Looking for inland migrants

A search for flycatchers seemed a good idea at Ashburnham. It wasn’t a terribly good idea, but we searched the farmland fences and branches of dead trees anyway. There were a few Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Common & Lesser Whitethroats zipping between and inevitably deep into the bushes so we tried a hedgerow which followed a ditch originating in a hillside spring.

Crunching across crisp stubble on a field crazed with polygonal fissures, we found that the birds diving ahead of us were Yellowhammers, a species now so restricted in the largely inhospitable arable landscape that it’s a surprise to see one at all, but here there maybe 15 moving about and perching in bushes above vegetation greened by the spring and pink with invasive Himalayan Balsam.

Down at the lake another colourful yet invasive plant I identified, with the aid of Google Lens was Nymphoides peltata Yellow Floating Heart. I couldn’t recall having seen it before – maybe since I don’t usually visit this site at this time of year – but the plant atlas shows it as widespread, especially along the RM Canal E of Rye.

The yellow theme continued along the lakeside with Crab Apples and through the Woods with the eponymous Chicken…

…but birds were few though the silence was leavened by the sounds of hymn-singing which floated from the house through an open window and of laughter as young girls cartwheeled across the stable yard.


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