Wild Monty

Oct 2008

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31 Oct A bumper bundle of good birds this morning. At 10.30am the first SISKIN of the autumn flew over the top of Richmond Road. It was a good autumn for this small yellowy finch last year - there seemed to be lots around locally and plenty flying over Montpelier - but so far this year they seem a bit thin on the ground (or in the air!). A SKYLARK also flew over the same spot seconds after the Siskin. Loads of LONG-TAILED TITS were around - sizable parties were at Fairlawn Road and along Station Road. At the station the GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER was calling from tall trees, and a GOLDCREST was in bushes near the allotment gardens. Two female CHAFFINCHES were also at the station. There was a fly-over SPARROWHAWK at Fairlawn Road and a JAY was near the iron bridge.

30 Oct A cold, grey and uninspiring day today. At around 11am I looked out of my window to see a distant flock of about 20 small to medium sized birds flying over the rooftops. They were almost certainly Redwings (thrushes from Scandinavia that spend the winter in the UK) but it was pretty frustrating not to have confirmed the identification. Not much else to report other than 7 or 8 LONG-TAILED TITS at Fairlawn Road and the GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER heard calling briefly somewhere near the allotment gardens but not seen. Chatting to a neighbour this afternoon, I learned that a Fox visits her garden regularly, eating food that she puts out.

29 Oct Another sunny start to the day, with cloud spilling in for the afternoon. I was delighted to see a flock of about 15 STARLINGS flying around outside my window this morning and perching on a TV aerial opposite my flat. These may well be migrants, possibly from mainland Europe - I note that last year a flock of 22 Starlings arrived on 17th November - is it too far-fetched to suggest that the same individuals might be involved? A couple of JACKDAWS flew over the allotment gardens at 11am, and at the station was a flock of LONG-TAILED and BLUE TITS, a BLACKBIRD and a WREN, the latter giving good views as it sat on a branch next to the footbridge steps before flying across the railway to the other side. Also at the station were two CHAFFINCHES and a GREENFINCH was making its canary-like call from the tall trees opposite the platform. I was surprised to see both PURPLE TOADFLAX and EVENING PRIMROSES still in flower on the disused platform.I had to walk to the city centre and noted a JAY and a GREY WAGTAIL calling in Kingsdown, behind the BRI.

28 Oct A lovely sunny but cold morning gave way to prolonged showers this afternoon, with hail and thunder and lightning. At 11am there were at least two GOLDCRESTS giving good views at the junction of Fairlawn Road and Ashley Hill, among a group of COAL, GREAT and BLUE TITS. Another Goldcrest was at the top of St Andrews Road. A SKYLARK and a MEADOW PIPIT flew over the railway path and a CHAFFINCH over Fairlawn Road. I haven't seen or heard any RAVENS in Monty for ages but Guy has reported that he saw a pair at Balmoral Road at 10.30am on 23rd October, so it is good to know they are still around. The infrastructure around the new telecom mast near the tunnel is looking far more extensive now - I fear the vegetation will be lost forever from the site.

27 Oct A beautiful sunny morning. At 9.30am a SKYLARK flew over Richmond Road, and a JAY flew over the garden. At the allotment gardens, the gaggle of HOUSE SPARROWS were chattering excitedly to each other in the bushes and a CHAFFINCH flew over. My friend Brian and I went birding in the Cotswold Water Park today - fab weather and some good birds including Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher and several Snipe.

26 Oct At 11am, just as the rain was beginning to clear, I had cracking views of a couple of GOLDCRESTS in the park, they were among trees behind the phone box at the bottom of St Andrews Road. Also nearby was a party of GREAT and BLUE TITS. A COLLARED DOVE was singing on a TV aerial outside my window this morning.

25 Oct A little more lively on the bird front today and there was more evidence of the changing seasons. The best birds were 3 BLACK-HEADED GULLS over the station at lunchtime - I can hear you yawning, but these are real Monty rarities and I really can't remember the last time I saw them here. They were calling raucously and flying in acrobatic fashion, soaring and dipping wildly. Also at the station was a female GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER - she was perched on a tree between the allotment gardens and the station, then was disturbed by a MAGPIE and flew to the mature trees opposite the platform. Also over the station was a flock of 8 CARRION CROWS with 5 Magpies! A COAL TIT was calling from the tall trees on the Cromwell Road side of the footbridge, a CHAFFINCH flew over and 2 STARLINGS were perched on the telecom mast along Station Road. At the top of St Andrews Road a GREENFINCH passed overhead calling and at Fairlawn Road a MEADOW PIPIT flew uncharacteristically low (i.e. at tree height) and several tit flocks were heard around the patch, including LONG-TAILED TITS at the station.

24 Oct At the station this morning a COAL TIT was calling and a GREAT TIT singing, while overhead about 10 WOODPIGEONS flew high in ones and twos, so they might have been migrants. A STARLING also flew over. In St Pauls Park a GOLDFINCH was singing in one of the tall trees at the back, a PIED WAGTAIL was still flying around, and a HERRING GULL was sat on one of the roofs overlooking the park. A ROBIN gave good views but sadly by the time I sorted the camera out, it had disappeared. Some FERAL PIGEONS were more obliging though!

23 Oct It was hard work trying to find any birds in the park at 8.40 on a cloudy morning. The breeze was helping the Sycamores fling their helicopter seeds into the air and the leaves on the ground shifted with the wind. A very elusive GOLDCREST was flitting around in the Buddleias overlooking the paved games area, and a CHAFFINCH was calling. A ROBIN and a WREN were equally skulking this morning, but at least one GREY SQUIRREL was showing well as it ran along the branches. St Pauls Park was more productive - a PIED WAGTAIL flew back and forth, some GREAT TITS were feeding among the shrubs and a HERRING GULL drifted low overhead. I was going to take a photo of a group of about 20 FERAL PIGEONS feeding near the park entrance when a bird of prey flew over - I did not get any good views before it disappeared over the rooftops. I'd assumed it to be a Sparrowhawk but as it went over, all the local pigeons and gulls went absolutely ballistic, pigeons swirling around the sky and gulls crying loudly. I wondered therefore if the raptor had been a Peregrine, a species which often causes such a reaction. We will never know!

22 Oct Still very quiet in what is normally a very eventful month in the migration calendar. On a showery morning at 8.45am I was greeted by two JACKDAWS flying high over the station, and a GREENFINCH also flying over. Two CARRION CROWS were using the large telecom tower as a look-out. The Network Rail contractors took shelter from a passing shower under the footbridge that I was also using for the same purpose - we exchanged pleasantries before my train arrived and whisked me off to Temple Meads.

21 Oct A gorgeous, sunny morning after yesterday's wet and windy washout. At 8.45am, the park was looking grand, some lovely autumn colour developing, especially the leaves of the huge Horse Chestnut at the back of the park. Bird-wise it was very quiet, though, with just a GREY WAGTAIL flying over, 3 CHAFFINCHES (two handsome males and a female), a WREN, a WOODPIGEON or two, and a singing ROBIN. I popped into St Pauls park on the way to work but the park-keeper was clearing leaves so it was too noisy.

19 Oct It was dull and breezy when I did my rounds at 2.30pm. A BLACKBIRD was sub-singing in the wooded area at the junction of Fairlawn Road and Ashley Hill - I don't hear this very often at this time of year, as Blackbirds are not particularly territorial in the autumn and winter - he was probably just 'keeping his hand in'! Nearby, a GREY WAGTAIL flew low over Fairfield Road and a CHIFFCHAFF called briefly at the railway path, where some COMMON FIELD SPEEDWELL was still in flower. A party of LONG-TAILED TITS made there way from the allotment gardens to the industrial units at Station Road, calling as they fed. Among them were a couple of GREAT TITS. At 10am a single JACKDAW flew over the garden.

17 Oct A fine sunny day. I had a wander round the patch at lunchtime, and there were 2 GOLDCRESTS at the top of St Andrews Road, while nearby a GREY WAGTAIL and a CHAFFINCH flew over the railway path. JACKDAWS were heard calling at Wolferton Road and tit flocks seemed to be everywhere, including a party of LONG-TAILED TITS at Station Road. At 4.15pm a PIED WAGTAIL flew over the flat and a gaggle of HOUSE SPARROWS were making a lot of noise at the allotment gardens. Butterflies today included 2 SPECKLED WOODS at the railway path, a RED ADMIRAL in the garden and a LARGE WHITE at the top of St Andrews Road. Engineers are digging up the embankment near the new telecom mast - I will be glad when the area is left alone permanently and the vegetation allowed to regenerate.

16 Oct Still very quiet this morning - normally at this time of year we can expect movements of migrating birds - at the station there were several GREENFINCHES and CHAFFINCHES, suggesting that numbers are growing - plus a PIED WAGTAIL overhead. The crow family was represented by a couple of MAGPIES, a CARRION CROW and a JAY.

15 Oct It was a dull drizzly morning and there was little to report from the park except for a couple of WRENS, one of which flew fast and low across the concrete games surface from one side to the other. It was also amusing to watch a couple of CARRION CROWS hitching a lift on the crane gantry at the Linden Homes development - as the crane moved, the Crows looked slightly nonplussed! In St Pauls park there was a DUNNOCK. a party of GREAT and BLUE TITS and four GOLDFINCHES, the latter giving great views in one of the tall trees at the back of the park.

14 Oct A rather dull morning at 8.40am - I had a quick look in the park but nothing doing apart from a GREY SQUIRREL. At the station was a GREENFINCH, a couple of DUNNOCKS and a PIED WAGTAIL flew over. A WREN was singing in the garden first thing. The consensus on the moth is now Feathered Ranunculus. Nice.

13 Oct Last night I had a moth in the kitchen which I had difficulty identifying so I sent a photo to some moth experts - they are divided as to its identification . It could either be a BRINDLED GREEN or a FEATHERED RANUNCULUS. The latter species is mostly found on the coast so it seems strange to turn up in Monty! Either way, it is a very attractive moth! This afternoon I noticed a gaggle of STARLINGS on St Pauls church tower, and wondered if they are new arrivals from the continent - at this time of year we get an influx of birds from central and eastern Europe. I remember a year or two ago the numbers of Starlings grew steadily at the church but then moved on around Christmas time.

12 Oct Yet another warm day, the sun soon came out after a foggy start. Just having my flat window open I was able to see and hear the following birds in or near the garden on and off through the day: GREAT TIT (4), MAGPIE (2), LONG-TAILED TIT, COAL TIT, ROBIN, BLACKBIRD (2) WREN, HOUSE SPARROW (6) WOODPIGEON, GREY WAGTAIL, PIED WAGTAIL, GOLDFINCH, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH and JACKDAW. A walk around the patch produced little this afternoon, although a JAY at Fairlawn Road nearly allowed me to take a photo as it perched on the top of a tree, but flew off at the wrong moment. The bird was carrying a nut in its bill. The most noticeable thing was the absence of any Chiffchaffs - they must have all moved on in the last day or so, leaving a bit of a vacuum in terms of migrant birds. In the flat was a spider which is almost certainly ZYGIELLA X-NOTATA - this small beast likes windows, and was walking around my window frame this morning!

11 Oct A warm and sunny day - quite magnificent. The highlight was at around 11am when a large female SPARROWHAWK flew into a tree along Ashley Hill - unfortunately she didn't stay long enough for me to photograph her which was really annoying as it would have been a great photo! At Fairlawn Road a CHIFFCHAFF and a JAY were heard, and a PIED WAGTAIL flew over, calling. There was a party of LONG-TAILED TITS at the station along with at least one DUNNOCK. Butterflies were noticeable in the warm sunshine - 4 SPECKLED WOODS were at the railway path and another was halfway down St Andrews Road, while a RED ADMIRAL was in the garden. LARGE WHITES were in the garden and at the railway path. A nice patch of BLACK MEDICK was at the car park in Sevier Street.

10 Oct Another gorgeous morning - at 8.40am I went to the park. A CHIFFCHAFF, a COAL TIT and a GOLDCREST were all calling but were very elusive.Three STARLINGS flew over - they may have been migrants. At Brigstocke Road a CARRION CROW was feeding on food scraps - the bird had some noticeable white feathering in its wing-tips.

9 Oct A beautiful sunny morning and what looked like frost on the grass at the station at 8.40am. A CHIFFCHAFF showed well and sang a few times as I watched - it really is a great autumn for this species in Monty. Other common birds included a WREN, several WOODPIGEONS, a ROBIN, a BLACKBIRD and a GREAT TIT.

8 Oct Having been gently rapped over the knuckles by Chris Rose in a recent email to the effect that I don't often leave my Monty comfort zone, I made a point of visiting the lovely St Pauls Park this morning. As I approached, a GREY WAGTAIL flew over Bishop Street, and a CHIFFCHAFF showed well in one of the mature trees at the back of the park. It was quite a yellow bird, but I was able to eliminate the very similar Willow Warbler through its dark leg-colour and constant tail-dipping, a typical habit of Chiffchaff. At one stage it had a bit of a skirmish with a handsome male CHAFFINCH which was considerably larger. Nearby were both BLUE and GREAT TITS and a flock of about 30 FERAL PIGEONS. A HERRING GULL was sat on a roof overlooking the park and a moulting BLACKBIRD had a head resembling Pinhead from the Hellraiser movie - hopefully new head feathers will soon restore its good looks! In Montpelier Park at 8.40am there was another Chiffchaff and a COAL TIT, 4 WOODPIGEONS (including a juvenile) 2 MAGPIES and at least 3 GREY SQUIRRELS. At 6.30pm as I passed, a GOLDCREST was calling in the pine near the entrance to the Old Vicarage. After work I finally caught up with the EAGLE OWL in Clifton - it was sat high in a Sycamore just off Woodland Road and I had good views of its backside! On the way to Clifton I counted 47 MUTE SWANS at Bristol Bridge along with about 20 BLACK-HEADED GULLS and a couple of MALLARDS. Satisfied now, Chris? ;-)

6 Oct One of the garden BLACKBIRDS (either the female or the juvenile from one of this summer's broods) came to the window looking absolutely horrible this morning! It was obviously moulting, and the head was scruffy, while the rest of the body feathers looked quite sleek in comparison. The moulting process can take many weeks during which time the birds are rather quiet and inactive. I note that the leaves in the park are already being cleared, which is a great shame as far as wildlife is concerned. It is unlikely that the GREY WAGTAIL will return to feed in the park, although one bird did fly over St Andrews Road at 11am. I had a frustrating hour trying to look for an Eagle Owl that has been seen roosting outside the university in recent weeks - the bird is probably an escaped pet. However, I could not see it and the place where it was supposed to hang out was overrun by students, it being their first day back. Most inconvenient! A COAL TIT visited the garden today and, despite the overcast conditions, a LARGE WHITE butterfly was also seen.

5 Oct A wet start to the day, but as the rain cleared, a CHIFFCHAFF popped into the garden, but didn't stay long. A GREY WAGTAIL flew low over the flat and a JAY perched briefly on an aerial opposite my window. At this time of the year, when so many plants are at the end of their flowering period, it is always nice to see some still in bloom - like the patch of NIPPLEWORT at the junction of Fairlawn Road and Ashley Hill.

4th Oct At 11am I took a wander around the patch, which again was very quiet. The station was absolutely silent, no bird singing or calling, and I was about to leave when all of a sudden a large party of BLUE, GREAT and LONG-TAILED TITS descended on the trees and bushes! Soon the whole place was buzzing with common birds - a DUNNOCK, a couple of ROBINS, a WREN, 3 MAGPIES, 4 BLACKBIRDS and a male CHAFFINCH were all seen and heard, proving that patience is a virtue....

3 Oct A beautiful, sunny but chilly morning. At 9am in the park there was a GREY WAGTAIL feeding among the dead leaves on the concrete games pitch - this is exactly what happened last year, the bird being seen regularly, and obviously finding lots of small invertebrate prey here. I only hope the pathological 'tidy-uppers' in the community do not demand a clean-up of the area too soon! A dreadful photo of the bird is below - hopefully I will get better pics in the next few days. The usual CHIFFCHAFF and COAL TIT were also noted in the park, while at the allotment gardens 2 DUNNOCKS were calling.

2 Oct Still very quiet this morning despite half an hour's thrashing around the patch. Two CHIFFCHAFFS were around, one in the park (singing very quietly) and another at the station. A COAL TIT was also in the park. A GOLDFINCH and a GREENFINCH both flew over the station, where there were also a couple each of BLACKBIRDS and ROBINS and a singing WOODPIGEON. GREY SQUIRRELS were also in both locations.

1 Oct It was a tale of two Wagtails this morning, with a PIED WAGTAIL flying over the allotment gardens at 9.00am and, soon after, a GREY WAGTAIL over Picton Street - also a GOLDFINCH flew over the latter location. The only other birds of note were a COAL TIT and a CHIFFCHAFF in the park.

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