Friday, 9 May 2008

Thursday 8th May

My first Swifts of the year were seen reeling over the High Street, East Malling this morning. I went back at lunchtime to admire them, but they dispersed in response to a female Sparrowhawk that drifted towrads them, high above the King & Queen pub. I continued on the to deserted orchard alongside the railway line at the back of Cottenham Close. Up to 5 Whitethroats called and a single Chiffchaff, but no Nightingale song. Speckled Woods were abundant and a single Holly Blue was seen, but otherwise very quiet.

After work, I took up the offer of a lioft from Ross to Swale NNR to see if the Collared Pratincole was still to be found. As we walked down towards the reserve a Whimbrel flew from the saltmarsh and across the Swale towards Oare. This was trumped moments later by a fantastic female Red-footed Falcon that drifted right across our path, following the seawall on the reserve side before turning back over the seawall, right in front of Barry Wright, and back on itself across the saltmarsh. Our position couldn't have been better with the evening sun highlighting the orange breast and orange/red talons. A fantastic bird. Eventually we reached the small crowd that had collected in the hope of connecting with the Pratincole. After about 40 minutes of scanning and a couple of misidentifications, including a Greylag's head, the Collared Pratincole was called out as "hawking high", but it flew low, twisting and turning furiously along the earth bund by the small hide before eventually settling down on the ground behind a grass tussock, virtually out of sight. A fantastic evening, and all credit due to Derek Faulkner for posting the news. With the light fading we walked away, a Barn Owl quartering over the saltmarsh for company.
No pstings for the next 2 weeks unfortunately!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Wednesday 7th May

My first walk into work for a number of weeks. The Bluebells in Oaken Wood, Barming are looking fantastic at the moment, and clumps of Ransomes complement the scene very nicely. A lone Speckled Wood fluttered ahead of me through the dabbled shade. The path from the water tower, North Street, Barming down to Kiln Barn Lane, Ditton, was alive with song - Yellowhammers and Chiffchaffs were the main contributors, but a pair of Bullfinches lisped quietly in the background. The real star was a not-so-shy Garden Warbler that babbled it's song away in an Oak tree near the green gate south of the Pea Field. A Willow Warbler sang near the underpass by Gallagher's Gallop, and flitted furtively around the coppiced chesnut. A House Martin was seen on the ground near Kiln Barn Farm, but long-awaited Swallows on the telegraph wires were still absent.
Later a Peacock and Holly Blue were seen in the glasshouses area of East Malling Research centre.

Tuesday 6th May

Ditton Quarry was bathed in sunshine when I visted during my lunch break. I was hoping to maybe find a Dingy or Grizzled Skipper but had to be content with a Small Copper, 3x Peacock and numerous whites. A Kestrel hovered over the open area and upto 10 Whitethroats sang. A Bullfinch pair were very vocal in the dense shrubbery, both showed briefly but only the female remained static long enough for a photo. 15 House Martins swept overhead, favouring the area over the building site on the industrial estate.

Later a brief walk down the River Medway between Milhall Industrial Estate, Aylesford and New Hythe turned up a Reed Warbler and couple of Sedge Warblers. Two Grey Herons floated past, probably distracting me from the 3x Common Cranes that Steve Nunn reported at the same time circling over the East Scrub at New Hythe! There were 3 species of gull; Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed massed over Aylesford Sewage Farm on the opposite river bank along with a swarm of 50 or so Sand Martins.

Saturday 3rd May

First Swifts of the year for me were seen briefly over Teston Country Park. A Cuckoo called leading down to the River Medway from West farleigh church.