Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Wednesday 31st December

Well last day of 2008 and wishing I'd kept a year list like Warren in Pittswood ( what a day he had yesterday (and year)! Again I was at home with the kids (in Barming) having spent a few days away in Wiltshire and West Midlands with no opportunity to go out birding except when on the motorway (Red Kite, Raven and Buzzards off M4 near Newbury, and numerous Red Kites on return trip down M40).

The Hawfinch made a couple of flypasts at 08:25 and 11:30, it's heavy silhouette undulating across the garden heading north-east and east respectively, it's massived bill and white underwing markings clearly seen on both occasions. A walk to St Margaret's churchyard, East Barming turned up a couple of Goldcrests (suprisingly not that common here despite it being an ideal habitat for them), 30+ Goldfinches, 20+ Greenfinches and a lone Siskin in the trees on the southern edge of the churchyard. I watched the finches coming into roost but no further sign of the Hawfinch. On the walk back along Church Lane 7x Meadow Pipits dropped onto the wires and a high count of 21x Yellowhammers flew out of tyhe bushes near the playing field entrance into the fallow field bordering the A26.

What will 2009 bring?! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Thursday 25th December

Happy Christmas! Hawfinch showed again 08:50 and again at 12:30, landing briefly on the roof of my house (!) before flying off east with Fieldfares when a Sparrowhawk drifted past.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Wednesday 24th December

I visited Ditton Quarry this morning intent on showing a friend the Lesser Redpolls that had been frequenting the alder trees. As is the way when you want go somewhere specifically to see something the birds were a no show (although there was a possible flyover with Goldfinches). Lots of Goldcrests around the site, but we couldn't manage to pull a Firecrest out of the bag. A couple of Bullfinches were seen, but everything seemed strangley subdued, it's the mild weather I'm sure.
Back at home in Barming I stared at the Field Maples while the kids had their lunch and was eventually rewarded with the male Hawfinch. He put in a brief appearance at 13:30 and fed furtively for 10 minutes before being spooked by a Fieldfare that almost landed on his head! He flew into the trees on the opposite side of the playing fields and was eventually lost to view. I managed another poor record shot - the light was terrible today. He's obviously making sorties from another location and seems to appear in the trees for 10 minutes or so before taking flight. There seems to be no specific pattern to his appearance in the Playing Fields, unfortunately it seems a matter of luck to see him. Inevitably he arrives and leaves to the west so I'm certain he's spending much of his time in the churchyard at St Margarets or possibly in the grounds of Barnjet Priory. Scanning across the trees I also picked out a Yellowhammer, GS Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker. Sorry this must all be very boring if you haven't got a Hawfinch in your back garden, but I think it's such a superb bird that I can't help getting excited about it! Besides with Christmas tomorrow and family and friends to visit I don't think I'll get a chance to check over the next few days.


Sunday, 21 December 2008

Sunday 21st December

The shortest day of the year and at home again looking after the kids. Still glancing out the window to look for a Hawfinch between sessions of Kerplunk and playdough takes the edge off it! The male Hawfinch showed well again today in one of the field maples on Barming Parish Playing Fields at 10:40. I managed a few more shots, but poor light and breeze put pay to any crystal clear shots. The bird flew off high at 11:00 and I managed to keep on it long enough to see it alight in one of the trees in nearby St Margaret's churchyard. Mike Buckland managed some excellent photographs of Hawfinches in the churchyard 2 years ago( so I think it will be well worth checking out this location again.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Saturday 20th December

Not the best shots I know (how I wish that branch wasn't in the way!), but a record of the male Hawfinch that was present in the Parish Playing Fields, Barming this morning. It showed well on and off while I watched from the house between 08:30-09:30. It's feeding on seed keys of the field maples around the perimeter of the playing fields. Looks pretty fearsome in the zoomed in image below...look at that stare!!!

It wasn't associating with any other birds today, although there good numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing, Greenfinch and Goldfinch in the same trees. Strange as it's almost 2 years to the day since I had the flock of Hawfinches that frequented the playing fields for 4 months!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Friday 19th December

An escaped Harris Hawk was reported sitting atop one of the lamp posts on the A26 Tonbridge Road near the junction with Glebe Lane, Barming yesterday. It was seen again today on numerous occasions, including in gardens along Bull Orchard and on lamp posts along the Tonbridge Road.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Wednesday 17th December

Not much to report today - no chance to check for Hawfinch this morning. Four Lesser Redpoll were still performing well in the alders in Ditton Quarry at lunchtime.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Tuesday 16th December

A single Hawfinch was seen briefly at 08:25 in the Silver Birch (next to the pavillion/portable building) at the north end of the Parish Playing Fields, Barming, Maidstone with a flock Starlings and Fieldfares. A party of Long-tailed Tits did laps of the boundary trees, visting my garden feeders on their way round, and a Jay, Green Woodpecker and GS Woodpecker all added a splash of colour to what was otherwise a very murky morning.

Ten minutes at Ditton Quarry, Maidstone at 13:00 produced a new bird for me on this site - Little Egret, flying over and heading east towards the Quarrywood Industrial estate, Aylesford. Four Lesser Redpolls were performing acrobatics in the Alders in the SW corner with a flock of Goldfinches; they seemed more flighty than yesterday. Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Bullfinches were all seen completing the 'finch set' for the day. A couple of Goldcrest moved restlessly through the undergrowth.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Monday 15th December

It was so dark and murky this morning I doubt I would have seen the Hawfinch even if it had been around in the Parish playing fields, Barming. I managed a quick 5 minute scan from the house, plenty of other things including Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Fieldfare, Redwing, Black-headed Gull, Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits and Blue Tits - but no Hawfinch.

LATE NEWS: Hawfinch still present according to report on Birdguides this afternoon. Definetly not by me - unfortunately at work - but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who sees it.

A jaunt over to Ditton Quarry at lunchtime compensated in the form of 2x Lesser Redpoll feeding in the Alder trees in the SW corner amongst a flock of Goldfinches. I could have got some fantastic shots of them, along with a pair of Bullfinches and Green Woodpecker if the batteries in the camera hadn't have gone dead!

Fieldfares and Redwings are positively swarming over East Malling Research station at the moment, feasting on the bumper crop of fallen apples. Very good views can be had from the public footpath that leads through the site, particulary in the orchard north of footpath coming from the Kiln Barn Road entrance. A scan along the ground inevitably turns up Fieldfare, Redwing, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Starling and Green Woodpeckers - I've yet to find a Brambling but I'm sure there must be one in there somewhere! Occasionally the whole lot goes up when a Sparrowhawk skims along the windbreak, in an enormous cacophony of chacking.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sunday 14th December

Off patch yesterday to see the Night Heron fly away from as I approached the dam at West Hythe at 8am! Dylan, Phil and Marc were kind enough to show me photos of how well it was showing just prior to my arrival and despite a 8.5 mile walk along the canal in bloody awful conditions I didn't manage to relocate it. A lovely species to see, but not particularly satisfying views!

Today I was confined to home looking after the kids (while every hour and report was posted saying how well the Night Heron was showing!). My youngest had a cold so no chance of taking them out anywhere with me today so a garden watch it was - a small party of Long-tailed Tits visited the fat ball feeder for the first time and a GS Woodpecker showed interest. At 14:15 I noticed a bulky looking bird perched with Fieldfares in a Silver Birch at the north end of East Barming Parish Playing Fields. Hawfinch - what luck I'm having with this species this year. It dropped it's way along the field maples that back onto the South Street house gardens, feeding on the seed keys with a flock of Greenfinches and occasionally dropping down to the playing field, presumably feeding amongst the massed Fieldfares and Redwings. It was quite mobile but reappeared in the tree at the back of my house on 3 occasions over half-an-hour. A couple of dog walkers turned up and everything took flight......I'll be looking out for it tomorrow!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Friday 5th December

A lovely clear day so I made a lunchtime visit to Halling to check if I couldn't get lucky and relocate the Waxwing. No luck, but good to get off patch and check out a new area. The embankment on the A228 and cotoneasters around the fire station were made for a Waxwing influx! Steve Nunn had suggested checking out Halling Cemetery but I ran out of time - how I wish I'd gone as I Ken ( found a Firecrest there...well done Ken!

Wednesday 3rd December

A large influx of Redwings over the last couple of days on the East Malling Research site, but not much else to report.

Tuesday 2nd December

No chance to get out the office today, so best I could do was a brave Jay coming in close to the main buildings on the Research Station. I'm going to have start an office window list!