Thursday, 25 March 2010
Poor pic in the rain of one of eight Pipits
A miserable start after very heavy rain overnight. Still it had stopped by the time I set off for work. Three Chiffchaffs today; 1 calling near the Water Tower (top of North Street, Barming) and 2 others along the eastern edge of Oaken Wood. No sign of the Little Owl, probably hunched up somewhere in the barn, drying out. Detouring past Paris Farm Paddocks, East Malling I searched for yesterday's Wheatear but no sign, he must have escaped before the rain set in. Likewise the Willow Warbler. However I was pleased to see 8x Meadow Pipit which have been noticeable by their abscence around my patch this winter. A Skylark also made it's prescence known. That was it for the day - the rain just got heavier and worse at lunchtime and on my way home.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
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.
Monday, 22 March 2010
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Down to New Hythe GPs again, this time with the kids. Sand Martins were vagain my target after being informed by Eddie Denson that 8+ had been at Alders first thing. With the kids in tow, I did the Brookland, Streamside, Tesco, Alders Lake circuit. I was suprised to see the Whooper Swan on Steamside - the kids threw it some bread and it immediately made came towards us and out of the water to eat out the kids' hands! Wild bird...mmmm. A Mute Swan hassled it, and eventually it moved on. I only had my mobile phone camera and thought I 'd got some shots of it out the water, but didn't, only the one above came out.
Working today, but managed to grab 20 minutes down at New Hythe GPs after receiving the news from Steve Nunn that a small number of Sand Martins had been seen in the morning. Unfortunately I didn't see any - a dead Wood Pigeon, Phil Sharp and a small patch of Violets were my consolation.
The rest of the day was spent at a meeting in London, but added Bald Eagle to my 'train' list as one swept above the train just past Eynsford (Eagle Heights bird presumably!).
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Still no migrants despite it feeling positively barmy! Five Jays were seen on the bike ride in from Barming to East Malling. A couple of Stock Doves were on the pasture opposite Gallagher's underpass, joined by 26 Black-headed Gulls, five Common Gull and six Herring Gulls. The Little Owl skulked on the roof of the outbuilding of Kiln Barn Farm cattle shed - can you pick it out in the photo below (click to enlarge if it helps)?
Back down to Bradbourne to meet JC who wanted to look at the camera I use for the blog photos. I let him loose - all photos on today's blog by JC.
The first shot anda sign of what JC was getting himself into!
The usual crowd of gulls (Black-headed and Common) and geese (Greylag and Canada) sat out on the Sports Ground, a couple of Goldcrests flitted around one of the yews and a female Sparrowhawk drifted high above us.
A couple of Crows picked through a disintergrated straw bale. Three Little Grebes bobbed around on the Lake, along with the Coots and Moorhens. The briefest glimpse of a Redwing disappearing into a Yew was the only reminant of winter, while a clump of frog spawn signalled the first sign of Spring.
Monday, 15 March 2010
Back out into the sunshine at 12:40, and across the plots on the research station on my bike. A large flock of gulls were circling high above the weather station, with two birds giving out a very vocal 'yaah' - a pair of adult Med Gulls in summer plumage. They were easily picked out as the sun shone through their wings - clear white, lacking black tips. I hoped they would land on the newly-ploughed ground but they drift high and west. Onto the lake where aflock of 45+ Black-headed Gulls interspersed with 5 Common Gull. A couple of Jackdaws flew out one of the Plane trees, and a record 18 (eighteen) Pied Wagtails picked through the turf on the sports field, amongst the massed gulls and geese. Oh, and the first Daffodil of Spring had opened!
Monday, 8 March 2010
Two Jackdaws over the potting shed on the East Malling Research site (scarce here) was a good omen of things to come. I got out at lunchtime and off to the field that I'd seen the tractor and plough heading for first thing this morning. I was rewarded with a massive flock of gulls, 150+ restlessly lifting and dropping along the furrows - predominantly Black-headed Gulls, with a few Common Gull scattered in for good measure. I frantically searched for a Med, but just could keep up with them. Glancing north I saw a white mass on the sports ground - more gulls. I made my way, across the plots, to the sports ground, disturbing a large number of Redwings that were picking through the windbreak clippings. Both flocks of gulls suddenly lifted before I'd got to the Sports Field and circuled en masse (and like something from a Hitchcock film) and drifted high and west, I heard a Med call, but they were now flying off towards West Malling.
Med Gull on patch....with my trademark twig in the foreground
Well my luck was in, and they turned and slowly drifted back and down onto the lake - and there, amongst the masses, and in all their glory, were two summer-plummaged Mediterranean Gulls - lovely. I managed some better shots than on Friday, although they didn't tolerate me getting too close. Then without warning they were off again - off west - I wouldn't be suprised if they dropped down on Clare Park Lake or even Manor Park, West Malling.
For comparison to Black-headed Gull (Med Gull on the left, BH Gull just moulting into sum plum on right)
A Yellowhammer called near the cattle barns, and further on a covey of 14 (fourteen) Bullfinches worked through a stand of Elderberry - probably the largest number of Bullfinches I've seen in a single flock. Skirting the southern edge of Oaken Wood, by the old quarry, I was hoping to get a glimpse of the resident Buzzard, but was content with the Kestrel that flew ahead of me and masses of Redwings losing themselves in the coppice. Five Black-headed Gulls patrolled the newly ploughed field that led down to the A26. As I entered the wood I was pleased to see new areas of coppice opened up, worthy of checking again in a couple of months for Nightjar. The mature Sweet Chesnut coppice in the wood clanked eerily in the wind, with only a Robin, Wren and Great Tit added to the tally. Eventually reaching the track that is Livesey Street, I made my way back down to the village of Teston. A rare Oaken Wood sighting was a pair of Mallards on a 'pool' in an area that was so dark and dank that even the frost hadn't receded. An old orchard to the east of Livesey Street looked promising, but only supported a pair of Long-tailed Tits. Through the village of Teston, past Teston House which a Chaffinch, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird and 2x Mistle Thrushes bouncing around it's lawn. Onto the medieval bridge over the River Medway. More Black-headed Gulls sat out on a dead Oak tree, and as it was late afternoon I hoped that may be I get a glimpse of the Barn Owl - it never happened, and I was disappointed to see a Squirrel darting in and out of one the boxes that had been occupied a couple of years ago. Another Bullfinch was seen, and a Yellowhammer called, with more Redwings, but the best sighting of the day was a Kingfisher, patiently fishing the dark torrent.
......and what a game I'd missed - "never leave a game early"-I did and missed four fantastic goals from the Villa!!!
"John Carew, Carew - he's bigger than me and you, he's gonna score one or two (or three!!), John Carew, Carew"
Saturday, 6 March 2010
Friday, 5 March 2010
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Egret on the right, plastic bag on the left
...a bit closer in case you couldn't see it in the previous photo...skulking or what?!
The highlight was the Little Egret again - this time I managed get a plastic bag, albeit blue, in the same shot just to prove to the Bald Birder I can tell the difference. As I approached the reed bed it flew and disappeared across the main lawn. I carried on and added Grey Wagtail to the list, only my second record on this site. Driving back to work I noticed the Egret standing like a statue on the main lawn,
The car proved an excellent hide, so I managed some marginally better pics!
You can just about make out the yellow feet through the water in this pic
A Fox was also seen on the south side of the lake, it seemed to be attempting to get the Mallards, and a group of Moorhens were seen climbing in a nearby willow, presumably to avoid the preadtor?!
Unfortunately the Bradbourne House and Lake is a PRIVATE SITE with no access to the public.