May 2020

Friday 29th

A re-run of recent weather, but sadly no reappearance of any interesting pipits. Still, 5 Buzzards were floating about, mostly inland, a Hobby was seen over the valley and a white wagtail was with the cattle on Lighthouse Down.

Thursday 28th

It looks like we’re at the start of a week of NE winds, so today was always going to be after the Lord Mayor’s Show. A two-hour raptor watch was mostly pedestrian with little apart from the comings and goings of local Buzzards, though a female-type Marsh Harrier appeared over Reach Road before slipping off inland. Bird of the day, however, was a Tawny Pipit on Lighthouse Down that was still present in late morning.

Wednesday 27th

With the wind back in the NE it was less warm than recently but the goose bumps clearly didn’t extend to the birds. Between 0830 and 1100 totals of 15 Red Kites and at least 6 Common Buzzards flew NE. A Greylag Goose also did so, though its thunder was stolen somewhat by a Bee-eater that was calling on the farm from 0920-0930 before moving off to be seen over the valley and clifftop a few minutes later. The wind took the edge off the butterfly transect, however, with only a Small Blue and 4 Adonis Blues of much note.

Tuesday 26th

Another stunning morning didn’t bring much in terms of birds, but walking along the clifftop among flowers that surely are at their best at this time of year was a real delight. Kidney and Horseshoe Vetches are in profusion and Nottingham Catchfly seems to be increasing every year. The sound of Kittiwakes below the cliffs has been an unfamiliar one for a couple of decades but this year has seen a summering flock remain for the last two months – 18 this morning. 2 Reed Warblers were on the farm again and inspection of a nearby pond revealed 4 Hairy Dragonflies, doubtless overlooked in the past but a new species for the area.

Monday 25th

Apart from a Spotted Flycatcher below the lighthouse a calm morning with wall-wall sunshine was slow to get off the ground until a Honey-buzzard flew in off the sea at 0930, followed by 3 Common Buzzards. Not long after a Hobby was circling over the valley and (as we discovered the next day) a Bee-eater was seen at Fan Bay.

Sunday 24th

Spotted Flycatcher and 7 House Martins at Langdon Hole and 2 Turtle Doves in a garden just outside the valley.

Thursday 21st

Spring really does feel like it’s more or less done and dusted, despite frustratingly brief views of a large pipit at Fan Bay that may have been a Tawny. Still, the flower-filled fields on Wanstone continue to impress, with at least 43 Skylarks and 9 Corn Buntings scattered about.

Wednesday 20th

With avian activity more or less becalmed it was a morning for searching for butterflies and a circuit of the valley revealed totals of 11 Dingy Skippers and 5 Adonis Blues, though there was no sign of the Green Hairstreaks seen yesterday.

Tuesday 19th

With high pressure creating sunny skies and calm conditions this morning was again soporific until gathering warmth persuaded a few raptors to move about. These included a Hobby, hawking insects over Reach Road, and a Sparrowhawk that flew determinedly NE high over the farm.

Monday 18th

Sunny and calm, then with a gentle SW breeze there was not a great deal going on, save for a trickle of Swallows and 3 Reed Warblers, chuntering away from scrub on the farm and in the valley. It was also nice to see Adonis Blue for the first time this year and Dingy Skipper seems to be dong very well – there were 9 on the transect alone yesterday. One of the more attractive aspects of the farm currently is the wildflower mix sown by NT to attract insects – a far cry from the previous intensive arable that dominated the fields.

wildflower mix on Wanstone May 20

Saturday 16th

With lockdown having postponed coverage we missed out the large numbers of Red Kites passing through the county last week, but took consolation with 3 over the farm with a Buzzard at 0920 this morning. Otherwise 22 Swallows and singles of House and Sand Martin flew NE.

Friday 15th

Never having been to Murmansk I don’t know what it is like in spring, but the last two days have given a fair taste, I suspect. So it was with some relief that this morning was a good deal less cold and the NE wind, though still present, much reduced. It was also a good deal busier, with NE movement amounting to 2 Yellow Wagtails, 60 Swallows, 4 House Martins, a Sand Martin and 8 Crossbills. There were also 2 Wheatears on the WWI airstrip along Reach Road, a Common Redstart in Langdon Hole and, as the morning warmed, 4 Buzzards soaring inland.

Wednesday 13th

An early start on the first day back since Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased was anything but springlike and in a gathering N breeze it failed to warm up much. The chilly conditions seemed to be keeping birds quiet and song was noticeably reduced, but there was a trickle of movement, mainly involving 9 Swallows, singles of House Martin and Sand Martin and 6 Goldfinches.

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