Friday, 31 July 2009

Friday 31st July

Running the East Malling Research Running Club's relay at lunchtime I was sure I heard the bisyllabic call of a Quail! It was only heard once, from a stunted cereal field next to weedy area, as I sped past. I had someone of my heels so didn't stop! I racked up a reasonable 6:37 mile and returned to spot latter in the day. Nothing heard or seen, except a hen Pheasant. Intriguing. Kent's had a good year for Quails, but late-July in the midday sun - mmmmm?!

My earlier disappointment was soon to be forgotten. I sat out in the orchards between South Street and Rectory Lane, Barming early this evening, hoping for a Spotted Flycatcher (my garden bird has been absent for 10 days now). A couple of Swallows dipped low over the burgeoning 'Discovery' trees and then a small bird took flight from a pair of old, knarled apple trees. It's deep undulating flight, black-and-white colouration with a dash of red on the head meant it could only be a Spotted Woodpecker. It's very small size, and the deep troughs it dipped into in flight, made me instantly think Lesser. Fortunately it alighed into the uppermost branches of a large willow on the bank of the River Medway not to far from where I was sitting. I had excellent views of the white-barring on its back and small red cap as it swivelled around the branches and flitted amongst the treetop. By far the best views of had of Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, and my first for this patch (although I've heard reports of them further upstream).

Thursday 30th July

59x Painted Ladies on the cycle into work, many disturbed from the brambles as I cycled down the 0.5 mile stretch of track on the eastern edge of Oaken Wood, Barming. Amazingly fresh and bright. A family party of 5x Bullfinches revealed themselves in flight near the gallop underpass. A lone Little Owl looked out from the cattle barn opposite Kiln Barn Farm.

This evening I went out looking for Barn Owls near Teston Bridge and the Nightjar in Oaken Wood, neither were located, but the green, LED-like light from a single Glow Worm shone brightly as I made my way back to the car.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Monday 27th July

I was eyeballed by this little fella as I did some photocopying at work today. The ruin of a nest he occupied has been left derelict for a couple of years now, it's last inhabitants, a pair of House Sparrows, moved on when the floor fell out! Perhaps this House Martin was sheltering from the persistent rain, or the pestering Collared Doves, but it was good to see one close-up again. For the last few weeks these aerial orcas have been dashing skilfully low over the car park and windbreaks of East Malling Research, flashing their neat plummage of navy and white.
A quick sortie of the badger set copse to check the Dormice boxes. No sign of these furballs, but one contained a nest of leaves (looks promising!) and another a Blue Tit nest, weaved together with badger bristles and infested with earwigs!
Swifts were scything high above South Street, Barming when I arrived home this evening. joined fleetingly by what I initially though was a Kestrel, but turned out to be a Hobby! This is my second garden tick for this species this year - I wonder where they're ranging from?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Thursday 16th July

A great day for butterflies with 6x White Admirals, 20+ Peacocks and a flush of newly-emerged Painted Ladies around the rides in Barming Wood. A total of 10 species of butterflies were seen in a 30 minute ride at lunchtime. A pair of Bullfinches and a Little Owl added avian interest.

This evening the Spotted Flycatcher did acrobatics from the TV aerial as I enjoyed an al fresco dinner in my garden in South Street, Barming and a pristine female Southern Hawker found its way into my lean-to ahead of the approaching thunderstorm.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wednesday 15th July

Saw this perky little fellow on a fence post as I cycled up to my strawberry plots - stumped me as I'm not quite sure what it is? Juvenile Whitethroat or Blackcap???

Monday, 13 July 2009

Monday 13th July

Good numbers of butterflies on the wing in Barming Woods at lunchtime with 3x White Admiral, 6x Peacock and a Red Admiral sipping up nectar from the racemes of the newly opened Buddelia flowers.

At home in South Street, Barming this evening I was pleased to see the Spotted Flycatcher in action again, looping around the speckled shade of the trees at the back of the garden. Every garden should have one, those neglected nooks, shaded by big trees, that become the dumping ground for old wood, general refuse and compost heaps have got to be some of the 'nature reserves' in the country!

A Goldcrest made a long awaited return, flitting furtively around the branches of the same trees.

Friday 10th July

A busy day at work, so no butterflies or hirundines today. Back home and refreshed by a beer I wandered around the garden contemplating what a lot of work needed to be done! A gull call made me look up, adult Med Gull flapping overhead heading NW - well that was nice, and unexpected! They seem to be everywhere in NW Kent at the moment, breeding like buggery on those unhabitated islands in the Medway/Thames estuary no doubt. Watching the gull fly away the Starlings and Collared Doves on the chimneys and TV aerials caught my eye, this how birding used to be in surburban Birmingham! No Med Gulls up there or Hawfinches on the tiles at Christmas! Then I heard a thin, high-pitched 'tsee' - occasionally Pied Wagtails run the ridge tiles, but this was different. Scanning the roof I was delighted, no, well-chuffed to see the head and thin bill of a Spotted Flycatcher poking over the roof (just right of the chimney - blends in well eh!).

I'd been searching out one of these fantastic little birds for the last 2 months and drew a blank at all the usual haunts. This bird had come to me, an added bonus to my 'ridge tile' and 'garden' list (though still savouring the pair of Black Redstart that head my 'work ridge tile' list!). It performed wonderfully, sallying from roof to branch to fence to runner bean pole over and over again. Overhead a group Swifts and House Martins efficiently cleaned up what the flycatcher had missed.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Thursday 9th July

The swarming hirundines I saw yesterday (strawberry fields, E of East Malling Research buildings) were joined by a migration of Sand Martins, my first ever on site. They formed quite a feeding frenzy above the mustard plants, with Swallows, Swifts, House and Sand Martins blending together, picking off any aphid that dared fly! A Skylark attempted an ascend into the middle of this melay but his song was no more than background music against the screams and cat -calls of the hirundines and Swifts.

On the way back to the office I glimpsed a Blackcap flycatch from an apple tree. I stopped and noticed two newly-fledged birds sitting tightly on an exposed branch, waiting for the next offering.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Wednesday 8th July

Well couldn't resist it any longer - back to blogging. More time on my hands this month so here we go:
A mixed swarm of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins, about a dozen of each, swept over a mustard field next to the strawberry fields (east side of East Malling Research). Often they wandered, speckling the strawberry with their fast-moving shadows but when the cloud rolled over then they disappeared as quickly as they'd come.

Into Barming Woods at lunchtime, White Admiral my quarry and I wasn't disappointed. Only a single this time, quite worn but very approachable. A couple of freshly emerged Gatekeepers, my first for this site this year, bounded along ahead of my bike.