Monday, 29 December 2008

Jumping Jay


The first Jay for 3 months was seen in the garden today and I managed to get a record shot as it jumped around on the fence in the corner of the garden.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008





After finishing early at work I was able to check into Bough Beech Reservoir on the way home and was soon watching 3 drakes and 1 redhead Goosander as they drifted out of the bushes. The off-white underparts of the drakes were very obvious in the gloom and I was able to get a few shots before they flew off.
Unfortunately the Great Northern Diver failed to materialise and the reported Bearded Tit fialed to show by the Oast house. Also although the feeders were active with plenty of birds there was no sign of any Bramblings. Just before leaving, I was pleased to see a small group of Shovelers and get some flight shots as I failed to see any of these on my visit at the weekend.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Still Waters

With the mild weather, I found a few Ramshorn Snails and a Waterboatman in the pond. Not much I know, but this time of year you look for any sign of life to assure yourself Spring is on the way.

Bough Beech and Later

Got down to BB yesterday, unfortunately no sign of the recent Goosanders or Great Northern Diver, there was quite a bit of disturbance what with the local ringing group in residence and fisherman and sailing boats on the water, highlights were few:

Mandarin – 3
Common Gull – 30+
Herring Gull
Lapwing – 44
Green Woodpecker
Coal Tit

Saw 5 Ring-necked Parakeets on the way to work – in the trees at Merton Golf Course, above the car at traffic-lights, seen through the sunroof.

Also saw a Sparrowhawk drift pass the window at work whilst in a meeting being mobbed by a crow. Always face a window when in meetings - you never know what is going to fly past.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Nice but Blowy

Sunny stroll around Wimbledon Park at lunchtime produced nothing of note - a few Long-tailed Tits, a Dunnock, Goldfinches and Goldcrests heard and the usual Coots, Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Swans, etc on the lake. No sign of the Grey Wagtail on the stream.
There were a lot of Black-headed Gulls benefiting from the bread throwing tourists and at least 6 Common Gulls amongst them. Nice to get out after days of grey and rain.

A Bird in the Hand

This Woodpigeon was rescued from Jaz but unfortunately died overnight. There was a flock of 7 foraging on the lawn the other day and make a tempting target for the prowling feline.

Monday, 1 December 2008



Saturday morning - a Heron was seen circling low over the garden looking suspiciously like it had been checking out the pond. It ended up on it's favourite perch on top of the conifer tree in the corner of the garden and was soon mobbed by a crow.

Also seen in the garden was 2 Goldcrests and the usual Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Tawny Owl

A Tawny Owl was heard hooting in the copse next to the garden at 0045hrs on Saturday night - new species for the garden.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Double Fox

Foxes Playing
At the weekend on Saturday morning two foxes started chasing each other and playing by rearing up against each other and play biting and boxing. I'm not sure whether this is a courting pair or 2 youngsters from last year's litter.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail
In Wimbledon Park at lunchtime I was pleased to eventually get a decent pic of the regular Grey Wagtail seen on the stream.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

New Garden Bird

Helen saw a Kingfisher fly up from the pond on Sunday morning - there isn't anything for it to catch so I may have to put some small fish in if we want regular sightings. Once again I dip on a garden Kingfisher - Helen saw the only one in our last garden years ago.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Bough Beech

My first visit to Bough Beech for a while revealed little of note in gloomy drizzle apart from 14 Mandarin Ducks, Fieldfare, Nuthatch and 100+ Jackdaws.

Also 2 Roe Deer came out of the woods to drink from the lake - my first there for a year to almost the exact day.

Green Heron

Managed to make the trip down to West Hythe on Thursday 30th Oct early morning. The Green Heron from North America was watched for an hour or so and I got a few pics. It's a cracking bird, 1st for me, 1st for Kent and only the 5th for the British Isles and it still there as I write.

Meanwhile, in the garden yesterday 2 Mistle Thrushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over and 10+ Long-tailed Tits moved through the trees.

Monday, 27 October 2008


Saturday gardening mainly involved leaf-clearing with bird highlights of 6 Pied Wagtails and Coal Tit. A Silver-Y moth was found and a Red Admiral took an interest in the underneath of the trampoline as if it was looking for a roosting location.
Sunday was a wash out and I stayed in, moving furniture around and waiting for a cooker fitter that never showed. I should have been twitching the Hythe Green Heron - let's hope it stays for a bit and I might make the trip yet.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Autumn Robins

Autumn Leaves


The garden Robins are more prominant now setting up their territories for the Spring - their rusty breasts in the low sunlight match the autumn leaf colours.

Meanwhile, Helen saw a Heron in the trees eyeing up the pond (5th record for the garden). Also Purrgeot catch his 3rd mouse last night and unfortunately brought it in dead.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Frog and Fungi

Shaggy Ink-cap


The Shaggy Ink-cap fungi are up again all over the garden which had to go as I cut the grass for, hopefully, the last time this year. Also a froglet was found on the rockery next to the pond and an adult was seen at night in the torential rain.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Orange, Gold and Redwings

Orange Ladybird

Goldfinch (not stopping)

Goldcrest (not showing)

Two Redwings flew over the garden at the weekend - the first for the winter. Also, I got my first pictures of a flyover Goldfinch (they never seem to stop) and a elusive Goldcrest skulking around in the conifer. It is a constant challange to get some decent pictures of both these species. An Orange Ladybird (first for the garden) was more obliging and is a beautiful ladybird when seen really close up.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Park Life

Mallard with rubber band around neck

Grey Wagtail

Wimbledon Park at lunchtime turned up the Grey Wagtail again in the stream and I assisted a RSPCA warden in trying to catch a duck which had some sort of band stuck around its neck. The trouble is when he turned up with his oversized net all the wildfowl scarpered - I'm not sure whether he was successful or not as I had to get back to work.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


Young Mouse
Following on from Purrgeot's rat catching exploits the other week, he ran in last night with a full mouth and a tail hanging out between his lips. We managed to catch him and prise his jaw apart to reveal a shocked and damp but uninjured young wood mouse. After a few pics we released him into the garden.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Rat Catcher

Dead Brown Rat
Purrgeot was reluctant to come in last night although we knew he was out in the dark messing about with something. Finally he came to the patio doors and we let him in - complete with a dead Brown Rat that he had caught (12 inches long from nose to tail). He dropped it in the sitting room and was obviously very pleased with himself. This was only the second record for the garden - both seen dead.

Thursday, 2 October 2008


As we move into October and the temperature gets colder I'm suprised to hear Chiffchaffs still singing in the garden. Wren and Robins also heard and a couple of Jackdaws flew over this morning.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Birds & Dragons

Here's some pics from the weekend of birds on the feeders and dragonflies visiting the pond.

Blue Tit
Coal & Blue Tits

Coal Tit

Great Tit

Southern Hawker

Male Common Darter (picture by Josh)

Monday, 29 September 2008

Weekend Highlights

Pett Pools, near Rye on the coast in East Sussex, viewed from the road, yielded 2 Little Stints, Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Egrets, Avocet, 13 Dunlin and 10 Redshank. In the distance I could hear a Cetti's Warbler singing and I picked out 2 Willow/Chiffs in the bushes whilst a Sparrowhawk cruised through and a steady stream of Swallows passed over. On the sea wall I found a Wheatear amongst the many Meadow Pipits and a Whinchat showed briefly on the roadside scrub. On the beach there were many Oystercatchers, Curlews and Turnstones.

In the garden over the weekend 2 Coal Tits, 2 Blue Tits and Great Tit visited the feeders and flyover Canada Geese (heard not seen) were new for the garden list (number 43).

The pond attracted a Southern Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies and a small frog was found.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

I'm noticing a lot of Jays around at the moment as I journey into work (saw 7 today) probably busy gathering and burying acorns. Also saw a Ring-necked Parakeet fly over the A3.

Lunchtime in Wimbledon Park was pretty quiet with the usual waterfowl on the lake and a few Tufted Duck and Great-crested Grebes. Whilst in the woods I rustled up a few Long-tailed Tits and that was about it. A possible Common Darter dragonfly was hunting around the trees.

At home in the garden there's some interesting fungi growing on the lawn - I'll have to get some pics.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Picked up my 2nd puncture in almost 4 and a half years the other day with this gate latch embedded in the tyre - Nasty!

Monday, 22 September 2008

New Pond Visitors

Southern Hawker

Common Darter (female)


The pond's only 3 weeks old and already it's attracting wildlife. A Grey Wagtail visited briefly before being chased off by the cats and was seen to fly over the garden later in the day. This was a new bird for the garden and hopefully will return.

On both Saturday and Sunday, in the warm sunshine, a Southern Hawker spent 15 minutes or so hunting over the pond and a managed to get some flight shots as it seemed reluctant to use the pearches I had provided. Also a Common Darter put in a brief appearance. I'm hoping these dragonflies will eventually breed in the pond when there is more plant cover.

In the pond itself we saw our first Ramshorn Snail, probably introduced through the addition of plants.

Elsewhere in the garden, I put up 5 bird feeders with nuts and seeds and birds seen were Coal Tit, 10+ Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin and Wren although none were actually using the feeders yet.

Also Timmy the Fox had a wander around in broad daylight whilst we were actually in the garden - he seems to be getting bolder by the day.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Berry Munchers

Woodpigeon eyeing up some more berries

The elderberries are systematically being stripped by Woodpigeons at the moment, whilst the squirrels have had most of the hazel nuts. If one year we do Elderflower wine or hazel nut flan, we're going to have to harvest promptly before the creatures get their fill.

Garden Spider

There are some really impressive Garden Orb Spiders about at the moment, some are large and beautifully marked. Have a look at this individual that Josh found.

Garden Spider

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Froglet and Holly Blue

Holly Blue
There's still a few butterflies seen in the garden on the warm days, mainly Large and Small Whites although this Holly Blue was seen in the vegetable patch. Also the occassional froglet is found in the long grass around the pond - we haven't found any frogs that have put themselves in the pond yet, but I'm sure they will have moved in by next spring.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Fox at Moth Trap

A good catch of mainly yellow underwing species

The confident juvenile Fox we call "Timmy" has taken to loitering around the moth trap and springing on any he finds in the grass. Here you can see him looking directly at me because he can hear the camera firing.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Weekend Wildlife

Timmy the Fox wandered around the patio as bold as brass the other day even though he could see us at the window. Also I've added a Coal Tit picture taken last week.

"Timmy" Fox

Coal Tit

The pond is started to take shape with more plants being added. The 2 joists on the left are for some decking. Wildlife seen this weekend were: Two sizes of diving beetle, back-swimmer Whirly-gig Beetle (again just the one) and brief visits from dragonflies - most likely Common Darter and Southern Hawker. Also a male frog was rescued from the cats and put in the pond.

Bird visitors were Chiffchaff (sang briefly), Coal Tits, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit & Blue Tit and a flyover Swallow.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Pond Sprites

Key stages of building a pond are put in the liner, fill with water, let the kids have a play and a paddle, get the kids out, keep the kids out and then start filling with plants.

The pics shows two of these stages. Wildlife noted so far are one whirlygig beetle and a diving beetle which I haven't specifically identified as .. er .. it keeps diving.

Grey Phalarope

Grey Phalarope

News broke yesterday of a Grey Phalarope at Bough Beech Reservoir showing well from the road on the North Lake. Needless to say I dipped in after work and managed to see this grey and white sprite from the North.
Although, it was my 8th Grey Phalarope, it was my first at Bough Beech (127th species) and very welcome. I managed to get a few pics before the light faded. Also present were 4+ Little Egrets a Green Sandpiper, a few Common Terns and a number of Swallows were flying through.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Motorway Hobby

A Hobby flew over the M25 this morning between Junctions 8 & 9. Later a walk in Wimbledon Park was pretty uneventful with the high winds although I did flush a Snout moth from the bushes in the woods.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Bough Beech

Bough Beech last night produced a Buzzard, 4 Little Egrets, 4 Green Sandpiper, Common sandpiper, Grey Wagtail and 20+ House Martins.

Coal Tit

I finally managed to get a picture of a Coal Tit in the garden. One or two are ocassionally seen, usually announcing their presence with loud stridant calls but were difficult to photograph as they move off quickly through the tree canopies.

I'm keen to eventually get a picture of every species that visits the garden and some are harder than others e.g. the only Goldfinches I see are flyovers and so still have evaded my camera.

Picture to follow.

Recent New Moths

Copper Underwing
Pebble Hook-tip

Angle Shades

Here some pics of some recent new moths caught and a picture of the problem I can have with wasps.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Moth Trap Attracts Fox

"Timmy" Fox

Amazing - at the weekend the cats alerted us to something large moving around the moth trap. We went upstairs and carefully looked out the window to see a young fox pouncing on moths around the trap. Not to be out done, in the morning we found our cats doing much the same thing. One of them was even sitting on the perspex lid to dab at the moths inside. What with the wasps, foxes and cats treating it as a feeding station it's a wonder there's anything left to indentify.

Friday, 29 August 2008


On the way home last night I saw a flock of 50 or so Starlings wheeling over the houses - what attracted me to them was the fact that they had formed such a tight dense flock. Scanning round I saw a Sparrowhawk soaring close by and it was obvious that the Starlings had tightened up their flock in the presence of the hawk a bit like the cowboys grouping the coaches tighter together when the indians appeared on the horizon.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Great spotted in the Garden

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard and then seen in flight in the garden (only the 2nd record this year). Meanwhile dragonflies (possibly Migrant Hawkers) hunt over the lawn and around the trees and a Meadow Brown was also seen to compliment the daily Large Whites, Small Whites and occasional Holly Blue.

The pond is now ready for the liner and ... er some water - so this weekend should see the great fill taking place. It's roughly 7 metres by 5 and only 60cms at the deepest point but should attract some interest from the local wildlife. The last pond we had was only a quarter the size and recorded up to 15 toads, 20+ frogs and 10+ newts at one point.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

More Moths

Tree-lichen Beauty

Maiden's Blush

I managed to run the moth trap over the last 4 days and have still been getting vast quantities of yellow underwings (60+ of the 3 yellow underwing species - Large, Lesser and Lesser Broad-bordered). The highlight, following on, from the White Point the other day was a poor specimen Tree-lichen Beauty, which is listed as an immigrant. Other highlights included a Maiden's Blush - another new moth for me.

I've since learnt from learned colleagues from the Kent Moth Group that both Tree-lichen Beauty and White Point are resident in Kent in suitable habitat but not known in Tunbridge Wells, so my records were more of local population movements rather than immigrants from the Continent. Just shows that some moth distributions are frequently changing and literature can soon go out of date.