Thursday, 29 January 2009
Thursday 29th January
A lovely, blue-sky day with a slight nip from an easterly breeze. My walk into work from Barming via Oaken Woods to East Malling turned up the usual kukpowder of Bullfinches, five in all and 200+ Fieldfare alternating their high-fruit diet with pickings from the pasture south-east of Kiln Barn Farm. A search of the churchyard orchard at lunchtime turned up more Bramblings and a mega-murmaration of Starlings. With reduced bird activity I glanced around the churchyard, concluding that on the whole, the people of East Malling had lived to ripe old ages, including Mary Baker who died in 1753 aged 103 (one of a number of centenarians buried here) - all that fruit I guess!
As a horticultirist some of the names were familar; Jesse Amos and Sir Ronald Hatton. Then under the east window I found the grave of Robert Garner, looking towards the orchards he'd dedicated much of his life developing and understanding. As author of the internatinally acclaimed 'Grafter's Handbook' he was recognised as the THE authority on grafting fruit trees. However birders will be more familiar with his name in relation to Garner Drive, the road named after him, and the location of the recent Waxwing influx.Moving on from morbitity, and onto Bradbourne House I encountered a Jay hopping around near the Hatton Fruit Gardens (developed by the aforementioned Sir Ronald), the Mute Swan could be seen gliding around the lake and a large mixed flock of Greylag and Canada Geese. A GS Woodpecker drummed out it's territory in one of the oaks overlooking Garner Drive. I'll try and be a bit more upbeat tomorrow!