Monday, 28 April 2014

Packing wood Nightingales

Packing wood is an area quite new to me so tonight it was nice to find two Nightingales singing there and adding extra knowledge on territories in the Orlestone forest area.  They were accompanied by Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Blackcaps. In the sky there, two Buzzards.

Over the house this evening 6 more Buzzards soared elegantly together on a thermal. This is the highest number we've seen over our area.

Buzzard on pylons, near Packing Wood

One of 6 Buzzards over the Garden this evening

No summer birds.. ..yet?

I'm standing at the back of the garden over looking mixed woodland and farmland backing onto Orlestone forest - it looks a fine English landscape. There are just 2 Swallows collecting nest material in the nearest horse paddock - they seem to have been around for several weeks now. The local Buzzards have finished displaying (update pair in the air 12.45pm) and are now keeping out of sight. Listening and looking carefully there are simply no summer migrants in sight or song. Not a Whitethroat a Cuckoo or any passing warbler. There's no sign of Hobby, flycatcher, House Martin, or passing Sedge warbler. As I watch, to my side a Hawthorn is just coming into flower and it's sweet spring scent is already very noticable - unlike our once common summer birds.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mallards - a surprise garden brood

They can wreck our plant ponds and cause havoc for the Newts, but hats off to this Mallard who has secretly hatched her brood of ten right under our noses.  My first sight of them was the ducklings tucked behind the hen parading down the lawn. They're now safely in the larger garden pond, undisturbed and where her nest was we will never know.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Song Thrushes - and quick garden round-up.

Song Thrushes and Mistle Thrushes seem common in woodland and garden this spring, perhaps they benefited from the near frost-free winter? Our garden Song Thrush sings from the top of our Norway Spruce most mornings and evenings belting out its manic song and it's in competition with two other neighbouring Song Thrushes.

Tonight, the sky is clear and there's a super bright full moon. Temperatures have dropped fast. I have a home-baked theory that Nightingales don't like to sing when its cold, and so despite arriving back in Orlestone forest in good numbers over the weekend there's not a song to be heard tonight. Our Redpolls look to have finally moved on, but in the woods there are still plently of little flocks of both Redpoll and Siskin around. Looking south west this afternoon through binoculars we were able to watch Venus against a vibrant blue sky. The real targets of our sights were Buzzards, and at the moment it's easy to find 2 pairs of Buzzards displaying in the air, south east and south west of the village.

The largest garden pond is crystal clear and shinning the torch through the water easily shows Palmate and Smooth newts in good numbers, and also our solitary female Great Crested newt.

During what was a beautiful sunny day, the first Large Red Damsel flies took their maiden flights from emergent rushes on the pond edge. Two Orange tipped Butterflies trooped up on down the garden occasionally stopping to feed on the Ladie's Smock.

Friday, 11 April 2014

First spring Orlestone Nightingale

A single Nightingale was singing from Birchett wood tonight and two Willow warblers present as well.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Early Spring Garden records

Lesser Redpoll - April 9th
Heading towards mid-April and we think the same 3 Lesser Redpolls are still visiting the garden feeders as they have been for the last month - (one bird has a silver leg ring). Occasionally, Siskins are present too and in Birchett Wood this evening, male Siskins were singing away.

Today, I saw the first garden Holly Blue Butterfly of the spring and with the sunny weather being been fairly reliable at the moment, we've had plenty of Butterfly activity including Brimstones, Speckled wood, Holly Blue and ocsasional Orange Tip.

Peacock Butterfly sunbathing on Blackthorn

Female Orange tip on Cuckoo flower, April 2nd

For the records, the last Raven was heard March 21st - the third record of the year. The last Little Egret was flushed by a dog walker from the field behind the garden on March 22nd. Surprisingly we haven't seen the Egrets for at least a month and presumed they had long gone to a breeding colony.

On a sunny day it's possible to see at least two pairs of Common Buzzard above their territories at different corners of the Shadoxhurst parish. Kestrels, too, are fairly easy to see at the moment, and as on one March day we saw four birds soaring together, it's not unreasonable to expect that we have two territories in the village. Little and Tawney Owl are ever present at night. Mallard and Pheasant sit around the garden waiting to be fed on seed spilled for our regular little flock of Yellowhammers.

House Sparrows are nesting in at least three boxes at the front of the house and there are regularly about 12 birds feeding with the Yellowhammers and Chaffinches, assorted fringe farmland birds including this Stock Dove below. All are kept alert by Sparrowhawks that frequent the garden.

Stock Dove

Marsh Marigolds and Blackthorn presently in blossom at the back of the garden.
We're rather proud of our new Cleft Chestnut fence which spans the back of the garden

Thursday, 3 April 2014

First Swallow of the year

Just viewed over the horse paddock at the back of the garden and there he is, beaten back by a paltry House Martin our first returned Swallow of the year. The weather is warm and sunny, so there is plenty of insect life for the early migrants to feed on. At the same, our local Buzzards are displaying overhead and also plenty of Bee flies hovering around in the sun.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Early House Martin

A first spring House Martin hawked insects over the garden this evening. Its beaten our Swallows back from Africa - quite a surprise!