Saturday, 30 May 2009

Saturday 30th May II - Nightjar night

After a lovely warm day I decided to take the short trip up to Barming Woods to track down the Nightjar I'd found last week. At 21:30 I found the Nightjar churring from it's favoured song perch and watched it as it moved from perch to perch, clapping it's wings each time it launched itself into the dying light for the next 30 minutes or so. I managed a couple of record shots of this fantastic, crepuscular creature!

Saturday 30th May

Orange Hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiacum)

Bells and butterflies day. I managed a couple of lazy hours in the orchard in Barming, playing with the kids, reading the paper, listening to the bells tolling out a couple of weddings along the valley and generally chilling out - perfect! I'd hoped for Spotted Flycatcher or Cuckoo but neither materialised, a distant Cormorant and single Swallow were the only birds of note. Painted Ladies were still flying with purpose in WNW direction but a lot less than over the previous 5 days. A few Common Blues hugged the ground, struggling to fly against the strong breeze.

White-legged damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)

Common Blue and White-legged Damselflies were all on the wing, and the first Orange Hawkweeds of the year basked in the sun. Back home a Slow Worm was found under the kid's playground matting - much the kid's delight!

Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)

Friday, 29 May 2009

Friday 29th May

A warm, sunny day turned up some good butterfly records on the East Malling Research Station with a continous stream of Painted Ladies heading WNW. A worn Small Copper and Common Blue were also found.

Thursday 28th May

Two Mediterranian and one Black-headed Gulls dropped down on newly ploughed land on the eastern end of East Malling Research Station. The flow of Painted Ladies continued unabated throughout the day with 42 counted in less than 30 minutes at midday.

The first Bee Orchid flowers were found open in the glasshouse area (private). A total of 14 spikes have emerged.

Monday 25th May

The influx of Painted Ladies was very noticeable today with a peak count of 14 counted in 1 minute through my garden in Barming. Of the hundreds seen only two stopped feed.

The Nightjar continued to churr in Barming Woods at 21:20

Monday, 25 May 2009

Thursday 21st May

Painted Lady butterflies still streaming through the East Malling research station at lunchtime, a 20-minute walk saw a count of 18, though they were flying with some urgentecy, generally NW direction, not stopping to feed (hence no photos!).

Checking out the fields around Teston Bridge this evening I failed to relocate Barn Owl so decided to checking out some coppiced areas in Barming Woods on the off chance of a Nightjar. Entering a large coppiced area at the southern edge of the woods I was suprised to hear the familiar churr of a NIGHTJAR, maybe the first singing bird recorded here in at least 6 years, may be more. I quickly located it's song perch and had fantastic views of it both singing and flying.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Wednesday 20th May

3x Painted Ladies on strawberry flowers at East Malling Research this afternoon.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Monday 18th May

Another blustery day, more akin to April rather than May. Swifts were in good numbers over East Malling Research Station, screaming calls to each other across the wind.

Also a Barn Owl near Teston Bridge this evening just after 8pm.

Sunday 17th May

I thought it had gone quiet of late, and when I went to the back of the garden I discovered why - a dead Song Thrush, the one that had most likely been singing from the trees at dawn and dusk over the last few weeks. A sad sight indeed and a real sense of loss. As a kid they'd been as common as muck and I took them for granted, but since their decline I came to really appreciate what beautiful birds they are (notice the orange on the underwing, something I'd never noticed before). A feeling also felt for the equally 'uncommon' Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Monday 11th May

An extremley windy day with a cold NE wind blowing across the orchards. Not much to report except a couple of Swifts sliding through the wind over the strawberry plot on the Research Station land.

After work I was press ganged into collecting an Ebay purchase from Sittingbourne. Trying to make the most of a loathsome journey I picked up Mike Easterbrook to check out an orchid site on the way. I'm glad I did as we saw 25+ Lady Orchids, 6 Fly Orchids, 1 Birds Nest Orchid and a Lesser Butterfly Orchid.

Sunday 10th May

Another trip out to Teston, again along the River Medway from Barming Bridge but with my wife and kids. No sign of yesterday's Mandarin Duck, but good numbers of Yellowhammers and Whitethroat again.

A Grey Heron rowed lazily high across the sky, but it was on the ground on the river margins that most interest was to be found. Good numbers of Large Red Damselflies and

Banded Demoiselles were on the wing, with a smattering of butterflies, including 2x Comma, 3x Peacock, 8+ Green-veined Whites, 2 Large Whites and a Brown Argus (or female Common Blue?).

A couple of Swallows dipped over the river near Teston Bridge and hybrid Goose (Canada x Greylag?) tamely floated around the bank.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Saturday 9th May

Back on patch a early evening/dusk walk along the River Medway between Barming and Teston Bridges. Lots of Yellowhammers and Common Whitethroats in song.

A Green Carpet moth posed in the lush undergrowth, not that well camoflauged despite it's grue hues. A Cuckoo was calling, and was seen, at the back of the houses on South Street, Barming.
Further along the river, just west of Barming Bridge I noticed a duck skulking under the overhanging willows and when it finally emerged I was pleased to see it was a female Mandarin Duck a new tick for me in Barming. I've seen them near the river at Beltinge near the Hop Fram so I shouldn't be too suprised to find one on the Medway. It was very elusive and in the dying light I only managed a rather blurred record shot.
Just before Teston I checekd for Barn Owls near the box they were nesting in last year. No luck, not a sound, I'll keep checking though. A lone Swift flickered fast above the river like some scythed-winged bat, and a couple of Swallows dipped down to the river, rippling it with their beaks. Finally a fox peered over the railway embankment to check what was making the rabbits bolt. Still hoping for Spotted Flycatcher, Turtle Dove and Barn Owl that frequented this stretch last year.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Friday 8th May

Taking Greenie's advice from yesterday (not to birdwatch from a bike) I went orchid hunting in the car. One of the rare occasions I seem to have the car nowadays so I went off patch to the nearby North Downs where I hoped for a good number of Orchids.
Part of the area I visited was wooded and the Bluebells were still in bloom, but just on the turn, as were the Early Purple Orchids. Good numbers of Lady Orchids were found along with a single Fly and Birds-nest Orchids.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Thursday 7th May

20+ House Martins over Kiln Barn Farm this evening as I cycled home. First of these sprightly little orcas over patch this year.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Tuesday 5th May

Everything was in full song this morning; Blackcaps, Yellowhammers, Linnets, Great Tits, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Skylarks the lot! Managed 30 minute cycle around Oaken Woods, Barming and located my first Garden Warbler of the year, 5+ Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers. A couple of Peacock and Speckled Wood butterflies, but numbers seem to be down on a few weeks ago and were outnumbered by Speckled Yellow moths.

A pair of Swallows on the wires by Kiln Barn Farm, Ditton as I cycled home at 18:00.

These evening while having a kick around with my lad over the Parish Playing Fields, Barming he pointed out 2 birds flying high north - Swifts - first on the patch this year and a great spot by a 5-year old!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Saturday 2nd May

After seeing five Hobbies hawking at Dungeness yesterday (as well a Pomarine Skua, Red-rumped Swallow and Crested Lark) I was pleased to see one hawking , then drifting north over my garden in East Barming at 19:30 this evening. It eventually came back on itself before flying strongly east along the Medway valley. A new garden tick.

Thursday 30th April

Doing well with Little Owls this month, a bird was heard calling at dusk as I put out some rubbish at home in South Street, Barming.

Friday 24th April

After attending the East Malling Research St George's Beer Festival (25 Real Ales and 7 Perrys) I was lucky to still be able to recognise the call of a Little Owl and then see it perched on the roof of Kiln Barn Farm cattle shed as I cycled home at 20:30!