Friday, 21 August 2009
Friday 21st August
Another bright morning, and as I made my way to the top of North Street, Barming I got the gentle whiff of fresh manure - maybe it's the horticulturist in me, or maybe it's because muck means migrants! I found the source of the stench at the top of Gallagher's Gallop. The field, atop the hill and facing north towards the Medway gap had been freshly 'mucked' - something had to have dropped in here, I could see the flies, but where were the birds? Nothing - despite scanning the ground, fence posts, bushes and brushwood jumps - if this had been Pittswood I'd been knee deep in Wheatears, Whinchats and Wagtails!
Undeterred I cycled down the bridleway to the source of all the muck, the cattle field near Kiln Barn Farm - cows, more muck, water, fence posts galore, hedgerows - all perfect habitat for a migrant but again nothing. Then from no where I heard the high-pitched calls of hirundines overhead.
In the adjacent field there were 50+ Swallows, interspersed with 10 or so House Martins. They were sweeping high then low, through the feet of the cattle and even alighting onto cow pats and the ground - why here and not a few hundred yards up the road where there were more visible flies? And if the migrant Swallows and Martins were finding this site where were the passerines? Occasionally they landed on the fence posts but seemed intent to be on the move.