Sunday, 20 May 2018

Four go a Warblering

0830 - 1215 cloudy, misty, cool to start, ending with sun, blue sky, warm

A wander out for JK, SN, MN and myself for a look round, mainly, the south side of the site to catch up with some Nightingales and whatever else we could come across....

One Nightingale in particular was happy to sing really well though a couple of others did join in for short bursts.  Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Garden Warblers, Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Reed Warblers all made the list.....

Over the eastern side of the site one of the fields has become covered in Buttercups....yes, I know, there are several different ones native to this country, but here they are....Buttercups....


Buttercup

We were lucky enough to come across a nicely purring Turtle Dove at the eastern end of East Pit, which showed really well too and seems settled in the area as it moved slightly east in to Old Warbler Avenue.  A second bird was located near Island Pit.

Over Middle Pit and West Pit was the fine site of 30+ Swifts, 100+ House Martins and 30 or so Swallows hawking low and high.  The best numbers so far this year.

On our return JK found a Common Sandpiper that was feeding and flying around Island Pit.  A nice addition to the year list mostly because the water levels have been so high on the pits no waders have been able to access the small feeding areas along the edges.

We returned to the eastern side to try to find more Nightingales but no luck....however....I did find this micro moth....

Alabonia geoffrella

An interesting end to the session was the flat battery in my car as I managed to somehow leave the lights on....doh!!....luckily I had left the jump leads in the back of the car....a rarity in itself!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Base, common and Pop(u)lar...

....right....enough of the Shakespeare stuff....Poplar Hawkmoth in the garden moth trap here in Pembury....

Poplar Hawkmoth

Misty....very misty

0400 - 0700 misty....very misty....cold....

Back to a cold  morning.....and so  misty there wasn't  much point in trying for anything on the pits themselves....

Cuckoo....


Yes....it is a Cuckoo....really....hung around West Pit for about 20 minutes before heading east and I could hear it further east for some time....must be a Reed Warbler Cuckoo hanging round the pits all the time....

A quick moan....the farmer...this is North Field....the rakings from his cutting the other week....this bank in the photo below is usually quite good for orchids....but all these rakings of grass will increase the nutrient content on the bank and encourage the stronger species to outpace them....


Meanwhile over on the eastern footpath.....first photo below is north of the fallen tree....nice isn't it...a couple of years ago a fallen tree was quickly removed by the farmer and he mowed the footpath all the way up to the northern scrub field....


....and this is south of the fallen tree....mowed....species poor....


....and slightly further east he has mowed from hedge to copse....this is where the Orange-tip Butterflies hang out....till he comes along and mows it....then there aren't any....


...grrrrrrrrrrrrr!..........guardian of the countryside my arse...!  This is 'old style' farming practice and shows why times have moved on and how much 'townies' actually know whilst the farmers refuse to change.....

Birds....calming.....so...a few Nightingales were sounding off though very intermittent....I need to be there earlier....as soon as the other birds get the idea of chiming in with their own dawn chorus the Nightingales tend to stop for a while....

Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler....

This is up on North Field....where I relocated the Barn Owl today which was nice to see after such a long break....there was also a Tawny Owl calling near by....

North Field

The Lapwing are still out on West Field....I wandered over a little way....and was wondering if this is what attracted them to attempt to breed there...they seem to be pretty keen and hopefully they will...or have.....succeeded...

West Field

On West Pit there were two proud parents....Greylag Geese and five little ones...always nice to see...

Greylag Geese and family, West Pit

A Mandarin Duck was standing.....standing....on the island in Island Pit....yes, the water level has now dropped enough for there almost to be an island back in the pit...and the west footpath by Middle Pit is now just muddy rather than covered by water....



Friday, 11 May 2018

36,000 feet down

0915 - 1130 sunny, warm to cool SE f2-3

36,000 feet down?.....certainly not at Whetsted....no...the Marianas Trench is located out in the Pacific Ocean a long way from here....but Whetsted and the Marianas Trench are linked....

....and here is what links us.....


.....plastic...bizarre?.....tragic?....terrifying?.....there are now so many places with plastic associated with it....Oceans....deserted islands....beaches...whole countries even....but I reckon its pretty bad news when plastic turns up at the bottom of the Marianas Trench at the bottom of the sea....

....on a brighter note I suppose the Cuckoo was by Island Pit on the southern side of the site....Garden Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Nightingales....

Up on North Field the single Skylark was giving it a go again...and in the field itself...the farmer obviously cut it at a reasonable height (though he then dragged off the cuttings)....and in the growth that remains there are plenty of these....

Oak

Not what you would expect....and probably not what the farmer is expecting to see if he ever takes a wander round....pioneering in to the field perhaps though not classed as a pioneer....but here they are....

Down at Middle Pit this Cormorant sat lonely in the tree and didn't budge.....you don't see too  many this time of year round here...

Cormorant

A few Swift were around West Pit...though sadly no Hobby....

On a positive note to end....I found one of the Lapwing out in west field.....so hoping they are going for it and will succeed....

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Its a Hobby

0915 - 1230 sunny, warm, some cloud SW f1-2

A trip out with DH (in shorts no less)....very warm....the peculiar weather carries on....

Found 7 Nightingales occasionally singing....a couple of Garden Warblers, 3 Willow Warblers and 3 Lesser Whitethroat....

No Skylark were singing at North Field....with DH we tried to figure out what the farmer had tried to achieve with this cutting last week or so ago but couldn't really find any conclusions other than perhaps he was contracted to do it....whatever....he has destroyed Skylark nests in the process...

DH found a Hobby sitting in a tree near Middle Pit....which was excellent....then after doing the circuit of West Pit we first spotted 2....then 3 Hobbys hunting over the wooded area between Middle and West Pit....they were catching smaller insects as it was talon to mouth and hunting again...

No Lapwing west of West Pit....I don't think they have been resident long enough to have fledged chicks though I am aware other Lapwings at various sites have chicks already...hopefully they were just on an awayday somewhere feeding and will be back....it unlikely they will succeed here though....

At the northern edge of West Pit I located a Cuckoo which then proceeded to give really good fly-by views at the western end of Middle Pit...

2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on Island Pit....

As we reached the quarry we found a single Hobby....it was hunting over the open area and whirled round and round not too far over our heads giving some of the best views ive ever had....

Other raptors were Buzzard and Kestrel....

And...


....no...not a poo in a bag....as usually found on country walks because dog owners are thick...but the even thicker dimwit this time....a tin in a bag and tied to the gate....somehow they imagine it will get itself to a recycling box and a bin.....how totally moronic...

Friday, 4 May 2018

Look up at the rooftops...

                  ...when you're walking round...
                       Don't think for a moment...
                  Of looking down
                                  On the wings of a Dove, G McPherson, C Smyth

0415 - 0600 still, cool to warm, clear

It as still dark when I got to site, though dawn was clearly about to break...today was about sorting out the Nightingales....

I past years there have been one or two nearer the parking spot, so you can hear them singing when you get out the car....this year there are none by the metal kissing gate on the eastern side so its a bit of a walk before any can be heard....

Anyway....hear them I did...stand alone song in the semi light...or is it semi dark?....when dawn actually broke for real of course the rest of the birds shuffled out of bed and joined in with their noisy neighbours....are Nightingales the reckless, noisy juveniles playing loud music on the corner all night?....

So I think I have found 11 again....though one was either very quiet when I walked past initially...or was out on the town of late out of slumber....a quick tour round the likely places and this years total seems to be set...

Luckily I wandered past where I commenced counting.....as I was listening to the late comer giving it his all the delicate sounds of Turtle Dove was heard....fabulous....only just arrived...of course the hope is that they remain on site and breed here rather than moving off, but only time will tell and as I said, its early days for them....

Thursday, 3 May 2018

In to double figures for Nightingale

0900 - 1200 cool but warming, hazy high cloud some sunshine

And off we go again with a total different day to yesterday....its certainly been a funny couple of weeks with the crazy cold hot wind rain sun weather....

....and the birds are still shuffling around the site which must be interesting for those that have settled only to find they no longer have a neighbour or they've moved the other side....or a strangers in town...

Good new, of sorts, was that a single Skylark was back on North Field and singing....and heres why I don't hold out any hope that the ones that did have nests survived....around the field there are piles of cuttings, but this is by far the biggest pile so far on the east side....where the Field Horsetail is...


....clearly the farmer, guardian of the countryside, steward of nature, has scraped this off the field and in so doing scraped away nests, possibly eggs....and who knows...perhaps some chicks too....well done, what a moron....luckily, for nature I suppose, there is resilience....the Skylark will have another go but I suppose the farmer will be back to do his best some time....

Anyway...on to more positive things.....the Hawthorn is coming in to flower....

Hawthorn

Attempting...again....to find all the Nightingales on site it seemed harder this morning...song seemed fairly short from most warblers and I reckon ive missed some along the way....but I think I have finally got to grips with Nightingales...

...spot the Nightingale...

Todays count was 11....as the usual number on site is 12 its just about right....however, I still have a couple of places to re check over the coming days....

Other warblers...

Chiffchaff 22
Blackcap 20
Whitethroat 24
Lesser Whitethroat 5
Garden Warbler 10
Willow Warbler 4
Cettis Warbler 1....and plenty of Reed and Sedge Warblers....

The footpath that runs along the western side of Middle Pit is gradually drying out....


....but I think its going to be a while till its actually dry....


A Mandarin was, as usual of late, flying around quietly....no calling....and the 2 Lapwing are still out on the field out to the west of West Pit....

I came across this, probable, Frog....or what was left of it....