Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Wednesday 24th March

Two Chiffchaffs were singing on the eastern edge of Oaken Wood, Barming - at least another migrant had dropped in and I managed a slightly better photo of one of the birds.  Zipping down Gallagher's Gallop I half expected to find a Wheatear on one of the fence posts, but it wasn't to be, and I had to be content with the drumming of a couple of distant GS Woodpeckers and the Little Owl which took flight in response to my squeaky brakes as I passed Kiln Barn Farm. 

Willow Warbler - unexpectedly early

Instead of carrying on down Kiln Barn Road, and into work, I decided to take a slight detour across the footpath that runs east from Kiln Barn Road (almost opposite Potts) to The Rocks Road and Paris Farm in East Malling.  The greatest part of this footpath is bordered by paddocks on the north side and always looked to have potential, but I'd rather negelected it as it added about 20 mins on my journey into work.  A big pile of stable manure steamed and I was suprised to see a small bird making fly-catching sallies out the adjacent hedgerow - a Willow Warbler!  Of course I thought it was another Chiffchaff until it sang, but I was pleased to see that a few had turned up at Dungeness and Warren had one on his Pittswood patch today as well (, certainly a lot earlier than I would have expected - after all my Chiffies were only in 2 days ago.

How much fencing does a migrant need?! 
Looking north across Paris Farm Paddocks (Aylesford Newsprint spewing out steam in the distance). 

Further along I scanned in vain amongst the eastern-most paddocks - so many fence posts, so little migrants!  It must have 10 times as much fencing as Warren's Migrant Alley, but he gets 3 Wheaters at a time, I get none!  Then.....oh joy.....a Wheatear hopped into view, an immaculate male.  He remained distant, and although I enjoyed good views with the bins, photographing him proved a bit tricky.  I managed some record shots (below) just to show what a smart little chap he was.   At last I think I've found my own 'Migrant Alley'!

Carrying on to work (slightly late) I notched up a Yellowhammer and a couple of Song Thrushes in the final paddock, and a healthy number of House Sparrows in a hedgerow just west of Paris Farm Barn. On site Skylarks sang, Pied Wagtails wagged and a couple of Collared Doves copulated...and showed signs of prospecting nest sites.  Another Song Thrush struck a pose on top of the main lab buildings. Twenty plus Fieldfares 'chac-chacked' over from the orchards, not long now before they're gone.

I managed a quick sortie out to the Paris Farm paddocks at lunchtime and was pleased to see the Wheater still around although a few paddocks further on.  A couple of Greenfinches flew overhead, displaying.

Leaving work at dusk, I was pleased the Little Owl looking a bit more alert - sorry for more photos but he just sat there waiting to be snapped!  On one of Gallagher's Gallop fenceposts a male Sparrowhawk sat silently.  He was hunched up and his underparts, puffed out and startingly white had me thinking I'd found a Barn Owl for a couple of seconds!  A couple of the 70+ Carrion Crows that loitered nearby started to harass him and he was off, low across one of the fields and into the trees surronding Gallagher's Quarry.  A good day all told.


Simon said...

What a super Wheatear?!! Well done mate. Congrats with the Willow Warbler as well. Nice Little Owl photos.

Ken Browne. said...

Nice photo's of some Warblers, and Wheatear, plus your old mate the Little Owl. The Warblers are starting to turn up in quite a few places, early W/Warblers too

Steve said...

Good tuff Adam. Great Wheatear

Phil said...

Nice day Adam and a nice post too. When I first looked at your Wheatear I thought it had an odd tinge of green to it, but then I realised it was just a reflection of the envy in my eyes......:-)

Kingsdowner said...

A good day! I saw willow warblers in France yesterday, but didn't expect to hear reports from the UK for a while.

Warren Baker said...

Well Adam, you persisted and you prvailed, well done mate, Whinchats next month!

Greenie said...

Adam ,
Great Chiffchaff shot in full song .
Well done with the Willow Warbler and Wheatear .
Never get fed up with Little Owl shots .