Birdlife on the farm (wild birds)

Total for the farm = 109.
For the local patch = 116.

Rules for inclusion.
For entry onto the farm list, a bird has to be seen in, over or from the farm. I have to be stood within the boundaries of my farm, unless the bird is clearly on the ground or in the air space of the farm.
Species in blue are those which have been seen within a mile, but have not yet graced the farm with a viewing.



Residents - these birds are present for all or most of the year. They may not always be around, as they may occasionally move off to feed and breed. It may not be the same individuals which are around all year.
Little Grebe
occasionally present on South Holland Main Drain, only 300 metres from my boundary. Frustratingly I cannot see the river over the banks. Unlikely that one will sit on the bank, but a possible flight view from the farm in the future.
Great Crested Grebe
regular on South Holland Main Drain. Much as above, though larger and more conspicuous in flight, tending to fly higher and further. Surely will make its way onto the official farm list.
Cormorant
up to 5 perch distantly on wires by the Main Drain. Seen daily flying along the river, and regularly fly directly over the farm.
Grey Heron
ever present. In late summer, a few fly in every evening to roost in tall trees by the road. Once had a flock of 11 fly low over fields.
Mute Swan
a herd of up to 32 birds spend the winter in fields by South Holland Main Drain. A couple of pairs stay to breed on the banks. Occasional spectacular low flyovers of the farm.
Mallard
regular in the dyke system. Often gather in quite sizeable groups to feed and rest in fields. Up to 300 have been seen together in the winter. When we first moved in, a pair used to visit the chicken pens every evening to snaffle any leftovers.
Attempted to nest in the meadow in 2013.
Tufted Duck
present in small numbers, usually along South Holland Main Drain. Status uncertain. Sometimes move off for weeks at a time.
Shelduck
Status uncertain. The occasional pair or small group seen flying over the farm or in nearby fields. Maybe half a dozen sightings during the year. Possible refer to just one or two groups of birds which settled for a while in the local area.
Sparrowhawk
Seen at least a few times every week. Many different individuals involved, though from time to time the same individual will spend a few weeks in the area. One small male used to pay regular visits to the bushes by the pond.
Buzzard
Always present in small numbers but becoming much more regular. Birds seem to come and go, so perhaps the wintering birds are different individuals to those which summer here.
Kestrel
A common resident.
Red-legged Partridge
Ever present in the fields. Sometimes small coveys in the meadow or even in the veg patch, especially early morning. Possibly bred along one of the farm dykes.
Grey Partridge
Present but unobtrusive. Once encountered a small group in the veg patch early morning. A group of 14 birds seen in the field opposite November 2011. Since then only a couple of records, but a group of calling males appeared for 2 days in Don's field in Spring 2014. This is the last record.
Pheasant
Ever present. Often in the meadow and roost in the roadside hedge and tall ash trees.
Moorhen
They live year round in the dykes and along the Main Drain. Though moorhens often come up onto the banks and into fields, they never do it within sight of my farm. Surely one for the list very soon.
Finally! A short flight over a distant dyke on 26th February 2012. And on 4th March 2012, one walked across the corner of the goose paddock.
Coot
Sometimes present on South Holland Main Drain. Tend not to get into the smaller dykes. I’ve heard them from the farm, but not yet seen.
Oystercatcher
Occasional flyover, usually announced long in advance by their far-reaching calls. One seemed to move into local fields for a few weeks during early summer of 2011. Don’t think there was a breeding attempt though.
Black-headed Gull
A very common resident. Up to 3000 gather to follow tractors during ploughing, harrowing and harvesting. Many fly over every morning and evening, presumably on their way to / from The Wash.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Common, small groups flying over daily. Yet to study any fluctuations in numbers through the year. Often loafing in fields in small numbers.
Herring Gull
Common. Many fly over in the morning and evening. However, not so usual in the fields.
Stock Dove
A delightful common resident. In winter they poke about in small groups in the fields. In spring and summer they separate off and their deep cooing often greets me first thing in the morning. Fairly sure they breed in the old ash trees.
Woodpigeon
All too common resident. Large flocks in winter.
Collared Dove
Common resident around the farm. Almost always a few around the feeders.
Barn Owl
Common in the local area. Up to 3 birds together every evening when we first moved in (Oct 2010). Used to roost in the stables. Seen regularly in the winter. Sightings much scarcer during rest of the year.
Green Woodpecker
Resident. Probably breeds.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Resident. A regular visitor to the bird table. Drum every year and have observed territorial squabbles.
Skylark
Resident. A flock of 300+ birds was present in winter 2010-2011, but only small groups were present in subsequent years. Present throughout the summer, with several singing males. Bred on the farm.
Meadow Pipit
Resident, always present in the meadow. Numbers build up in winter, as many as 46 in February 2011. Probably several pairs breed on the farm.
Pied Wagtail
Resident. Often 1 or 2 birds around the animals pens.
A pair bred near the compost bins in 2013. A second brood was reared under some pallets.
Wren
Common resident. Breeds.
Dunnock
Resident. Always 1 or 2 around the feeders and pond.
Robin
Resident. Often 3 or 4 birds at once.
Blackbird
Common resident. Breeds. More arrive for the winter. Ubiquitous in the winter of 2012-13
Song Thrush
Uncommon resident. One or two singing males in Spring 2011 and 2013. However, at times seemingly absent, or secretive. Turns up in small numbers with arrivals of winter thrushes.
A couple regular in the garden in 2015 and bred 2016.
Mistle Thrush
Ever present resident. Probably bred - 10 birds were together from mid August 2011 into September. A pair is always present.
Blue Tit
Very common resident. Many use the feeders.
Great Tit
Very common resident. Many use the feeders.
Jay
Fairly regular visitor.
One, 5th May and 13th - 18th May 2011, seemed to be visiting plantation along Langary Gate Road. One in pondside bushes briefly (visiting feeder?) on 3rd July 2011, then a couple of fly overs in October.
Then more regular.
9 over together on 5th October 2012 coincided with some large arrivals on the Norfolk coast
Magpie
Only occasionally seen on the farm, but commonly seen in and around surrounding farmland. Update - much more regularly seen in 2012. Seem to associate with the sheep.
Update 2017 - has become daily.
Jackdaw
Not seen in winter 2010-2011 until a flyover on 27th February. Thereafter, very occasional flyovers until 22nd September 2011, from when one or two birds became almost daily, even landing in the ash trees. Again, absent in the winter of 2011-2012
Two flew over on 25th February 2012 - so close to last year's date.
Regular flyovers from mid 2012 onwards. Birds seem to have colonised Holbeach St John's and Holbeach Drove and often fly in between.
Rook
A surprisingly unusual visitor. On 27th August 2011 a family of 5 birds was feeding in the meadow. Apart from that, just a few fly over birds, mostly in the winter.
Carrion Crow
Common year round resident on the farm.
Starling
Common resident. Some big late Autumn and winter gatherings, up to c600 birds.
House Sparrow
Common year round resident. Roost in the eves. Breed in the loft!
Chaffinch
Very common resident
Greenfinch
Fairly common resident. More common in winter. Common at the birdtable in February 2012 after very cold weather early in the month. 2016/17 update - has become a very occasional visitor to the feeders in winter.
Goldfinch
Very common resident. Breeds on the farm.
Linnet
Seem to come and go. Small family parties around in summer. Flocks of up to 30 around the orchards in autumn and winter. Long periods with none present too. Flock of c100 in September 2016.
Reed Bunting
A few pairs scattered around. Bred on the farm 2011. Formerly scarce in winter, but a flock of 50+ in 2015/2016


Winter visitors - these birds will only be here when they are not on their breeding grounds much further North (probably in Scandinavia, or even Iceland and Greenland for some species)

Little Egret
Difficult to know where to place this one. Occasional sightings of birds flying over or stood in fields. Not yet seen between March and mid August, when they probably move off to breed. For the rest of the year, probably present in small numbers hidden away down the dykes. Maximum numbers seen at once was a group of 4.
Bewick's Swan
Small numbers occasionally joined the swan herd in the 2010-2011 winter. None in 2011-2012 winter. On 5th March 2011 three flocks (12, 20 and 48) flew NW in the evening. On 6th March a single flock of 60 did the same. Presumably these were heading out of the country from their wintering grounds at Welney. On 6th March 2013 28 swans flew over, only seen heading away, probably this species.
Whooper Swan
up to 13 in the swan herd during the winter of 2010-2011. Always at least a couple present during that winter. They moved on in early March, though one lingered until month end. On 28th November 2011 62 birds were in the swan herd, presumably straight in from their breeding grounds. This dwindled to 4 by the end of that week and they were not present for the rest of the winter until 18 were along Langary Gate Road on 2nd March after a heavy overnight fog, 7 more flying over the farm the same evening.
(Note the passage of Bewick's last year on 5th and 6th March - presumably these birds are moving off now)
13 birds East then South on 27th October 2012. 9 settled for the evening in the neighbouring field in late March 2015. 
Black Swan
on 26th Feb 2011 one was with the swan herd. Not a wild species, but is becoming established in small numbers from escaped stock.
Greylag Goose
a single bird flew low over my head on 26th January 2012. A long overdue addition to the list. 2 flew low over the farm at sunrise on 26th February 2012. They landed on the river bank at Coy Bridge where they stayed for about an hour. In 2016, regular fly overs by up to 20 birds.
Pink-footed Goose
large skeins regularly flew overhead during the cold snap of late 2010. Since then, none have been seen.
30 birds flew over late afternoon on 13th October 2013.
White-fronted Goose
A single adult bird led one of the Bewick’s flocks on 5th March 2011. Then a single young bird was with the 62 Whooper Swans on 28th November 2011. It was seen from the farm flying off with them in the evening.
Teal
Up to about 100 spend the winter in the dykes. Often seen wheeling in flight over the fields, particularly when disturbed.
Wigeon
A single male was in the dyke along Langary Gate Road on 2nd March 2012. Long overdue! The same day as 18 Whoopers spent the day in the same place, following a thick overnight fog. Probably the same bird was back in 2013 about the same date, this time with a female.
Goosander
Occasional small groups seen flying along South Holland Main Drain. Very occasionally up to 3 birds on the river. 5 drakes, then another group of 4 birds flew along the river on 16th December 2011. The largest numbers seen so far.
Update - 10 birds together on Main Drain 26th January 2012.
Hen Harrier
A regular visitor during the cold winter of 2010-2011. Several birds involved, including two birds sat in Don’s field one morning. Not seen so far this winter. (Update - a female near Coy Bridge on 1st Feb 2012 and on two dates in late March over the farm)
Not seen in winters since, just the very occasional fly through.
Merlin
Two sightings so far, both fast, low fly-throughs. One on 4th September 2011 and one on 7th January 2012. Update - also on 1st Feb 2012.
Peregrine
The occasional bird or pair present from October through till March. Sometimes just sit in the fields. One spent half an hour looping up and down, swooping low over the next field. I eventually worked out it was buzzing a buzzard, trying to steal its prey.
Golden Plover
A sure sign that winter is approaching. Flocks of up to 350 spend the winter in local fields, occasionally flying over the farm. Few present in warmer winters.
Jack Snipe
A single bird present in Lambert Drain dyke at the bottom end of the farm for 3 days,
3rd - 5th December 2010. Doubtless displaced by freezing conditions, many were seen across the country during this period.
Snipe
Seen a few times in the big freeze winter of 2010-2011. Presumably just a winter visitor in harsh weather. Occasionally flushed from dyke, or seen over fields. Not seen in 2011-2012.
4 flew through on 16 Sept 2016
Redshank
One bird flew into the dyke during the cold spell of the 2010-2011 winter. It was there the next day too. Apart from that, surprisingly completely absent, though the guineafowl do very good impressions, so guess some must have passed over unnoticed.
Common Gull
Common in the winter.
Great Black-backed Gull
Most common in winter. Groups of 3 or 4 often pass over. Not noted in summer.
Little Owl
At least one bird (probably a pair) lives in Don’s and in the roadside hedge. Visited the farm daily in early 2011. Not seen or heard during breeding season. Heard again 20th August 2011 and present into the winter. Very vocal and seen several times in February/March 2013
A pair moved into the old Ash Trees in spring 2013 and bred. Raised at least 2 young. Regular since then.
Short-eared Owl
There was a major influx of these birds across the Noth Sea in late Autumn 2011. On 15th December I encountered a short-eared owl hunting by the road just North of Shell Brudge, within 500m of my farm. The next day I accidently flushed one from a dyke opposite the farm, and that evening it hunted distantly over fields by the Main Drain and was joined by a second bird. On 10th January 2012 one was along Langary Gate Road. In late March 2012 up to 3 were present in the area. Since then, a couple seen during autumn migration. 2 birds stayed into May 2016. Only one brief sighting in winter 2016/17.
Fieldfare
Flocks of several hundred during the cold winter of 2010-2011, when it was a regular at the feeders. Many large arrivals in the autumn. During the winter of 2011 a flock of about 90 birds wandered the local area.
In late October 2012 a major influx into the country was reflected on the farm with many hundreds of birds present and passing through for several weeks. During the winter of 2014-15, many were present all winter in the sheep field until late March.
Redwing
Very common (100s) in the cold winter of 2010-2011, when regular at the feeders. Only a couple seen in the winter of 2011-2012.
Many hundreds passed through on 27th October 2012 during the great thrush arrival. They quickly passed through over the next week or so and were again scarce on the ground for the rest of the winter.
In 2014-15 birds stayed all winter in the sheep field, even spending time in the chicken pens.
Tree Sparrow
Up to 13 on feeders in the cold winter of 2010-2011 (February). One on 22nd June in bushes along South Holland Main Drain hinted at local breeding. A migrant arrived on 7th September 2011 and on 9th there were 4 around the farm. Then 3 on 9th - 16th December are the only records on the farm so far this winter. (Probably resident in the area)
One on 14th October 2012 (the day 7 brambling arrived) and 23rd October 2012. Then absent until 2015 when a pair bred and the family were regular at feeders. Ditto for 2016.
Yellowhammer
An occasional visitor to the farm and even to the feeders in the winter of 2010-2011. One briefly on 28th August 2011. Otherwise absent. (Probably resident in the area) Singing from nearby bushes late March 2012
A couple of birds with the bunting and finch flock in winter 2015/16. About 4 regular at pheasant feeder in early 2017.
Corn Bunting
One bird briefly joined the Reed Bunting flock in November 2015. The next awaited with bated breath.


Summer visitors - the sensible ones who head for warmer climes in Africa during our winter. They come here to breed.

Marsh Harrier
First seen on 4th April 2011, then regular sightings, daily through the summer, till
21st September 2011. Display flights seen and calls heard. Up to four at a time flying low over the farm, these probably being migrant birds. Many different birds involved in sightings, including a wing-tagged bird.

More scarce in 2012, with just very occasional sightings. One or two in the area from early August. A similar story in subsequent years..
Hobby
Occasionally seen during the summer, more regular late summer when following the swallow migration and hunting the young. A couple of spectacularly close fly pasts. Their presence often announced by the barn swallows unusual calls and mobbing.
Common Tern
On 15th May 2011 I heard a familiar screeching call and searched the skies to see a pair of common terns flying low over the farm. Another flew over on 21st June, and on 22June one flew along South Holland Main Drain carrying a small fish in its beak. Presumably they breed somewhere nearby and use the Main Drain to navigate and to fish, occasionally taking a short cut over my farm.
Turtle Dove
On 14th June 2011 I enjoyed the sound of a purring Turtle Dove from one of the Ash Trees on the back lawn. It stayed for 5 minutes. There has only been one more even briefer sighting of this increasingly rare dove.
Cuckoo
A male sang from 7th - 17th May 2011 and another was in the area on 1st - 3rd July 2011.
Again in early May 2012 and 2013. Only just annual now.
Swift
Present in low numbers during the summer. First seen in 2011 on 10th May. Higher numbers later in the summer, with 30 over the farm on 30th July 2011.
Early back in 2013, with singles seen on 29th and 30th April.
Swallow
Up to 5 pairs breed in the outbuildings. A large passage in September 2011, with c5000 birds passing through on 10th September.
Yellow Wagtail
A summer visitor. Often 1 or 2 around the chicken pens and pig enclosure. Families appear in late summer. Probably nest in neighbouring crop fields.
Scarce visitor / passer through from 2015 onwards.
Sedge Warbler
few pairs breed along dykes.
Reed Warbler
Common breeder in the reedy fringe of South Holland Main Drain. One pair in Lambert Drain dyke, at the river end. 3 singing males at Tindsley’s pond. Singles around the pond and in the road hedge on various dates between 30th July 2011 and 15th September.
An occasional migrant too.
Whitethroat
A singing male along the roadside dyke on 10th May came into the garden briefly. A family on 22nd June. 3 juveniles were around the pond between 27th July 2011 and mid August. An adult was in the dyke by the compost heap for 3 days in late August. The last bird of 2011 was seen on 15th September.


Passers through - migrant birds which appear in spring on their way to their breeding grounds or again in autumn on their way back. They don’t usually hang around very long.
Gannet
On 11th October 2013, 2 juvenile Gannets flew very low over the fields heading north. Strong northerly winds the previous day had displaced many seabirds in the North Sea.
Red Kite
One on 29th March 2012. On the ground near Coy Bridge, then rose and continued its Northward migration. One low over the farm on 27th March 2015. Records will surely increase.
Goshawk
On 9th April 2012 one briefly lingered in the area, being seen three times in about 20 minutes.
Dunlin
2010 was a wet year and one of the fields along Langary Gate Road had a flood all winter. I regularly watched this series of temporary pools, and in Spring 2011 was rewarded with a lone Dunlin feeding at the edge. Unfortunately, too far from my top bedroom window to scope.
Woodcock
3 birds late evening on 4th March 2013, flew low over stables and seemed to land among Don's trees.
Two other records, one flushed from long grass and one through on the evening of 29th March 2015.
Bar-tailed Godwit
9 birds flew low east along the other side of the Main Drain on 29th April 2011. This was part of a small influx of this species into inland counties.
Curlew
Frustratingly, 2 birds flew over the car 200 yards south of the farm. Shouldn't be long until they make it onto the list proper
Greenshank

One bird flushed from dyke early morning on 23rd August 2012, the day after the Green Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
One bird present in the dyke on 22nd August 2012, the day the dyke was dredged.
Sand Martin
A very occasional migrant in autumn 2011. Only a few birds detected. A similar picture in subsequent years.
House Martin
One bird observed to pass through on spring migration in April 2011. Small numbers on migration in Autumn, including up to 100 in one day on 10th September 2011 with a spectacular passage of Swallows.. Several through again on 15th September 2015 with a large passage of Swallows. 20+ through on 26th Septemebr 2016.
Waxwing
16 birds present on the afternoon of 4th December 2012 in a bush by Shell Bridge.
20 birds on farm 9th November 2016, several still on 10th, 1 on 11th. Also 2 groups through in winter 2016/17.
KingfisherOne along the Main Drain 12th - 13th November 2016
Black Redstart
A first summer male was present in the newly planted orchard all day on 12th April 2011. It appeared the same day as the first wheatear and the only house martin of the spring. An adult male was present very briefly early morning a week later. And that's it, so far.
Wheatear
One was in the orchard from 12th - 15th April 2011, then there were 4 on 16th (possibly all new birds). During the course of April up to 9 birds passed through the farm, most staying a day or 2. Just one very brief bird in spring 2012, grounded by a hail storm. Not noted in spring 2013 or 2014. One very brief bird  on 25th September 2016.
Whinchat
The first bird, after a good spell for these countrywide, was on the morning of 19th September 2016, when it was joined by a second bird! The first stayed till 25th September.
Stonechat
A brief female bird on 5th March 2017.
Lesser Whitethroat
An adult was briefly in the thin hedge along the veg patch on 12th August 2011. There has only been one other record, an autumn migrant which stayed several days.
Garden Warbler
One seen on 21st August 2011 in the roadside hedge, found while looking for the Pied Flycatcher.
Blackcap
Probably one or two pairs each year. Small numbers pass through on migration.
Chiffchaff
One heard singing in early spring 2011, then not present till 22nd August 2011. Then a series of records till 4th October. No more than 3 ever present together. First bird of 2012 singing on 23rd March for one day.
Fairly regular from late August each year.
Willow Warbler
One singing on 11th April 2011. Then none till 27th July 2011, followed by several records of up to 2 birds, the last on 8th September 2011.
Occasionally appears on spring and autumn migration, often when other species pass through.
Goldcrest
Surprisingly scarce. One bird on 13th October 2011 in pondside conifers, two the next day. That’s it...Until one on 13th - 15th March 2012.
1 bird on 15th October 2012,  3 birds on 23rd October 2012 (same day as a tree sparrow). Stayed around and at least 2 birds wintered. Occasional since then.
Spotted Flycatcher
One in Don’s garden on 22nd August 2011 only, found while looking for the previous day’s Pied Flycatcher.
Another in the garden for the morning on 10th September 2012
The third very briefly on 19th September 2016 while trying to relocate 2 whinchats
Pied Flycatcher
One on 21st August 2011 in roadside hedge and paddock. Probably a First summer male.
Long-tailed Tit
Only occasional visits by family parties, usually late autumn / early winter.
Brambling
One at the feeders in winter 2010-2011. Then one singing from the paddock on 13th October 2011.
One over on 14th October 2012, then 7 with the goldfinch flock on 15th dwindling over the next couple of days. 6 through on 29th October 2012.
Lesser Redpoll
5 birds briefly on 15th October 2012 and one through on 29th October 2012
Siskin
2 on 7th September 2011 on feeders and bathing at the pond. The same day as a migrant Tree Sparrow and the beginning of a major hirundine passage.
Several birds over in autumn 2016 during a strong arrival.
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