West Kent

A male barn owl is hunting through to mid-morning over a rough pasture field near Bough Beech reservoir. The bird keeps up an effortless round low over the ground on elegant long wings with an occasional sudden but fruitless stoop into the sward. Then a brief stop on a branch of one of the huge oaks where a wooden nestbox is affixed and is likely to be full of ugly looking young before the circuits continue. This is a good field vole year so the brood is likely to be large and demand for prey high. However, vole populations are not stable and regularly crash before numbers rebuild again; when this happens during summer the smaller young of the staggered brood may not survive.

In north west Kent, man orchids appeared on a roadside near Hextable. All verges except the Roadside Reserves, are tractor mown and so this small colony was recently decapitated. Common broomrapes are up again on the road verge from Sutton at Hone to Swanley Village and these seem to tolerate the mowing treatment.

On the Medway on a hot afternoon, mayflies shelter on grass stems in a striking pose to moult for the last time before mating in a swarm over the river.  In the evening on the downs near Shoreham, common blues overnight securely fastened to grass stems including cock’s foot and quaking grass and are blown to and fro, sometimes violently, in the evening breeze.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Annie says:

    What is it about the eastern side of Britain that you have barn owls flying by day? It just doesn’t happen here in Pembrokeshire! Another great post.

    1. Steve Parr says:

      Less rain?

      1. Annie says:

        Hmm, we have less extremes of temperature, more wind, more humidity, but, like the rain, they all happen day and night. If owls couldn’t hunt in the rain (perhaps the rain would be too noisy so they couldn’t hear the prey rustling in the undergrowth), they’d be forced out more often to hunt during the day, which means we would see them more often than you do. So, if it’s rain, it must be through a different mechanism.
        I wasn’t expecting an answer, but now I’m curious.

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