Joy & I were really pleased to have a good turnout for our extra outing to Wick Farm, 17 group members in all, and as usual we were made very welcome. Martin Smith showed us around and gave us a lot of information both about the farm and the birds and wildlife on it; in fact there was so much to digest that I can’t remember it all and I hope, that what I have remembered, I have remembered correctly.
This year there have been two pairs of breeding Swallows, each with two broods; not all of these fledged successfully as a spell of bad weather came at a critical feeding time for the young. The Kestrels chose not to nest in the box provided but elsewhere on the farm – they produced four fledglings and the Barn Owl four eggs and so far two chicks. House Sparrows are back again.
Farmers have their problems and Martin pointed out a field of wheat that in spite of many sprayings was still affected by rust; lack of water too was playing its’ part in the growing crop. Corn Buntings & Skylarks were singing in the nearby field. Both these birds are ground nesters and Martin was a little concerned the Skylarks had built theirs on an area shortly to be cut; watching one descend it appeared that was not the case. Corn Buntings are a late nesting species and I think Martin said that the 21st June was their prime breeding time.
There was plenty of bird song most of which our group members could identify but Martin was able to tell if it was a male or female – apparently the Cuckoo was a male and I think he also identified a Corn Bunting and a Skylark as males.
A fallow field nearby had a fine mixture of grain and seeds attracting the Corn Buntings, Reed Buntings, Goldfinches and Linnets as well as giving cover for Pheasants – and if you should be a Pheasant this is a good place to spend your life because there are no Pheasant Shoots here – Wood Pigeons do not have the same luxury. A swathe of Cornflowers gave a colourful blue glow butterflies were attracted to them as well as bees and other insects.
We wandered down to the seawall where the tide was just receding. Not much bird life but Martin pointed out Sea Wormwood, which we crushed in our hands to release the strong aromatic scent, and there was what looked like Sea Lavender a short way off.
The Lapwings have not produced any eggs this year and also the Tern platform on the reservoir still has no nesting birds.
It was a very rewarding morning.
Birds Identified: Swallow, Starling, Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Crow, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Cuckoo, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk, Corn & Reed Buntings, Skylark, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Little Egret and Moorhen – (heard – Chaffinch, Wren and Whitethroat).
Wild Flowers Identified: Purple & White Clover, Plantain, Groundsel, Bindweed, Poppy, Mallow, Common Fumitory, Camomile, Sea Wormwood, Sea Lavender, Cranes Bill, Cornflower, Bristly Ox-tongue, Scarlet Pimpernel, White Campion, Ox-eye Daisy, Bramble, Goat’s Beard.
Butterflies Identified: Meadow Brown, Small Tortoishell, Large White, Skipper (Essex)
Other: Carder Bee