A report of wildlife sightings from the western edge of Maidstone, Kent. I note anything of interest in the vicinity of my home in Barming and from walks into work at the East Malling Research Station along the edge of Barming Woods and down to Ditton. Occasionally, when time allows, I get out to Ditton Quarry, a rich habitat hemmed in by residential and industrial developments on one side, but with open countryside on the other.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Sunday 20th December
Another inch or so of snow fell overnight, refreshing the stained snow of the last couple of days. The number of bird species in the garden looked to have increased when I looked out the window at breakfast; Starlings (very irridescent today), Woodpigeons, Jay and Song Thrush (always good to have in the garden) were all present, picking and feeding on anything they could find. I managed some snaps through the kitchen window of the braver birds that fed on my homemade cheese-lard-sultana-breadcrumb treats (brave to eat anything of mine that was homemade or brave to come so close to the house!).
I don't know what was going on with the Woodpigeons; they were having a feeding frenzy in the ivy at the back of the garden, probably on seed I guess (unless a misplaced shot by one of the neighbours had deposited half a loaf of bread in there).
I still couldn't get my car off the drive in South Street, Barming, so I walked my lad up the road for a lift to a birthday party he had been invited to. I glanced at the Silver Birch at the top of the road and immediately picked out a Redpoll, though I couldn't make out if it was Lesser or Common. I quickly dropped James off and rushed back for the camera. By the time I had returned to the tree there were 3 birds; 2 were Lesser, the 3rd I could quite make out. I tried to get some record shots but failed miserably.....grrrrr. The birds suddenly took flight with some Redwings and so I decided to check out the nearby churchyard and orchard. The churchyard held more Redwings and the orchard was full of Fieldfares and Blackbirds (21 individuals in one row). One Fieldfare had the misfortune to end up as a Sparrowhawk's breakfast; I got a quick glimpse of the raptor on the orchard flew before it flew off with Fieldfare in it's talons. I looked through some of the plucked feathers that littered the ground, black and grey, a sombre combination reminiscent of a guardsman's great coat (see pic below), but smart when they're still attached to the bird!
I managed a glimpse of Barming Bridge through the apple trees, there seemed to be a large flock of Canada Geese milling around the bridge - where there's people there's food I guess! Going back to collect James I checked out the South St Silver Birch again - 6x Redpolls now. I managed some pics but no sure that Common (Mealy) was in there with them; most views were of the undersides which glowed persil-white in the snow-reflected sunshine.
I know I harked on about this yesterday but the icicles today were fantastic - drip, dripping everywhere.
James snapped one of the church porch (just after I'd told him not to) - it was about half the size of him.
The fresh layer of snow looked beautiful, I took more pictures knowing that it would all probably be washed away tomorrow. The evening light on the snow made it look almost like a foaming sea, I've got pictures like the one below from my holidays in Cornwall!
We finished the day with more sledging until it got too dark, the last rays of sun catching the River Medway below our sledging slope.