After just one fly-by record last year, and none so far this, I had a nasty feeling that Firle would be Turtle Dove-less in 2011. But on Tuesday morning while walking the dog I disturbed one feeding on the allotments. It fanned out its bright white tail feathers as it went – a brief glimpse, but welcome.
On Sunday, another bunch of Crossbills went over North as I stood half-way up the escarpment along the Bostal Road. I’ve no idea how many, as I couldn’t see them – but it sounded like double figures, again.
Not far away, plenty of Round-headed Rampion was in flower – thanks to last year’s excursion with Steve (Kingsdowner) I’m a little quicker to pick up on the presence of these local specialities. Cheers Steve!
The numbers of martins and swallows are building rapidly now, with well over a hundred at any one time on the wires at Place Farm. They have been attracting raptors into the village – Paul S reports up to two Hobbies (again, the first local records for the year), and a very large female Peregrine. Paul also had the fortune to see a Red Kite fly low over the church last Friday. I’ve made do with up to four Common Buzzards over the house – where are all the Sussex Honey Buzzards this year?
Apart from the multitude of martins, breeding success around the village has included a minimum of six fledged Spotted Flycatchers (five and one, in separate territories) and at least two fledged Grey Wagtails (they bred in the courtyard at Firle Place).
There are also lots of young Goldcrests, Long-tailed Tits Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, House Sparrows and Mistle Thrushes.
This morning in the rain, a Green Sandpiper called as it flew over Chalky Road – the first since the Spring.
Chalky Road – which runs between Place Farm and Firle Bostal – is one the most productive places to look for birds in Firle at the moment. Both Little Owl and Kestrel may be seen hunting around the stubble, and there are Linnets, and Red-legged Partridges there too.
The paddocks are being used by Green Woodpeckers, Mistle Thrushes and the odd Grey Wagtail, with Common Whitethroats and (increasingly) Willow Warblers in the hedges.
And when flushed, the hirundines at Place Farm often strike out across the paddocks, giving an opportunity to see any marauding birds of prey out in the open – usually a Kestrel, Sparrowhawk or Hobby.