Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday 29th March

Looking after the kids today so over to Barming Parish Playing Fields at 10:30 to try and wear them out. As I reached the pavilion at the top of the field I heard a Cuckoo calling distantly to the south of me. Quieting the kids down I heard it again, and then on a further 2 occasions. It was carrying across from the other side of the medway valley (East or West Farleigh) and froma slightly different location each time. I spent another 30 minutes over the park but didn't hear it calling again. Spring has sprung!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Saturday 28th March

Back into work today - yep I know it's a weekend but we haven't managed to breed a line that flowers 5 days then stpos fot two! I walked from East Malling village across the Research Station land to the glasshouses complex. It was very cold with squally showers and so I shouldn't have been suprised to see 32 Fieldfares and 7 Redwings flying over the churchyard orchard. Not too far from here people are seeing Swallows!

I had to return again later in the day so I paid a quick visit to Ditton Quarry around 16:00 to check out the Redpoll situation. Five Lesser Black-backed Gulls dipped in and out of the sky and a Song Thrush sang from the shrubbery. Being careful, after Tuesdays mistake (!), I located a flock of 8+ Redpoll feeding on the ground near the alder trees in the SW corner of the site. Bingo - I quickly picked out a Mealy Redpoll amongst them, instantly recognisable by it's more 'washed-out' appearance and bulkier, larger size. I attempted some photos but the flock were very flighty, often taking cover in a nearby willow, and not tolerant of me approaching too close. After watching them for a good 10 minutes or so they took flight as a Kestrel loomed overhead.
After pollinating, and with more rain clouds looming, I scanned across the nearby ploughed area next to the new experimental Pear Orchard. I was hoping for something out of the ordinary -but a cock Pheasant with a harem of four hens was all I was rewarded with. For some reason the male Pheasant kept lying low in the mud, not for my benefit I'm sure. Driving back to Barming I saw more hen Pheasants and 8+ BH Gulls in the field adjacent to St Margaret's Church.
From this...... this. What was he up to?!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Thursday 26th March

No chance to get out yesterday, so I managed 30 minutes between showers at lunchtime today. I managed a Jay first off, not the commenest of birds over Ditton Quarry at the moment. Then a pair of Mistle Thrushes and a Song Thrush in the 'lawned' area. No Redpolls, but a couple of Bullfinches whispering to each other in the shrubbery. However top spot went to a pair of Siskins, the male singing.

Cycling home at 18:00 I was pleased to hear a Siskin singing again, this time from a tree on the corner of Kiln Barn Road where the bridleway carries straight on up to the water tower in Barming. Scanning through the treetops I picked out another eight. This really was turning out to be the day of the Siskins! A couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls loafed around in the wind, drifting off to roost no doubt and Green Woodpecker yaffled unseen in Oaken wood.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Tuesday 24th March

Nought to see on the way into work (East Malling Research), but once there I was pleased to see a pair of Pied Wagtails picking through the guttering and roof voids, prospecting nesting opportunities I'm sure. Over to Ditton Quarry at lunchtime, and too be honest I was in one of those moods where I didn't expect to see anything - fatal! As soon as I entered the quarry I recognised the song of a Linnet, often heard on the nearby research station, but never in the Quarry - and there he was on top of an Elderberry - great tick for the Quarry. Still I had expectations of Hawfinch or Mealy, I'm getting greedy of late! I scanned the alders and concluded there were no Redpolls - I struck forward and disturbed a whole flock of the things! 12+ took the air, noisly bounding up and away. I latched onto the flock and saw a couple rop down on to a nearby tree, while the rest of the flock disappeared out of sight. These were Lesser Redpolls, very buffish, brown with a deep red cap - what were the other 10?! I lingered a while, hearing the first Chiffchaff of the year for the Quarry, and Ross joined me, but even he couldn't entice them back. We eventually managed 4x Lessers and few lisps from a Bullfinch.

Cycling home at dusk I had a Sparrowhawk float over and a Bullfinch restlessly bounding ahead of me as I laboured up the bridleway hill to the Water Tower, Barming.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Monday 23rd March

Nothing more to report between Barming and Ditton this morning - a couple of Jays on eastern sie of Oaken Wood and Goldfinches seemed to be prominient. At lunchtime I visited Ditton Quarry briefly but not much showing apart from a Common Lizard, a couple of pairs of Bullfinches and 50+ Goldfinches (more than usual). The nest that the Long-tailed Tits had been working on for the last week or so looked more or less complete - a perfect little dome of Lichen! Heavy rain and strong winds late afternoon blew a couple of Grey Herons around as they flew south over the Research Station, East Malling.
Making my way back home amongst the blown down twigs I was suprised to hear the familiar 'chack-chack' of Fieldfares and sure enough I counted 18 in one of the large Sweet Chestnuts by Gallagher's Gallop - I shoul be expecting the first Swallows on my patch now not Fieldfares. And the last birds of the day - 12 Goldfinches over my house in Barming - they really seem to have been out in goo numbers today.
GEOFF. Could you contact me at, cheers Adam

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sunday 22nd March

Mothers Day so I couldn't get out birding -I'd hoped to get out to the KOS walk at Boughton and was gutted to hear that LS Woodpecker, Barn Owl and Buzzard had all been seen.............grrrrrrrrrrr! Managed a brief walk over the orchards in Barming late in the afternoon and was rewarded with another (or the same) Small Tortoiseshell basking on the ragstone ridge I'd seen one last week.

Saturday 21st March

Busy day today - had to go into work to pollinate some plants morning and afternoon, we haven't engineered ones that recognise weekends and flower 5 days the stop for 2! Stppoed off briefly to check for Wheaters in the pastures around Oaken Wood, Barming but no sign, nor Marsh Tit or Little Owl. As I walked to the glasshouse at the Research Station (East Malling) a Skylark sang. There are goo numbers of Bee Orchid rosettes around the entrances to the glasshouses - we really do well with this species on site.

In between pollinating we took the kids to Knole Park, Sevenoaks and I was hoping for some birds while we wondered around, but very little showed. I spent most my time loitering aroun dead trees while the kids climbed them - some fanatastic patterns on those that had lost their bark.

Before returning to work in the afternoon I dropped by Ditton Quarry on the off chance of Redpolls. After 10 minutes I located one...then two...then five Lesser Redpolls working through the Alders in the SW corner. Then unexpectedly a Mealy Redpoll joined them giving brief, but excellent, views for a minute or so before the whole flock suddenly took to the air for no apparent reason. I suddenly remebered I'd got work to do (!) so left without trying to relocate the flock.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Friday 20th March

A quick sortie to the site where I'd located Marsh Tit and the pair were quickly picked out. The Little Owl by Kiln Barn Farm and increasing flock of Common Gull (x8) were joined by Herring Gull (2x) and BH Gulls. I'm sure the Little Owl recognises the sound of my bike now - as I roll down the hill it takes flight!

I tried for the Red Hill Waxwings at lunchtime, breaking my own biking record from East Malling to Wateringbury...I only had an hour! I spent a good 30 minutes scanning aroun the orchards by Red Hill and Wateringbury Place but couldn't locate them. Coming back through the wood north of Wateringbury village I was pleased to add another couple of Commas to the list and see the Wood Anemone in full flower.

Thursday 19th March

Another sunny start - 12x Chiffchaffs calling along the eastern and northern perimeter of Oaken Wood, Barming. Also a new tick for the year, Marsh Tit which really brightened up my day! 2x Goldcrest, numerous Great Tit & Blue Tit, 3x GS Woodpecker and 4x Green Woodpecker all calling and then on the pasture just north of Gallaghers Quarry 5x Common Gull with 17x BH Gull, the Common Gull's being another new year patch tick - I was doing well! A couple of Jays but in an appearance just as I left the wooded area by Gallagher's Gallop, and then another year tick, Little Owl in the barn opposite Kiln Barn Farm. What a day! Pied Wagtail added to the tally, flitting on the roof of the house on the corner of Kiln Barn Road.

By lunchtime it had clouded over and gone cold - reminding me we were still in March. I took a trip back to where I'd seen the Marsh Tits, no sign, but yet another year patch tick - Coal Tit! All common birds I know, but that's the beauty of patch watching. Feeling lucky I moved onto scan across the various paddocks between Oaken Wood and East Malling hoping a Wheatear or Swallow might be picked out, but I was really pushing my luck and neither were seen. However I did hear what I though was a Barn Owl shriek from a small copse - this was at 13:00 afternoon, surely not?!

Back at the research station, East Malling I managed 12x Yellowhammers sitting in one of the alder windbreaks by the Conference Centre, they're feeding in the fallow field just south of the footpath.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wednesday 18th March

Cycling into work I took a slightly different route around the edge Oaken Wood to avoid disturbing 2 of Gallagher's racehorces that were being riden up the bridlepath. A Chiffchaff called and was seen flitting through the coppice, but nothing else of note was seen.

Lunchtime was very warm and I decided to cycle back into Oaken Wood - it was about this time last year that my boss saw a Camberwell Beauty there while on an lunchtime run. It's been a few months since I last went through the wood itself and I was suprised how dry all the paths were. A number of new areas have been coppiced so will be worth checking for Tree Pipit and Nightjar in the summer. Butterflies were flying in good numbers and I totalled 12x Comma and 5x Peacock on my short ride. I also noticed numerous pieces of roofing felt laid down and then happened across a lady from the Kent Wildlife Trust who was carrying out a survey on lower plants for Gallaghers. She told me that apparently Tree Sparrows were present in the wood, but didn't know any other details - something I'll be following up! There seems to be quite an intense wildlife survey being carried out in the wood, I've noticed mammal boxes in some of the coppice as well - hopefully no a prelude to a possible extension of the quarry?! Another Chiffchaff was found near the underpass.

I rode home at dusk but was pleased to add Yellowhammer, Grey Heron (flying SE) and a GS Woodpecker drumming to the day list.

Tuesday 17th March

Another beautiful day but a bit chillier in the brsik easterly wind. Despite saying he'd never join me on patch again, Ross phoned at lunchtime to ask where I was. I think he's getting worried he's going to get gripped off on something soon. He joined me over Ditton Quarry just in time to see a Lesser Redpoll feeding in the alders and on the ground. We moved onto the ragstone rock face hoping for some butterflies, seeing a Comma, a couple of Common Lizards and a Bee-fly. Further on we discovered a sunny, sheltered nook and were rewarded with 2x Peacocks and 2x Commas. Ross, emualating a Heron stalking his prey but with less elegance, attempted to get some photos. I checked his blog 5 minutes ago and there's nothing posted so I guess they idn't turn out as expected!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Monday 16th February

Another warm day, made all the better for hearing my first Chiffchaffs of the year. Two were heard as I cycled into work; one in Oaken Wood, Barming and a second at the bottom of Gallagher's Gallop near the underpass. A mixed flock of BH and Herring Gulls sloped around the pasture near Kiln Barn Farm. I scanned across the gallop and manure heap hopind to emulate Warren's Wheatear but no luck today. A couple of Yellowhammers looked resplendant, singing out their new territories.

There's a Redpoll in there! Suprisingly well-camoflauged on the ground......

Hoping for more butterflies I made an afternoon visit to the bonfire site on the East Malling Research Station site to see if I couldn't find another Small Tortoiseshell. A Kestrel hovered overhead and a couple of Skylarks exalted the fine weather. Moving onto Ditton Quarry I spotted a pair of Peacock butterflies chasing each other, and then the first of 5x Commas basking on the path near the Buddelias in the SW corner. Ahead of me a small bird dropped to the ground and fed furtively, as I approached I could see it was a Lesser Redpoll. I followed it aroun the copse, and it was joined by a second bird. I watched the pair for 10 minutes or so, hopeful a Mealy might suddenly join them, which it didn't! As I left the quarry a single Goldcrest flickered round an ash - it's moss green plummage perfectly matching the lichen on the tree it was feeding around. Back at work Ross phoned to say he'd located a Small Tortoishell on some heather opposite the Chief Executive's house. Trying to grip me off I'm sure but I was happy with the one I'd seen yesterday on part of my larger 'patch'!

.......and sometimes even more difficult to see in a tree!
On the way back home I was suprised to see my first Chiffchaff of the year in the hedgerow alongside Gallagher's Gallop, silently flitting around. It was dusk, and apart from a Green Woodpecker nothing else had shown.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunday 15th March

Frustrated by not being able to get to my 'Wheatear' spot (they're dropping down everywhere this weekend) I had to make do with grabbing 10 minutes to get another indicator of the advancing Spring - butterflies. One of the orchards in East Barming is on a south-facing slope that leads down to the River Medway. Halfway down this slope is a ragstone bank and outcrop that alway looked to have potential for reptiles, but today I wondered if it' attract any butterflies that were on the wing. Sure enough it did and I was very pleased to count 1x Small Tortoiseshell, 3x Peacock and 5x Comma - not bad for March!

The ragstone wall that yielded a bounty of butterflies.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Saturday 14th March

In Folkestone 'trainspotting' with my lads - the last train out of Folkestone Harbour and a couple of hours playing on the Lower Leas Adventure Park and just being at the seaside...a good day out if you're 2 or 5 years old! Birds? Just a couple of Med Gulls on the street lights near Copt Point.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Thursday 12th March

For the first time ever Ross wanted to see a bird I'd found. He was full of cold but was showing a lot on interest in the Mealy Redpolls I'd found. So we visited Ditton Quarry at lunchtime to be met by a Magpie, Long-tailed Tit and...well that was about it. Even the Lizards were gone. Will he be joining me on another nature walk?!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Wednesday 11th March

A day off and a chance to catch the last of winter on Sheppey. We intened to go for raptors and spent the whole day exclusively on the island. Dawn saw us crossing the Swale and the first raptor of the day wa soon seen - a Barn Owl hunting opposite the Harty Ferry Road turn off. The low mist, huge blazing sun low on the horizon made for a very atmospheric scene and we watched the owl for 10 minutes or so, a few Hares bounding around below it. Onto to Capel Fleet where a large flock of Corn Buntings flitted around. Visibility was poor due to the mist, so we moved onto the Ferry House Inn, taking in a second Barn Owl and large flocks of Chaffinches. The tide was out, but we got good views of Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit and Red-breasted Merganser, and turning back to the pub watched a ringtail Hen Harrier drift across the saltmarsh. A scan across to Swale NNR failed to pick out the Hooded Crow, so we headed off to Mocketts Farm and across the footpath to Harty Hill. A group of Pied Wagtails added to the list and a Stoat lept across the farmyard. The mist was now clearing and it was turning out to be a beautiful, warm morning. We'd hoped to pick out the Rough-legged Buzzard here, but although numerous Marsh Harriers and a (the same?) ringtail Hen Harrier were seen we were frustrated by the heat haze that made two distant white-headed raptors (on the ground) and herd of swans to be unidentifiable. Back to the raptor viewpoint, and apart from Marsh Harriers there was not much to be seen. We checked the reeds and ditches for Green Sandpiper and Bearded Tit, for the latter the conditions should have been perfect, but to no avail. At Capel Fleet I tried to get a better view of the swans but the heat haze was even worse, but just below the prison , on a grassy mound one of the Rough-legged Buzzards was found. A male Sparrowhawk also enjoyed the sunshine.

We needed some waders, so off to Shellness but there was not much to see, all the gull count went up. Onto Minster beach, where I picked out a distant flock of Sanderling, only for James to point 2 on the beach right under our feed! Ken of Halling fame also showed well - a new life tick for me, wonder when I'll get him on my patch list! Onto Sheerness, up and down any number of stairs just east of the sailing club looking for a Purple Sandpiper, but we were out of luck.

Elmley was the next and last port of call on the island. We failed to see the Merlin along the entrance track, and kicking through the oaks only added Goldcrest to the list. Down to the hides; Wellmarsh was very disappointing considering it was high tide - only a scattering of Ringed Plover proved their was life out there. However Southfleet was much better with good numbers and views of Avocet. The Swale held very little - I'd heard there'd been a clear out of wildfowl over the last few weeks. Only the Water Pipit further along the seawall could drag us up now. As we approached the beach where it had been reported a pipit flew up high of the wall and across the path and onto the pasture - was it the Water Pipit....I'll never know, it didn't return! Scanning across to relocate a GBB Gull I picked out a Peregrine sitting out some harassment from a group of irrate Lapwings. Then possibly one of the best sightings of the day for me - a Hedgehog! Sad I know but I've not seen a live one over 2 years. It curled up as we approached, before rolling own the slope! James' pessimism of finding a SE Owl would have had us back to the car in no time, but my optimism and Gordon Allisons's update on SE Owl sightings from the previous day saw us sitting out on the bench at Wellmarsh waiting for an owl to turn up. A second and third Peregrine were seen while we waited and right and cue at 16:15 a SE Owl slipped across the saltmarsh and put on a fantastic show for 10 minutes or so. James was happy so off we trotted, taking in a Pochard on the way (we'd written this off for the day). Back at Kinghill Farm we dipped on Little Owl but added a secon sighting of Ken. He was just off to the hides, and how I'd wished I joined him - Garganey grip off...grrrrrrrrrrrr! Final port of call was Rose Hill Wood, Bobbing for Firecrest - it was always a long shot and we failed, but at least added the elusive trio of Goldfinch, Song and Mistle Thrush to the list. A respectable 80 species, with some quality birds, on the list......and then 81 as a flock Fieldfares flew overhead as we strolled into The Bull, Barming!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Tuesday 10th March

Back over to Ditton Quarry this morning and 4x Lesser Redpolls were quickly located feeding in the leaf litter under the alder trees in the SW corner of the site. After 10 minutes, and with heavy rain, I felt this was going to be it, but for once persistence paid off and a flock of Redpolls bounded into view and dropped down into the alders. One by one they dropped to the floor to feed and eventually a Mealy Redpoll appeared amongst them. Again clearly a larger and paler bird, with a lovely rosey-pink breast contrasting against it's pale plummage, compared the 16 Lesser Redpolls. The flock was very flighty and flew off a couple of times before eventually returning to the alders. I got another good view of a Mealy sitting in a nearby willow before the flock flew off high southwards just before 08:50.

I returned at lunchtime to meet up with Ken Beckett who had contacted me to say he'd be interested to see the Redpolls. We saw small numbers of Lesser Redpoll in various Alders in the enjoyable 45 minutes we spent there but unfortunately no Mealies. Someone else has to see them!!! Ken also saw a couple of Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, male Bullfinch and Song Thrush while there.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Monday 8th March

A strong westerly wind made for a suprisingly cold start to the morning. Little was seen on my cycle into work, except 7x Herring Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull wallowing in the wind, drifting and sliding across the sky. I stopped off at Ditton Quarry and spread some wild bird seed on the ground under the alders I'd seen the Redpolls feeding on yesterday afternoon. However I didn't see any, only a Bullfinch and Goldcrest were braving the dog walking rush-hour.

Back over the quarry at lunchtime with Mike Easterbrook, we met David Blakesley with scope scanning the ground under the alders. 3x Lesser Redpoll crept through the leaf litter but no Mealies. Checking the other alders were found a Siskin and had teasing glimpses of more Redpolls but these were all to too brief to ID.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sunday 8th March

Only time for a very brief visit to Ditton Quarry this afternoon. I quickly relocated the Redpoll flock and had excellent views, occasionally feeding on the ground below the alders in the south-west corner of the site. Amongst them was 3x Mealy Redpolls, very prominient by their larger size, frostier appearance and blush-pink breasts against the smaller, brown-tinged Lessers. Sorry no camera so no pics.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Friday 6th March

Another lovely sunny Friday morning and a pleasant walk into work. Twenty-three species seen in total but lacking Fieldfare off the list, the first time since end-October. Individual Magpies, Yellowhammers and Blue Tits were all observed with nesting material in their winter over?! A lone Redwing was all that remained of the huge flocks I'd been watching only a few weeks ago.
I guessed a few butterflies might be on the wing, so feeling lucky I ventured over to Ditton Quarry at lunchtime. A 'nest' of Common Lizards were curled up under a strip of roofing felt out I'd left out on a sunny bank way back in the summer. I couldn't quite make out how many there were - all legs, heads and tails! It was looking fairly quiet on the bird front, a Kestrel hovered overhead and a pair of Long-tailed Tits noisly guarded a bramble, potential nesting site I assume. However I heard the call of a Redpoll, I'd assumed they'd gone - the Fieldfares and Redwings had disappeared overnight and in my head I was thinking spring! I quickly latched on to a Lesser Redpoll but it moved off through the Alders and was gone as quickly as it had arrived. Determined to track it down I scoured the scrub for another 10 minutes and eventually struck lucky with a flock of 12 Redpolls feeding acrobatically in a lone Alder. No sooner had I got the camera focused on one of the birds when a police helicopter suddenly appeared and 'buzzed me' for a couple of minutes, sending the flock back of into the trees. Eventually the cops decided I wasn't the guy they were looking for, 'buzzed off' and the birds returned. Two of the birds looked slightly larger, bulkier and paler to me, possibly Common Redpolls, but the plummage within the flock was quite variable and I'm no expert. I've added a number of photos below of putative Common Redpolls (and I've got more from most angles if anyone can tell me what I should be looking for) - any comments?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Wednesday 4th March

I got caught up with work at lunchtime so no chance to go out to see what the rain and wind of last night had brought in or blown out. Still this is the opportunity to post a few photos I've taken over the last week. The first set are of the destruction of trees that's taking place on the East Malling site of late. The photo above shows the reminants of an apple orchard that only a month ago was a home to numerous Redwings and Fieldfares. These orchards are being grubbed because funding for much of the top fruit research at East Malling is drying up, and mantaining redudant plots is an expense that can't been borne. Luckily new orchards are being planted across the site for commercial production which should ensure the bird population isn't too badly affected. The photo below shows the removal of three pines at the front of Bradbourne House. I'm not sure why these have been felled, maybe they were unstable and their proximity to the Grade I listed house posed a threat. Felling on trees near the lake led to some damage to the 'Tawny Owl' tree and unfortunately the owl appears to have moved on.

I read Warren's blog today and he seems to be experiencing similar habit destruction on his patch ( On a more positive note the hedgerows along Gallagher's Gallop (the bridleway between Kiln Barn Road, Ditton and Noth Street, Barming) have been yielding lots of territorial birds, singing out their claim on . Dunnock, Wren, Great and Blue Tit, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch and Bullfinch have all graced me with their vocal performaces as I've past by in the last week. The buds of the hedge are full, ready to burst, just waiting for that prolonged period of warmth that is so temptingly close. But why they remain barren it's become easy to pick out the remanats of last year's breeding season. Nests litter the branches and boughs. I've included pictures of 3 below, any ideas what species they belong to?




Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Tuesday 3rd March

The field sandwiched between the A26 Tonbridge Road and St Margaret's Church, East Barming was being ploughed again as I passed at lunchtime. A huge flock of gulls had settled on the newly-turned soil, so I pulled into the 'burger van' lay-by and scanned the field. 150+ Black-headed Gulls and 2x Herring Gulls, with 20+ Skylarks hoping, chasing and ascending around and over their disturbed landscape. I was suprised not to find a Med Gull amongst the massed ranks, especially as good numbers have been seen locally. I'm sure with persistence, or luck, I'll manage one here this year.

On my return to work I got a call from my wife to say that a Little Egret was walking along the pavement on Mill Street, East Malling just east of The Rising Sun pub! She commented on it's very large, yellow feet! The watercress beds and millstream run close by but what it was expecting to find in the gutter I'm not quite sure.

Monday 2nd March

A new month and weather to match. The frosty start evolved into a warm, sunny Spring-like day. It felt like the sort of day that Ross might phone to say he'd happened upon the first migrant of the year, a Wheater hoping around the lawn at Bradbourne or a Sand Martin flitting overhead, so I was suprised when he called mid-morning to tell me he'd heard Waxwings trilling in the area of Garner Drive, East Malling. We'd kinda presumed they'd moved on - the research site has been pretty barren since the orchards were cleaned up a few weeks ago. Most of the Fieldfares have moved onto the nearby grazed areas with 100+ seen on my cycle in, south-east of Kiln Barn Farm. A rapid cycle down to Bradbourne House at lunchtime turned up a blank - Blue Tits tittered, Woodpeckers drummed, Coots called but no Waxwings trilled. So instead I kicked through some of the leaf litter still hoping to find the elusive East Malling Woodcock. I disturbed a butterfly but frustratingly it was off, up and over the windbreak before I could ID it It was brown/dark, not Brimstone Yellow, so most probably a Comma or Small Tortoiseshell. I'll never know what my first butterfly species of the year was! Bees busied themselves in some of the more sheltered corners of the orchards and a couple of Herring Gulls loafed around briefly on Bradbourne Lake. The Barnacle Goose was glimpsed amongst the gaggle of Canada Geese on the opposite bank.