I parked at the Brooklands Lake car park , and with the smell of 'bacon sarnies' in my nostrils from the cafe in the car park , made my way down the Millstream footpath . The sun had not broken through the clouds , and everything seemed a little subdued . Robins were singing , and there were plenty of Coots and Moorhens on the Millstream . The Mute Swans that I saw nesting on a previous visit , were showing off their new family . The cygnets were almost as big as the adults . Because of the lack of sun , dragon/damselfly activity was negligable . The most common species I found was dog walker , closely followed by cyclist .
The main object of the visit , was to try and get better shots of the elusive Water Vole , than the distant 'behind the vegetation' shots that I managed last time . My jaw dropped and my heart stopped when I reached the divers bridge , to be confronted by what seemed to be every diver in the world . Their car park was bursting at it's seams , and the noise was undescribable . The nearest vehicle to the bridge had the windows open , the radio blaring , and two young ladies , singing along , very badly indeed , to the DJ's choice of record . I thought I might as well turn straight round and go home . Two other hopeful photographers were already there , and had actually had sightings . I settled down amongst all the hub-bub , not expecting much . At least the sun started to show , but only served to make the noise level rise . I was surprised when I got the first distant view of a Water Vole , I wouldn't have been prepared to put up with the commotion . The sun also brought out the Dragon/damselflies , and as a distraction from the Water Voles , I recorded Brown and Migrant Hawker , male photo above , together with Common Darter and Common Blue Damselfly . Later , on my way back to the car , I recorded Red Eyed Damselfy at Brooklands Lake , but no sign of Small Red Eyed . With patience , on both sides , the Water Voles provided better photo opportunities . They were always put off by the sound of divers stomping over the wood bridge , but they always came back , until finally , after nearly two hours at the bridge , I managed one of many photos I had dreamed of getting .
I left the bridge to the Water Voles and the divers , and headed off for a wonder through the scrub . My hope was for a rare migrant , resting before continuing it's journey . But it wasn't to be , as all I found was Corvids , Tits and Robins . Whilst wandering , I did find a couple of fungi of the Waxcap family . The first was Hygrocybe nigrescens-Blackening Waxcap , closely followed by Hygrocybe ceracea . Whilst wandering around the scrub area , the relative silence was broken by a mass exit of Grey Lag and Canada Geese from the lakes . Also found was this moth , hopefully our patch blogger will be able to ID .
I crossed the railway tracks , and headed back hungrily to the car and my waiting lunch . On my way , I came across this Harlequin Ladybird , recognised by it's Batman/M/W mask . It appears that these are causing a threat to our native Ladybirds .
My second planned visit for the day was Fackenden Down near Shoreham , Kent . The Temperature was about 20C. , good spells of sunshine , little wind , perfect for reptiles . Things seemed perfect when I arrived , but the lack of anything other than Slow Worms under or around the refugia , proved to be the rule of thumb . Twenty one pairs of refugia turned , and not a single Adder or Grass Snake found . Admittedly 22 Slow Worms were recorded , and one sub.adult Adder recorded behind one felt , but given the conditions , a disappointing hour and a half .
Butterfly species recorded numbered 11 , but that decieves as many species only recorded singletons . The full list was = Meadow Brown (45) , Common Blue (13) , Small White (2) , Large White (3) , Red Admiral (1) , Small Copper (1) - tatty individual above , Speckled Wood (2) , Brown Argus (1) , Chalkhill Blue (1) , Green Veined White (1) and Comma (1) . Also seen were two Silver Y moths .
Knowing what I know now , I wish I had stayed , and spent the afternoon wandering around Steve's patch .