Monday, 11 January 2016

January Diary 2016

27th January - The remnants of storm 'Jonas' was still pounding the woodland this morning, fortunately no real storm damage was seen around the woodland, birds were keeping their heads down, although Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Jackdaw, Jay and Blackbird were all seen, no sign of the Little Owl today, around the glades, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow,Magpie two Ring Necked Parakeets, small charm of Goldfinch and a few Fieldfare lingering around the orchards.
Daffodils in the woodland have not quite bloomed yet, but clumps of Snowdrops are appearing all around the woodland. Two small  Lesser Celandine flowers were seen the first this year for this site.
Bluebells are still making steady progress pushing through the leaf litter.

Lesser Celandine
Still a few examples of Fungi around the Woodland, the most common being this Turkey tail polypore,
Turkey tail Polypore
Not sure about this one, looks like a form of Polypore.

The lush green moss is giving the winter woodland some colour at the moment.

25th January - It felt like spring had sprung today, Great Tits were calling with their distinctive "teacher teacher" song, Wren, Robin and Song Thrush were all singing from their chosen song posts. I noticed a patch of Snowdrops were in bloom, the first I have seen here. On checking last years records they have emerged at exactly the same time.

Ashenbank Woods - Snowdrops
Further around the woodland, Blue Tits were searching for a meal high up in the Silver Birch, and a brief glimpse of the Little Owl in its usual tree.

Little Owl
Several Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Jay were seen along the trails. a male Sparrowhawk glided over the woodland, too quick for a photograph.

The trees alongside the orchards held  a flock of Fieldfare but always remained distant, you can just about make out the drooping wing stance though, there did not appear to be many apples on the floor around the trees,

Distant Fieldfare
20th January - Another cold frosty morning in the woodland, with the sun just beginning to break through. Big surprise today, my old friend the Little Owl (26) was back in its old familiar haunt, not seen since October 13th last year, a welcome return.

Little Owl returns.

 Other birds noted on my walk included, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Jay, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird and Song Thrush no sign this morning of the Siskin flock,  a few Nuthatch were heard calling, but I could not locate them, I'm also pretty sure I could hear the 'chukaa' calls of the Fieldfare, but once again  I could not locate them. the four Ring Necked Parakeets flying over calling noisily, were slightly easy to locate.

Ashenbank pond in the winter
 The small herd of British Shorthorn cattle have been wintering in the woodlands this year, they certainly seem unperturbed by the cold weather.

Shorthorn cattle wintering in Ashenbank Woods
19th January - It was -2 degrees this morning as I stepped out of the car, I had left my damp boots from yesterday's walk in the car, big mistake, they were frozen, making for an unpleasant walk until they thawed out, but at least the muddy trails had frozen too making the walking a lot easier.
Almost the first bird seen this morning was a Common Treecreeper(25) as it flew from a close by tree and landed on a mature Oak almost next to me, it soon disappeared up the tree searching for a meal. Other  birds noted around the woodland were Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Jay, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Robin Wren, Blue Tit, and a cold looking Dunnock.
 In the open fields adjacent to the woodlands a Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush flying over.

I took the footpath running alongside the cattle field hoping to see the Siskins seen a few days ago.
There's a set aside area which has a small stand of Alder trees, I know these are very attractive to Siskins and Redpoll alike, who feed on the seeds within the small female alder cones.
My luck was in , I could see a few small birds on the tree tops, as I drew closer  I could just make out a few Siskin feeding on the cones, not the best photo's , but you can make out the birds feeding within the catkins and cones, if you look very closely.


Alder catkins and seed cones
18th January - not so many bird sightings seen today, two Robin, BlackbirdGreen Woodpecker flushed from the glades, but for the first time this winter a flock of winter thrushes, mainly Fieldfare (24) I counted at least one hundred plus as they headed towards the orchards.

17th January -  A cold night followed by a light covering of snow made for a lovely walk in the woodlands, my first encounter as I approached Two ponds was a mixed Tit flock consisting of mainly Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits, a Nuthatch could be heard calling with them but I could not locate it high up in the trees, a bit further along I picked out a lone Goldcrest (16) moving through the trees, the usual Blackbird, Robin and Dunnocks were seen scurrying around the undergrowth.

Jackdaws were in their nesting tree obviously having a dispute over ownership of one of the nesting holes.
As I approached the Bronze age monument I could hear a party of Redwings (17) calling from the tree's ahead, with just three actually showing themselves,  several Song Thrush (18) were disturbed from the undergrowth and a MistleThrush flew over across the fields.
A small flock of Ring Necked Parakeets (19) flew noisily around one of the tall Sweet Chestnuts before flying off into the distance. several Jay sightings were made, together with Carrion Crow,  a "murder" of five Magpies arguing amongst themselves.
Green Woodpecker flushed from the glades and a Great Spotted Woodpecker(20) seen high in the trees alongside the glades. a flyover Kestrel.(21)

Lots of Wood Pigeons flying around the woodland with many seen in the ivy clad trees searching out the black berries which they obviously like.

As I walked down through the glades towards Ashenbank Pond I could see  a flock of birds perched high in the trees in the set aside area next to the cattle field, my first thought were Goldfinches as there have been many sightings here, as they feed on the Knapweed seed heads. I took a long distance shot just to confirm my initial identification and to my surprise it revealed several Siskins(22) and at least one Redpoll (23)

Siskins at Ashenbank Woods
Redpoll ( lower bird)
Siskin and Redpoll

 So 23 species today my best ever daily total for this site and one new bird species,the Redpoll, which brings the list of species I have seen here to 69 species.

16th January - The only notable bird sighting today on a cold bright morning was a male Sparrowhawk (15) flushed from the trees alongside the cattle fields, it glided very low across the field alighting into a tree on the far side of the field  ready no doubt to ambush its next victim.

12th January -  Another venture out into the woodlands was again hard going, even though there was bright sunshine. Bird sightings today included a small Tit flock consisting of approx 6 Long Tailed Tits (14) 3 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, a Jay was heard screeching from high up in the treetops but despite its size remained hidden. a single Magpie, a few Wood Pigeons, Carrion Crow , Dunnock, Blackbird and a Robin A good looking Great Tit posed nicely on the recently cut hedgerows. and a Grey Squirrel bounded across the trail in front of me.
Great Tit
Grey Squirrel in a hurry
1st - 11th January - The exceptionally mild winter of December has now transposed to an exceptionally wet winter, obviously not on the scale of our northern brethren, no flooding here, but the woodland is waterlogged the trails are almost impassable with thick glutinous mud, hence the lack of reports of late, unfortunately my dog and I have had to make do with suburbia.

On the odd occasion we have ventured out, the early emergence of some woodland plants has been quite noticeable, Bluebells, Daffodils even the spathe of the Arum maculatum or Lords-and-ladies can be seen in places breaking through the leaf litter, it will be interesting to see if their growth rate continues if the temperatures drop.

Emergence of Arum Maculatum Lords-and-Ladies
Daffodil shoots
Bluebell shoots photographed in December 2015
Wildlife sightings have been poor, plenty of Grey Squirrels can be seen all around the woodland, Blackbirds(1), Robin (2) , Blue Tit(3), Great Tit(4), still quite regular, Jay (5) numbers seen to be increasing with a flock of five seen together in the woodland, other corvid sightings have been Magpie (6), Jackdaw(7),and Carrion crow (8), Wood pigeons (9) around the glades with several sightings of Mistle Thrush(10), one Green Woodpecker (11), several Dunnock (12) and Wren (13).
Temperatures are beginning to drop here, hopefully some drier weather will allow some of the water to drain away and improve conditions along the trails.

Great tit