Maiden Newton, Dorset - We spent the weekend in deepest Dorset at Maiden Newton visiting family, which was a pleasant change of scene from the Marsh flatlands. The village is set in classic Hardy country in the Frome valley surrounded by rolling chalk downland, much of it sheep-grazed on the lynchets and with many grass leys lower down where silage-making was in full swing. These chemical-soaked lands are largely bereft of song birds with just the occasional Yellowhammer or Whitethroat breaking the silence. Corvids were everywhere though in huge numbers and Buzzards were common place.
Along the river valley it was more promising for wildlife with roe deer flushed from the lush herbaceous cover, brown trout in the stream, plus Little Egrets, Grey Wagtails and a White Wagtail. Woodland cover along the railway embankment was good for Bullfinches, Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests. It looked perfect habitat for Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Snipe, but unsurprisingly there were none, while churchyards and walled gardens locally also lacked any Spotted Flycatchers. On the plus side House Martins were nesting in the village and through the night Tawny Owls called regularly. We also noted a Red Kite at Moreton to the east of Dorchester.