Tuesday 4 July 2023

Farmland buntings

New Romney - cool and cloudy, WSW 4 - The past few days has seen a welcome change from the heat of a week ago to much cooler and windier weather but still dry; infact, yesterday the wind was bordering on gale force bringing down several large branches off the oak trees in our local park and damaging Rook nest`s along the high street. Walking out and about with Ted across the Marsh farmland there has already been a noticeable drop-off in bird song as the breeding season takes its toll on hard-pressed adult birds, although the bunting family remains in good voice, particularly Yellowhammers. Across Romney Salts and to the north of town I`ve encountered at least ten singers; while a slow drive out and back to Aldington via Newchurch the other day delivered another 14 songsters (and I must have missed many more...). Yellowhammers particularly favour thick hedgerows, such as found along Hope Lane, and isolated clumps of scrubby trees on the Salts and appear to be being faring rather well in what is a pretty hostile environment. Reed Buntings are fewer in numbers and haunt the reed-fringed sewers and ditches and weedy fields of oil-seed rape and linseed. Corn Buntings are the scarcest of the tribe with only one singer favouring a pea field near the New Cut to the north and at least six singers across the Salts with a few more on power lines around the Hammonds Corner junction. On our wanderings, Skylark, Linnet, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed, Cetti`s and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff have all bred in variable numbers along with several pairs of Yellow Wagtails around Belgar Farm. Also noted recently, and presumably breeding hereabouts: Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Swallow, House Martin, Mistle Thrush and Raven. Needless to say after countless hours in the field I have not come across any Grey Partridge, Turtle Dove or Tree Sparrow along the way.  

                                  Corn Bunting

                                 Burnished Brass

                                 Poplar Hawk-moth

                                 Swallow-tailed Moth

The garden moth trap has been ticking over nicely averaging about 25 species of macros on the calmer nights. Hedgehogs and small bats have been noted at dusk in and over the garden, but still very few butterflies apart from Red Admirals. A couple of visits to Littlestone and Lade pits over the weekend yielded the usual birds and butterflies, plus a surprise in the shape of a Barn Owl sat atop a fence post near Romney Warren last Sunday mid-morning.

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