Thursday, 18 September 2008

Thursday 18th.September 2008

A look in at the farm lake this morning , was like visiting a cemetery . Almost absolute silence , and hardly a movement anywhere . A couple of Robins broke the silence with their sombre song , and a flock of Long Tailed Tits worked their way down the tree line , busily chattering between themselves . The juvenile Coots haven't managed to get back on the lake , the two adults have it to share with the four Moorhens . No sign of the Little Grebe . Walking round the lake , I only recorded two Common Blue Damselfy , and only two butterflies . One was this tiny male Common Blue , and the other , a really faded Brown Argus . Not surprising really as the farm lake sits in the end of a valley , and as such is a renowned frost pocket , as we know only too well in our garden , which is further down the same valley . As I walked back to the car , I disturbed three female Pheasants on the edge of the paddock .

I decided to head off to Keston Common to see what the fungi situation was like . The recent period without rain has really slowed things down again . The strong flush of species after the recent rains has gone over , and the replacements are far fewer in number . One species that bucked the trend was the Otidea onotica-Hare's Ears . The specimens I posted before had gone over , but were replaced with 'a perfect set' . As I said before , they can be hard to see , as can be seen by these specimens before the leaf litter is cleared away . Many of the fungi had been well munched , probably because of their lack of numbers at the moment , as was this Aminita rubescens-The Blusher . The lack of fungi , made me head towards the ponds , and I was glad I did . The first things I saw were a pair of female Mandarins , keeping well to the middle of the water , and not being tempted by the family feeding bread at the edge . But in amongst the Mallards and others contesting for the free hand-out , was a male Mandarin . After a while , he surrendered his place and flew off , closely followed by the two females . I thanked my lucky stars that the fungi wasn't better , and started recording dragon/damselflies . There were good numbers of Common Darters about ( est.50+) and they were mating and ovipositing . I recorded 1 Brown Hawker and 4 Migrant Hawkers , but did not record any damselflies .

On a log at the far end , I found this pair of mating Crane Flies-Tipula maxima . As I walked the other side , I noticed that the female Mallard I saw last visit , has already lost one of her youngsters . The fishermen say that the ponds hold big Pike , and they have seen ducklings taken by these large fish . In the corner where the family had been feeding the ducks , a surplus of bread was floating on the water and attracted three Black Headed Gulls . I sat for a while in an attempt to get a shot of one of them taking the bread , but something was making them nervous , and although they made many passes , no bread was taken . Eventually , they gave up

and settled on the edge . I think the adult is on the left and the other is a juvenile . Before heading home for lunch , I thought I would just go down to the lower lake , the direction the Mandarins were heading , and have a look there . Mallards , Coots and Moorhens , but no Mandarins . I had a walk round anyway , and in the far corner found a male Southern Hawker , hawking for insects . I attempted a photo , but to no avail . I thought I would watch him and hope he settled . After a couple of minutes , the peace was broken by another family with a bag of bread and a noisy dog . I carried on with the Southern Hawker , trying to blot out the noise over the other side . As the family left , I looked over and had to blink . Coots yes , Mallards yes , but also lots of Mandarin . I left the Southern Hawker and quickly made my way round to the other side , where the bread was just about finished . The most numerous species was Mandarin .
As I arrived at the feeding point , they all started heading away to the inaccessible corner of the pond , and to safety . As they went , I had a quick count , and I made it 9 males and six females .

All the time , the males were making a Wigeon type whistle . As they got to the overhanging trees at the bank , I could hear them getting off the water and onto the branches . Some I could see actually doing it . Within one minute , all were roosted , and the area went quiet again . They must have been roosting when I walked round , without bread , and came out when the family arrived . Whether the family knew the Mandarin were there I will never know , but I'll give it a couple of days , and I'll be back with a loaf in one hand and the camera in the other .

After lunch , I had an hour on Hayes Common , pleasant enough , but no butterflies , just several Common Lizards basking in the watery sunshine .


Steve said...

Great Mandarin pics - some interesting sightings

Warren Baker said...

I love that whistling noise mandarins make. I flushed up 30+ on my tetrad visit,earlier in the year, thay circled over making the whistling noise very nice!