woodpigeons were seen and a pair of Stock Doves were copulating out on the grass. Walking out through the main gates revealed 12 Greenfinches flying over the pub gardens and the same (?) flock, this time counted at 11 birds was again seen flying towards the Conservation area next to Cliff Lane.
11 March 2010- A late afternoon visit to the park took place in the grey and cold gloom! When is it going to get warmer? On the Canal Pond a pair of Mandarins were seen along with several mallards and Moorhens. at the rear of the pond a single Kingfisher was present which is a positive sign given all the disturbance in the area. Around the "Swamps" a small flock of Great Tits were found along with several tree climbing Moorhens. In the trees above the Wilderness Pond,㺋 Stock Doves were present along with three Goldfinches and a single Greenfinch. Of great interest was a female Mandarin that was seen up in the branches of one the Beech trees. This could mean that she was prospecting for a nest site or that she already has one in the area? Over on the Moat Pond another pair of Mandarins were seen hidden up under the overhanging bushes. On Pond 3, a third pair of Mandarins were found although there was no sign of the drake Wood Duck. Over the ponds were several Black-headed Gulls and a single Lesser Black backed Gull. Around Pond 1 a flock of Long Tailed Tits was counted at 23 birds. Movement noted on the edge of the flock revealed a female Blackcap (fresh migrant or one of the wintering birds?) and a couple of Goldcrest in the Holly bushes. Elsewhere a single Coal Tit was heard calling in the Eastern Woods along with at least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers. On the meadows, a single male green Woodpecker along with Carrion Crows, Woodpigeons and a single Jackdaw were all seen.
08 March 2010- At least two Tawny Owls were heard calling from the park early morning (0430hrs) and then a single bird was calling later in the evening from within the Conservation area off Cliff Lane.
07 March 2010- After a very satisfying trip into the Suffolk Brecklands (where I managed to see Goshawk, Crossbill, Willow Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker) I managed a quick walk around the park before the light went. Perhaps the most interesting part of my walk was around the Canal Pond where a family were feeding bread to the resident Mallards. Above the mass of ducks was a large flock of gulls, eagerly trying to take their share of the bread. The gulls were counted as follows: 32 Black-headed Gulls, three handsome Lesser Black -backed Gulls, four Herring Gulls and a single Common Gull. Checking the Black-headed Gulls revealed a number of birds which were showing signs of summer plumage changes, however, still no Med' Gull!. Elsewhere in the park, a pair of Mandarins and the drake Wood Duck were found on Pond 3 and another pair of Mandarins were on Pond 1. In the Eastern Woods, a few mixed tit flocks were present including one flock which was found to be carrying three Treecreepers, two Goldcrests and a single Coal Tit amongst it's numbers. A small flock of thrushes was seen and found to contain five Redwings, two Fieldfares and at least two Song Thrush. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen around Pond 1 and then again in flight as they flew towards the Stable Block and beyond.
Above, another great photograph from Parrish Colman, this time of a Long Tailed Tit present within the park today.
05 March 2010- After a very long week at work I managed to finish early today and decided to make the most of a bright sunny afternoon in the park. Despite the extensive works underway and the noise and disturbance that the work is causing the park's wildlife is still there to be seen. Walking along the Canal Path gave me great views of a sunbathing Kingfisher. A shrill sqeak, and it was off straight down towards the Canal Pond. Given the bright sunshine the blues of the bird stood out and were quite awesome. At the back of the Canal Pond a pair of Mandarins were found lurking with some Mallards. A small party of five Goldfinches were amongst the tree tops of the Wilderness Pond along with two Treecreepers. On the Moat Pond a pair of Canada Geese were seen and a small flock of Great Tits were in the Bamboo clump near the Children's Play area hedgeline. On Pond 3, another pair of Mandarins were present along with several Mallards, Moorhens and three Black-headed Gulls. Hoping (still!) for a Brimstone Butterfly I spent some time checking the sunny spots within the rides and foot paths of the Eastern Woods. No butterflies were found although I did find a large mixed flock of birds spread rather thinly and widely around the area above and north of Pond 1. Within the flock were Blue, Great, Long-Tailed and Coal Tits (2). Tagging along were three more Treecreepers, 11 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, female Blackcap and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Further north through the woods and in amongst a large clump of Holly were five Goldcrests and several more Long-Tailed Tits. Best bird of all was the male Sparrowhawk that flew at head height right in front of me. It was so close that I could actually hear and feel the air passing over it's wings as it shot through the trees and in towards a small party of Great Tits. The tactic was a success as the "hawk" was seen shortly afterwards flying off strongly with a small bird clutched in it's talons. Whilst walking back down Cliff Lane and past the Conservation area a flock of 21 Redwings were seen lifting out of the trees and flying off south. Given the calls coming from the trees a few birds obviously remained although I could not see them clearly enough to count them properly.
27 February 2010- With heavy rain and strong winds overnight an early morning visit to the park found the canal path to be partially flooded and the lower meadows very water logged. As with most extreme weather there are always positives and glancing across to the Kissing Gate Meadow saw it to be covered in gulls! Before enjoying a "gull fest" a check of the Canal Pond revealed a pair of Mandarin and a trio of Canada Geese (see below).
Approaching the meadow carefully, a scan through the gulls produced 72 Black-headed Gulls (still no Med' Gull!) and singles of Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Common Gull. Mixed in with the gulls were good numbers of Woodpigeon, Stock Dove and an impressive count of 24 Moorhen. Moving on to the other ponds revealed another 11 Black-headed Gulls on the Moat Pond and two pairs of Mandarins on Pond 3. The Little Egret was found amongst the reeds in Pond 2, before flying off towards the north end of the moat (see awful (!) digi below).
On Pond 1, five more Mandarins were found to give a park day total of 11 and a single Kingfisher was seen in flight flying back towards Pond's 2 and 3. In trees above Pond 1, at least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming and a single Green Woodpecker flew over "yaffling". A walk through the Eastern Woods revealed good numbers of tits including two Coal Tits, three Treecreepers and a single Goldcrest. Around the Stable Block a singing Song Thrush was found along with a singing Mistle Thrush. Several Robins and Blackbirds were also active in this area. Walking back across the meadow towards the Orchard had me looking skywards as a small raptor flew over- Kestrel (53)! Watching the bird as it flew north towards the Wilderness Pond revealed it to be a handsome male with two missing primaries from it's right wing tip. The missing primaries confirmed the bird as the same male that I have seen in recent days hunting over nearby Landseer Park. Checking the lower meadow gave me two copulating Green Woodpeckers and a small flock of Chaffinches.
23 February 2010- A lunchtime visit was made today which thankfully took place in much drier and brighter conditions than were seen yesterday. On the Canal Pond, the drake Wood Duck (see below) was seen again and was noted to be acting very aggressively to anything that came near it, especially the drake Mallards.
Checking the pond carefully no female Wood Duck or even Mandarin was seen, the presence of which may have explained the drake's behaviour. Above the swamp trees a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming and calling. On the Moat Pond a single Kingfisher was seen in flight and on Pond 3, several Black-headed Gulls were cleaning themselves and generally loafing around. On Pond 1, six Mandarin Ducks were seen (including four drakes) and several Moorhens were seen fighting with each other and generally acting in an aggresive manner to each other (Spring is in the air)! Whilst watching the Mandarins a tit flock passed over. Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits were seen amongst the flock and a single Coal Tit and a male Blackcap were also found within it. Whilst following the tit flock as it moved from Pond 1 towards the Dell I saw a few Redwings and a single Song Thrush. Whilst watching one of the Redwings I noted movement to the side of it and came across a Muntjac Deer. Watching the deer watching me back was fascinating, especially as it's nose was constantly working to build up a scent picture of me! Leaving the deer to it's foraging I moved off into the woods where a small party of thre Goldcrests were found along with more tits and a single Treecreeper.
Above- Muntjac Deer, Pond 1 area.
20 February 2010- Another sunny but cold morning saw me walking around the park today. Given last nights weather forecast I had hoped that the temperature may rise enough to tempt a butterfly out but alas 5-6 degrees was the best I could hope for. The first bird seen and heard today was a singing Song Thrush, a nice way to start a walk. On the Canal Pond, a Grey Heron (see below) was seen watching one of the few ice free areas of water and a pair of Mandarins were also found at the rear of the island.
Whilst watching the heron a party of six Jackdaws (50) passed over head calling and were my first records for this species this year in the park. A small population is normally to be found near the Nacton Road gate in the trees surrounding the "hollow" but so far this year these birds have been absent. Walking out onto the park after checking an "empty" swamp saw me looking skywards again and adding another year tick in the form of a single Cormorant (51) which flew low over the park and then out towards the nearby Wet Dock. Walking up past the Widerness Pond and Paddling Pool gave me very close views of three Treecreepers that appeared oblivious to my presence. On the Moat Pond a single Kingfisher was seen in flight and another pair of Mandarins were found on Pond 3. Ponds 1 and 2 were almost birdless apart from a few Moorhens and a small flock of Long Tailed Tits that passed through. Hoping for some good woodland birding I spent some time in the Eastern Woods but only found two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, some Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits and small numbers of Chaffinches. Walking back across the Orchard Meadow two Mistle Thrushes were seen to fly in and perch on top of the Old Bat Roost trees (they seem to love this location!) along with several Magpies and a single Jay. A Pied Wagtail was seen in flight flying towards the Bowling Green calling continuosly as it went. Watching the sky again as I left the park proved fortuitous as three Lesser Black-backed Gulls (52) were picked out of a large movement of Black-headed and Herring Gulls which were flying in a north- easterly direction. Hopefully, closer views of these great gulls will be forthcoming once they start to breed in again on nearby dock buildings in the Spring.
18 February 2010- A Tawny Owl was heard calling from the Conservation area on Cliff Lane at 0445hrs.
17 February 2010- With bright sunshine and an increase in temperatures from yesterday I had a mid morning walk around the park in the hope of seeing an early Brimstone butterfly. However, despite the bright sun and blue skies the temperature was still a few degrees too low and no butterflies were seen. Despite the lack of butterflies some reasonable birding was still to be had. Throughout the park good numbers of Great, Long-tailed and Blue Tits were seen as well as plenty of Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks and Blackbirds. Three Mistle Thrushes were seen and heard as they dropped into the park from high up and landed in the Old Bat Roost trees. Also in this area were five Fieldfares and a single singing Song Thrush. A walk through the Eastern Woods revealed four Coal Tits, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, five Jays and a Grey Heron being mobbed by magpies! Also in the woods were two Goldcrest and three Treecreepers. From the Moat viewing platform a pair of Mandarin Ducks were seen and on the main water two Kingfishers were seen involved in some display whilst perched on an overhanging branch. A third Kingfisher was also seen on the Moat and then in flight as it flew down to the Wilderness Pond via the Paddling Pool. Checking all of the ponds failed to locate the Canada Geese or the drake Wood Duck. However, overhead the female Sparrowhawk was seen numerous times as it flew patrolling over the park but there was no sign of the male bird whilst I was there.
14 February 2010- A quick walk around the park this morning proved as interesting as always. The pair of Canada Geese were hidden away on the island on the Canal Pond. This is a good sign and would suggest that the pair may breed again in the park as this mirrors behaviour seen last year. A couple of Song Thrush were present in the Conifer Hedge along with at least three singing Goldcrest. A small flock of Goldfinches were sitting in the top of the Wilderness Pond trees and a single Greenfinch was with them. Around the Moat Pond was a single female Mandarin and a good sized tit flock were noted moving rapidly through this area and northwards towards the Bishops Hill side of the park. Checking Pond 3 revealed 15 Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Mandarin Ducks. Looking closely at the Mandarins revealed them to be in company of a drake Wood Duck! As with the Canada Geese yesterday it's likely that this Wood Duck is the same returning bird from previous years and a pleasure to welcome back. It will be interesting to see if it sticks around and stays within the park or if it behaves like last year whereby it would disappear for several days at a time before returning again. Either way, hopefully, it will bring a female bird in and breeding could be on the cards.
Above- The drake Wood Duck returns to Pond 3!
Leaving the "wood" ducks behind I walked up and through the Eastern Woods and found a few more Goldcrests and a small flock of Redwings in trees near to the sub-station. Walking down Brimstone Alley gave me two Treecreepers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Also here were three very vocal Jays who were clearly unhappy with a group of Grey Squirrels close by. On Pond 1 three pairs of Mandarins were present and a single Kingfisher flashed past heading towards Pond 2 and beyond.
13 February 2010- Wandering along the canal path early this morning I looked up towards the pond to see what appeared to be a pair of Canada Geese. Getting closer confirmed my suspicion and I then watched the geese for several minutes as they copulated, splashed and chased each other around the water. After a while the pair settled down to preen and wash in a less excited state. It's highly likely that this is the same pair that have been breeding each year in the park since at least 2006. Canada Geese always attract negative comments but in my view this pair are welcome on the list of the park's limited breeding species of birds.
Below- Canada Geese, Canal Pond.
Looking around the pond a pair of Mandarin Ducks were noted on the island. Checking the Swamps revealed no sight or sound of yesterday's Water Rail but several Moorhen and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen. A male Bullfinch was heard calling near to the Conifer Hedge and then seen as it flew, with Chaffinches, from the Wilderness Pond eastwards towards the Moat Pond and beyond. Looking for the Bullfinch around the Moat area failed to relocate it but two Treecreepers, three Goldcrests and a good sized tit flock were ample compensation. A second pair of Mandarin Ducks were on the Moat Pond and 18 Black-headed Gulls were on Pond 3. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming in trees either side of Pond 1 and another five Goldcrest were found in the Holly bushes along Brimstone Alley. Over the park a flock of㺞 Fieldfares were seen and several Starlings were seen passing through. On leaving the park, two Mistle Thrush were seen perched high up in the trees behind the Stable Block and along the edge of the pub gardens.
Whilst walking back down Cliff Lane, I noticed that a flock of Starlings and Woodpigeons appeared restless and were flying in tight circles over the school buildings. Looking for a raptor, it wasn't long before a female Sparrowhawk appeared with what appeared to be a Starling in it's talons. The Sparrowhawk was watched as it flew low over the allotments and back into the body of the park.
Late afternoon- I returned to the park just as the light was begining to slip away. The pair of Canada Geese remained on the Canal Pond and had company in the form of two Kingfishers. Around the Wilderness Pond good numbers of Greenfinches were present. It was not until I started to look at the tree tops closely that it suddenly dawned on me that that this was a very large gathering. Counting slowly I ticked off each individual bird, 40, 50, 60 and finally 65 birds! Mixed in with the Greenfinches were 31 Chaffinches and 16 Goldfinches. The Goldfinch count would have been higher but a small flock flew off before I could count them and they were hidden by tree cover! A finch flock of 112 birds, not a bad total at all! Leaving the finches to their restless pre-roost chatter I did a quick circuit of the ponds but little was seen. As I left the park a Sparrowhawk could just be made out heading towards the direction of the Wilderness Pond, no doubt hoping for a bit of supper as the finches dispersed to roost!
12 February 2010- My walk through the park this morning took place amidst a downfall of snow and sleet, Winter had definitely returned. Changing the route of my walk slightly I spent some time watching the rear of the Canal Pond and the ponds referred to as the "Swamps" near to the Myrtle Road entrance. Two Kingfishers were watched as they sat perched up in overhanging bushes towards the rear of the Canal Pond. One was seen in flight as it briefly flew from one perch to another and then back again. In bushes around the Swamps, two Song Thrush were seen and several Blackbirds, Robins and Redwings were also noted passing through the area. Whilst watching one of the Song Thrush I heard a series of piglet-like squeals and then a weak whistle. Another squeal and then a Water Rail(!) appeared briefly as it walked out of a thick waterside bush before disappearing into another thick clump of vegetation, closely followed by two Moorhens. A couple more weak squeals were heard again but despite waiting around for a good while the Rail wasn't seen again. Moving back towards the Wilderness Pond two Mandarins were seen in flight over the Canal Pond before heading out towards the industrial estate and beyond (to Christchurch Park perhaps or even the Nursey Pond?) On trees around the Wilderness Pond, three Treecreepers were watched as they scurried mouselike in search of food. Overhead a lone Sparrowhawk was seen very high above the park and a Green Woodpecker was seen flying up towards the Walled Garden area. On the Moat Pond, two pairs of Mandarins were present and a small flock of Long Tailed Tits passed through the bushes alongside the Play area. Around Ponds 1 and 2, several Stock Doves were present and at least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen. In the trees around the Dell woodland two Coal Tits were found amongst a Great and Blue Tit flock. As I left the park a single male Pied Wagtail was feeding at the edge of some puddles in the Cliff Lane entrance car park.
NB Tawny Owl calling from within the conservation area bordering Cliff Lane at?hrs.
07 February 2010- I managed to fit in a late afternoon walk around the park. Despite the fading light and the cold, damp air the park was still very busy with dog walkers and families presumably making the most of the remaining weekend. However, a few birds were still to be found in the quieter areas. Up to three Song Thrush were singing around the Walled Garden and Stable Block and incredibly a Redwing was almost in full song, perhaps spurred on by it's cousins (the last time I heard singing Redwing was in Iceland)! Also in this area were two Pied Wagtails and a very welcome trio of Wrens. Two "storm cocks" or Mistle Thrushes were competing with each other from opposite ends of the park and overhead several small parties of both Fieldfares and Redwings were seen to drop into the park's wooded areas. A large Long Tailed Tit flock was followed for a while as it moved around the Moat and was found to include at least 2 Treecreepers and a single Coal Tit. At the Wilderness Pond, three Goldfinches were seen sitting high up in the trees until 11 Chaffinch flew past. The finches all joined together and flew off towards the Old Orchard area were several Greenfinch were also heard. Over in this area, a large pre-roost gathering of Magpies was noted. Despite their best efforts to avoid being counted (!) I managed to get to a total of 39 birds, although I suspect that more birds were actually present. During one of my Magpie re-counts a party of six Canada Geese (and year tick 49) flew low over the park and appeared to want to land on the Orchard Meadow. However, due to several dogs being loose in the area the geese thought better of it and headed off towards the docks. It will be worth watching out for them again as they may include last years breeding pair?
06 February 2010- Matt Berry, Wildlife Ranger Team Leader reported the following birds this morning during a walk around the park. Single Treecreeper on an Alder tree next to pond 2, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker (both females) on trees next to pond 6 close to the Paddling Pool. 2 pairs of Mandarin- one pair on the Canal Pond and the other pair on pond 4/moat. Greater Spotted Woodpecker drumming on a large Oak tree high above pond 1 in the woodland backing Elmhurst Drive. Little Egret seen briefly in pond 6. Female Sparrowhawk flying up above the large Poplar trees along the bottom of the Park. Stock Dove was also sat in one of the large Poplars. Goldfinch x2 in trees around pond 6. And best of all a single Woodcock flushed out of a coppice plot in the woodland on the Nacton Road side of the park. A Coal Tit was also seen here too. The Woodcock is only the second record that I am aware of in recent times and is a great park bird.
In addition, Matt also saw a Peacock butterfly basking (1205hrs) on a Horse Chestnut in the car park and a male Brimstone seen flying (1210hrs) over shrubs near to the Stable Block and then in the Walled Garden!
I was in the park early this morning and was met with a heavy mist but surprisingly mild temperatures. Good numbers of Redwings were present throughout the park and it was pleasing to hear at least four singing Song Thrush and two Mistle Thrush. Also, in good voice despite the gloom were Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Treecreeper, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Goldcrest. It was great to hear a dawn chorus again and suggests that Spring is not that far away. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen nest prospecting in the corner of woodland by the Myrtle Road gate and may have been involved in some hole excavation. Six Mandarin were seen on the Canal Pond with two pairs on the water and interestingly two females present on the island. Three Treecreepers were in trees around the Moat Pond and at least three Goldcrests were in bushes between the Moat Pond and the Play Area.
03 February 2010- An evening walk in the drizzle past part of the perimeter of the park revealed at least one Tawny Owl calling from within. Later, a Tawny Owl and perhaps the same one as calling earlier, was seen very briefly to fly across Cliff Lane from the Conservation area and into the woods behind Draymans Way. 02 February 2010- With a slight drizzle and with sunshine trying to break through I made my way along the canal path for my first visit to the park in February. Aside from a few Mallard Ducks and Moorhens, the first birds of note were seven Goldfinches that were feeding in Birches near the exit path to the Orchard Meadow. Closer scrutiny of this small flock revealed a single male Siskin. At the rear of the Canal Pond a single Grey Heron was seen perched up in the tree canopy. Although intent on sleeping, some Magpies nearby had other intentions for it and, after a brief vocal exchange the Grey Heron launched itself into the air and flew off west towards the docks and river. A Male Sparrowhawk was watched over the park and then again as it gave a half hearted chase in pursuit of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. This male Sparrowhawk was then joined by the larger female bird and display was noted. The male was observed making several slow flapping glides, followed by a high circle above the female whereby his glides and flight became erratic and undulating. From this, several drops or plunges were noted too with the male breaking it's fall by half extending the wings- this is known as sky-dancing. The female was also seen to engage in some high circling with the male which if it becomes a regular event normally suggests that she is close to laying eggs. Both birds eventually flew off south together and lost to my view.
03 February 2010- An evening walk in the drizzle past part of the perimeter of the park revealed at least one Tawny Owl calling from within. Later, a Tawny Owl and perhaps the same one as calling earlier, was seen very briefly to fly across Cliff Lane from the Conservation area and into the woods behind Draymans Way.
02 February 2010- With a slight drizzle and with sunshine trying to break through I made my way along the canal path for my first visit to the park in February. Aside from a few Mallard Ducks and Moorhens, the first birds of note were seven Goldfinches that were feeding in Birches near the exit path to the Orchard Meadow. Closer scrutiny of this small flock revealed a single male Siskin. At the rear of the Canal Pond a single Grey Heron was seen perched up in the tree canopy. Although intent on sleeping, some Magpies nearby had other intentions for it and, after a brief vocal exchange the Grey Heron launched itself into the air and flew off west towards the docks and river. A Male Sparrowhawk was watched over the park and then again as it gave a half hearted chase in pursuit of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. This male Sparrowhawk was then joined by the larger female bird and display was noted. The male was observed making several slow flapping glides, followed by a high circle above the female whereby his glides and flight became erratic and undulating. From this, several drops or plunges were noted too with the male breaking it's fall by half extending the wings- this is known as sky-dancing. The female was also seen to engage in some high circling with the male which if it becomes a regular event normally suggests that she is close to laying eggs. Both birds eventually flew off south together and lost to my view.
Breaking away from the "hawks" two pairs of Mandarins were seen on the Moat Pond and a Treecreeper was seen feeding on pondside trees. Having spent most of my visit time watching the Sparrowhawks, I made a quick circuit of Pond 1 and the Leaf Yard and found two Goldcrest amongst a clump of Holly. Overhead, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen to be flying together and several Fieldfares and Redwings were observed high over the park heading south-west.
31 January 2010- Today I managed to get over to the park just after first light and was pleasantly surprised by finding at least three Wrens along the Canal Path. Given the extreme temperatures that we have had in January so far it was great to know that some Wrens have made it so far and will hopefully carry on until the milder weather arrives. As seen yesterday, good numbers of both Fieldfares and Redwings were again present in trees and bushes along the canal and through into the Conifer Hedge. However, the overhead movement of birds was minimal with just two small flocks (20 & 17) of Fieldfares noted. Only four Robins were seen along the hedge line but a Goldcrest continued to sing. At the rear of the Canal Pond the pair of Mandarins were found and an unseen Kingfisher was heard calling. Good numbers of Blue, Great and Long tailed Tits were seen throughout the park but no large flocks were found this morning. In bushes between the Moat and the Play Area two Song Thrushes were singing in competition with each other and another bird was singing in trees between the Canal Path and the Wilderness Pond. On Pond 3, 16 Black-headed Gulls were present along with several Moorhen and a single female Mandarin. Between the top of Pond 1 and the Stable Block, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen, two of which were busily drumming their presence. In the distance a third drumming bird was heard from the Bishops Hill area and a Green Woodpecker was "yaffling" from around the Orchard Meadow. A small flock of Starlings flew over the park towards the allotments and three Jays were seen feeding along the allotment fence line.
Dave Ladbrook had two, possibly three Kingfishers on the Moat Pond this morning, a great record especially given the ongoing harsh temperatures and iced-up ponds. Dave also had views of a male Sparrowhawk attempting to hunt but being mobbed by a Carrion Crow.
Above- Goldcrest, Holywells Park 31 January 2010, by Parrish Colman.
NB: On a slightly different note, what appears to be the first Suffolk butterfly of 2010 was reported on 26 January from Bawdsey and came in the form of a Small Tortoiseshell (ex Suffolk Nature Yahoo Group). Hopefully, it won't be long before the first butterfly is reported in the park but what will it be- Brimstone, Peacock, Red Admiral or perhaps even an Orange-tip?
30 January 2010- AM- With the return of the cold weather and a small fall of snow it was no surprise to find good numbers of thrushes both in and over the park. A mid morning visit revealed several small flocks of Fieldfares sitting high up in the tree tops along the canal. A larger flock, estimated at 50 birds was found in the Conifer Hedge. Also here were 30+ Redwings and about 20 Blackbirds. Looking skywards and counting the birds passing over I counted 600 birds moving southwest in 20 minutes. Noticeable too, were the higher numbers of Robins present in this area including 11 along the length of the hedge line. Whilst trying to get an accurate count of thrushes a Goldcrest was heard singing and a Bullfinch was also heard singing. Despite my best efforts only a partial view of the male Bullfinch was obtained before it disappeared from the area. In the tree tops surrounding the Wilderness Pond, 22 Goldfinches were present feeding amongst the Beeches and Alders and a small number of Chaffinches were also present. On the Moat Pond, the pair of Mandarins were amongst a gathering of Mallards and Moorhens. Several large tit flocks were present again including one which was counted at 55 birds comprising of Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits. This flock moved rapidly along Brimstone Alley and through Ponds 1 and 2 before dispersing around the Leaf Yard trees. Elsewhere, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers were noted and several pairs of Stock Doves were seen displaying and in a couple of pairs copulation was seen.
PM- As it was such a lovely day, I returned to the park late afternoon and concentrated on the southern boundary starting near the Old Orchard and working my way up to the Nacton Road entrance. In the bushes near the allotment fence a Muntjac Deer was disturbed and then watched as it ran into cover through a gap in the Orchard fence. Also in this area was a Green Woodpecker and a large number of Magpies. Around the Stable Block, a Pied wagtail was heard and then seen as it walked along the roof top. A large tit flock was found and followed as it moved along the edge of the car park area and up into trees backing on to Elmhurst Drive. Whilst watching these birds three Goldcrest were found feeding in a Holly bush. As the tit flock moved further in to the woods a smaller flock of tits merged with it and these new birds started to call- Coal Tits (48)! Standing patiently, the Coal Tits flew over me and I was able to count seven individuals, which is a brilliant number and certainly my highest count ever in the park. Heading back home, more Fieldfares were seen flying high over the park and listening to their calls revealed two Mistle Thrushes hidden amongst them.
26 January 2010- Two Sparrowhawks, both believed to be females, were seen by Dave Ladbrook over the park. Their behaviour indicated a territorial tussle, perhaps an interloper from the West Bank of the river?
25 January 2010- An early start in the park today allowed me to check for any birds that had dropped in over night and I was rewarded with a flock of approximately 35 Fieldfares that had roosted in the Conifer Hedge. Mixed in with them were a few Redwings but it was difficult to count them as they were moving through the centre of the hedge and away through the trees. Around the Wilderness Pond was a small party of Treecreepers which when finally settled were found to be five in number- a good total. Of interest was a single bird that had a large white flash through it's left wing and created a half and half colour scheme. Elsewhere in the park a small flock of Chaffinches and Goldfinches were feeding along the main avenue near the path to the Play Area. A large flock of Great Tits were found and then followed around the Moat bushes and along the edge of the Play Area. Overhead a male Sparrowhawk was watched as it circled the park but there was no display elements to it's flight. Around the top of the steps near to the Bowling Green some more Treecreepers were found. Checking carefully a count of seven birds was achieved this time (an even better total!) and the bird with the white wing flash was also present amongst them. On the Canal Pond, 34 Black-headed Gulls were seen and a single Kingfisher was noted perched at the rear of the pond.
A return to the park gave Dave Ladbrook further views of the Little Egret on Pond 3 and also the drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker(GSW) again. Dave had the GSW in the same tree as the day before, approximately 150 metres along the track running along the edge of Elmhurst Drive beyond the Dell. A male Sparrowhawk was also seen hunting in the park.
24 January 2010-Dave Ladbrook was in the park today and had the Little Egret feeding around the edge of Pond 3. Dave also had a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Eastern Woods.
22 January 2010- I took a quick walk around the park this morning in the grey gloom and drizzle. A few small tit flocks were noted, mainly Blue Tits and Great Tits. Of note, one of the Great Tit flocks was loosely associated with a very mobile and vocal Chaffinch flock of perhaps㺞 birds and they were quickly lost as they moved through the trees. Around the ponds a pair of Mandarin were found in the large muddy puddle next to Pond 2 and a few Mallard and Moorhen were seen dispersed throughout the other ponds. About 30 Black-headed Gulls were paddling on the field in front of the Conifer Hedge and amongst them was a single Common Gull. Whether this is the same Common Gull seen in previous weeks associating with the Black-heads I'm not sure but it seems to fit and it remains a good record for the park. Around the Wilderness Pond two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and heard and a single Green Woodpecker was on the ground feeding on the Orchard Meadow. Overhead, a pair of Sparrowhawks were seen together and the smaller male bird was seen to give a few wing flutters in a loose display flight-lets hope he gets into gear and charms his female into breeding again!
Matt Berry, Wildlife Ranger Team Leader reported two Mistle Thrushes in the park today and a flock of 20 Greenfinches (see NB below) at the top of the Common Lime tree which is found on the edge of the large meadow on the orchard slope.
NB- Approximately 140 finches were seen in a pre-roost flock gathering in and around the tree toops of the Minor Injuries Clinic on the junction of Landseer Road and Cliff Lane. Comprising mainly of Chaffinches and Greenfinches this flock has peaked recently at 150 birds. It is well worth looking out for as it whirls around restlessly before the birds disperse to roost in nearby bushes at dusk.
19 January 2010- Update received today from Matt Berry, Wildlife Ranger Team Leader regarding a Treecreeper present in the woodland backing onto Elmhurst Drive.
18 January 2010- Updates received today from Dave Pearsons and Suffolk BINs (see links page) in the form ofă Mandarins present in the park and also the Little Egret still present around the ponds.
17 January 2010- Today was a good day, it was sunny with brilliant blue skies and when out of the wind almost spring-like. In fact the complete opposite of yesterday! With a spring in my step I set off around the park to see what was around today. First surprise of the day was on the canal and came in the form of two Kingfishers chasing each other. Seeing and hearing them only briefly denied me the chance of checking if the birds were male and female. It would be great to have breeding pair in the park. Continuing on a pair of Mandarins were again on the Canal Pond amongst the Mallards and Moorhens. With no sign of the Common Snipe I carried on up to the Moat and the top ponds and found only Black-headed Gulls and Mallards.
Above- Little Egret, Pond 2.
On my approach to Pond 2 the Little Egret (46) was seen feeding in a piece of open water towards the Pond 1 end. On approaching the bird it flew up into a tree and afforded me a chance to watch it in full sun, After a few minutes it took off again and flew over my head and back towards the Canal Pond. Checking Pond 1, I came across three drake Mandarins and then two more and then two females- there were Mandarins everywhere! After counting and re-counting I had a total of 15 birds! Adding the pair from the Canal Pond it was 17 birds and my best ever total for the park! Whilst watching in awe another Mandarin type female duck appeared from out of cover and this seemed to be either a Wood Duck / Mandarin hybrid or a rough looking Mandarin! Walking through the woods produced Redwings, Blackbirds, Robins, various tit species and a few Goldcrests. At least two great Spotted Woodpeckers were calling and drumming. Overhead a Sparrowhawk was seen following the thrushes as they moved through the canopy and a party of six Jays also seen. Walking back across the fields towards the Flycatcher Triangle and the Old Orchard my attention was forced skywards as a pair of Skylarks flew over. Watching the sky I saw another Sparrowhawk, larger this time and therefore probably the resident female. After a few minutes I heard a familiar call and look upwards to see a large falcon flying overhead- Peregrine (47) ! The falcon seemed to be on a patrol and flew in wide circles before powering off in several directions before returning to a holding position over the park. Whilst watching it I heard it call again and this time the call was answered ! A second Peregrine !!! was in the sky above the first and the two flew towards each other before seperating at the last minute- display or just games? After associating with each other for perhaps five minutes one bird then drifted south over the town centre and the other eastwards troawards the river and the Orwell Bridge. Today was a good day!
NB- I checked the pond at Victoria Nurseries on Westerfield Road later and found no Mandarins. It therefore looks like that the Mandarins on Pond 1 are likely to be the birds seen recently at the Nursery Pond. It suggests that the central Ipswich population of Mandarins do wander between Chantry, Christchurch and Holywells Parks and the Nursery Pond.
16 January 2010- Gi Grieco was about early in the park and saw a mobile Little Egret (first record of the year) on Ponds 1 and 4. Also seen were both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker and a fly-over Grey Heron.
With Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (referred to as a Lesser Pecker) having been seen the day before I set off in the awful drizzle mid morning to try and re-find the bird amongst the tit flocks. Starting along the canal, several Mallards and Moorhens were found and a pair of Mandarins were on the Canal Pond. Tucked up at the back of the pond was a very miserable looking Grey Heron, perhaps the same bird seen earlier by Gi? Walking up past the Wilderness Pond several Goldfinch and Chaffinch were feeding in the trees and three Redwings were also amongst them. Heading up to the Moat past the Paddling Pool a Common Snipe took off from it's hiding place along the waters edge and flew down towards the Moat edge. A short while later the snipe was seen flying back towards the Paddling Pool before dropping back into a piece of damp cover, perhaps it's original hiding place? On the Moat Pond a Kingfisher was perched up in amongst some heavy cover and a small mixed tit flock was feeding in waterside trees. On Pond 3, 15 Black-headed Gulls were washing and cleaning themselves. Continuing up the watercourse past Ponds 2 and 1 a large tit flock was watched as it moved through the area. Estimated at about 55 birds it was mainly Long-Tailed Tits and Great Tits although a single Treecreeper was found. Waiting quietly in the area between the Nacton Road gate and the top of Pond 1 failed to turn up a Water Rail but good numbers of Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares were present all around. Also of interest was a Great Tit flock of 23 birds but alas no Lesser Pecker, however, a female Blackcap provided a small consolation prize. Walking back towards the Stable Block via the Cliff Lane car park gave me some nice views of Goldcrest, Robins and more Redwings and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker. Heading back to the Canal via the Walled Gardens and the Old Orchard provided me with views of a Green Woodpecker, lots of Stock Doves and a flock of nine Jays.
15 January 2010- An update via the Yahoo Suffolk Natural History Group from Dave Ladbrook was received for this morning in the park. Dave saw 20 + Goldcrests including a flock of 15 birds, Treecreeper and numerous mixed tit flocks. Best of all, however, was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker seen with a tit flock in trees at the back of the Cliff Lane car park before the flock moved off towards Nacton Road. This is a tremendous record and the first, as far as I am aware, for at least three years. On a sad note a dead Common Snipe was found on Dave's visit.
12 January 2010- Joe Underwood, Ipswich Parks Ranger saw two Common Snipe in the park today. One bird on the stream between the Wilderness Pond and the Canal Pond and a second bird flushed from the Paddling Pool towards Pond 3. Also, on an evening walk around the perimeter of the park I heard one but probably two Tawny Owls calling within the park.
10 January 2010- Gi Grieco visited the park today and had two Lesser Redpolls as fly over birds and a Treecreeper. Of note, and in line with Gi's observations several of my neighbours have reported Lesser Redpolls on feeders in gardens near to the park so chances are that there are several birds in the local area and certainly worth looking out for amongst finch flocks.
Above- "Love is in the air" a wonderful photograph of the Mandarin Ducks by Parrish Colman, 10 January 2010.
09 January 2010- Despite the continuing freeze the park continued to produce some great bird watching and a few new species for the year list. Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds were seen in good numbers with most birds passing over head although several small Redwing flocks remain within the wooded areas. No tit flocks were seen or heard but there was a small Chaffinch flock numbering 14 birds and with a pair of Greenfinch mixed in with them. On the ponds, the pair of Mandarin remain on Pond 3 and most of the ponds although still frozen held a few Mallard Ducks, Moorhens and Black-headed Gulls. On Pond 1, the Common Snipe was seen very briefly feeding in snow just under some overhanging tree roots. Whilst watching the snipe and hoping that it would move out into the open a pig like squeal was heard twice and my attention switched to the maker of the noise. After a short while a very quick glimpse of a Water Rail (43) was managed before it disappeared under some snow covered reeds. Despite waiting quietly for a long time I didn't see it again although it was heard to call again. On giving up on the Water Rail I walked back towards Pond's 2 and 3. Checking some movement in the Holly trees to my right I heard a very soft "peu" and a flash of white rump. The Bullfinch (44), a splendid male, called again and then flew across in front of me, around to the left and was lost as it flew strongly towards the Leaf Yard. Despite looking and listening for it I didn't locate it again which was a shame as I would love to have spent time watching this handsome bird and a very irregular visitor to the park. Thinking that it had been a good morning already my attention was drawn to another bird that was seen to fly away from me and drop into the Moat area. Suspecting it to be a wagtail I approached carefully and there out on the ice was indeed a lovely Grey Wagtail (45). Watching it for several minutes the bird was seen to walk around restlessly and then fly to the pond edge and search the bank for food. After a few more minutes it took off and flew down towards the Wilderness Pond. Deciding that I had pushed my birding luck I decided to head home and warm up.
Above- Grey Wagtail, Moat Pond.
08 January 2010- An early morning visit at first light was rewarded with another new species for me in the park. I had long expected to see Skylark in the park given that they are a regular bird in Landseer Park some 500 yards away, however, until today it was a species that had eluded me. So, as I walked out into the park and headed towards the Old Orchard a familiar call caused me to look up and there flying over the Orchard Meadow was not one Skylark but a flock of nine birds! The Skylarks (42) circled the meadow before flying over the Old Orchard and flew off high towards the general direction of Landseer Park. Although a relatively common bird in Suffolk it's likely that these are migrant birds coming in from mainland Europe or perhaps from Northern England. Either way it was great to see this bird at last and it gave me my 88th species for the park. Continuing on around the allotment edge a few Chaffinch and Goldfinch were seen flying around seemingly not knowing what to do. Over towards the Old Bat Roost and Flycatcher Triangle 14 Magpies were seen together and a single Green Woodpecker flew over. On the ponds the pair of Mandarin Ducks were still on Pond 3 and a few Black-headed Gulls were also lingering there. Around the Childrens Play Area a small flock of Redwings were found along with nine Fieldfares. The Fieldfares soon took flight and appeared to scold me with their chattering calls. Also here was a flock of 23 Long-tailed Tits, eight Great Tits and 12 Blue Tits. Accompanying the tits was a single but very vocal Treecreeper. Returning to the Paddling Pool and the Wilderness Pond I approached the channel with caution and scanned along the waters edge. After checking along a short distance I picked up the familiar colours and stripes of the Common Snipe and saw that it was sitting in close to the bank. Being careful not to spook it and causing it to take flight I managed to kneel down and take a few photos. Then, almost unbelievably, the snipe moved towards me by several feet and again sat at the banks edge affording me a closer view. After enjoying this spectacle I managed to move back and away without disturbing it further.
Above and below- Common Snipe, Paddling Pool.
07 January 2010- A lunch time walk proved to be a good move for me with a park first and views of a not so common gull! After walking along the canal and being entertained by a small flock of 5 Greenfinches and 5 Goldfinches I decided to skirt around the edge of the Wilderness Pond and up past the Paddling Pool. Several Moorhens and mallards were present on the Wilderness Pond itself and as I got to the Paddling Pool I flushed a Common Snipe (40) from the waters edge. With a classic Snipe call as it took flight I watched it as it flew off vertically and then in a zig-zag fashion eventually losing it from my sight as it turned right behind the tree line by the viewing platform. I was very pleased with seeing this species especially as it had been seen recently by others and is likely to be the same bird (see below).
Above- Common Snipe, Pond 1 photographed on 19 December 2009 by Parrish Colman, (perhaps the same bird from today?)
As such this was my 87th species seen in the park since 2007 and a very welcome addition to the list. Continuing on to the Moat Pond and Pond 3 I noticed that there were good numbers of Black-headed Gulls present both in the air and on the iced surface of Pond 3. With lots of Black-headed gulls to look at I hoped secretly for a Mediterranean Gull to be amongst them but another gull species found within the flock was a very welcome sight. This gull was an adult Common Gull (41) and was only the third time I have seen one in the park. Despite it's name it is not that common and is very much a pelagic gull for most of the year. Winter is always a good time to see them especially inland at lakes, reservoirs or on farm land where large numbers may be encountered.
Above- Adult Common Gull with Black-headed Gull, Pond 3.
Also on Pond 3 were a pair of Mandarin Duck (see below) who were engaged in a rather intense courtship display with the drake acting agrgessively to everything that came near him. Up on Pond 1 a Grey Heron was disturbed and took flight at my arrival but there was no sign of the Kingfisher from yesterday. A Long Tailed Tit flock passed through and was counted at 23 birds. Again as noted over the last few days, there were good numbers of Redwings both in the park and flying over.
06 January 2010- With more snow and a biting North Easterly wind I wasn't sure what would be seen in the park on this late afternoon walk. Along the frozen canal a number of Mallards and Moorhens were seen on the ice and a small tit flock comprising of both Blue and Great Tits were present in water side vegetation. Around the Wilderness Pond several Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch were in the tree tops and a Green Woodpecker was seen to enter a tree hole and remain inside. Good numbers of Moorhens were present in the Paddling Pool and in the Wilderness Pond itself. On the Moat and Pond 3 several Black-headed Gulls were present and moving between each pond in order to find ice-free water. On Pond 2 a Kingfisher was seen perched on a small sappling before flying to Pond 1. Here it was located again and a quick picture was taken of it (see below).
Also around the Pond 1 area was a large tit flock which comprised of Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits plus a single Treecreeper. Around the wooded area numerous Redwings were seen and a few Fieldfares noted as they flitted through the tree tops. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and then heard to drum. A small mixed finch flock (perhaps the same from the Wilderness Pond?) was also present in the tree tops by the Old Stable buildings. A calling Tawny Owl was heard from within the Conifer Hedge area but despite being looked for it was not located. It's likely that this will be the same bird heard the night before and hopefully it wil pair up soon and breed.
05 January 2010- A Tawny Owl (39) was heard calling from the trees along the Cliff Lane edge of the park late evening and again in woods behind Draymans Way.
03 January 2010- A mid morning visit to the park was made today, this time amongst light snow flurries and briliant sunshine! The Canal remained mostly ice bound with a few Moorhens and Mallard Ducks seen walking and sliding as they tried to find food.
On the Canal Pond a Grey Heron (above) was seen perched on branches over looking the pond and three Siskins (38) were seen feeding on Beechmast by the stream leading to the Wilderness Pond. A good sized tut flock was found in the trees next to the Bishops Hill meadow and close scrutiny revealed Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits as well as two Treecreepers and two Goldcrests. High in the trees here were 35 Redwings some of which were calling continuously, perhaps to birds moving overhead.
Above- Redwing in tree tops, Bishops Hill Meadow
Back towards Ponds 2 and 3 another large mixed tit flock was on the move and again was found to contain two Goldcrests. In trees towards the Leaf Yard a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard. On Pond 3 a pair of Mandarin Duck were seen and the male was noted to be acting very aggressively to the Mallard Ducks nearby. This may suggest that he is full breeding vigour and defending his female! Despite the Mandarin drake's attempts to clear the pond a total of 23 Black-headed Gulls were counted either on or flying around the pond. Elsewhere two Song Thrush were seen near the Old Orchard and singletons of Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush were also seen here too.
02 January 2010- A late afternoon visit to the park found me walking in sleet, rain and then bright sunshine. Even with an odd set of weather conditions and failing light there were still plenty of birds about to see and listen too. With most of the ponds frozen or partially frozen the Mallards Ducks, Black-headed Gulls and Moorhens were easy to see standing out on the grass or balancing on thin icy surfaces. A pair of Mandarins were found under branches on the Moat Pond and another pair on Pond 1, again hidden under tree roots. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard but not seen and good numbers of Jays and Magpies were noted throughout the park. In the Conifer Hedge, several Goldcrests were present along with good numbers of restless Redwings. Around Pond 1 and in the tree tops towards Pond 3 several small flocks of Chaffinches were present. Appearing unsettled probably because they were preparing to roost I was able to look through them and counted 52 birds. Also within a single flock of 18 birds were three Bramblings (36). These north European cousins of the Chaffinch were picked out by their black, orange and white colours and their "wheezy" call. Following a Long Tailed Tit flock that was also present in the same trees as the finches but lower down I saw a male Blackcap (37) feeding with them and a couple more Goldcrest. The Blackcap has no doubt come in late from the south German breeding population and rather than migrating much further south to Africa it is looking to winter here in the UK. Hopefully, it will find enough food to keep it going through the harsh weather that we are currently experiencing and that forecast in the future. Elsewhere in the park good numbers of Robins and Blackbirds were seen and there appeared to be a constant movement of Redwings both over and into the park.
01 January 2010- My first walk of the new year took place in brilliant sunshine and through a thin carpet of snow. Despite being so sunny it was still bitterly cold thanks perhaps to the slight north westerly winds that still prevailed. Being the first day of the new year I decided to count the species of birds in the park in order to start my year list off. Walking around all of the park and checking each of the ponds I saw the following:
1. Mandarin Duck, 2. Mallard Duck, 3. Grey Heron, 4. Sparrowhawk, 5. Moorhen, 6. Black-headed Gull, 7. Herring Gull, 8. Rock Dove, 9. Stock Dove, 10. Woodpigeon, 11. Collared Dove, 12. Kingfisher, 13. Green Woodpecker, 14. Great Spotted Woodpecker, 15. Pied Wagtail, 16. Wren, 17. Dunnock, 18. Robin, 19. Blackbird, 20. Fieldfare, 21. Song Thrush, 22. Redwing, 23. Mistle Thrush, 24. Goldcrest, 25. Long Tailed Tit, 26. Blue Tit, 27. Great Tit, 28. Treecreeper, 29. Jay, 30. Magpie, 31. Carrion Crow, 32. Starling, 33. Chaffinch, 34. Greenfinch, 35. Goldfinch.
Above- Moorhen on the Moat Pond
Above- Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Old Orchard.