Monday, 18 February 2008

Saturday 16th February/Sunday 17th February


I forfeited my lie in to make a 07:30 start on a lovely crisp, but very cold morning. Along with James from West Malling I made my way from North Street, Barming and alongside the allotments to Ditton Common where I'd seen the Lesser Redpolls earlier in the week. They weren't there, but a small party of Bullfinches (2 male and a female) showed well in the brambles next to the pea field. A couple of Jays were seen as we returned to the car near Oaken Wood, and a Goldcrest called and hivered in the Scots pine overhanging the path by the North Street allotments.

We moved onto Boughton Monchelsea in the hope of seeing the displaying Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. We arrived just after 8:30 passing a car that looked laiden with twitchers going in the other direction (Andy Lawson and friends?). Bob Bland was just leaving the confines of the deer park and pointed to where we might see the woodpeckers. They didn't show but Bob located a Little Owl and Coal Tit by song, then a Goldcrest in the marsh Alders. Three Yellowhammers sat in the hedgerow next to Peens Lane, but no Siskins. We decided to try and locate Bramblings that Don Taylor had reported, we lingering around one of the Oaks to try and get a sight of the Nuthatch that called incessantly. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen and heard drumming. We met Don by the upper barn but couldn't locate the female Brambling he's seen earlier in the orchard, however more Bullfinches were active in the area and gave some cracking views in the morning light. Back down to Peens Lane we failed again with the LS Woodpecker, but picked up a Nuthatch sitting shrike like in the top of one of the alders, all four thrushes (Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle and Song) were hopping around the oaks in the deer park and a lone Treecreeper crept along the underside of a branch.

James dropped me off in the layby on the A26 Tonbridge Road, almost opposite St Margaret's Church, Barming. The field north of the road was being ploughed, with a number of gulls piling in on the freshly turned sods - no Med Gulls, but mostly Black-headed Gulls with three Herring Gulls keeping their distance. A flock of Geese could be seen flying over Oaken Wood, mostly probably Canada Geese.


We visted an elderly relative down by the sea at Hythe, and then took advantage of the sunny weather for a stroll along the seafront. The rocky outcrops opposite The Imperial Hotel and Lade Hotel were conspicous by their lack of bird life, but with kids and fisherman clambering over them I guess and right minded Purple Sandpiper would b sitting Sunday afternoon out somewhere a bit quieter. Glances out to see only revealed the commoner Gull species loafing around. However I broke free of the crowds at the fishing boat end of the promenade and walked along the beach towards the firing range. A number of gulls were sitting on the groynes, but non had the curtesy to be a Glaucous Gull. A few Turnstones picked away at the deritius on the tideline and a Cormorant sat stately on top a navigational post. I then spotted a pair of Guillemots on the tideline, one in winter and one in summer plummage. They seemed reluctant to take the sea as I approached, and I noticed not all seemed right with them, I managed a couple of shots of one but noticed flecks of oil on both birds. Eventually they both took flight, albeit unsteadily and plopped into the sea, drifting out and away from the beach.

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