Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Monday 21st December

Looking towards the derelict Ditton Laboratory building on Kiln Barn Road from the public footpath.

The snow lingered, and was refreshed by a light powdering overnight. I still couldn't get my car off the drive so missed out on the Research Station Solstice run. An eccentric tradition relived each June and December by some mebers of the Research - the rules: one circuit of Bradbourne Lake as the sun rises on the solstice......but only one item of clothing allowed....trainers count as one item! Its pushed some people's imagination to the limit, it's certainly effective in waking you up before work! I could set up a 'separate' blog with photos of this event if there's enough interest.


I walked into East Malling from Barming, in places the snow covering was completely unblemished. Checking the Silver Birch at the top of South Street at I counted 8x Redpolls in two groups (6, 2). The group of six flew down into one of the gardens on the east side of the street, but looking into the rising sun, and conscious that I was pointing my bins towards bedroom windows (!) I had to presume they were Lessers. Five Bullfinches were seen along Gallagher's Gallop (just north of the Water Tower off North Street), along with a couple of Jays. The Silver Birch wood at the bottom of the hill looked quite startingly, almost like a black-and-white photo. A pair of GS Woodpeckers jumped around a tree on the corner of Kiln Barn Road/Winterfields (very appropraitely named today).The cloud started to break as I reached the research station site revealing briefly the adonis blue sky.


Winter thrushes on trees, canes and on the wing (click to enlarge). Snow on North Downs beyond.


The orchards near Kiln Barn Road that have been full of Fieldfare were deserted, the fallen apples totally covered in snow. I knew where the birds would be, in the orchards that hadn't been picked; the genebank at the back of the church in East Malling (where the Waxwings were seen) and the orchard viewable from the public footpath just west of the main laboratory complex. I ventured out at lunchtime to check out my theory and was amazed at the shear number of winter thrushes that were in the process of what could be called a feeding frenzy.



Redwings which have been relatively scarce on site up until now outnumbered the Fieldfares by about 2 to 1. Lots of Blackbirds and Chaffinches picked around on the ground, while the Fieldfares and Redwings stabbed away at the apples left on the trees and Starlings, Woodpigeons, a couple of Green Woodpeckers and a lone Song Thrush joined in. A Sparrowhawk swept threw and was suprisingly unsuccessful despite the density of the flocks. The genebank was the same, although there seemed to be a greater proportion of Fieldfare here. It was hard to keep track, let alone count the birds. I scanned through as much as possible to see if I could locate a Brambling or even a Waxwing (for Greenie!), if there were any in this swarm then I didn't pick them out. An amazing sight, all viewable from the east-west public footpath on the Research Station, but probably will only last while the snow does.


A special train was passing through East Malling this evening - Tornado, the newly rebuilt steam locomotive on it's first run down this line. My lad's madder on trains than I am on birds, and as it was the shortest day I wasn't confident we'd get a very good view as it sped through East Malling, so we caught up with it at Maidstone West. I was impressed!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Adam, I realy love your mass Thrush pictures. To me they convey the movement and urgency that the Thrushes seem to have feeding in the orchards. I started ringing in the Research Station on Saturday and caught so many Redwing that I ran out of rings. I'm still waiting for the replacements but still hope to have another session before the snow disappears completely.John

Adam said...

Cheers John, the numbers of Redwing seem to have increased massively since the snow fell last week. How many did you ring??? Any of them alredy carrying rings? Noticeably less Redwing/more Fieldfare in the genebank behind the church. Still no sign of Brambling yet though!

Have you had a chance to check out the Redpolls over the Quarry? Need confirmation on Mealy! Also 8 Redpolls still in South Street, Barming on Silver Birch on the east side of the road (park in Bull PH car park and walk down road - birch just on your left), took a pic of one that looked different from others, 3 replies after posting photos; 2 favour Mealy, 1 unsure.

Give me a bell if you find anything interesting!

Speak soon,

Adam

Adam said...

Cheers John, the numbers of Redwing seem to have increased massively since the snow fell last week. How many did you ring??? Any of them alredy carrying rings? Noticeably less Redwing/more Fieldfare in the genebank behind the church. Still no sign of Brambling yet though!

Have you had a chance to check out the Redpolls over the Quarry? Need confirmation on Mealy! Also 8 Redpolls still in South Street, Barming on Silver Birch on the east side of the road (park in Bull PH car park and walk down road - birch just on your left), took a pic of one that looked different from others, 3 replies after posting photos; 2 favour Mealy, 1 unsure.

Give me a bell if you find anything interesting!

Speak soon,

Adam

Phil said...

Hi Adam
Great post, love the photo's, was going to walk through EMRS today but changed my mind due to fog, presumed it was the same there as at home. Will try again asap.
Have a merry christmas and a great new year.
All the best

Phil

twisden said...

Hi Adam,thanks for comments.All we could hear at Benenden was a seal?
Its a lovely forest,and we will return,my credentials not so good with birds but,woodpeckers tree creepers ,great tits etc
Off to Selling next week.Your pix super as always,have a good Christmas
and check out youtube for HD train clips (preaching to the converted?)
Gordon.

Warren Baker said...

Blimey, so thats where all the birds have gone, it does boggle the brain when you try to count such a throng, I know how you felt!

Any chance of dropping some of those apples off for my garden ?

Greenie said...

Adam ,
Thanks for being my spotter .
Hope you and yours have a good one .