Monday, 30 April 2007

Sunday 29th April

Lady Orchid

A visit to a site in Kent turned up Man and Lady Orchid almost at full bloom, probably 3 weeks earlier than expected! A Lesser Whitethroat was heard, then seen close by.

Man Orchid
Later a trip to Burham Marshes resulted in my first Turtle Dove (on the overhead wires by the church) and throbbing song of Reed Warblers of the year. Good numbers of Swallows were swooping around the neighbouring lanes.

I later walked the River Medway between Barming Bridge to Teston Bridge and onto the beer garden in of the Tickled Trout, West Farleigh. A Cuckoo was heard calling close by in an orchard near the pub and a Sparrowhawk and 2x House Martin flew overhead while I supped on my pint of Spitfire.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Friday 27th April

An overcast, even cold start this morning. Whitethroat numbers had increased dramatically since I last walked in on Tuesday. At least 8 were heard on the way into work, the first showing very well, balancing on abirch sapling on the 'Pea Field'. A drab but fine voiced Garden Warbler drew attention to itslef by Gallagher's Gallop, luckily in unison with a distant Blackcap which helped me pick it out. The drabness of the Garden Warbler was outshone by a pair of Bullfinches and up to 5xYellowhammers. Strangely only one Chiffchaff was heard calling this morning. Two racehorses were being put through their paces on Gallagher's Race Course so no hope of grounded migrants, but 4 fantastic Swallows sweeping low over the race course pasture, racing well ahead of the horses. In total 26 species, which included Cormorant and 3x Heron.


As I walked out of the main building for my walk to Ditton Quarry at lunchtime I was met by the strangest of bird calls from the shrubs alongside the labs. Investigation revealed a fantastic 'parrot' (possibly a Rosella?), and completely unexpected! It looked at me curioulsy before flying off north and onto one of the windbreaks where it sat quite unperturbed by anything going around it. I though getting 2 Wheaters in a week was good!
I continued on to the quarry, and at last found a Small Copper that I though may have seen there last week. 3x Holly Blues and 2x Orange Tip added to the list. 2x Common Lizards were found basking in their usual spot. A pair of Common Blue Damselfly were seen briefly, along with a possible Dingy Skipper. The usual mix of birds was present but dominated by Whitethroat (as I had noticed this morning).
Small Copper

Holly Blue (female)

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Tuesday 24th March

Spitting rain freshned up the air this morning - the smell of rain on tarmac was reminiscent of a heavy downpour in August rather than the first of our April showers! Highlight of the day was 7x Common Lizards at Ditton Quarry - unfortunately the one in the photo blinked everytime I got close!

Monday, 23 April 2007

Monday 23rd April

Sallow 'fluff'

Dark clouds loomed heavily to the west as I set out this morning, but the sun was still strong as I approached the Pea Field and heard the scratchy song of a Whitethroat - first for my walk in this year. It showed briefly, bellowing it's throat outwards before disappearing quickly into the brambles. 5x Blackcaps were seen and at least 3x Chiffchaffs called. Yellowhammers stood out as markers along the hedgerow with up to 5 males seen. The Swallows hadn't returned to the telegraph poles at the bottom of Kiln Lane, but sunshine and heat from the weekend had brought on the leaves on the oak trees - the path towards Gallagher's Gallop was dappled for the first time this year.

It started to rain as I made a quick trip to Ditton Quarry at lunchtime, but still warm and humid though. 3x Common Lizards were seen basking but were obvioulsy warmed up enough to scuttle off when i got my camera out! 1x Whitethroat, 2x Blackcap and 3xChiffChaff were all heard/seen, a Green Woodpecker yaffled somewhere in the distance and charm of Goldfinch added their liquid song to the mix. Speckled Wood and a pristine Red Admiral were the only butterflies seen. The Cowslips on the banks of the Quarry were very showy.

Sunday 22nd April

A walk from South Street, Barming to East Farleigh bridge nad back this morning resulted in my first Cuckoo of the year - calling from the west Farleigh side of the river. A very confiding female Blackcap from the platform of East Farleigh Station and up to 3 males singing on the way back to Barming Bridge. The Grey Wagtail was in it's usual position on the stepped weir at East Farleigh lock. Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Peacock butterflies seen along the towpath which was lined by Ransomes coming into full bloom - altogether a very tranquil scene. Finally a Holly Blue fluttered along my garden hedge as I walked back up the drive.

Saturday 21st April

A call from Ross last night 'encoraged' me to make an early start (05:30) for a short seawatch at Dungeness. Met Ross & John on the shingle bank at 06:15, they had therir comfy chairs out, all that was lacking was a knotted hankerchief on their heads...and a few Pomarine Skuas. The latter was soon rectified with 3x superb Poms flying east giving excellent if distant views...fantastic. Arctic and Great Skua, Artic and Sandwich Tern, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Little Gull, Garganey and Harbour Porpoise were all added to the list before I took a wander into the 'desert' with Steve (of Furnance Pond fame). Almost immediately he picked out 2x Ring Ouzels chacking in the gorse - a persistent chase eventually gave good views of a male but not long enough for Steve to photograph.

After seeing a number of Wheatear, Willow Warbler, ChiffChaff and Common Lizard, and hearing Black Redstart, round the the moat/trapping area I stalked Ross and John to the Arc pit where Ross located a Little Ringed Plover. This must have been around 09:40...the same time a Golden oriole was spotted in the trapping area....gutted!!!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Friday 20th March

Had to drive into work this morning so no sightings of interest. However as I drove through the Research station site I was amazed at how much the apple tree blossom had come on in a week.
As the sun started to break through at lunchtime I decided to meet up with Mike Easterbrook at Ditton Quarry. Whitethroat, ChiffChaff and Blackcap were heard but nothing else of note on the avian front. However a small Common Lizard made up for the lack of birds and Peacock, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Whites and possible Small Copper butterflies added interest.
On my way to check my new strawberry plots I had the fortune to find a female Wheatear hoping on the short grass of the East Malling weather station - my first for this site.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Thursday 19th March

A cold mist enveloped the whole of Barming this morning, a reminder that we're still in April not June. Consequently not much to be seen or heard although a couple of Linnets brightened the roof of one my neighbour's houses.

The bluebells are starting to form a blue carpet on edge of Oaken Wood and the stitchwort is flowering profusely along Gallagher's Gallop.

Glimpsed my first Swallow on East Malling Research land at 10am - when the sun had finally broken through.

A quick sortie to New Hythe at lunchtime resulted in a 1x Nightingale and a grass snake swimming in the Millstream by the water works path.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Wednesday 18th March

An early start to get strawberry trials planted - Bullfinches again, and a Blackcap singing melodiously by Gallagher's Gallop - the first I've had here this year. Fox ran out across the path but of more interest, albeit morbidly, was a dead shrew (?) on the path by Oaken Woods. It's about time I started seeing some live things! No sign of the lone Swallow today.

Tuesday 17th March

A pair of Bullfinches were seen again on walk in but nothing else out of the ordinary. However on my walk back home early evening resulted in a single Tree Pipit singing near Gallagher's Quarry on the path up to the water tower. The Swallow on the Telegraph wires at the corner of Kiln Barn Lane/Sweets Lane was in it's usual spot...I'm starting to wonder if it's stuck there! No mate to join it yet.

Monday 16th April

First day back from holiday in Devon. Fantastic 2 weeks in Devon (view from our cottage at Torcross above) with wall to wall sunshine. Witnessed the arrival of the first swallows, sand martins, wheater, terns and copious amounts of Chiffchaff. Dipped on a Hoopoe at Beessands Ley on Friday, but spent a good 3 hours watching Ravens, Peregrines, Dartford Warbler, Gannets, Manxies, Scoters and Cirl Buntings at Start Point the day before. Lucky enough to see Clouded Yellow and Wall Brown butterflies here aswell. However Adder and 2 Common Lizards (one on my shoe) were the highlights and and assortment of beetles..any help IDing would be gratefully received.

The walk into work had changed dramatically - gone were the hawthorn and buckthorn blossom - replaced by that fresh spring green that typifies April. Chiffchaff numbers up, and good to see a pair of Bullfinches carrying nesting material in the shrub close to the Pea Field. A single Swallow sad on the telegraph wires on the corner of Kiln Barn Lane/Sweets Lane - my first for Kent this year.
A quick sortie to Ditton Quarry at lunchtime was well worth worth the effort to see numerous Blackcaps and 2x Whitethroat.
Inspired by Steve Nunns latest updates (and avoiding the shopping trip to Tesco's after work) I took James on a walk round Leybourne Lakes. Heard a Nightingale by the water works, 2x Water Vole showed from the bridge to the Divers' car park, and 4x Slow Worm, 1x Grass Snake, 1x Common Lizard and a Field Vole on the West Scrub. Shame a Jehovah's Witness spoiled the rest of the evening!