Another mixed week weather wise lead to a brief expedition as soon as there was a gap in the clouds. My aim was to both prep for the next Birdwatching walk ‘Around the Wong’ and take the opportunity to check out the swallows which would be collecting around the stables and farm buildings at the heart of the walk before they are gone South with the swifts. Given that a lot of birds have gone to August skulking I wasn’t hopeful of much more but I was to be pleasantly surprised. I took the easy option and parked in the layby by Ketts Oak. From here the walker is quickly into the benefits of the countryside stewardship scheme with wide field margins full of wildflowers and grasses (cont below.) and a strip of wood planted with a variety of nature attracting trees. The trees held a couple of calling chiffchaff as well as great tits and blue tits. Emperor dragonflies swooped around and and early highlight was a pair of soaring buzzards over the farm buildings. The field margins were home to numerous butterflies and I will update the Butterfly Collector Page in due course.
Peacock Butterfly one of a number of common but visually stunning species seen.
The field margins are full of seed heads and seeding grasses and had attracted a large flock of swirling finches which stayed distant but none the less impressive as they swirled backwards and forwards. I got a distant photo which allowed me to confirm the identity as mostly linnets and about seventy birds in total
Swirling Linnets (feel free to confirm the count or ID)
Further along the walk towards the farm there were a host of other finches including chaffinch, greenfinch goldfinch accompanied by yellow hammers but not in the same sized groups as the linnets.
The paddocks close to the stables held large numbers of jackdaws, rooks and carrion crows and the air was soon full of the target species for the day the swallows.
Happy chattering swallows getting ready for the epic journey back to Africa
After the farm there was the long walk round the field margins which held very little although I was followed for some time by the following chap who made a sharp exit just before a male sparrow hawk flew across the fields
Record shot of my travelling companion a yellow-hammer
The sparrow hawk was the final highlight and caught me out on ID initially as I am used to them soaring in Spring or sneaking about otherwise. Perhaps this apex predator was full, with so many meals about that he just couldn’t be bothered to hide and sneak.