Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Silver Spitfire

At 12.30 today I watched this group flying over Kingsdown Road. The Spitfire, known as the Silver Spitfire, returned to our shores, escorted by two Red Arrows over the Channel, and with a support plane. The aircraft landed back on British soil after its 27,000-mile, four month trip around the world, having flown over Capel le Fern and Dover on its way Goodwood. (Thanks to my friend Dell Harris for the information).
All four planes.

The Silver Spitfire 

 Two Red Arrows

The Support Plane

the Silver Spitfire
Biography of the Silver Spitfire
Like all aircraft of its kind, the Mark IX that will become the Silver Spitfire had an extraordinarily varied career before it ended up being bought at auction by Brooks and Jones in 2016. Here, we track that journey

October 1943 MK IX LF Spitfire MJ271 was delivered from Castle Bromwich, Solihull, to RAF Lyneham, before being finished, tested and harnessed with guns and given to 118 Squadron at RAF Detling.

February 1944 With 118 Squadron, the Spitfire was immediately sent into action, sometimes completing several missions per day, including patrolling the Dutch coast and acting as cover to Fortresses attacking Berlin.

April 1944 Moving to be based at RAF Ford, the aircraft was frequently sent to divebomb targets and encountering greater degrees of flak (antiaircraft gunning) than before.

November 1944 Now housed with the 401 Squadron at the Dutch base of Volkel, the Spitfire saw out the war with several missions targeting railways, before sustaining damage in December 1944 and seeking repairs in the Belgian province of Wevelgem. It never returned to action.

The Silver Spitfire
August 1947 After the war, the Mark IX was delivered to the Dutch air force. Over the coming decade, it was struck off charge, used as a decoy at Volkel, and moved to the Delfzijl War Museum.

April 1973 After more than 25 years on the roof of Delfzijl War Museum, it was transferred to the Anthony Fokker Technical School, before being restored and moved to a museum in Schipol, near Amsterdam.

March 2003 The Spitfire made its final foreign move to Leylstad, before Historic Flying Ltd, based at Duxford, bought it and brought it home in 2006.

September 2016 Buying the aircraft at auction, Boultbee Flight Academy conjured a plan to have the plane restored to its former glory as the Silver Spitfire.

August 2019 The Mark IX, under the registration G-IRTY, is set to circumnavigate the globe.

A bird that has changed it's status dramatically in Kent is the Common Buzzard. According to Harrison it was extirpated in Ken tat the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th Century. This of course reflected persecution, as almost anything with a hooked beak was killed by our country loving gentry and their lackeys. Things have changed, but not yet completely, especially further north on grouse moors. In Kent the Buzzard has returned, It is only 19 years and already it is probably the commonest raptor in the county. Given that bit of history it is true to say I never expected to see a Buzzard regularly sitting on a telegraph pole on the edge of the village when we moved here.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

A view from the Attic.

 A lot of Barn Swallows and House Martins were on the move this morning. A few sat on the wires,but as usual most left quickly, leaving just two young Swallows for me to photo from the attic,

A distant view of Ramsgate form the attic window.

 Young Barn Swallow

 Young Barn Swallow

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A Missing piece to the spring arrives.

When we got back from our walk a bird flushed from the feeding area as I opened the back gate. It perched for a few seconds and I managed one picture

Later as I set my moth traps up for the night, and the sun was already setting, it arrived back in view on the water fall. Sadly that meant I need to use around ISO 5000, but the pictures are still usable. 

This year, so far hasn't been a good one for Bramblings, and time is running out, so I was good to get this very approachable bird this evening. Perhaps tomorrow will see an small flock feeding up before moving on. There are still a few Siskins around, and a couple were singing, in competition with the Goldfinches and noisy Chaffinches.

Monday, 9 April 2018

The annual Siskin visit.

I only get Siskins in the garden for a few days each year, so it was good to get them feeding outside on the patio while I watched the football this afternoon. A few Chaffinches and Goldfinches joined them.

 The males are very much brighter than the females.

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