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Garden Patch, Caergwrle. (1 Viewer)

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
We (my wife Anna and I) moved to Caergwrle in North Wales just over a year ago, and since then have increased the family by one (Archie Lloyd, born 22nd July).

The garden itself is a small patch of grass, in which I’ve seen a total of about half a dozen species (although the presence of an Oak sapling peeking up through the grass in one corner makes me suspect a Jay might have once paid a visit…) The view from the back of the house, however, is pretty good, and we have a river (the Alun) going along behind us, and the list of birds seen or heard from the property now numbers 75 (see here http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=70096 for details). Unlikely to ever compete with the likes of Edenwatcher, Jane Turner or Andrew Whitehouse, but I quite fancy myself to nudge the list up to the century by the time we next feel the need to move.

So far this year’s garden list stands at a mighty three! Robin singing away when I got back home from work yesterday, Blackbird and Wren calling. Things should get underway in earnest at the weekend (fingers crossed).

Hopefully this summer I’ll get some work done in the garden itself and get a decent feeding station up and running

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Managed to spend a bit of time over the weekend garden watching, and moved the year list on to 39. Highlights were a couple of Raven over on Saturday and a lone Fieldfare on Sunday. The Ravens were a new (but predicted) January bird for the garden; last year I didn't see any till March. The Fieldfare was a bit of an oddity. Most Fieldfare records so far have fallen into one of two categories; flocks heading west(ish) over in autumn, and arrivals of birds on the ground (well, in the trees) during cold (snowy) winter weather. Other than that I've had maybe a couple of singletons flying over during winter months, but this was the first I've seen down in the trees, making its way slowly downstream through the alders, during decent weather. Not complaining mind. Other than that just run of the mill stuff; Moorhen & Dipper down along the river; Siskin, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tits etc in the trees; Rooks, Buzzard Grey Wagtail etc flying over. Off again on Thursday, so hopefully I'll have more to report on Friday sometime.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Slowly but surely, the year list grows. Slower than last year, that's for sure. That Thursday off I mentioned in the previous post was something of a washout, pretty grim weather, which I think we're all reluctantly getting used to. A heard only Jay was new for the year, but nothing else of note.
Monday was a good bit better, if a little frustrating, with my second record of Marsh/Willow Tit; a bird spending a couple of minutes foraging through some willows. Unfortunately nearly all the views I was getting were through one set of willows into another set beyond, on the other side of the river! Not great conditions with the bird moving fairly quickly through, and on structure I'd lean heavily towards Marsh over Willow, but need better views and/or a more vocal bird to settle things. Also on Monday three Stock Doves heading south in the morning and a Great Spotted Woodpecker (in the same willows as the Mystery Tit, but not such an ID problem!) in the afternoon were both Garden Year Ticks.
James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Just a couple of new birds over the weekend; too many of my garden-watching windows of opportunity coincided with grim weather! Both heard only, Kingfisher and Goldcrest. No further sign of Mystery Tit, and Siskins have pretty much vanished (they did the same thing mid-Jan last year). Redwings very scarce during the day this winter. I'm not seeing any usually till dusk when a few come in to roost in trees a bit downstream from us

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Tawny Owls have been pretty quiet recently, but one was calling as I got in the car to head off to work. 45 for the year.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Finally, some decent weather on my day off! And a very decent bird too; Firecrest! Probably the same bird as that in December (in the same bushes, following the same route, but going in the other direction), but viewing conditions much better. I was cleaning the windows on Anna’s car (bins strategically placed on the roof) when I heard it calling in a neighbour’s garden. He then flew down to some willow bushes a few yards away (the width of four car park spaces) and gave stunning views in good sunlight, even facing me at eye level and leaning forward at one point, giving me the best views of a Firecrest’s fiery crest I’ve ever had; ignicapillus indeed!
I managed a fair bit of time at the back door late morning too, as Anna was off at dentist followed by hairdresser and Archie was in a meeting with his toys. Greenfinches are beginning to do brief spells of display flight, three Buzzards were up wheeling and mewing for most of the day; a big female Sparrowhawk with a stonking super circling low over along the Alun gave me a brief start, but made up for being resolutely Sprawk-shaped by going into a steep dive, wings pulled in and alulas flicked out, after some poor unfortunate beast a bit downstream; I just think they look ace when they do that! Managed to get the day list up to thirty.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Siskins have pretty much vanished (they did the same thing mid-Jan last year).
James

Still a few about though, been seeing three or four kicking about from time to time, but the big flock of up to sixty or so has either dispersed, moved on, or a bit of both.

Blackcap was a year tick yesterday, first male since late summer last year.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Managed a little time at the back door over the weekend, with 35 species over the two days. Highlight was a heard only Nuthatch (year tick), a fair way downstream (towards the castle where most of the nearby Oak is), a female Blackcap and a Dipper calling down on the river.

And it's just getting light enough in the mornings for it to be worth my while gazing out the window as I drink my tea before heading off to work. I was rewarded this morning with two Goosander heading south inthe distance - 49 for the year.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
An early morning Peregrine was up and about at 07:00. It's the first I've seen since September, and that was a bird passing through rather than one of the local pair (no sign of them since early summer, although what I presumed at the time was an offspring of theirs was making a pig's ear of hunting gulls over Hope in July). Couldn't tell if this morning's bird was one of the local pair, it was a bit too distant, but hopefully it heralds their return and I can look forward to a few more sightings. That's the fifty up for the year

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Was listening to the radio last night, leaning up against the back door watching the sky slowly darken, a Blackbird called in panic off to the left, and a Tawny Owl swept quietly over the garden, barely four yards away from my face! Fantastic! I can't recall ever having had such a good flight view of a Tawny Owl without headlights being involved!

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Four Cormorants headed north this morning just after half six, followed by a fifth five minutes later. A welcome early showing in the year for this species, which didn't put in an appearance last year till October.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
A productive weekend. 34 species over the two days, with Saturday's cheif highlight heading north at just before half eight; 9 Canada Geese, new for the year. They were also new for March, along with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rook & Goldcrest.
A flock of twenty or so small Finches shot over on Sunday morning, almost certainly Siskins (which I've not seen since mid January) but the back door was closed and I was holding Archie (he likes to check up on the outside world from time to time) so I could neither hear any calls nor grab bins to confirm this. Later in the day, a little after four, I had my first Garden Tick of 2008; a Mute Swan, 1cy (that's 1st winter in old money, am I right? Old dog grappling with too many new tricks here) heading south. Looked like it was contemplating dropping onto some flood water a couple of fields upstream (airbrakes came down, lost a lot of height) but thought better of it and continued on its way. Eighteen Redwings circled round over the house a few minutes later; they'll be gone soon, so I'm making a point of checking to see if any come in to the roost across the river (and slightly downstream) each evening to get as accurate a departure date as possible. The only garden Fieldfare I've had this year has been that one on Jan 1st, although they've been in residence in a nearby field pretty much since then (most recently 10th March) so a flyover remains possible.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
I see on Birdguides some lucky soul had an Osprey heading north over Buckley on Monday morning. Buckley is five miles to the north of us; hell, I can see the place from the spare bedroom window! And I was off on Monday. Nuts.

Recent highlights have been good views of Goldcrest, a Siskin over calling and a pair of Goosander heading downstream.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
There have been a couple of departures in recent days; the last Redwing to come in to roost was a single bird on the evening of 19th, and there has been no sign of any Siskins since 29th (a single female perched in the willows behind The Derby Arms briefly early in the morning, and then eight or so flying over a couple of hours later). Also on 29th was what I took to be the first summer visiting Blackcap of the year; a hyper-active male flycatching from the tree tops along the Alun.

A year tick on 3rd April was a trio of Greylags heading north at around twenty to seven in the morning, a welcome change from the handful of Canadas that has been wandeering around over the village for the past fortnight or so. (Last spring Greylags were the more frequently seen Goose, with Canadas being rather scarce. So far this spring it has been the other way around.)

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Farnboro John came to stay this weekend (as a base to see the high tide at Parkgate), and watched the garden on Sunday morning while I was at work, but fortunately didn't grip me off with anything!

A Swallow over Hope, about half a mile from home, on Sunday was followed the next day by two over the house; three days earlier than last year.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
A Martin weekend! House on the saturday, Sand (well, both) on the sunday, two days later and six days earlier than last year respectively! Other highlights include Cormorant high north, Blackcaps & Goldcrests singing away, and single fly-by Stock Dove and Kestrel.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Swift over on Saturday, and a distant singing Willow Warbler on Sunday bring the yearlist to Sixty.

An odd record on Sunday was a pair of Canada Geese wandering round a distant field, nowhere near any body of water.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Finally! At a quarter to six last night I glanced out of the back door and saw a large raptor in the distance, getting closer as it flew low south, accompanied by a trio of Jackdaws. It was obvious even without bins that this was no Buzzard, and with bins up my suspicions were confirmed and my wait over; Red Kite! A pale young bird, lazily flapping along, with a dramatic leaden sky and rainbow backdrop. Brilliant.

Also a trio of Cormorants headed north at around half seven. Funny that last year they kept me waiting till October, but this year we've had a pretty steady trickle since March. It'll be interesting to see as the years go by what sort of pattern emerges for this and other species.

James
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Spent Bank Holiday Monday watching the garden, off and on, and notched up 38 species. (Then, between getting up and going to work this morning managed three more that I missed yesterday; Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest & Greylag Goose!) Highlight was a Curlew over at 07:15; 78 for the Garden List, 62 for the year. Other goodies included Dipper, a couple of Canada Geese and a heard only Jay, all Garden May ticks.

James
 
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