Friday, 19 September 2008

Friday 19th September

Warm with only a slight easterly breeze-the makings of an Indian Summer? There had to be a Wheatear or Whinchat around today, but despite scanning the pastures and miles of fence posts (see photo) around the East Malling patch nothing could be found. I think Warren in Hadlow is being very greedy with his Wheatear, Wagtails and Whinchats! However it turned out be another fantastic butterfly day - 38x Comma, 17x Red Admiral although the Buddleia surronding Oaken Wood, Barming, Maidstone. A trip out with Mike Easterbrook yesterday to the same plants had yielded 21x Comma, 19x Red Admiral, 1x Painted Lady and another Small Tortoiseshell! If anyone' s interested then the main area of buddleia is at TQ723556, growing through and behind hedged Sweet Chesnut.

Avian sightings were pretty much as expected with a noisy group of Jays, Green Woodpecker but also a small flock of 6x Meadow Pipit on the Research Station land. Best sighting of the day however was a Hobby hawking what I presume were dragonflies to the east of Oaken Wood. It was quite high but it's elegant twists and turns (it's tail twisting like a Kite species) and the occasional dropping down of it's talons gave made it easy to ID. Only my second record of this species on this route and my first of the year!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tuesday 16th September

After yesterday's excitement I wondered what would turn up today. No new migrants on the fence posts by Kiln Barn Farm, Ditton but 25+ Swallows sallying around and resting on the fence, probably wishing they were somewhere warmer! I went back out at lunchtime to check the weather station at East Malling Research as well as the skies in case any large raptors decided to pass this way. Nothing. Then at 14:00 I had a call from Ross down at Bradbourne House, East Malling...he done it again and found another migrant, this time a Pied Flycatcher calling from a copper beech near the main house. By the time I'd made it down there it was gone, but noticed good numbers of other species around including a couple of Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Treecreepers.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Monday 15th September

Another cycle into work, colder than last week, and nothing out of the ordinary until I reached Gallagher's racecourse, scanning for Wheatears I picke out a small, restless bird on the racecourse fencing..a Whinchat at a Stonechat, but a new tick for this route nevertheless. Spurred on by news of raptors floating across Kent yesterday I joined Ross and Adrian at the weather station on the East Malling Research Station site and scanned across to the North Downs hopeful of a repeat of the reported 3x Ospreys over New Hythe on Sunday. After picking out 2 army helicopters flying south Ross picked up on a large raptor - Osprey leisurely moving south, distantly over West Malling. Another site tick!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Thursday 11th September

No Painted Ladies today or Hummingbird Hawkmoths but 21x Commas and 11x Red Admirals on the Buddleia bushes by Oaken Wood. Only 14 bird species today in contrast to yesterday's respectable 23. However I was pleased to see a clamour of Rooks feeding on the cattle field by Gallagher's racecourse (Kiln Barn Farm). They quite a rarity on the Ditton side of Oaken Woods as I'm sure Steve Nunn will testify for New Hythe! I guess these have made their way across from the rookery by Teston Bridge, only a short distnace as the Rook flies. However the highlight of my morning was a rather sedate Wheatear on one of the fence last! I must have seen 20+ on Monday around Dungeness/Rye Harbour but there's nothing like getting one on your own patch.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Wednesday 10th September

I finally managed to walk into work today after attempting to do so for the last 2 weeks or so. I scanned all those fence posts hoping for some of the success that Warren has had in the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately no passerines today, but a reasonable tally of 23 species including a Little Owl, Sparrowhawk and Cormorant! A nice mixed flock of Chiffchaffs, Blue Tits and Long-tailed Tits worked it's way through the coppiced Sweet Chesnut hedge near Gallagher's Gallop, performing a medley of small bird alarm calls. Five Swallows skimmed the cattle field near Kiln Barn Farm, but the House Martins were no longer anywhere to be seen. I failed to find 'easy' species such as Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnet....very strange. The bright sun promised failed to materialise and the sky remained mostly overcast.
However once again Lepidoptera were the highlight of the day (apologises if you're accessing this site from The Kent Ornithological website): 24x Red Admiral, 2x Painted Ladies, 12 Commas, 5x Large Whites and at last a Hummingbird Hawkmoth. Interestingly most of these were confined to just 3 buddleia bushes.