Friday, 25 March 2011

Friday 25th March 2011

A thick mist this morning but pay to finding any grounded migrants, I could hardly make out the gallop and paddock fences!  A couple of Little Owls were found in to different locations and more Chiffchaffs were heard.
And when the fog clears where do you start looking for the Wheatear!

By lunchtime the sun was out and the mist burnt off but another scan of the paddock fences in East Malling (and there are a lot of them) failed to turn up a Wheatear or Black Redstart.  However, looking to the skies I was pleased to see another 3x Buzzards drifting N over Paris Farm, East Malling with a Sparrowhawk drifting high above them.

A Mistle Thrush, hugging the ground and twisting it's neck around snake-like, made my heart beat that bit faster, I thought I might have an early Wryneck - but a second bird joined it and it showed itself for what it really was!

Mistle Thrushes - the right-hand bird was 'snaking' it's head around and lying low in the grass ala Wryneck!

I took a quick look at Ditton Quarry - Chiffchaffs singing but nothing else out of the ordinary.  I checked out the 'orchid' rosettes that Greenie has been prodding me to check.  Here's some pics Greenie - I've got a feeling they're Bee Orchids (?).

Lots of Bee flies around the quarry walls, no doubt females depositing eggs around the burrow entrances of the solitary bees that live there.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Thursday 24th March 2011

Another cracking day but I was mostly confined to meetings and the office so no sightings to report except these two:
Hot air balloon and helicopter drifting over East Malling early this morning.

...and guess who was on board (click here)!

Another 'sundog' (above the plane)

..oh, and a bat species by the North St allotments, Barming at dusk last night (Wednesday) as I cycled back to work.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Wednesday 23rd March 2011

Wall to wall sunshine and warm with it, and the first outing on my shorts this year!  The Nuthatch was calling loudly from the Oaks near the allotments at the top of North Street and a Covey of 5x Bullfinches picked at the few unfurled buds on a hawthorn bush. All the East Malling Paddocks were checked this morning, and a bird on a distant fence post got my heart racing for a Wheatear...but it turned out to be a Meadow Pipit and was eventually joined by nine others. A rare sight for this part of the patch were a pair of Mallards on a small roadside pool just off The Rocks Road.

A quick sortie at lunchtime into Barming Woods looking for reptiles once again drew a blank despite there being some ideal sun-baked habitats for them.

A good tally of 5x Peacocks and 1x Comma sunned themselves on the cinder path at the west end of Oaken Wood.

A Bee Fly hovered around some emerging Coltsfoot and 3x Chiffchaffs flitted and called through the coppice.

Well it makes a change from using arrows!

Best sighting of the day, and unfortunately not recorded with a photo, were 5x Common Buzzards by Dilly Rogers as they soared and displayed over the Research Station, East Malling at 16:30 before slowly drifting N towards the Medway Gap - nice spot Dill! There seem to quite a few Common Buzzards on the move at the moment, with good numbers migrating across the E of the county (see PlanetThanet)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tuesday 22nd March 2011

The sun was slow to break through, but had disappeared again by lunchtime.  Highlights of my cycle in to work were 8x Meadow Pipits on the wires by the Paris Farm paddocks, East Malling and 3x Chiffchaffs and 5x Jays on the ride gown the bridleway adjacent to Gallagher's Gallop.  Not much at lunchtime so I did a few botanical studies!  Finally a Spitfire mid-afternoon, seen from the office, heading low, NE over the Research Station - possibly returning from East Grinstead (Guinea pig club flyby)?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday 21st March 2011

Foggy start with a distant Pheasant hidden in the mist at the top of Gallagher's Gallop.  A couple of Chiffchaffs called and a scan of the East Malling Paddocks turned up a Little Owl, but no migrants.

By lunchtime the sun was out and it was warm...whey hey!  A quick cycle back around the Oaken Wood track turned looking for butterflies and reptiles turned up 3x Commas -  a perfect day for them.  Skylarks exalted from ever field, I must have heard about six on patch today.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sunday 20th March 2011

 With friends round for dinner I only managed an hour's walk from Barming to East Farleigh and back along the river.  There's been a lot of clearance on the riverbank but it hadn't stopped a Chiffchaff call loudly from some of the newly exposed scrub.  This evening was dramatic with firstly a glowing sunset and then an super perigee moon.



Saturday 19th March

A fine day, but unfortunately I was at work for a good part of it.  Still the cycle in turned up the first Chiffchaff of the year on my patch, calling along the bridleway by Gallagher's Gallop.

A snatched hour with my eldest lad and a couple of his mates turned up 3x Lizard's, a Brimstone, 2x Comma and thousands of Wood Ants at a nearby site.

Along the wooded paths numerous puddles from yesterday's downpours reflected the blue sky and overhanging trees.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Thursday 17th March 2011

Photo courtesy of Christian Billon

No not Swallows on patch yet (I leave that to Marc) but a photo sent to me yesterday by Christian Billon of a Swallow migrating up through his village France.  If you look closely (double-click to enlarge) then you'll see two flies neatly placed on it's body below it's wing.  Christian indicated they were there when it lifted it's wing.  

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Wednesday 16th March 2011

Only 20 minutes in the fog at lunchtime.  Like most bloggers I'm hunting out those first migrants so a tour of the East Malling paddocks ensued.  No spring migrants and it was also my first Fieldfare-free day since November so spring must be just round the corner.  However it was good to find a Little Owl in a new location - can you see him?  Arrow aficionados see below:

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Tuesday 15th March 2011

A sunny day, the car at my disposal and thoughts of some of fantastic Adder sightings posted recently by fellow bloggers The Tortoise Man and Greenie had me thinking I might go looking for reptiles at lunchtime.  I've been off patch quite a lot recently but as Paul's (The Tortoise Man) patch abuts mine it seemed silly not to take a lunchtime trespass to see what was about.  Fifteen minutes in and with a bank of fog developing I'd only managed to find Blue, Great and Coal Tits - no snakes!  However salvation came in the shape of a Paul, crounching, camera poised at the edge of a wooded path.  He was locked onto a Lizard, his second of the day - and told me he'd also just seen an Adder.  

Selfless to the last he not only retraced his steps and relocated the Adder for me but also pulled a magnificent-looking Grass Snake out the bag (metaphorically of course!).  Excellent finds Paul, and great to catch up with you at long last.

Walking back to the car a pair of Nuthatches flitted and called in the tree tops, but a scan of some promising looking paddocks failed to turn up any migrants, but I know they're on their way ;-)

Monday, 14 March 2011

Monday 14th March 2011

Wavy clouds - double click to enlarge

Back on my bike today after a four week absence.  The Nuthatch, that until this Spring had been elusive, was calling and showing well in the Oaks just N of the allotments off North Street.  With the sun out I half expected a Chiffchaff to be heard calling from the edge of Oaken Wood but it was all quiet apart from the repetitive calls of Great Tits.  By Kiln Barn farm I disturbed three birds from the hedgerow and was surprised to find they were Reed Buntings, my first sighting of these on my cycle in. It really seems to have been a bumper winter for these on my patch.  

A Scold of five Jays lived up to their collective noun as they flew over Gallagher's Underpass, and a lone Skylark sat out in full view on Gallagher's Gallop pasture.  I checked all the paddocks and fences for a Wheatear but to no avail...may be next week?

And just for Warren - those arrows are back!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sunday 13th March 2011

Sunday afternoon in Mote Park. Maidstone with the kids but still managed a bit of birding ;-)  At least 13x Med Gulls on the football pitches to the E of the Leisure Centre amongst the massed BH and Common Gulls - quite a gathering.  I'm sure there are more (Simon had at least 15 on Tuesday) with the constant 'yaa-yaas' that were emanating from the the lake and surrounding pitches.

One bird had a green leg ring but I didn't have my bins and despite taking some photos I still can't make out what it says - any help appreciated!  Video, click here.

Update: I heard back from Camille Duponcheel of the Med Gull Ringing Scheme who has confirmed the bird '3CU1' that was first ringed as a pullus in Zeebrugge, Belgium in June 2000.  Since then there have been 60 sightings of the bird, predominantly from Finistere, NW France in the winter and the Isle of Wight in the summer.  Must be on it's way back, in a round about sort of way - keep an eye out for it if you're visiting Bembridge this summer!   

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Saturday 12th March 2011

At work for a good portion of the day, but was pleased to get a couple of texts from Clare (also at work) to say firstly she had a 'sundog' and then a 'halo'.  Never been into these optical phenomena but now I'm hooked.  Photos courtesy of Clare, edited OTT by me.

Sundog (left) and halo (cente) around sun (right)