Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Godersham Church

I had a wander to Godmersham, this afternoon. The specific reason was a hope that it would meet p with one or more of the Hawfinches that have been seen around the church over the last couple of weeks. I won't beat about the bush, I didn't see any. However I was totally unaware of the charm of this small Kentish village. Full of history with connections to Jane Austin and a church that can be traced back to the Domesday Book.

The church is approached through a lychgate.



The tower is Norman, with a small chapel at the base. The rear end of the Chancel has be renovated in the 18th Century and there are two large Buttresses supporting, possibly due to subsidence caused by the proximity to the river.







I think that this is a monument to Jane Austins brother,

Blossom is already out in the Churchyard.

The River Stour flows just below the church.

Snow Drops in the Churchyard.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Window watch, sheltered from the storm.

The weather was dreadful today, and only as the sun was setting did it clear and the wind drop. First thing I collected the parts of my moth trap (not damaged) from the grass and once again found that it had collected no moths. Birds still made it to the feeders,but there was nothing of great significance.

 Goldfinch

 Goldfinch

 Chaffinch

House Sparrow (hen) 

 Starling

 Collared Dove

Greenfinch

Sunday, 14 January 2018

When hope beats experience

I don't normally moth in January. Not because I'm lazy,but because when I try I catch absolutely nothing. Due to belonging to groups on FB I can see some people are catching a few species, so I tried last night, and confirmed my previous experiences. Nevertheless I'm having another try tonight.

125W Robinson trap, running more in hope than expectation.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

God's Acre

Churchyards have always been good places for nature, often called gods acre, they are quiet, normally well socked with trees At the moment the bird in the news is the Hawfinch, a bird that has declined in the UK and very much so in Kent. 40 years ago I counted 63 birds at a roost, that has now all but disappeared. This year there has been an unprecedented invasion of then from the Continent. In Kent it has been a churchyard that has featured prominently in the last week, so I thought that I would take a look at St Margaret's. In Well Lane I notice a big patch of Periwinkle in flower, another plant flowering well out of season. The Churchyard was quiet, undisturbed and sadly empty of most birds, other than Collared Doves and a Magpie. It looks like I'll have to go elsewhere to see these special visitors.







God's Acre
I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
  The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
  And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust. 
God's-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts
  Comfort to those, who in the grave have sown
The seed that they had garnered in their hearts,
  Their bread of life, alas! no more their own. 
Into its furrows shall we all be cast,
In the sure faith, that we shall rise again
At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast
  Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain. 
Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom,
In the fair gardens of that second birth;
And each bright blossom mingle its perfume
With that of flowers, which never bloomed on earth. 
With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,
And spread the furrow for the seed we sow;
This is the field and Acre of our God,
This is the place where human harvests grow! 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, 12 January 2018

Feeding Frenzy

The cliff top beckoned today, and since I am getting old and lazy I drove up to the monument car park, with the intention of walking down to Hope Point and beyond. I took a while with one of my favourite photographic subjects. Fulmars are never long away from the cliffs and on a bright day provide great flying exhibitions. While I was doing this and watching various gulls zoom by I became aware that, somewhere around half a mile off shore, out from Hope Point, there was a large group of Gannets. Of course, as I said I'm getting lazy and I'd left my scope in the car. I debated whether to go and get it, for a minute, but the number of birds out there feeding demanded a closer look. When I got back the feeding flock had conveniently drifted south and my walk was shorter than expected. When I checked it out through the scope it was apparent that as well as at least 150 Gannets there were a lot of birds on the sea. At least 250 Cormorants were fairly obvious, and a lot of groups of Auks were more difficult to count. I could only identify Guillemots, and at that distance there could have been others lurking. They were quite spread out and I estimated there were at least 400. As I was preparing to go back up the hill I was treated to a Raven fly by and some aerial tumbling as one evaded a Carrion Crow.

Fulmar

Fulmar

Adult Herring Gull

Distant feeding Gannets,between a half mile and a mile away.

Gannets

Gannets in the middle,a small flock of Cormorants flying behind, and a group of Guillemots (black and white dots in the foreground).


Mainly Cormorants with a few Guillemots in the foreground.



Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull

Back end of Fulmar on the Cliff

Cormorant having a shake

Raven

Cormorants

Cormorant close in,just getting white thigh patch.

Third winter Herring Gull

Raven

Raven with mobbing Carrion Crow


Noisy Raven fly by

Raven calling from favourite "song" post.

Raven over the sea,

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Greenfinch revival?

 The garden was busy with feeding birds today.The female Blackcap put in another appearance and Blackbird numbers were still quite high. We are still missing the hoped for for visits from Bramblings and Siskins and one of the erupting Hawfinches would be a great treat.

 The number of Greenfinches visiting gardens has been greatly reduced in the last few years. This is due to the disease trichomonosis. The birds become sluggish and unable to swallow food. There seems to be a small recovery, at least in my garden with several spick and span birds around each day. 

 The number of House Sparrows suffered a huge reduction, particularly in large urban areas and 10 years ago we hardly had any around in the garden, but hey are now doing rather better. 

Goldfinches numbers seem to be going from strength to strength.

 When I first put up the mesh feeder it attracted very little attention but now it is one of the first to be emptied and often is crowded with several species.

Goldfinch

  A strange winter, very little really cold weather and Hebe in flower during January seems rather odd.

Goldfinch and Greenfinch on the mesh feeder.

 Collared Dove