Monday, 2 February 2009

Monday 2nd February

It did snow overnight and quite heavily, but luckily it had stopped by the time I set off on foot from Barming to work in East Malling. Suprisingly the walk in was pretty birdless, although I though I might have had 7 Waxwing flying west from the direction of Maidstone Hospital towards Ditton; starling-size, sharp-winged but looked a bit plumper and a slightly more undulating flight. The light was very poor and they were distant so I'll never know! I wondered if anyone checked the hospital grounds for birds? I'm sure they have Rowans in the car park. Just a thought as 6+ Waxwings were seen on Hermitage Lane last week, only about a quarter mile from the hospital.

Further on I got a new patch tick in the form of sheep (anyone any idea of the breed?) - never seen them before on my walk in! When I eventually arrived at work I came across a feeding frenzy in one of the orchards, the source of all the excitement was the fallen apples, by now partly submerged in snow. This is the orchard just north of the public footpath across the research station that begins at the Kiln Barn Road entrance. I don't think I've ever seen so may birds around the apple trees and sections of the orchard floor were carpeted with a whole mix of species. By this time my hands were pretty cold and with little time to scan using my bins I took took a shot with the camera (see below).

Predominantly Redwings, but a few Fieldfare, Brambling and Chaffinch. Further along the row I'd noticed Wood Pigeons, Starling, Goldfinch and Green Woodpecker.

The snow really started to come down about 09:30 and by the time I left the glasshouses at 12:30 it was coming down thick and heavy. I walked to the churchyard orchard wondering what might be feeding there. I'd had 30+ Waxwing last Friday in an area with no public access and wondered if any would be feeding in the churchyard orchard today.
Again there was quite a collection of birds below the trees, gorging themselves on the fallen fruit. I tried the same strategy I'd employed this morning and took a shot across the orchard floor (see below).
Not so clear as my earlier photos - but wasn't that a Waxwing feeding on a fallen green apple middle left? Zoom in - not that clear, but definitely a Waxwing.

A scan across the orchard picked out another one feeding in an apple tree.
Then a ringing trill alerted me to some more in the surronding trees! I totalled 12 without really looking too hard and later saw 32+ had been reported on BirdGuides. The numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare were phenomenal, Ross putting an estimate of +400 on the later species in this orchard alone. I know a few people will want to visit the site to see these birds but please be aware of the following:

PLEASE, PLEASE can I ask anyone visiting this site to KEEP to the footpaths only.

The road that lies north of the churchyard orchard is PRIVATE, under no circumstances drive or park along this road.
The birds if present are easily viewable from either of 2 footpaths or churchyard; the first path leads through the churchyard and the second leads off this, north along the research station road, towards Ditton. The sun is behind you when viewing from the churchyard footpath so affords the best views. It should really go without saying but if viewing from the churchyard then please treat the area with with upmost respect.
Also be aware that the footpaths are narrow and are used regularly so be considerate to other users and DO NOT BLOCK.

The orchards are also used as ringing sites so please be aware that mist nets may be present and that disturbance may occur when birds are retrieved from the nets. Please do not inferior with any nets, they are checked continously.
Sorry to lay down the law but there have been some complaints. Anyway here's some photos from today to be getting on with!


Steve said...

You've got all the Waxwings then! Gives you a nice tick for this months list though. Nice sheep. This variety are called 'Cold'!

Owlman said...

Awesome photos, love the Waxwings.

The Bald Birder said...

Ad, Love the thrushes snap, beautifully (seriously) over-exposed, thus accentuating the birds. Looks more like art than photography. Captures the amazing feeding frenzy that was happening out there. BB