Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sunday 29th November

During a break in the rain I took the kids to jump in puddles at Barming Bridge. The river was almost breaking the banks, I'm sure it'll be in full flood tomorrow if the rain continues. I stood on the bridge for 15 minutes while the kids entertained themselves in the mud/puddles and was quite pleased with the number of species I saw:

Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Collared Dove
Green Woodpecker
GS Woodpecker

There's something to be said for just standing around in the rain!

Saturday 28th November

A quick walk to St Margaret's churchyard, Barming turned up a large flock of Black-headed Gulls (78) sitting out on the field between Church Lane and the A26. Four Skylarks went up as I walked alongside the field and I noticed a large Raptor distantly over by Barming Woods, it gained height as a group of Rooks started to mob it. It was a Common Buzzard, probably the same individual I'd seen a few weeks ago. It drifted south, over the River Medway and seemed to drop down in the West Farleigh area. In the churchyard there were lots of Redwings. 22 in total, feeding on the Yew berries, the largest flock I've had this winter.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Wednesday 25th November

A break from the wet, windy weather at last, and I managed to walk into work from East Barming to East Malling. Unfortunately I didn't have my bins, but managed to pick out most things that moved! 3x Redwing skulked in the oaks along the bridleway adjacent to Gallagher's Quarry, 15+ Chaffinches flocked around them, there really seem to be good numbers of these around at the moment. A couple of Grey Herons flew directly over me near Kiln Barn Farm, where the Little Owl peered out of the barn.

Canada Geese at Bradbourne.....they all couldn't fit on the lake (beyond)

At lunchtime I walked across the research land, East Malling to Bradbourne Lake to check nothing had dropped in during the strong winds of the previous night. Fieldfare numbers have increased (120+), and again Chaffinches everywhere! Another Grey Heron stood, statuesque in a newly ploughed field. At Bradbourne I was surronded by Canada Geese (85+) with a few Greylag throw in. A Little Grebe hugged the island. The sunny morning was short lived and I made it back to the office just in time for another torrential downfall - mud, mud everywhere!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Thursday 19th November

Still a strong SW wind blowing, a quick look over Ditton Quarry turned up 4+ Redwings. Finches were in good numbers with increased numbers of Greenfinches and the usual party of Bullfinches.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Wednesday 18th November 2009

With some strawberry plants to collect for work from Romney Marsh and Graveney I thought I'd make an early start and visit Dungeness and Seasalter (in my own time I might add!) to see if I couldn't pick up a couple of goodies.

The initial sighting!

Crossing Walland Marsh in the dark I was suprised at how many Fieldfares were on the road, the wind at this point was blowing very, very hard! I stopped off first at Denge Marsh and scanned the area for the Great White Egret (my third attempt) but the wind was so strong I was struggling to stay on my feet, and no sign of the bird. I moved onto the Hanson Hide, ARC pit, passing a Merlin chasing Starlings on the north side of the Lydd-Dungeness road, hoping to get a sight of at least one of the three Penduline Tits that had last been reported on Monday. Now I've not had much look with this species; 3 visits to Rainham RSPB and stopping off in Devon early at Easter had all turned up blanks. The more I read about, and looked at pictures, of these minature Red-backed Shrike look-a-likees the more I wanted to see one! Well I was in luck, at at 07:40 a Penduline Tit flew into the bottom of the reed mace. I thought that was it, but no it was joined by a second bird higher on the mace and they then fed for a good 10 minutes affording excellent views. I tried to get some photos, all a bit poor but show what needs to be shown I think! One bird had a ring. Then they were gone. Everything else on the ARC pit was huddled up at the pit edges, a female Goldeneye amongst them.

Notice ring of right tarsus

I crossed the road and checked the 1st pit off the entrance track for Glossy Ibis, no sign of any, but a Marsh Harrier put on a brave show against the wind and as it banked sharply over the far end (west) side of the pit, 2 Glossy Ibis lifted into the air! Necks stretched they made very little headway in the wind, and remained suspended for 30 secs or so before dropping back out of view. Wow! I needed to move on, but not before checking Denge Marsh again from Springfield Bridge only to dip for a fourth time!
The drive along the lanes was interesting, not least for the amount of twigs and branches littered the road, but also for some of the interesting shacks along the way!

Onto Graveney, pick up plants and then 30 minutes of my lunch hour on the beach at Seasalter where 9x Snow Buntings crept around on the beach in front of the huts by The Sportsman pub. The tide was coming in, the Brent Geese were taking to the air and it was time for me to get back to East Malling. What an excellent morning!

Inconspicous Snow Bunts!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tuesday 17th November

I wandered onto the Bald Birder's old patch for a change today. Bradbourne House and Lake, East Malling was looking resplendent in the November sunshine with a suprising number of trees still holding leaf despite the weekend gales. Along the stream that leads to the Lake I was suprised to see a pair of Wagtails - Grey Wagtails to be precise, always where I'd expected to see them but somehow had never managed to before! A new site tick. Further on a female Sparrowhawk tried to take a Fieldfare out but it somehow managed to escape.

Monday 16th December

Another blowy day, leaves everywhere but most trees still standing. Fieldfare numbers have increased over the weekend on the research station (East Malling) with an estimated 80+ in the orchards, still not particularly high compared to previous years. I checked out the dormice boxes, no evidence of any, but a Great Tit nest with a lone, long-forgotten egg still in place!
Three Pheasants crept around the orchards, strangely when I toured Kent last week and got 80+ species in a day I failed to find a single Pheasant - typical!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Sunday 8th November

I happened upon this lovely on the road to Funton Creek first thing this morning. Initially I thought I'd stumpled upon a Rough-legged Buzzard, but it appeared quite slight and when it took off I noticed the abscence of a white tail band. The consensus is a juvenile pale-morph Common Buzzard - still a lovely bird to see netherless. On the creek I managed 150+ Avocet and onto Sheppey where I had 2 superb ringtail Hen Harriers (Swale NNR and Harty marshes), 2x Peregrine and 1x Merlin - classic Sheppey!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Thursday 5th November

Only 20 minutes or so to check out the orchards at on the research station, East Malling. I quickly located increased numbers of Fieldfares - 27 feeding in a Bramley windfalls, not the orchard I usually get them in at this time of the year, but they seem more desirable than the the dessert apples for some reason! They were joined by a large flock of Chaffinches, 50+ but no sign of nay Bramblings amongst them...yet! There were good numbers of Woodpigeons on the ground, but few in the air, looks like I'm missing the 'big migration'.