Saturday, 17 May 2014

Mid - May migrant arrivals garden and forest

Good news, 2 Turtle Doves and one Cuckoo are now present in the Stone Wood area. The last 2 days have seen a nice arrival of Spotted flycatchers in Orlestone forest. Also 2 Hobbys surveying high over the garden. There's many more Swallows around now with birds often sitting on our TV aerial. House Martins too are ever present plus the occasional Swift.  Favoured habitats in Orlestone are 'alive' with the sound of Nightingales, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, even Willow Warblers seem to be here in better numbers this year.

In the garden a Broad Bodied Chaser left the pond on Thursday, Grass Snakes are present daily too, and the nesting House Sparrows survived a Great Spotted Woodpecker raid on the nest boxes. Spotted flycatcher here briefly yesterday and one Cuckoo is calling regularly too.

Spotted flycatchers, Packing Wood - no time to waste!

Choosing a nest site, Spotted Flycatchers at Packing Wood
Yesterday's arrival of warmer and settled weather brought the first of our scarce Spotted flycatchers migrants to Shadoxhurst. I saw 2 birds at Alex Pastures and one make a fleeting visit to the garden.

Today, plodding around Packing Wood, I discovered this pair already paired-up and about to start nest building. Spotted Flycatchers often choose precarious nest sites, and this site is no exception, nothing more than an angled piece of tree bark leaning on a thin branch.

Also in Packing wood, where the timber has been cleared underneath the electricity lines, there is now a mile long swathe of fading blue bells, attracting many insects. Most obvious are the Brimestone butterflies, up to 12  chasing around yesterday. Also present, were Hairy Hawker and Broad Bodied Chaser Dragonfly.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Grizzled Skipper and Early Purple Orchid at Alex Pastures SSSI

Grizzled Skipper on Blue Bell

Early Purple Orchid

Same individual as top picture
Second individual with a clipped wing.
Visiting the privately-owned Alex Pastures today, I'm reminded how precious the site is and, at the same time, how vulnerable too. The encroachment from Blackthorn is quite a shock to the eyes (from where it was last, just a month ago). Nevertheless, the flora and fauna continues to be bountiful and diverse compared to the countryside that surrounds it. At the entrance, a small display of Early Purple Orchid is a sign of good things to come. On the grassland, the predominate plants at the moment are Bugle, Violets and Primrose. In the sunshine Grizzled skipper (4), Brimstone and Orange-tip criss-cross the paths continually. Lizards seemed particularly abundant and were under the eye of Kestrel and Buzzard above. Nightingale, Blackcap and Garden warbler have all returned in good numbers and were singing well in the mid-day sun. A large Dung Beetle collecting Rabbit droppings was new to me - I could have stayed there all day.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Two Red Kites over Shadoxhurst.

Distant view showing one of  the Red Kites probably over Hamstreet road / Hornash Lane junction

Long over due, the first 2 Red Kites of the year and spotted whilst cutting the garden lawn this afternoon. Originally given a fantastic view, they moved quickly North East and I had no time for a decent photo - but even at a distance the jizz is there.