Saturday, 30 December 2017

Chesworth Farm

Stonechat - D. Verrall

Stonechat - D. Verrall
Ryan managed to find a Stonechat or possibly two a week or so ago when leading a GreenGym task at the Farm. But despite a few looks whilst checking the livestock in the proceeding days I couldn't seem to find them. However today in the pouring rain when checking the cows in Parlour Mead Field this little beauty popped up right in front of me and showed down to about 20ft which was fantastic. Unfortunately I did not have a camera to hand but David Verrall once again came up with the goods and managed to photograph the bird later that day.

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Lesser Redpoll - D. Verrall
A nice morning greeted us on the Reserve with the wintery sun doing its best to break through the clouds before it lost its battle in the afternoon and the rain set in for the rest of the day. Not too much different bird-wise seen on the Reserve except a gorgeous male Lesser Redpoll which was photographed by David Verrall from the Woodpecker Hide. We had a good number of Redpoll around in late October but most of them seemed to move on quickly which was a shame. Otherwise there was a good scattering of the usual suspects around. Several birds were ringed this morning including an impressive male Great-spotted Woodpecker which can be seen in the photograph below.

Today's sightings:

Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Marsh Tit 1, Coal Tit 3, Lesser Redpoll 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Chaffinch 1, Long-tailed Tit 5+, Nuthatch 2, Dunnock 2, Blue Tit 10+, Great Tit 10+, Blackbird 3, Pheasant 2, Black-headed Gull 50+,  Tufted Duck 9, Woodpigeon 50+

Winter Moth 1
Great-spotted Woodpecker 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Frosty Start
A wonderful freezing cold morning greeted us at Warnham Local Nature Reserve today and high hopes of decent numbers of gulls arriving with the frost did not come to fruition. I was hoping that the juvenile Iceland Gull from Sunday might make another appearance but for some reason gull numbers were low all day with a maximum of 200 or so on the ice. There were still a few Common Gulls mixed in but not many larger gulls around at all.

The feeders were a little busier once again which is to be expected as the cold weather takes a hold and makes the smaller birds more reliant on the regular food source provided at the Woodpecker Hide. All of the resident tit species were recorded at the feeders today including Marsh Tit which was nicely photographed by David Verrall on the Reserve yesterday.
Marsh Tit - D. Verrall
Other species of note seen around the Reserve today included:

Little Grebe 4, Cormorant 7, Grey Heron 3, Mute Swan 2, Greylag Goose 63, Mallard 45+, Tufted Duck 6, Pheasant 2, Water Rail 3, Moorhen 4, Coot 3, BH Gull 150+, Common Gull 3, Herring Gull 50+, Woodpigeon 300+, Kingfisher 1, GS Woodpecker 1, Grey Wagtail 1, Wren 6, Dunnock 3, Robin 11, Blackbird 22, Song Thrush 5, Redwing 14, Long-tailed Tit 10+, Marsh Tit 1, Coal Tit 7, Blue Tit 50+, Great Tit 50+, Nuthatch 2, Jay 1, Magpie 37, Carrion Crow 3, Chaffinch 7, Goldfinch 20+

Chesworth Farm

Platt Pond Reflections - R. Allison
Horsham Green Gym were down on the Farm this morning and the two main jobs were some Bramble clearance in Parlour Mead Field as well as some reedbed management. If you visit the Farm you will notice that a section of the reedbed at Platt Pond has been cut down to water level and some of the reeds roots removed to help create a new reedbed at Warnham Local Nature Reserve.

The reeds are cut in the winter for a number of reasons, the main reason is to stop the reed totally covering the open water area which would happen if left to its own devices. The second reason is that having a mixture of different aged reeds within the pond gives the best diversity for the reedbed itself.  It is also very important to remove the cut reeds as this stimulates growth in the cut reed as well as stopping the pond silting up as the cut reed begins to rot.
As you can see from the photos above the volunteers were very busy and managed to get all the reed cut that we wanted. Straight away you can see the benefit of this job as it has created a muddy edge to the pond which is perfect for birds such as Moorhen and Water Rail to feed around during the winter months.

Lastly we have now moved the cattle into Parlour Mead Field so please be aware they are now on the Riverside Walk and remember to close the gates if you are using the path through the field. On the wildlife front the following species were noted:

Meadow Pipit 9, Redwing 12, House Sparrow 8, Herring Gull 1, Cormorant 2, Moorhen 1, Grey Heron 1, Goldfinch 20+, Jackdaw 2, Carrion Crow 2, Woodpigeon 8, Blue Tit 3, Chaffinch 3

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Warnham Local Nature Reserve
A very cold night with temperatures reaching -5°C meant that three-quarters of the millpond had frozen solid. This meant only one thing...gulls! With last nights influx it was no surprise when I was greeted by over a thousand mixed gulls on my arrival into work. I wandered down to Aston Trelford Hide as this is the best hide to view the gulls from and started to scan through the ever-growing flock. After about an hour I was getting a bit cold and thinking about a cup of tea when I caught a glimpse of a white-winged gull in the flock. Eventually it came into full view and wow!!! It was the Reserve's second record of an ICELAND GULL...after a few quick phone calls to anyone I thought might be interested I set about getting a few photos just in case it decided to depart.
Iceland Gull - 1st Winter
Iceland Gulls breed in the Arctic and then generally move south for the winter but are not usually found this far south. In Sussex we normally have three or four records a year so this was a very welcome sighting. The only other record on the Reserve was in 2008 by previous warden Sam Bayley who had a brief sighting of one on the millpond.
The bird today was much more well behaved and stayed on the ice until about 12.45pm when it flew off towards the tip and sadly had not returned by the end of the day. I would imagine that this bird had been feeding on the tip early morning and then came to the millpond with the rest of the gulls for a brush up on the ice.

The most obvious identifying feature of this bird was it's wonderful white-wings rather than the dark wings of a Herring or Lesser Black-backed. The bird also has a short-stubby beak and very rounded head shape which gives the impression of looking a little dove-like. The bird was slightly smaller than a Herring Gull which rules out the other white-winged gull we see in Britain which is called a Glaucous Gull. 

Iceland Gull - 2nd Record for Warnham LNR
The bird above can be aged as a first-winter.  This means it was definitely born this year, the mottled cream colouration of the bird, the dark eye, pink bill-base and mottled head are all indicators of the birds age. When the wings are closed at rest you can hardly see the extent of the white in the wing but when it flight it is at its most obvious.

Continuing the gull theme there were also several other species of laridae present. These included Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and the biggest of them all, the Great Black-backed Gull. The latter is an uncommon visitor to us at Warnham and is only ever found during the winter months. This particular species is much more coastal in its habits and has not yet spread inland as the other species have done. Below is a picture of one of the nine Great Black-backed Gulls seen on the Reserve today.
Great Black-backed Gull - Warnham LNR
Lastly on the gull front today, several of the lads who had come to see the Iceland Gull gave me a ring late morning to say they think there might have been a second Iceland Gull out on the lake. So I quickly grabbed my scope and camera and popped out to have a look at the bird. It stuck out like a sore thumb but it did not look right structurally for another Iceland Gull. It was strong-billed and the same size as the Herring Gulls but not big enough to be a Glaucous Gull. It turned out, on closer inspection to be a totally white Herring Gull which is something I have never seen before but it certainly makes you look twice!
Leucistic Herring Gull - Warnham LNR

After all the excitement of the gulls there was little time to count much else but the other highlight was six Water Rails skating around early morning, the male Bullfinch was again showing nicely from Woodpecker Hide and there were still plenty of Redwing around the site.
Redwing - Warnham LNR

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Mixed Gulls - Warnham LNR
A beautiful start to the day on the Reserve was followed by a miserable afternoon but this did not stop the wildlife and there was plenty to see around the site. Redwing seemed to be everywhere from dawn onward and there were plenty of Song Thrush and Blackbird around too particularly on Mill Meadow amongst the sheep.

In Walnut Tree Plantation two Roe Deer played hide and seek as they moved around the woodland mainly browsing on the Hazel coppice. There were also lots of Bank Voles whizzing around feeding station at the moment and they are even appearing around the reflection pool.
Roe Deer - Warnham LNR
 As the weather turned cloudy in the evening there was a huge number of gulls starting to appear and at one point I thought it might be a rare occasion where they actually roost on site but just before dusk they did all leave and head in their normal south easterly direction. I had the nets open from first light and managed to catch quite a few birds which was probably down to the cold start. It is nice to see the Goldfinches starting to make an appearance in the nets now and they always brighten up a ringing session.
Goldfinch - Warnham LNR

Friday, 15 December 2017

Chesworth Farm

Robin - D. Verrall
David Verrall paid the Farm a visit today and managed to get the best of the weather and as a result some lovely photographs as well. There is nothing better than a nice Robin photo at this time of year and pictures of Song Thrushes are never easy so well done David and thanks for the photos once again.
Song Thrush - D. Verrall

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Owlbeech Woods

Mike Ayling carried out his regular bird survey on the heathland at Owlbeech which produced the following:

Blackbird 5, Common Buzzard 1, Goldfinch 5, Great Tit 2, Herring Gull 2, Magpie 2, Redwing 1, Song Thrush 1, Blue Tit 2, Carrion Crow 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Jay 2, Nuthatch 1, Robin 3, Woodpigeon 7

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Christmas Wreath Making Workshop
Today saw the first of the Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve's Christmas Wreath Making Workshops which, once again, were very well received with everyone making wonderfully festive wares for their houses. There are another two sessions  in the Visitor Centre tomorrow so apologies if you cant get into the cafe for a cup of tea or coffee!

Meanwhile on the Reserve there were plenty of birds around. The male Sparrowhawk was again buzzing around Woodpecker Hide which meant most of the birds in there were very skittish. Still a few moths turning up in the trap despite the overnight wind. A summary of today's sightings can be found below:

Green Woodpecker 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Coal Tit 1, 4 Goldfinch, Black-headed Gull 23, Pochard 1, Herring Gull 150+, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2, Mallard 35, Tufted Duck 5, Cormorant 2, Little Grebe 3, Moorhen 3, Coot 1, Grey Heron 2, Pheasant 5, Great Tit 20+, Long-tailed Tit 3, Woodpigeon 19, Robin 3, Carrion Crow 1, Blue Tit 30+, Dunnock 1, Nuthatch 1, Blackbird 1, Redwing 6

Grey Squirrel 2

Winter Moth - Operophtera brumata
Moth Trap:

Brick 1, Winter Moth 7, December Moth 3

Chennels Brook Castle

Scrub Bashing at Chennels Brook Castle
Horsham Green Gym were once again out and about this time at Chennels Brook Castle in the pouring rain! Ryan led the group ably assisted by Daniel who has been helping us out on Thursday mornings for the past couple months. Above you can see how pleased Daniel is to finally get the fire going after a very damp start to proceedings!

The cutting back of scrub on this site is very important and this winter we have really managed to open up the ancient monument but also uncover some excellent grassland habitat which over time will return to add to the wildflower rich meadows of this site. Well done to everyone who attended despite the horrid mizzle!

Southwater Country Park

Cormorant 2, Mute Swan 5, Moorhen 2, Mallard 20+, Coot 2, Robin 1, Blackbird 1, Magpie 2, Jay 1, Black-headed Gull 10+

Rabbit 2 (Jo Glossop & Andrew Rodgers)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Little Grebe - Warnham LNR
Not much coverage on the Reserve today but the four Little Grebes have been showing well from all of the lakeside hides if you can bare the biting cold winds. A summary of the species seen today can be found below:

Little Grebe 4, Grey Heron 1, Mallard 36, Shoveler 1, Moorhen 1, Coot 1, Cormorant 3, Black-headed Gull 92, Herring Gull 12, Blackbird 11, Song Thrush 1, Goldcrest 1, Great Tit 30+, Blue Tit 40+, Bullfinch 1, Tufted Duck 5, Mute Swan 2 (juvs), Treecreeper 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Wren 4, Redwing 10+, Long-tailed Tit 12, Nuthatch 1, Robin 3,

Grey Squirrel 6

Monday, 4 December 2017

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Redwing - Warnham LNR
The Redwing were the main event at Warnham Local Nature Reserve today with up to ten birds stripping the berry bushes by the Visitor Centre. It is amazing to see these birds so close and this has now become an annual event at the Reserve as they slowly getting lower and lower in the tree as they feast on the bounty of berries. There are not many berries left as the Woodpigeons and Blackbirds also seemed to have sussed how nice they are to eat!

Elsewhere on the Reserve patient observers in the Woodpecker Hide might have noticed it was particularly quiet in there at the moment and this is down to the male Sparrowhawk I blogged about last week seems to have taken up residence in there at the moment. Today he managed to catch himself a Great Tit off one of the feeders so I am sure he will be back again tomorrow.

There were plenty of birds around the ringing area this morning mainly mixed in with the large roving Tit flock which seems to be doing circuits of the site at the moment. Of note was this Nuthacth which is not a common bird to catch on the Reserve despite them being seen on a daily basis around the feeders.
Nuthatch - Warnham LNR

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Willow Tit Nest Box Project - P. Shergold
Paul and Kevin were putting up the last batch of Willow Tit boxes as our project continues to try and get Willow Tits breeding in Sussex again. Willow Tit was last seen officially seen at Warnham LNR on the 20th September 2015 and currently are in huge decline nationally. We have had nest boxes up around the reserve since the project start in 2010. We have tried a number of different designs all of which are a specific to the needs of Willow Tits and thus far we have only had one attempt at breeding.

On the Reserve there were plenty of bird around and it seems the Redwing have found the berry bush by the centre and they are stripping it at a rate of knots! Make sure you have a look at the bush on the left of the path as you approach the Visitor Centre from the car park.

Mute Swan 1, Tufted Duck 3, Shoveler 2, Black-headed Gull 60+, Herring Gull 40+, Teal 1, Little Grebe 2, Wren 4, Robin 20+, Blue Tit 50+, Great Tit 30+, Coal Tit 5+, Cormorant 4, Blackbird 10+, Moorhen 3, Coot 2, Kingfisher 1, Long-tailed Tit 15+, Sparrowhawk 1, Treecreeper 3, Redwing 2 Magpie 8, Grey Heron 2, Great Spotted Woodpecker 2, Jay 1, Goldcrest 1, Woodpigeon 30+ (Paul Shergold, Kevin Attree, David King & Neil Henry)

Chesworth Farm

Grey Heron - D. Verrall
Goldcrest - D. Verrall
Song Thrush - D. Verrall

Treecreeper - D. Verrall
David Verrall visited the Farm and had an excellent day with the camera photographing lots of lovely species including the images above. Goldcrest and Treecreeper are never easy birds to see on the Farm let alone photograph so these are just reward for the amount of time David spends in the field.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Chennels Brook Castle

Mike Ayling visited the Castle and carried out a bird survey which produced the following:

Black-headed Gull 4, Blue Tit 3, Dunnock 2, Grey Wagtail 1, Magpie 2, Woodpigeon 37, Blackbird 2, Carrion Crow 4, Great Tit 3, Herring Gull 10, Robin 3, Wren 2

Owlbeech Woods

Eddie Bew carried out his regular survey of the heathland at Owlbeech Woods today which produced the following:

Robin 9, Woodpigeon 126, House Sparrow 2, Great Tit 8, Magpie 6, Blackbird 9, Jay 3, Carrion Crow 2, Nuthatch 4, Green Woodpecker 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Jackaw 1, Wren 1, Goldfinch 3, Blue Tit 6, Goldcrest 2, Song Thrush 1, Dunnock 2, Bullfinch 2, Long-tailed Tit 2, Redwing 3
Grey Squirrel 4

Friday, 1 December 2017

Chesworth Farm

Chesworth Farm
A beautiful evening on the Farm doing the final preparation for the Christmas Wreath Making event which the Friends of Chesworth Farm are running tomorrow involved coppicing lots of bendy willow whips, collecting seasonal vegetation such as pine cones and Ivy leaves as well as stocking up with logs and kindling to ensure the attendees aren't too chilly whilst making their own wreaths.

After dropping off the supplies to the Volunteer Centre, Sam and I had a quick mooch round the Farm to check the animals and also to inspect a reported blocked stream which was as a consequence was flooding the path. Lots of birds were whizzing around the hedges in preparation for a cold night, trying to find the best roost spot. A summary of the species noted is below:

Blackbird 3, Magpie 12, Chaffinch 1, Blue Tit 1, Herring Gull 40+, Robin 3, Song Thrush 1, Woodpigeon 4, Jackdaw 10+,

Southwater Country Park

Cripplegate Lake: Cormorant 6, Mute Swan 5, Black-headed Gull 60+, Coot 15+, Moorhen 10+, Mallard 25+, Herring Gull 4, Robin 2

Quarry Lake: Mistle Thrush 1