Over a month since my last Patchwork Challenge update is clearly not acceptable but rest assured the patch is still out there and, perhaps more importantly, I’ve continued to make regular visits. The truth is that very little has changed during the intervening weeks and is probably unlikely to do so any time soon now that we’re entering the traditionally quiet summer period. What I have been enjoying however is watching both our residents and spring migrants going about their business and have made a few notable observations whilst doing so. Firstly this has been my best year to date for Blackcaps with at least two pairs having taken up residence in the valley woodlands. Then there’s the Jackdaws which seem to have had a particularly successful nesting season judging by the number of youngsters which have been waking me up each morning with their incessant calling. My god they’re loud! I’ve also recorded up to four Collared Doves in the garden (a new record) and been thoroughly enjoying the sound of Swifts screaming high above our village. Small events in the grand scheme of things but all important in the life of a patch birder.

Bringing things bang up to date I headed out again on Wednesday evening and was delighted to once more make acquaintance with one of the Stonechat families. Their fledglings are now well developed but that hasn’t stopped the parents from continuing to guard them with an iron resolve. As a result it’s wise to make any approach as quietly as possible and the thick Bracken now covering Bryn-bach-Common provided ideal cover for just such an operation. In the end I got as close as I could have wished for and even saw a bit of sun on what was otherwise an overcast day.

P1130713 - Stonechat, Bryn-bach-Common
P1130719 - Stonechat, Bryn-bach-Common
P1130727 - Stonechat, Bryn-bach-Common

Whilst on the subject of weather its worth remarking that for the first time this year things felt rather autumnal. Swallow numbers are much reduced, the Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers are far less vocal and the common overall had fallen almost silent. Given its exposed location my patch always seems to experience summer all too briefly but I’d really like it to hang on for a little longer than this. At least the valley showed a little more life with at least two calling Yellowhammers, Whitethroats and best of all a juvenile Green Woodpecker. The heavily marked individual was a fantastic sight and given the national decline of this species a welcome one at that. It wasn’t the only ‘pecker about either as a Great Spotted shot through and started to feed on the very same tree. This is the first time I’ve actually seen one on patch this year with my current tick being audible only. I even got a semi-decent photo.

P1130740 - Great Spotted Woodpecker

I should also mention that for the first time in over a year the wind turbine erected just outside my patch boundary has actually been turning! I had begun to wander if the thing was ever going to be commissioned. Coincidentally the planned 16 turbine scheme proposed for another couple of miles further inland (though still visible from my patch and for which an access road would be driven through) has been rejected. Apparently the proposed land being offered as compensation for lost common grazing was deemed unacceptable. Can’t say I’m particularly disappointed at that.

P1130712 - Wind Turbine, Bryn-bach-Common

So no new species then but a continuation of what has now become an almost necessary part of my weekly routine. If you want a good excuse to get some regular exercise in I highly recommend a spot of patch birding.

2015: 68 / 2014: 64


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