Monday, 30 June 2008

Sunday 29th June 2008

Off patch this morning for trip up to Elmley to see if I couldn't spot a Spotted Redshank or two. The track down to the farm was slow progress as I checked fence post after fence post - at Elmley they usually turn up something good. This time I was rewarded with numerous Yellow Wagtails, luminescent in their summer plummage. A number of Hares also lolloped around. The first thing that greeted as I got of the car was clouds of Meadow Browns covering the bramble flowers near Kingshill Farm - I counted 22 on one Bramble flower cluster.

Eventually I reached the hides where a quick scan revealed 14+ Spotted Redshanks from the Southfleet Hide, although as the photo shows they were fairly distant, with a number obscured by vegetation (can you see them? In a line above the Godwits with a few straglers off the end of the island). Good numbers of Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit were also in evidence, with singles of Ringed Plover and Turnstone.

I saw a distant Hobby, and three Marsh Harriers, with one being attacked by a pair of protective Avocets. The walk back provided another fence post opportunity, a showy Sedge Warbler singing his heart out. A couple of worn Red Admirals had ventured out in the sunny conditions but were buffeted around in the wind.
At the farm a number of Swallows sat on one of the trees in the garden, no doubt eyeing up the Meadow Browns (dragonflies were consuming them by the hides!). Luckily a lone Small Tortoiseshell escaped their notice, only my second sighting of this species in Kent this year.

Saturday 28th June

Attending a 'K party' alongside Kevin Keegan and King Kong lookalikes at the cricket pavilion, Bradbourne House, East Malling this evening I had a Hobby pointed out to be as it flew low of the pavilion roof.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Thursday 26th June

A Common Buzzard drifted east over the Newgates area of East Malling Research Station site (TQ719567) this afternoon. It was being mobbed by a pair of Lesser black-backed Gulls. It alighted momentarily on to the top of a dead tree on the quarry side of the railway before drifting off south.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Wednesday 25th June

Making the most of the good weather I ventured into work by foot again today. A Great Black-backed Gull loafed north over North Street, Barming looking more like a Heron than a Gull as it disappeared into the distance. A Goldcrest and Chiffchaff both called from the trees by the allotments on the eastern edge of Oaken Wood. As I approached the water tower I could see a Common Whitethroat singing from the hedgerow by the start of the bridleway down to Ditton, and as I watched it fly off towards the Pea Field I picked out a small bird grubbing away at a hole in one of the concrete fence posts...a Marsh Tit! Not the rarest of birds I know, but my first for Barming. It flitted off as I approached not to be seen again! A Garden Warbler again annouced it's prescence by Gallagher's Gallop, and the Little Owls seen on Monday in Kiln Barn Farm barn were now three, 1x adult and 2x young. Skylarks exalted the good weather and a distant Cuckoo called from the orchards by Sweets Lane.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Monday 23rd June

A long overdue walk into work this morning turned up singing Willow Warblers, Blackcap and a very showy Garden Warbler along the edge of Oaken Wood, Barming...but no Chiffchaffs! A lone Swift drifted high overhead, a couple of Swallows perched on the telegraph wires by Sweets Lane. A couple of pairs of House Martins flickered over Kiln Barn Lane, but the highlight of the morning was a coupleof Little Owls in the barn near Kiln Barn Farm (TQ716564).

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Tuesday 17th June 2008

A Peregrine was reported flying east over the East Malling Research station site mid-morning. Four House Martins buzzed around, particulary low numbers this year, and the near abscence of Swifts over the research station is also rather depressing.

Monday 16th June

Disappointed by the abscence of Nightjars in Oaken Wood, Barming I made my annual pilgrimage to Mereworth Woods. Four Woodcock were seen roding, the nearest thing to 'pigs might fly'! Just after 21:00 a Nightjar started to churr on the east side of the confier plantation, followed 5 minutes later by it hawking overhead, giving excellent views in near daylight. A presumed second bird also called and churred from the west side and was seen in flight over the path. Just as I left, another or possibly the second bird was seen and heard churring loudly from a dead branch not 50 yards from the gate. A glow worm was also seen.

Sunday 15th June 2008

A rare daytime walk through Barming woods was greeted by numerous Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers calling, a single Tree Pipit was heard, but not seen, in a clearing near North Pole Road. A trespass through into the overgrown quarry on the south side of the quarry revealed large numbers of Common Twayblade, and good numbers of Common Blue and Meadow Brown in the grassland on the wood edge.

There also seem to be larger numbers of White-legged Damselflies than I've seen in previous years on the banks of the River Medway between Barming and Teston.

Friday 13th June 2008

What is traditionally an unlucky day actually turned up trumps for me. A late visit (21:00) to the River Medway, nr Teston Bridge resulted in glimpses of a Barn Owl silently moving between nest boxes on the West Farleigh side of the bank, with a second calling from a nearby windbreak, a pair of Little Owls on the same bank and a Tawny Owl calling from the near the lock. Earlier a Cuckoo was heard calling (isn't this quite late in the year now?) and a low-flying swarm of Swifts passed overhead.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

11th June 2008

I was lucky enough to hear two Cuckoos this morning - 1 calling from the orchards between East Barming and East Farleigh and a 2nd from my open oofice window, calling across the orchards adjacent to Sweets Lane, East Malling. An added bonus was my first Kent Small Tortoiseshell of the year, visiting strawberry flowers in a polytunnel on a farm near Goodnestone.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Monday 9th June

A warm, clear evening tempted me out to Barming Woods to try and locate Nightjars. The conditions were perfect, and a large area of 2-year old chesnut coppice looked ideal, but only a Tawny Owl was heard between 21:15-22:30. A young Common Toad crossed my path, and I bumped into Tim Hodge who was also listening out for non-existent birds! I'll try again in 2 weeks.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Monday 2nd June

After 2 sun-kissed weeks in North Wales, surrounded by flittering Marsh Fritillaries and Choughs a plenty it was disappointing to return to rain-drenched Kent! In the constant drizzle an amazing 24 (twenty-four) LBB Gulls dropped into one of the car parks on the East Malling Research centre site. The rain coincided with our first strawberry pick of the season - somethings never change!