Today was not as clear as yesterday, with almost total overcast skies to start which meant there was no frost.The skies began to clear later in the day, and as a result I decided to go and check the area around Plain Farm. One thing I hadn't noticed as I walked up the road towards Charlwood was the wind, it had increased, and this might have an influence on what I hoped to find.
As I headed up Charlwood Lane I noticed a lot of corvids in the air, and could hear the sound of a tractor in the fields beyond the birds.
As I came around the corner to the field a large flock of seagulls came over my head, and circled around the lane and the fields on either side. The tractor was ploughing the field, and this was a big attraction to the gulls, who would follow the tractor in the air, dropping down to pick up anything it turned up that they considered good to eat. The behaviour was just the same as you see them do on the sea, they never settled but would pluck what ever they could see from the ground
I scanned the flock in the hope I would find a "snowball" med gull, but with no luck. They were mostly Black-headed and Common Gulls, but there was a few third winter Herring Gulls, and one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.
I came around the filed, and then crossed into Plain Farm. I checked the edges of the fields but with no success. On the main path I flushed a single partridge which flew across me, and I was able to see it was a Grey Partridge. The rest of the walk down the lane to Plain farm was deadly quiet. The odd Bullfinch would call from the hedge, and I could see a distant group of fieldfare in the filed, but that was all. It was getting very dark, and the wind was now quite strong. I checked the tree in the field, but there was nothing, not even a jackdaw. A single Pied Wagtail called from the cow shed roof, but never showed it self
As I approached the farm buildings I could see a group of partridges on the road, they scurried across the road into the verge, and I counted 16 which is now my highest count. As I came closer they were still visible, and I was able to get this picture, which reminds me of a scene from a Christmas card.
They are very smart looking birds, even though they are not natural to this country. They breed naturally in south western Europe, in France and Iberia. and has become naturalised in the flat areas of England and Wales, where it was introduced as a game species. Over the last ten years they have become the most likely partridge to see, as the population of Greys has declined. Fortunately at Plain Farm we do get to see both species, and in similar numbers.
The partridges were attracted to the seed from the barns, and this was also a reason for some noisy House Sparrows being present too. I only hope that we begin to see their cousins, the tree sparrows returning as well.
As I walked down the road, a kestrel flew off the telegraph pole and flew away over towards the Rotherfield estate. There were a few crows and rooks flying over, and in amongst them was a buzzard. For once the crows ignored the buzzard, but the Kestrel didn't and it gained height and then started to dive down on to the buzzard. It was dark, and this picture is grainy but it shows the interaction between the two. The buzzard just drifted away, and the kestrel flew off in the opposite direction, probably having satisfied a grudge!
I walked up the hill past the quarry and across the fields to the barn. It was now very gloomy and still windy, so I had no hope of seeing the Barn Owl. My daughter has seen it in this area alongside the road early in the morning, but despite waiting as it got darker and darker nothing showed, so I went home.