A busy Saturday morning with surveys being completed on two seperate location on Lark Rise Farm. 

Our local Lark Rise Farm monitoring volunteers, Rebecca and Roger, surveyed Tinkers, Telegraph and Warner’s Corner (TTW) fields whilst I completed my penultimate survey of the the ’98 land at the adjacent part of the farm and this morning, as expected there was a brilliant variety of species to be seen. 

WhitethroatRebecca and Roger heard two lesser whitethroat singing in the copse at Warner's corner field. I believe I may have heard the same lesser whitethroat, as there was one near the entrance to Warners Corner bird hide area in the thick hedge that separated our two survey areas. I also heard a second one near Roman Hill - I've concluded that second broods are underway for them.

Marbled White ButterflySeveral other species seemed to be reinvigorated by the rain. Compared to early June when a lot of birds had gone quiet, there was much singing and display including a willow warbler on the Warner's Corner scrub. It was around the Warner's Corner copse Rebecca and Roger also counted over a dozen marbled white and generally there was a fresh hatch of pristine small tortoiseshell.

I recorded plenty of bird families are making their way in the world, with parties of e.g. starlings, goldfinches, blue, great and long-tailed tits, and kestrels on the point of fledging the nest. One kestrel chick had already left the nest and was in a nearby tree, three were filling up the entrance to the box as I walked past, but retreated to the back on seeing me. There should be a fifth chick somewhere, it could have been hidden behind the three if it was a bit smaller and has another day or two to fledging, or it could have hidden itself deeper into the foliage if it had left the nest already. Sometimes of course not all chicks do survive and there is always one kestrel a bit smaller than the rest... 

I also have the first Tufted Duck records for ’98 land this year, with a pair flying over – I’ve seen them a couple of times on the TTW survey (that Rebecca and Roger were taking today) as well but they just strayed over the hedge enough to get into my survey area! 

Did you know, that like chickens, a female grey partridge is a 'hen' and the males are called 'cocks'?

Grey PartridgeRebecca and Roger also came across a female grey partridge. They had surprised the hen which caused an irruptions of alarm calling and jumping around which they believed to be a distraction display. Although we have not confirmed it, it is presumed that she has small chicks hidden somewhere.

The female alarm call was not the only noisy species of the day; there was a ‘screaming party’ of 11 swifts over Barn Field. On my way home saw 10 of them screaming low over the road near the petrol station, where there are some regular breeding sites in the houses. They have been late to make their presence noticed at this location, though there have been two pairs around Bird's Farm where they nest at Rachael’s (Robin Page's sister) house for a couple of weeks.

Non-bird news comes in the form of orchid updates.

I had seen what I thought were pyramidal Orchids in Nan’s meadow during last week’s butterfly survey, but yesterday it was obvious that they were much taller flower spikes. I have now re-identified them as Fragrant Orchids, a first for the farm as far as I know. 

I did find a Pyramidal Orchid later on near Millenium Wood. Clearly the orchids are having a good year in general, with Roger and Rebecca’s earlier finding of Bee Orchids in Nan’s meadow as well as their Pyramidal at Westfield. 

Dr Vince Lea
Head of Wildlife Monitoring 

Donate to the CRT Village Show Campaign