Sunday, 11 March 2018

Something is Croaking in the pond!

I always enjoy the first "frog day" in the pond. Luckily the frogs here, unlike in some other areas, stayed dormant until after last weeks cold snap. I guess there were well of 50 croaking away. There are very aware of movement and quickly disappear if I approach to quickly. I forgot how damp the grass was and found that after my approach flat along the ground I was very damp!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Hogs in decline

I expect most people have seen the news that the Hedgehog population in the UK has fallen by by 50% since the year 2000. Like so many statistics that bring us bad news, it actually masks a far worse situation. Between the year 1972 and 2000 the population had already halved. This means that since Pam and I watched a family of Hedgehogs on our lawn in Crayford the population had reduced to a quarter. Nearly always number and changes in species populations are related to time not very distantly past. I am sure that this means the generation now growing up, and hopefully more conscious of the problems that the word wildlife has, are actually unaware as to how fast most other species are declining. I remember when I was not much older than my birding Grandsons are now, the fantastic number of migrants that could be seen on the east coast after a fall. A look at the ringing totals of most observatories will show that these days have gone, and what is considered the norm would have been very disappointing in 1961.
This was reported in 2014 "The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found."
A few species are prospering, but a world full of feral cats, feral Pigeons, Wood Pigeons, domesticated animals raised for food, and those species that our gun toting Country "sportsman" like to kill, is not a very appealing world. While some of the iconic species are making the headlines all the time, it is important we realise that the prospect of the biggest mass extinction ever is not only possible, but probably inevitable unless human behaviour is modified drastically in the very near future.
The pictures were 
taken in 2005, we haven't had a record of one in the garden for the last two years.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Yellowhammer problem

The Yellowhammer is one of the farmland species that is not doing too well. It has been in steady decline for about the last 40 years. One of the main reasons seems to be the lack of winter seeds available. Fields are cleared and replanted almost immediately, and fallow or stubble fields seldom seen. In the village there is a horse manure dump, and this can provide some good food at times when in the right conditions. Today, with my new walking partner Betty, I waked along Collingwood Road, but there was a tractor and trailer bringing a load from the stables and consequently no birds were around. We took the foot path back towards St Vincent Road on the return route and I was surprised to see quitter a large flock of birds feeding n the large field. The area hadn’t been cleared or replanted and a lot of dead vegetation was on the fallow field, making good conditions for seed eaters. The curve on the field, humps and bumps and depth of the vegetation made it quite difficult to count the birds on the ground, but as they flew around I was able to get some idea of the numbers. There was a minimum of 50 Yellowhammers, and a few each of Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches and Pied Wagtails. Disappointingly I didn’t find any Corn Buntings.
Yellowhammer at the manure dump an a previous visit.

Fallow Field

Suitable feeding for finches and buntings

birds scattered in the feeding area.

 Feeding Yellowhammer

feeding Yellowhammer

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Blue Moon, Super Moon or Eclipsed Moon?

Back to Godmersham

This winter there has been an unprecedented arrival of Hawfinches in the southern half of England. This seems to be dues to a seed failure in their wintering areas. There have been some good photos of Hawfinches at Godmersham in the last few days, but I've contrived not to manage any. While Pam and I, were there yesterday we had five bBuzzards overhead, and I couldn't help but think there was a time when a Kent record of a Buzzard was a bigger event than a group of Hawfinches. The Jackdaws were having fun on the church roof.





A distant Hawfinch, I managed not to photograph any close ones!

Monday, 29 January 2018

A wandering Pintail mystery

The Drake Pintail is back at Kearsney Abbey. I photographed it here last year, Phil Smith might know how many years it has appeared here and if it has an interesting provenance. One of Black-headed Gulls seems to be getting its black (brown in reality) head. A walk through to Bush Ruff failed to produce a Kingfisher or Grey Wagtail. Most of the Black-headed Gulls were adults with one or two first winter birds.

 Drake Pintail

 Adult Black-headed Gull, starting to gain summer plumage

 Russell Gardens

First winter Black-headed Gull

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Glowing in the evening sun

Evening sunshine at Restharrow Scrape brings a warm glow to the birds and vegetation. At the moment the main species to see is the Eurasian Teal with a few Gadwall and Shoveler dotted around. After watch Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch for the RSPB Garden watch this was a real change.
Restharrow Scrape (Phone photo)

 Restharrow Scrape (Phone photo)

Restharrow Scrape, with group of Gadwall and Teal (phone photo)

Restharrow Scrape, big island with mainly Teal(phone photo)

Restharrow Scrape, Teal (phone photo)

Drake Teal

Drake Shoveler, sleeping

Drake Teal

Duck and Drake Gadwall

Drake Teal and Drake Gadwall

Duck Gadwall preening

Drake Gadwall

Drake Gadwall Preening

Drake Teal, having a shake

Drake Teal,

Drake Teal, scratching

Drake Teal, preening

Back end of a Eurasian Curlew

Eurasian Curlew

Duck Teal

Duck Teal preeing