The 19th was even colder at – 2°C, with a hard frost, no wind and an almost cloudless sky. It was still just 4°C at the end of a four-hour visit, when an adult LBB Gull flew N and three Herring Gulls flew NW. Also, a Collared Dove called from near the Old Vicarage, another Goldcrest was seen further east in the same shelter belt, two parties of five Goldfinches were present and Bob saw a late Red Admiral. After heavy overnight rain and a strong southwesterly wind, only a ninety-minute visit was made on the 20th, when passerines were virtually absent, apart from two Blackbirds, a Goldfinch, a Robin and a handful of Fieldfares and Redwings. In the wind they were presumably seeking shelter and not calling either. Also, a Kestrel was seen along the southern boundary. my first since the 11th.
The 21st was overcast and dull, with a light southeasterly and showers following the two-and-a-quarter-hour visit. Of interest was seeing a mixed tit flock in the Deer Park, which comprised one Coal, at least three Long-tailed, six or more Great and in excess of 10 Blue Tits, as well as a Nuthatch but no sign of a Treecreeper. A Kestrel was seen again, parties of eight Herring Gulls flew NE and three NW and a flock of 35 Fieldfares, with a few Redwings flew into the shaw just south of the rarity hedge.
Another two-and-a-quarter-hour visit on the 22nd was in a strong southwesterly, which brought rapid changes in cloud cover, when showers were interspersed with brief sunny breaks. Some 15 and 40 Mallard sheltered in the lea of the islands on the reservoir and lake respectively. A Canada Goose was also present on the lake and on my return to the reservoir a Cormorant flew off NW, at least three LT Tits fed in the bank-side osiers and two Goldcrests were also feeding, in the car park hedge.
The month commenced with a zone of high pressure in control. The temperatures were low during the first week, with a hard frost on the 3rd, but it remained dry until the end of the second week, which was less cold and showers were followed by steady rain on the 14th.
At 4°C it was a cold start in the churchyard as dawn broke on the 1st. A Tawny Owl hooted just west of the patch, before three more males and a female voiced their local presence, one male and a female from the Holm Oaks by Boughton Place. High cloud slowly drifted over from the northwest and at the end of the three-and-a-half-hour visit it was still only 6°C by which time just 33 species had been noted. Before I left the churchyard a male Sparrowhawk had flown NW and a Buzzard had called. Around the reservoir two Goldcrests fed, in Bob’s conifer below the south bank, and a party of at least four LT Tits moved along the north bank and a Herring Gull made a brief visit on its way S. A mixed flock of some 10 Goldfinches, 15 Chaffinches and a similar number of Redwings was disturbed from the rarity hedge Ash, just three Fieldfares were noted and hearing the song of a Song Thrush, at the southern end of the rarity hedge, was a surprise.
It was cold again on the 2nd, with a light frost, a cloudless sky and a light northwest wind. In such conditions it would have been nice to find something of interest, apart from the attractive autumn colours but just 22 species were noted in the two-and-a-half hours.
A hard frost greeted me at the reservoir on the 3rd, with high thin cloud and virtually no wind. At the mouth of the western lake feeder stream, the anticipated Grey Wagtail appeared at last, my first since April. About 15 Fieldfares were present, only about five Redwings were seen, five single Jays were either heard or seen and a flock of 28 Starlings was seen along Peens Lane.
After overnight rain it remained dry but dull for the visit on the 4th, under an overcast sky, followed by light rain in the afternoon. The reservoir produced all of interest, with a pair of Egyptian Geese making a short visit, a Kingfisher, a Coot and a pair of Reed Buntings, the first for nearly a month.
The weather was cloudy and cold, with little wind on the 5th, when one Reed Bunting was again present on the north bank of the reservoir, one cock Pheasant was seen and two others heard and one Coot was still present on the reservoir and another on the lake, where a small flock of Goldfinches, not Siskins, flew from alder to alder and a Greenfinch was photographed in the top of the rarity hedge ash.
During my visit on the 6th, it was cloudless, with a cold northerly breeze, becoming overcast by the afternoon. Trampling down the bramble in the poplar plantation proved worthwhile, when I flushed my first Woodcock of the year. Also of interest was hearing a muted song from a Blackbird, as it alternated with feeding on a profusion of hawthorn berries. As yet, following the cull, only 14 Mallard had returned to the lake but two Buzzards were present in the Deer Park and a third flew off SE from the reservoir oak copse.
It was again dry on the 7th, with an increasing amount of blue sky, during the visit and a cold northeasterly wind. Bob’s visit coincided with a party of six Teal circling the reservoir several times before flying off SW. The first Kestrel for the month flew W over the reservoir oak wood and, apart from one in mid-October, a Collared Dove at Spindlewood was the first since late September.
Like the 7th, cloud cover became more broken on the 8th but with a light, cold northwesterly. Skeins of five and 11 Canada Geese flew NE and NW respectively. Three raptor species were seen, a female Kestrel hovered just south of the reservoir, a female Sparrowhawk flew S over the Deer Park, from which a Buzzard called and another flew S from the poplar wood. A total of about 25 Fieldfares was noted, including a party of 10 W and about 15 Redwings were present. but finches were almost absent, apart from two each of Chaffinch and Goldfinch.
No visit was made on the 9th, as heavy rain fell for much of the day. It was mainly overcast and still for the two-and-a-half-hour visit on the 10th, when three Cormorants flew SW and a Grey Heron perched at the northern end of the lake island. A flock of 35 Fieldfares flew into the poplar wood from the east, another 10 and at least 15 Redwings were also present , a small party of eight male Blackbirds flew into the Deer Park from the south and a Grey Wagtail fed along the northern stretch of Peens Lane.
The sky was cloudless on the 11th, with a light northerly wind, which soon dropped. A Grey Wagtail flew from the car park, where three Dunnocks were also feeding and on the reservoir a drake Wigeon was seen at rest, under the south bank of the island as I arrived and when I left. The noise from spraying the apple orchards resulted in the rarity hedge being birdless and only one Redwing was seen elsewhere. Just 10 or more Fieldfares were present and a party of at least three LT Tits was accompanied by a Goldcrest.
It was overcast, with a southeasterly breeze on the 12th and light rain fell, as I completed my two-and-a-quarter hour early visit. Little of note was seen, with some 35 Fieldfares and maybe 10 Redwings present. Three sightings of Herring Gulls included one S, one NE and four NW.
The 13th commenced almost cloudless, with a light northerly wind. Only a brief, barely two-hour visit was possible, when two drake Tufted Ducks were present on the reservoir, the first this month, before the fishing match started. Also, the autumn yellows looked splendid in the sunlight.
It rained continuously during a short, two-hour visit on the 14th, when an increase in the numbers of Mallard present was noted, with 40 on the Reservoir and 34 on the lake. Otherwise, there was little to report, apart from a Greenfinch at the Spindlewood feeders again.