Sunday, 26 October 2008

West Hythe - Military Canal

Couldn't resist going to try and see the Green Heron that had been seen at the dam on the military canal near West Hythe today and given it was raining and an otherwise gloomy day it was a good move as Lisa and I had an albeit wet but enjoyable time. Seems it has probably been in the area for at least 4 days according to some of the local dog walkers and has been seen walking about on the path that goes over the dam!
On arrival there wasn't much point in trying to get into the overflowing car park so we eventually managed to find a spot along the road running through the village although I think tempers of other motorists appeared to be strained as you had to weave in and out of the parked cars to make your way through. We then made our way back to the car park and along the track to the dam where in the heavy rain there were around 40 people admiring a very confiding bird that was oblivious to the small throng and concentrating on catching a morsal or two. Photography was a challenge in the driving rain but it had to be attempted and i'm pleased with these two snatched shots. Let's hope it stays around for a while and can be enjoyed in better weather.
Green Heron

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Longfield Gallops

I didn't go very far from home today and really just felt like going for a short walk. So I ended up in fields just north of Longfield called the gallops to discover that there was a finch movement happening. Small groups of chaffinches were migrating west using the predominently westerly wind to give them the lift needed for easier and efficient flight. The birds seemed to be using two small valleys to migrate along and i've tried to indicate their flightpaths on the map below. One was just south of Southfleet and the other seemed to be along the north ridge above Longfield.
The totals for my hour watch between 12:48 and 13:38 were chaffinch 191w, brambling 1w, skylark 21w and 31 in the fields, starling 155w and around 250 to the west of Longfield, 1 large female sparrowhawk, 1 reed bunting and 9 corn buntings. I know that migration can start at any time during the day but I did wonder what my totals might have been had I been able to get out earlier. Still it is great to know that a few steps from my door I can see migration in action. It was a shame I couldn't get there during the recent thrush movement last weekend as I did see 70 fieldfares and 20 redwings go over my garden early in the morning.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Queendown Warren

Having looked for adders at Queendown Warren on Sunday in the late afternoon sunshine and failed, I thought I'd give it another go today in the lovely morning sunshine, however I still failed to find any. I did manage to see some there in October 2006 and I think these were my first adder sightings ever. As I wasn't blogging then i've posted a couple of photos from that time.

Adder Male

Adder Female

A nice cheeky herd of Exmoor ponies, have been at Queendown for a while now and it will be interesting to see the difference the grazing will make to the reserve as there is now also a small herd of cattle grazing on the main orchid bank. A few birds around, siskin flying over, bullfinch and a few goldcrests, 6 or so. Still the odd meadow brown on the wing along with singles of red admiral and small copper.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Isle Of Grain

I've been out of the country for a while enjoying a holiday in Madagascar of which i'll be posting a 'knol' soon with a link to it from this blog. Whilst this weather may not be good for finding birds in north Kent it certainly is very pleasant to wander about in and I found myself at Grain this morning. There were unexpectededly good numbers of butterflies still on the wing. At one time I had 5 red admirals enjoying the nectar of a mature ivy along with several small whites and small coppers. My list for 3 hours of slow wandering was:
Red admiral 6, wall 1, small copper 3, small white 6, large white 1, migrant hawker 5, common darter 20, brent goose 24 flying into the swale, goldcrest 6, chiffchaff 4, med gull 1 ad wint, swallow 22s, house martin 2 s, siskin 3, blackcap 2, redpoll 2, little egret 4, stonechat 2 and whinchat 1.
It was also good to see that the outflow from Grain power station was in operation. In the past at the right time of year this has attracted feeding terns and associated skuas, i'm hoping that it isn't just a one off.