So here I am back in Blightly inexplicably in glorious spring sunshine and with one more day off before going back to my other life at RSPB Rainham Marshes. So what do I do? I get up at 0345 and drive down deserted roads to the quaint little village of Otford a few miles north of Sevenoaks and only half an hour from home. It is still dark but the sky is clear, there is no wind and it is not so cold that I had not kept on a pair of short and my sandals to remind me of where I was yesterday.
I sat in the car for a short while and drank my coffee with the door open listening to a proper English suburban dawn chorus with Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens, Goldcrests, Song Thrushes and both Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves vying for the top spot. I thought back to yesterdays awakenings on the Tsiknias on Lesvos and although the species were very different, the enormous sense of calm that comes from not having to look and just choosing to listen was precisely the same.
As dawn just started to show pink tendrils I was no longer the only birder standing patiently on the pavement and thankfully we did not have to wait too long for the delightful Rufous Turtle Dove to magically appear in its favoured tree where it sat quietly for a few minutes before descending into its regular garden for breakfast. I had been advised that that would be it for a while before it zoomed off to wherever it spends most of its waking hours so I packed up my scope and headed for home... it was not quite six... filthy twitching at it best.
|Just to prove I saw it!!!!|
Back home for breakfast and then out again for a bit of multi-cultural mingling at the local boot fair where I picked up a bargainous piece of Poole Delphis pottery before heading off on a wobbly circuitous tour of the county. I wanted to get inside a Bluebell wood and found the most stunning carpet of powder blue under mature Beeches in a roadside wood near Chilham. I parked up and walked back through the peppery smell of oilseed rape before entering the wood and being enveloped in the heady scent of the Bluebells. I took a few shots and also found some Wood Anemones and Moschatel.
I headed down towards the coast and Dover and then went through the cliff tunnel to Samphire Hoe CP which was thronged with ramblers, families, dog walkers and more adept fishermen (and women) than I have ever seen in one spot.
|Just some of the massed ranks... like a fish twitch...|
None of this prevented me finding many very dapper little Early Spider Orchids including some in the middle of the car park – thanks Jason...
I still cannot work out where the spider bit comes from... they look more like demonic Jelly babies to me!
|Early Spider Orchid|
|Early Spider Orchid|
It was now very warm and a short walk revealed more orchid spikes and some nice clumps of yellow flowered Wild Cabbage as well as my first Dingy Skipper for some years. A male Peregrine hurtled along the chalk cliff face and a Fulmar glided by on a similar path. House Martins were obviously nesting up on the heights and both Rock and Meadow Pipit were displaying while a smart male Stonechat sang from the railway cutting.
|The scarce and localised Wild Cabbage|
|Spitfire and friend|
It was too hot to stay out for long so it was back on the road for a somewhat disjointed journey across the county towards Tonbridge and Paddock Wood past more Bluebell cloaked woodlands, another covered in a sea of pungent white Wild Garlic, a tractor with a trailer piled high with heavily pefumed freshly pipcked strawberries and eventually home to an afternoon spent out tinkering in the garden with the sound of Blackcaps, Goldcrests and chirping House Sparrows and a few interesting flies and other inverts to pap between tasks.
|A spiky little fly with long legs... possibly a Tachinid|
|A female Hairy Footed Mining Bee - Anthophora plumipes|
I will post a Lesvos summary on here a little later in the week.... :O)