Saturday, 3 March 2012

Local Patch YTD Update.

It has been a while since I posted anything about my local patch walks, mainly around Epsom Common Ponds and the surrounding woodlands, so here is an update including images of some of the regular winter species.

The woodland area around the car park has so far produced Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Collared Dove, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Starling, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit plus one sighting of a Marsh Tit. On 16 February I was very fortunate to find a single Firecrest (a patch tick) but no sightings of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker so far this year.
 Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) taking a brief rest from feeding.

Long-tailed Tit enjoying the sunshine.

Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) starting its upward climb.

The other main inhabitants around the woodland edge during the winter are the visiting thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare. Throughout January the numbers for each species were around 50 - 80 but in the last two weeks the numbers have fallen dramatically as they have stripped the berries from the ivy and probably moved on to a better feeding area.

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) keeping a watchful eye out for predators

During the last month Woodpigeon numbers have increased dramatically and I estimate a minimum of 250 in and around the woodland. They are pretty skittish and fly into the air at the slightest disturbance and are providing a welcome daily meal for the resident Sparrowhawks which regularly glide over the treetops. The Crows get their daily exercise by mobbing the local Common Buzzards or chasing off a hunting Kestrel.

The main inhabitants of the small Stew Pond are the Mallard and Moorhens.
One of the resident Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) can be found at one of their favourite fishing locations and usually tease me by allowing me to just get within range of the lens before flying over to the other side!
You will know from previous posts that I can usually find a Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carboresting on the Great Pond. This individual is an older adult in courtship plumage (evidenced by a white thigh patch ... hidden by its wing in this shot and the extensive white on the head and neck).
Or occasionally flying overhead.

Canada Geese numbers fluctuate throughout the year but at least two or three pairs will probably stay to breed. I like the way that one adult always stands on guard while its companion is feeding or takes a rest. A male Tufted Duck made an appearance in early January but hasn't stayed. (A pair did stop and breed last year so maybe they will return now that the water is unfrozen.)

On 31 January, 15 male Mandarin Ducks (Aix galericulata) circled the pond and briefly dropped into an unfrozen area before flying away again. The following week I counted 5 males and 1 female but last week I could only spot one pair lurking in the shade of the main island. Hopefully they will stay to breed as in previous years.

Another infrequent winter visitor to the Great Pond is the Northern Shoveler (Anus clypeata). Two males and a female turned up on 23 February but I don't anticipate that they will stay much longer. Other species seen are Stock Doves, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Green Woodpecker and Black-headed Gull plus on the 28 February I located 13 Lapwing on the fields at Rushett Farm (Last year for the same week the count was 14!).

During the last two weeks as I skirted the farm fields I have listened to the beautiful song of the Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) that have returned to breed. This photo is one from the archives.    FAB.

18 comments:

  1. wonderful post, Frank. Love the mallard and shoveler shots.

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  2. WOW - these are absolutely stunning!! I have never seen a Mandarin Duck in person - they are such colorful creatures!

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  3. what a great set of shots! the mandarins are gorgeous, the long-tails are so adorable, all of your shots are beautiful.

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  4. Great shots! Love those colorful Mandarins. You saw such a wide variety of species and colors!

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  5. Love the new header and great shots of the Treecreeper and Long Tail Tit.

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  6. Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  7. What beautiful photos. I love the mandarin ducks, and the long-tailed tits, and the skylark, and...
    Well, you know, all of them.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  8. Wonderful photographs.

    Regards and best wishes

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  9. Fantastic shots, Frank! Love the Fieldfare, Heron, and Mandarin's! Nicely done!

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  10. Awesome to see the familiar faces of the mallard and the shoveler half a world to the east from me. Fun to see the faces of the tit and the fieldfare, since I see their cousins here, they also feel familiar.

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  11. Brilliant update

    Mandarins in good numbers are always a treat to see, I have learnt something about my local very white headed cormorant from your description... thanks

    The Skylark image is wonderful, lots of character in the image, I like it a lot

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  12. Lovely series. I do love the ducks. :)

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  13. Excellent post Frank and a grand collection of 'ticks'...[;o)

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  14. The Firecrest was a very nice tick Frank.
    I would been happy with the Fieldfare as I haven't seen any of them this winter up close.

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  15. Wow, wonderful collection and sightings of birds. The madarins are beautiful and I love the cute long-tail. Fantastic photos! Happy Birding!

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  16. Hi Frank,

    I see you saved the best till last :) The Skylark.
    I thought I heard some in the fields opposite my garden....I do hope so.

    Also love the image of LTT. They are such sweet birds, always look so soft. I have a small flock feeding on the fat balls at the moment.

    Tku for showing your images, always a pleasure to view.

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  17. A lovely selection of great photos Frank.

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  18. The male mandarins are spectacular aren't they Frank, I was lucky enough to get some close up views earlier in the week. I never quite realised just how beautiful they are.Linda

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