Thursday, 30 September 2010

Thursday 30th September 2010

Twenty minutes at lunchtime gave me the brief opportunity to check out what was about on the East Malling Research station site.  I was hoping to nail a Redwing in one of the orchards, but only managed 2x Mistle Thrushes sitting out on the mobile phone mast.  A Pied Wagtail perched on the tractor shed, with nesting material in it's beak, and a Chiffchaff singing from the nearby Alder windbreak could have had me thinking it was Spring!  A flock of tits, predominantly Blue Tits, worked its way through the same windbreak and another bird called amongst them - a monotonous, bold, but high-pitched call, repeated as the bird moved, hidden by the  dense foliage.  I never showed, but I was left wondering if it wasn't a Firecrest - it would have made a nice addition to the patch list!

Back in Barming this evening it was nice to see a parcel of 15 or so Linnets feeding and flying around the pasture south of Church Lane.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tuesday 21st September 2010

Bust again at home and work last week, hence lack of blogs. Not masses to report since last week apart from a steady passage of House Martins over the Research Station in East Malling. Jackdaws and Rooks, scarcities on patch normally, have become daily sightings - mostly heading over to the fields north of Easterfields.

Today, with brilliant sunshine and warm temperatures, I spent most of the day out in the field. Unfortunately very little was seen until I headed back home around 18:00. 15+ House Martins were working the sky and drifting south , followed by the sleeker profiles of 2x Swallows, my first in over a week. A mixed tit flock leapfrogged ahead of me as I cycled along the track south of Kiln Barn Farm, and I was pleased to see 4x Chiffchaffs amongst them. Raising my bins to get a better view I was surprised to see more Chiffchaffs flycatching out of the hedgerow further on. The evening sun had hit the hedgerow and I could see flies dancing along it's length, an excellent feeding ground for these hungry little birds. My total Chiffchaff count was an amazing (for my patch) 12 individuals, all feeding along a 50m length of hedgerow, constantly flitting in and out - I'd be lucky to see 2 on patch at this time of the year normally! No camera though unfortunately, but check out Phil Sharp's excellent images of Chiffchaffs on his nearby patch, a local fall of Chiffchaff today it seems.

Greenie - sorry not have responded to your comment re: Eyebright. To be honest I'm not sure which species it is, a terrible admission from a plant biologist (not I'm not a botanist!). I scanned the field guide and that was the nearest match, not very systematic I know! Also thanks for naming the fungi - a trip to Mereworth Woods on Sunday was a real eye opener, troops of Fly Agarics everywhere, certainly a good fungi autumn.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Monday 13th September

A long overdue visit to Ditton was fairly quiet. The scrubby areas here look to have great potential but the site is small, seems not to be on a flyaway and is quite heavily disturbed so I've not done too bad to have Black Redstart, Hawfinch and Mealy Redpoll in the past! Today's avian highlights were a Bullfinch, Sparrowhawk, Whitethroat and a tit flock consisting of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits with what was presumably a Chiffchaff in tow.

With not much on the bird front I concentrated on what was on the ground. A Common Lizard was found in the usual spot in the SW corner and a Migrant Hawker was flying despite the spitting rain. There were large colonies of mushrooms, especially under the Silver Birches including those photographed below:

Also a couple of new plant species for me; Wind Eyebright(Euphrasia nemorosa) and an unidentified Campanula sp.

Moving onto Easterfields, East Malling, large flocks of corvids (Rooks, Jackdaws, Crows) and Pigeons (Stock and Collared Doves, no Turtles today, and Wood and Feral Pigeons)were feeding on the recently flayed field. I hoped for a passerine amongst them but could only locate 2x Pied Wagtails.

Back at work, evidence of a roaming Badger on one of the headlands.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tuesday 7th September 2010

A suprise in the form of 2x Turtle Doves flushed from a newly combined field north of Easterfields, East Malling. One alighted into a tree over the road where I managed a pic (see below) before it took flight again - top quality as usual...come on it's the reason you visit my site! Amazingly these are the first Turtle Doves I've seen on the East Malling side of my patch, although I've heard them 'purring' in Oaken Woods before. An amazing 32x Collared Doves, 2x Stock Doves and 18x Wood Pigeons also took flight - the Collared Doves weighing down a near-by wire!

15x Pied wagtails were seen in the paddocks, but no Wheatears or Whinchats this time.

Good numbers of Linnets and Yellowhammers and a single Chiffchaff and Whitethroat plumped up the hedgerows.

The day finished with a fantastic sky - a crescent prism and then a brooding sunset.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wednesday 1st September 2010

No migrants this morning on patch, but good to catch up and have a chat with Mr Gallagher who was watching his horses on the gallop. Twenty-four Swallows were on the wires at the south end of Kiln Barn Road.

News that the Red-necked Phalarope was still present Elmley had me loading up my bike into the car and zipping to Sheppey for my second visit in almost as many days. I was determined not to miss this individual having missed out earlier in the year. When I arrived at the Wellmarsh Hide I was told that it had just flown! Deja vu! I quickly relocated it 'spinning' at the eastern edge of the flood. Sean Huggins pointed out 2x Curlew Sandpipers amongst a fling of Dunlin. A couple of Ruff were also present amongst the Avocets.

On the entrance track, this Skylark, refused to move!