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 (http://pittswoodpatch.blogspot.com/), 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.