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.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Tuesday 27th April
A wonderfully sunny day and actually warm! I did the usual circuit/routes from Barming through Barming Woods to East Malling Research Station via the Paris Farm paddocks. All the usual species were encountered (Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Jay) but I was pleased to find the Common Buzzard again at the northern edge of Oaken Wood. It was sitting out on the branch of an Oak, but as I closed in to get a photo a couple of Mallards made a low, quacking pass and it took flight (what were the chances of that - I've only recorded Mallards twice before in the wood!). Consolation was soon to follow in the shape of female Wheatear in the centre field at the southern end of Gallagher's Gallop (just SW of Kiln Barn Farm). I noticed it because it was orange and stood out like a sore thumb in the paddock. Although it was distant it appeared large, with a very upright stance, and just looked orange!
It was also was peculiar in that rather than hopping or fast, jerky running this bird walked....slowly! Very strange. Anyway I managed some superb shots which I hoped would help me confirm if it was of the 'Greenland' race (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) or not - but they didn't quite turn out as expected (see below)! That peachy-orange smudge on the left was the bird - you may be able to make out it's colouration and upright stance - or you might not! Enlarging the pic by double-clicking on it might help, it definetly had an orange tone to it.
Having bagged what I thought were excellent photos I moved on, taking in the Little Owl (sorry but he's so photogenic) and Kestrel feeding on a Slow Worm.
A pair of Linnets flew from a hedgerow as I approached Paris Farm Paddocks and a Yellowhammer fed on the dung heap.
A Skylark sang high over head, but the paddocks once again failed to yield anymore migrants. Crossing the railway at the east end of East Malling railway station I was pleased to hear a Chiffchaff calling and see a GS Woodpecker sticking it's head out of a nesting hole.
Out again at lunchtime in the hope of connecting with the Wheatear proved unsuccessful, although a couple more Yellowhammers were seen and good numbers of Peacock butterflies, along with singles of Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Large White were seen.
While working out in my strawberry plots this afternoon, I saw another Yellowhammer and 10x Stock Doves feeding in the strawed alleyways.
The cycle home in the dying sun was rewarded with 6x Swallows feeding voracioulsy over the Kiln Barn Farm paddock and the song of Blackcaps along the length of Gallagher's Gallop.