July – September 2009 Bird Life Documented

26 September 2009- Not having had a chance to get back to the park since the Yellow-browed Warbler (YBW) had been seen I walked into the park with fingers crossed and with the objectives of checking the tit flocks and then double checking them as well as grilling every warbler seen! Very soon I had my first tit flock along the canal path and after carefully checking each bird seen the only “odd” bird was a Treecreeper. The rest of the flock comprised of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits.

As I joined the path leading out onto the meadows a Chiffchaff was calling and nearby a Blackcap was heard “tacking”. Out on the meadows, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard in the trees over the Wilderness Pond before breaking cover and flying towards the Old Orchard, calling as they flew. Walking in an anti-clockwise direction past the Old Orchard and up and behind Flycatcher Triangle and to the Bowling Green path gave me only a few Robins, Dunnocks, Wrens and a couple of Great Tits. In the trees above good numbers of Wood Pigeons, Stock Doves and Magpies were seen.

Continuing through and past the old stables a second Chiffchaff was heard singing and was noted to be in the company of several Long-tailed Tits. Walking into the woods towards Nacton Road and along side Pond 1 gave me a second tit flock to play with. This flock was much larger, perhaps 40 birds strong but, by the calls, it clearly contained several warblers and crests. As this was the general area where the YBW was seen and heard last weekend my hopes were raised! Through checking every bird I managed at least five Goldcrests, two more Chiffchaffs (both very tatty grey/green juveniles) and a “browncap” (female/ juvenile Blackcap). Although the YBW wasn’t found it was great to spend time watching this flock especially the way the birds moved so quickly and how they appeared united and focussed in finding food through contact calls and whistles. A further smaller tit flock was found towards the Bishops Hill side of the park but again only tit species were found. A finch flock was seen and followed as it flew over the park near the corner of Myrtle Rd/ Bishops Hill landing briefly in the treetops of the Wilderness Pond and Conifer Hedge.

Checking the flock through revealed 12 Chaffinch, three Goldfinch, two Greenfinch and a single bird that could have been a Lesser Redpoll but that never settled long enough and in focus to be confirmed! On the water only Mallards and Moorhens were seen on each pond but on the Canal Pond a single Grey Heron and Kingfisher were an added bonus. Several Black-headed gulls were observed flying over the park and one or two were to be found on the Moat Pond preening and cleaning.

20 September 2009- After a very long week at work I had several hours today to go birdwatching. Having seen and heard about the great migrants that had arrived this week on the coast I decided against visiting the park and instead headed down to Landguard in the hope that the recent Greenish Warbler would re-appear or perhaps a Red Breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler might wander into view.

Despite seeing several Redstarts and a couple of Pied Flycatchers down at Landguard I was gently (!) reminded of the park’s birding potential and perhaps that I had made a mistake in heading to the coast by Ipswich birder Gi Grieco, who on an afternoon visit to the park found a Yellow-browed Warbler(YBW) !!!! Gi briefly saw the YBW as it flew from trees near Pond 1, over the tarmac path and into the trees by the new steps leading up to the pit and the back of the leaf yard. The identification was clinched by the YBW’s call which is very distincitve.

Following a call from Gi I quickly joined him but despite checking the area and following a tit flock that was present in the area we could not locate it. Hopefully it will re-appear over the new few days!?

The YBW, is a strong migrant and this bird is likely to have arrived on the past week’s easterly winds. It breeds in temperate Asia and migrates to south-east Asia. YBW’s sit in size between a Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff. They are normally greyish green above and whitish/ buff below and have a long yellowish supercilium and a clear-cut green eye-stripe along with two thick yellowish wing-bars and whitish fringes to the tertials. Despite these good field marks, YBW’s can be incredibly difficult to see and keep up with especially if they are tagging along with a mobile tit flock! YBW’s have a loud call, typically described as “swee-oo-eet, suweet, stu-eet � and is sometimes a monosyllabic sweet.” Excited birds, especially those feeding with Long-tailed Tit’s for example will call continuously and respond to tit calls especially those distinctive contact and alarm calls.

So well done Gi, and there is now even more incentive to keep checking those tit flocks over the next few months and to double check every Goldcrest and warbler that you see!

13 September 2009- A walk this morning found the family of Tufted Ducks back again on the Canal Pond. The four ducklings are now close to the size of their mother albeit still very much under mum’s protective wing! Also on the Canal Pond was a single Grey Heron and Kingfisher.

The Orchard, Flycatcher Triangle and Bowling Green areas only produced a few Blue Tits, a single Chiffchaff and a few of the usual park birds such as Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Woodpigeon. A small flock of 15 finches was followed from the trees near the Alan Rd/ Nacton Road entrance down to the trees surrounding the Wilderness Pond.The flock was mainly Chaffinches but did include at least two Goldfinches and two Siskin. Due to the amount of calling birds around the Wilderness Pond I spent a bit of time here and was rewarded with a very mobile Spotted Flycatcher which flew between the pond trees and the Conifer Hedge. Although likely to be one of yesterdays birds it is still good to add another day record for this species.

Following a tit flock around the pond and into the Horse Chestnut trees near to the Canal Path turned out to be a good move as several other species were feeding with the tits. At least three Goldcrests, two Treecreepers and two Chiffchaffs were seen as well as a couple of Coal Tits! Also of note was a male Blackcap sporting a silver ring on it’s leg. Other birds seen and heard included a very vocal Great Spotted Woodpecker, several Black Headed Gulls and up to a dozen Magpies. Of note or concern(?) today was the number of rats seen including three together along the Moat edge to the Childrens Playground area. Singles were also seen around Pond 3, the Wilderness Pond and the Canal Pond and probably another near to the Sluice by the Cliff Lane/ Landseer Road gate. Butterflies on the wing today were Speckled Wood but not in yesterday’s numbers and a few Large Whites.

12 September 2009-A quick walk around the park late morning revealed a very busy park with lots of people milling around. Despite this a few good birds could still be seen. Apart from a juvenile Chiffchaff being seen and heard nothing else could be found in the “Flycatcher Triangle.” On the grassy areas at least three Green Woodpeckers were seen and heard and a single Mistle Thrush was also seen flying over the meadows. A small mixed flock of tits and warblers was found along the edge of the Orchard and this produced at least three Goldcrest, two Blackcaps (both males) and a probable Willow Warbler.

After checking the Wilderness Pond I walked towards the Conifer Hedge and immediately heard a calling Spotted Flycatcher. Standing still and listening gave me views of at least two birds and it is highly likely that there was a third bird present. All of the birds were actively feeding amongst the hedge line and in the tree tops between the hedge and the industrial unit wall. Whlst watching the “spots” I also saw three Song Thrush, including one bird carrying food in it’s mouth and another three Goldcrest. On the water, numerous Mallard were seen including several which now appeared to have moulted out of their eclipse plumage and into fine winter feathers.

There was no sign of either Mandarins or Tufted Ducks but a Grey Heron was feeding on fish fry at the back of the Moat Pond. A second Grey Heron was feeding on the Canal Pond and also seen and heard here was a single Kingfisher. As I walked out of the park I reflected on previous years and asked myself have I missed lots of Spotted Flycatchers passing through the park or is this year just a much better year to see them migrating through? Both nationally and in Suffolk they are still a scarce breeding bird and I’m not aware that their numbers have noticeably increased this year. Butterflies seen on the wing were 50+ Speckled Woods (throughout the park), singles of Painted Lady and Comma, two Red Admirals and several Large Whites.

11 September 2009- 2 Swifts seen at dusk in the park prior to the Bat Watch (per Gi Grieco)

07 September 2009- An early evening visit after work resulted in two Spotted Flycatchers being seen again in the “Flycatcher Triangle.” One bird was a very scruffy juvenile, the other a very smart looking adult. Whether this was a parent migrating with it’s offspring I’m not sure, however, both birds were catching insects well and seemed in good health.

Also found in the same area were two juvenile Chiffchaffs and it was interesting to note the variable plumage showed by each one. A small tit flock was seen around the Stable Block and Bowling Green area but apart from Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits no other species were seen or heard amongst their numbers. On the water a female Mandarin was with Mallards on the Canal Pond and a Kingfisher was perched on a dead branch at the rear of this pond. A Grey Heron was feeding in the shallow edges to the Moat Pond and a second Kingfisher flew from the Moat towards Pond 1.

29 August 2009- A quick stroll around the park revealed very few birds and butterflies. On the Canal Pond the female Tufted Duck was seen with her four ducklings along with a few Mallard and Moorhen. This time mother Tufted allowed me to get close enough to take a few “digiphotos” and capture a family portrait.

Above- Female Tufted Duck and her four ducklings

Flying over the pond three Black-headed Gulls were seen and a Carrion Crow was observed sitting high up in a conifer near to the path. A chiffchaff was heard singing in the Orchard Meadow bushes and a few Long-Tailed Tits were seen moving through the Orchard along with several Blue and Great Tits. Flycatcher Triangle revealed a few birds in the form of two Dunnocks, a single Wren and two Robins. Butterflies identified were Large White, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and a single Small Tortoiseshell.

28 August 2009- An early morning patrol of the park revealed the female Tufted Duck on the Canal Pond complete with her four ducklings. Also on this pond were 25+ Mallards and about a dozen Moorhen. Moving up through the ponds gave me views of Mandarin female No. 2 and her two ducklings (albeit now as big as her) on the Moat Pond and a Grey Heron feeding on the overspill pipe near the path between the Moat and Pond 3. Several woodpeckers were heard and a Green Woodpecker was seen “anting” on the field near the Stable Block. Overhead good numbers of Black-headed Gulls were seen passing through and several hirundines were seen flying high and in a generally southern direction. Following the discovery of good numbers of warblers and the two Spotted Flycatchers being in the area of the Old Bat Roost, allotments fence and bowling green bushes I have decided to call this piece of park as “Flycatcher Triangle!” Checking this area this morning revealed seven Chiffchaff including two juveniles and three Willow Warblers including a very yellow juvenile. Checking through a Long-Tailed Tit flock that was found in bushes behind the Bowls Club hut revealed two Blackcaps, another Chiffchaff and, best of all, a Lesser Whitethroat (72)! This is my first record of Lesser Whitethroat in the park and constitutes my 85th species! Whilst heading back to the Canal Path I saw the female Sparrowhawk burst out of the trees surrounding the Wilderness Pond hotly pursued by three Magpies and a Carrion Crow who all appeared to be very unhappy as to her presence! Following her flight through my binoculars revealed that her speed and agility soon left her angry followers behind and she continued on her way in what appeared to a rather smug fashion!

26 August 2009- The last few days have seen a steady increase in sightings of migrant birds on the Suffolk coast as they make their way south for the Winter. Warblers, Whinchats, Wheatears, Redstarts, Nightingales and flycatchers have all featured in recent days and so with this in mind I decided to check a few sheltered parts of the park to see if I could find anything simiilar this evening. The bushes along the edge of the old Orchard and Orchard Meadow have been good in the past and these were found to contain several Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. This suggested that migrants were in the park and so I moved on with anticipation. Checking the fence line by the old Bat Roost and allotments produced a pair of Blackcaps and young (very yellow) Willow Warbler. Hearing a metallic “chink” in the trees ahead of me led me to see a flitting movement and a bird perched on a dead branch. Looking in the binoculars gave me my first Spotted Flycatcher (70) in the park this year and a very welcome sight it was too!

Above- An awful record shot of Spotted Flycatcher (honest!)

Moving closer, I was awarded great views of it as it caught flies and insects, each time returning to a different perch. Hearing a similar “chink” call had me looking at another branch and another Spotted Flycatcher was found! Both birds were actively taking flies and on occasion took time out in order to chase each other. With the light slowly fading I reluctantly left the flycatchers to check the bushes and trees iaround the stable block and bowling green. After a few minutes I turned up a Common Whitethroat (71), my first of the year(!), two more Chiffchaffs and a very briefly seen grey looking warbler. It had grey upperparts and dirty white underparts with yellow/green on it’s upper breast sides and a slight yellow tinge to the upper wings. Initial thoughts as to it’s identity had me thinking about a possible Bonelli’s Warbler but coming to my senses I think it was more likely to be a Northern race juvenile Willow Warbler (race acredula) or Chiffchaff (race abietinus). Despite looking for it for another half an hour in failing light I didn’t see it again. Disappointingly, no more migrants were found around the stable block but as I made my way home I was very happy with the birds found especially the Spotted Flys!

21 August 2009-Two surprises resulted from today’s visit. The first one was relocating the female Tufted Duck on the Canal Pond but this time with four ducklings! Attempts to get a photograph of them proved fruitless as the female was very alert to my presence and very protective of her young (which is a good thing). All five ducks could be seen diving and feeding at the back of the pond and all seemed in good health. The second surprise came in the form of Mandarin female No.2 and her two (almost fuily grown) ducklings. They were found near the outfall pipe on the Moat Pond and were together with 12 Mallards. All three Mandarins appeared happy and healthy and their presence continues the mystery of where they disappear to when not found in the park! Several picnics and abandoned food meant that gulls were present and in the form of seven Black- headed Gulls and one Herring Gull. Elsewhere, a single Green Woodpecker was heard calling over the Bowling Green and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen perched on the old Bat Roost tree. Up around Pond 1, a single Song Thrush was seen and a mobile mixed tit flock was found to contain Blue, Great, Long-Tailed Tits, Goldcrests(3) and a juvenile Blackcap. Breezy conditions meant that butterflies were difficult to see and identify as the wind kept them on the move. Species definitely seen were Painted Lady, Large White, Speckled Wood (lots) and Meadow Brown.

10 August 2009- A brief afternoon stroll around the park failed to find very much of bird interest. A very mobile tit flock was noted along the Canal foot path and this was found to contain only Blue, Great and Long-Tailed Tits and no warblers. On the ponds only Moorhens and Mallards were seen and it looks like both the Mandarins and Canada Geese have left the park- interestingly 7 Mandarins were reported from Christchurch Park the previous day so maybe some of these are Holywells birds?On the meadows and fields only Magpies and Carrion Crows were seen along with one Blackbird and a Herring Gull. On a Buddleia bush I noticed several butterflies and managed to take photos of a Painted Lady and a Peacock. Also seen frequenting this bush (but not camera friendly) were Large Whites, a Small Tortoiseshell and some Meadow Browns.

Below: Painted Lady

Below: Peacock

08 August 2009- Looking for early Autumn migrants again saw me checking the berry bushes and following the tit flocks. One tit flock was moving along the canal path and so following this I managed to pick out at least two Blackcaps and one Chiffchaff as well as a Treecreeper. The tits were mostly Long Tailed with a few Great and Blue tagging along.Walking out onto the Orchard Meadow disturbed a Green Woodpecker and a Jay along with several Magpies but not in the numbers seen the day before. On pond 3, Mandarin female No.2 was found with her two ducklings both of which were nearly the same size as their mothe. Checking the Moat revealed neither Canada Geese or the female Tufted Duck from yesterday. With the birds being quiet I turned to the butterflies and managed an impressive count of 12 species: Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Large White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Painted Lady, Small Copper, Gatekeeper, Large Skipper, Essex Skipper and Small Skipper.

Below- Gatekeeper

Below- Small Copper

Below- Meadow Brown

Below- Common Blue (Male)

Below- Speckled Wood

07 August 2009- As the first Pied Flycatcher of the Autumn had been reported today at Landguard I set off around the park hoping that one may stop off here in the near future. I have only seen Spotted Flycatcher once before in the park so a Pied Flycatcher would be a great record. However, after checking all the suitable areas for a flycatcher none were seen and I’ll no doubt have to wait a little bit longer! Birdwise the park was quiet although I did count 27 Magpies on the fields and Meadows and 53 Mallard Ducks on the various ponds. No Mandarins were seen, although a female Tufted Duck was on the Moat Pond. She appeared very wary and was busy diving in the moat water so I wasn’t able to get a photo. A Grey Heron was perched on a dead tree trunk high up near the old bat roost and given the height of it’s perch was no doubt taking in a rather splendid view of the park, dock areas and nearby gardens. A singing Blackcap and a calling Chiffchaff were the only migrants recorded and a couple of very vocal Green Woodpecker added both noise and colour to my round. Butterflies noted were Comma, Speckled Wood, Large White, Meadow Brown, Peacock and a single Painted Lady. A Hairstreak sp was seen up in the trees near to Nacton Road but it flew through too quickly for me to identify it properly

01 August 2009- Wandering along the canal footpath I noticed several large clumps of Blackberries that had started to emerge. As I walked along further it became apparent that more berries of various types were starting to show and this brought it home to me that Autumn is just around the corner.!With berries on my mind I started to check some of the larger clumps and was soon rewarded with a couple of juvenile Blackcaps ( which perhaps should be called “rustycaps” due to their pale brown caps) with blackcurrant stained cheeks near to the gate lead into the Old Orchard. Watching the Blackcaps revealed them to be gorging themselves on the ripening fruit. Watching another clump between the Childrens Play Area and the Moat I came across a very mobile Tit flock. Standing still and near to the berry clump I soon had perhaps a dozen Long Tailed Tits moving above my head closely followed by several Great Tits, Blue Tits, two Chiffchaffs and another three Blackcaps. A feeding frenzy followed until a Sparrowhawk was seen overhead by one of the Great Tits who gave an alarm call. At this point the flock dispersed quickly and deeply into the bushes and out of the hawk’s view. Leaving the berry bushes I continued on a circuit of the park and saw two Green Woodpeckers, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Mistle Thrush. Checking the ponds revealed the Mandarin female No.2 and her two fast growing ducklings. Oddly, one duckling was on a log in the Moat and the other was on the Duck House Island on Pond 3. Only three of the Canada Geese were seen and being all juveniles it left me wondering if the parents had left or were elsewhere and unseen in the park. Walking back along the canal produced a single Kingfiher which flew off noisily towards the sluice before turning right and off towards the dock industrial areas. Several butterflies were now on the wing with Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, along with Large and Small Whites.

24 July 2009- Late afternoon saw me wandering through the park to see whether any new birds had turned up and to watch any butterflies on the wing. The first bird heard and seen was a very vocal Green Woodpecker that flew from the Bishops Hill field across towards the Bowling Green. On the lower field several Blackbirds, and three Song Thrush were also seen and a single Mistle Thrush was a welcome sight. No warblers were heard but a female Blackcap was noted with several Long-tailed Tits. On the ponds, the 4 Juvenile Mandarins were seen with 12 juvenile Mallards on Pond 3. On the Moat Pond two Black-Headed Gulls were cleaning themselves whilst being watched by two newly hatched Moorhen chicks. Whilst the Moorhen chicks watched the gulls and the insects and weed being stirred up by their behaviour, a Grey Heron was seen watching the chicks. This observation highlighted one of the many food chains that exist within the park and how fragile they are. Pushing on around the moat a Kingfisher was heard and then seen several times perched on suitable pieces of overhanging vegetation between the moat and play area. Then almost as quickly as it had appeared it vanished. Seeing Kingfishers in the park in Summer is quite a rare sight but always suggests a chance that a nesting hole could be in use or being considered. With little else birdwise being seen my attention turned to the butterflies with both Large and Small Whites being seen easily and in reasonable numbers. Several Painted Ladies were noted flying with Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell. Along the meadow edges were Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Skippers and a few Speckled Woods.

19 July 2009- Armed with digital camera I managed to get some pictures today of the second female Mandarin (henceforth to be referred to as No.2!) and her ducklings. Sadly only two remain of the original four but these two appear to be growing well and are being protected by their mum. Female No.2 appears quite different from the first female in that she is quite “rakish”, lacks the bulk of the first bird and appears generally smaller. When it has a wet head No 2’s feathers stand up on her head almost crest like and “punkish!” The four first brood Mandarin juveniles and female No. 1 were found on Pond 3 and the Canada Geese family were in long grass near to the old Paddling Pool.

Above- Female Mandarin “No.2”, Moat Pond and below the same bird with her two remaining ducklings.

Three Grey Herons were found, with two on the Canal Pond and one in trees on the moat. Otherwise things were fairly quiet apart from two singing Chiffchaff in the Moat bushes and at least three Blackcaps singing along the Canal path.

Above- One of the two Grey Herons on the Canal pond.

18 July 2009- A late afternoon stroll in the park led to very few birds being seen or heard. Around the ponds the Canada Geese family were found on the Canal Pond and the four first brood Mandarins were on the duck house island on Pond 3. Apart from several Mallards and a few Moorhen nothing else of interest was seen. on the water A Green Woodpecker flew over the Orchard Meadow and several Carrion Crows were calling to each other from the tops of the park’s conifer trees. A single Chiffchaff was heard singingalong the Canal path and a couple of Blackcaps sang sporadically around the Orchard bushes. The main area of interest this afternoon related to the amount of butterflies on the wing. Suffolk, in the last few days has seen some major influxes of Large Whites and Painted Lady butterflies and today thye park shared in this mini invasion. At least 75-100 Painted Lady butterflies were counted as well as dozens of Large and Small Whites, Comma’s Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Speckled Woods and Peacocks.

Above: Painted Lady Butterfly, one of the many flying in the park.

15 July 2009- An early visit to the park before work revealed singing warblers probably responding to the passing of the rain. At least three Blackcaps were still singing and perhaps two Chiffchaffs. Walking across the Orchard Meadow led me straight into the path of three Red Legged Partridges (69) who emerged from the long meadow grass. All three flew low towards the Bishops Hill field and were lost from view. Although I wasn’t able to see them I could still hear their distinctive call as they took cover under the bushes. This is only my second record of them in the park and chances are they came from the waste grounds near the Cliff Quay dock area. Two Grey Herons were on the Moat Pond, as were the Canada Geese family. Checking through the ducks revealed above average numbers of Mallards, with most being juveniles along with a few adults in eclipse plumage (moulting of their flight feathers). Checking under the over hanging bushes revaeled the original Mandarin brood and the adult female. They then came out from their cover and allowed me to obtain a few snaps. The new adult female remained on Pond 3 although there was no sign of her youngsters. Whether they were just in cover or she has lost them will be revealed in time.

Above- Adult female Mandarin (top right) and young, Moat Pond

Several Song Thrush were singing and one Mistle Thrush was heard briefly. A small mixed tit flock was seen but dispersed through the woods around Pond 1 before I could catch up with them. Overhead several gulls including, Black Headed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring were noted passing through towards the river and wet docks. High above them were several swifts along with a few Swallows and House Martins.

11 July 2009- A quick walk around the park this morning prior to heading up the coast to Minsmere, proved as always, rather rewarding . A check of the ponds revealed 3 Grey Herons, two on the Canal Pond and one on the Moat Pond. Despite my comments in the previous log I re-found the four juvenile Mandarins from the first brood sitting on a log in the Moat Pond, however, there was no sign of their mum. On Pond 3, duck house island the new female Mandarin was seen with 3 ducklings under her wings. This female is incredibly wary and protective and just by looking at her with my binoculars she quickly moved her young into cover. Despite this behaviour she has, unfortunately, already lost one youngster.Counting them all up means that there are now (at least) 8 Mandarin in the park and this is my highest ever count! Both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were singing in the park and a quick count highlighted 3 of each species. High over the park was a large gathering of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, perhaps 150+ in total. Checking them as well as you can a mobile flock of hirundines I failed to locate a Sand Martin and this species still remains absent from my park list! Several Song Thrush were seen this morning and checking the thrushes generally revealed some good numbers of Blackbirds including 9 first year birds. Looking at my watch and deciding to head home I cut across the Orchard Meadow where I found myself looking up at a small dove flying quickly over the park in a westerly direction. Knowing already what it was (by a combination of size, shape and flight) before I raised my binoculars, I quickly focussed onto it and confirmed my initial thoughts- Turtle Dove! (68) This is a very rare bird for the park and is scarce in Suffolk as a breeding bird. Whether it was a migrant or simply a local breeding bird on a food hunt I don’t know but it was great to see and record for the park year.

08 July 2009- A brief stroll in the park this evening provided me with a new park tick in the form of a flyover Greenshank (67). First identified by it’s distinctive call, it was then seen flying towards the nearby Wet Dock and River Orwell. This bird is no doubt a migrant returning from it’s breeding grounds and is one of many currently passing through Suffolk at the moment. Whilst watching the Greenshank a pair of Sparrowhawks were noted “power flying” over the tops of the park’s trees and then engage in some brief display behaviour. Several woodpeckers were heard calling and both Green and Great Spotted were also seen in flight. No Mandarins were seen tonight but a female Mallard was seen with 11 ducklings in tow on the Moat. The family of Canada Geese were together on the Moat Pond and a Grey Heron was on the Canal Pond.
05 July 2009-A double circuit of the park was undertaken this morning to have a good look around and satisfy myself that nothing new or interesting was lurking within. The first bird of note was a female Mandarin flying across the field in front of me towards the Myrtle Road entrance. Tracking her in my binoculars she was seen to do a sharp left turn and drop into the back of the Canal Pond trees. Interestingly, she was very vocal as she flew around. Looking to see where she came from led me to the Moat Pond and here I found the family of Canada Geese but no other Mandarins. The goslings are now the size of their parents with their plumage progessing quickly to match that of the adults. A Kingfisher was disturbed from near the bank and several Mallards were also present here. Walking onto Pond 3 I did a double take on seeing a female Mandarin. Watching her closer, I saw her swim towards an overhanging tree and then emerge with four very small ducklings! This was clearly a second female Mandarin and another brood of ducklings! This begged the question as to where the first brood had gone but on reflection given their size when last seen it is highly likely that they have now flown on to pastures new wherever that may be. Still, a second brood is a record for me since I have been watching the park. Continuing my walk a pair of Kestrels flying over the park was a good record and a female Sparrowhawk seen flying in the opposite direction continued the raptor theme. Warblers still singing came in the form of Blackcap and Chiffchaff but no new record of either Willow or Garden Warbler. Several tit flocks were noted and these contained; Blue, Great, Long Tailed and Coal Tits. Also seen tagging along were a few juvenile Blackcaps (with very pale brown caps), several Goldcrests and a Treecreeper. Several gulls were loafing around the park and these included Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring. A couple of Grey Herons were on the Canal Pond and another Little Egret was seen but this time flying high over the park towards the nearby Wet Dock.

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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