Lydden Valley - warm, dry, overcast - Probably not the best day to venture over to East Kent, what with Operation Stack on the go and all, but deadlines had to met and sites checked out for Birdwatching magazine walks. So we went off-piste around the back lanes to Worth, a pretty little village on the edge of the valley in market garden country set amongst fields of spuds, brassicas and linseed, plus hayfields and wheat. The drainage ditch margins were thick with herbaceous cover and flowering plants of the sort favoured by Marsh Warblers, but none were heard amongst the many Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers; two Corn Buntings, Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Turtle Dove, Reed Buntings, Cuckoo, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier also noted, while Skylarks and Linnets were plentiful in the weedy leys. A bare field attracted two Oystercatchers, five Lapwings, a Curlew and a Hare.
The highlight of the visit though was watching a shoal of Roach from a footbridge over North Stream, in gin-clear water, closely followed by Barney falling in whilst attempting to have a drink! Boy, does that mutt not like water, what a fuss he made. Also, one or two smart Broad-bodied Chasers on the wing and a Grass Snake in the stream.
A nearby wood supported the two woodpeckers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Jay.
In summary, a very pleasant mornings wander in an area new to me and rich in wildlife.
Bockhill Farm and St Margaret`s at Cliffe - We spent the afternoon checking out a couple of sites where the North Downs tumbles into the English Channel. It reminded me of former haunts on the Chilterns, except when a Fulmar hove into view over the sea cliffs! Birdwise it was pretty quiet as you`d expect on a summers afternoon, although we still notched up Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Yellowhammer and Sparrowhawk. The flower-rich meadows and calcareous slopes were a real treat and I found myself stumbling around looking at the plants, but was disappointed in the lack of butterflies.
However, it was a profitable day in pastures new with four sites photographed and reconnoitred for parking, access, facilities and the like, and we even managed to avoid the parked lorries on the way home.
Boulderwall - On the way back from the allotment this evening we called in to see if there was any sign of the Barn Owl out and about, which there wasn't. However, on this beautiful summer`s evening Tree Sparrows were coming and going to nest boxes, Cuckoos calling, Marsh Harriers and Hobby hunting and the first Green Sandpiper of the return passage flew over from ARC calling.
Stan Bowles - Like me I feel sure that many R`s fans of my generation would`ve been saddened by yesterdays news that the great entertainer has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Stan graced Loftus Road during the `Golden Years` of the 1970`s when he played alongside the likes of Gerry Francis and Dave Thomas, a period unlikely to be repeated in the era of today's global game where money buys success. Stan was no athlete, but what he lacked in pace he more than compensated for with pure skill and trickery; he was a scallywag, a drinker and a gambler, but an ace goal poacher, and the fans loved him for it.
QPR may have had better players down the years (Marsh, Francis, McDonald and Ferdinand spring to mind in my time), but Stan Bowles will always be the fans favourite, and a true legend of the beautiful game at W12.