Friday, 27 February 2009

Friday 27th. February 2009

Wasn't sure where I was going today . The forecast was not as good as the day turned out to be , and in the end decided to trespass at New Hythe - again .
As I arrived milky sunshine was being replaced with the proper stuff , which then lasted all day . The most noticable thing was the birdsong , mainly Great Tit and Song Thrush that was filling the site . Wrong end of the day , but I had a look in at the Bittern reedbed , but all was quiet , apart from a few Coots and Gadwall . Up the other end of the lake Tufted Ducks , Great Crested Grebe and a few Black Headed Gulls were all that were on offer . On the main path behind the Bittern's reedbed , I found what I thought was the first Blackthorn flower of the year , but with closer inspection , it proved to be Bird Cherry , all the Blackthorn being still tight in bud . Just further along the first of 12/15 Cetti Warblers that I heard today , burst into song . The scrub area only produced a Green Woodpecker , a few Tits and a small Goldfinch flock . Very little over the other side of the railway until I reached the river . The riverside path produced the first of many small flocks of Long Tailed Tits , which seem to have split up from their large winter numbers . As usual , several Bullfinches were heard and occassionally glimpsed . Grey Heron were heard over on the far bank , but had flown before getting a sighting . A flock of Black Headed Gulls were on the mud flats together with a pair of Shellduck . As on previous visits , a single Redshank flew off noisily on my approach . The Sunken Marsh just held a female Pheasant , another flock of Long Tailed Tits , and about six of the Cetti Warblers already mentioned . On the outlet to the river near the paperworks , I got a good view of what I thought was a Greenshank when I went round with Steve , and confirm that it definately was . With it on the mud were a pair of Teal and several Mallard . Rounding Brooklands , I stopped to talk to two anglers , who mentioned that they have seen a Bittern a couple of times in the last week on that lake . The footpath produced yet more Long Tailed Tits and also two Goldcrests . Crossing back over the railway , I thought I would have a look at the usual place for Water Voles , but none were showing . I followed the ditch and came across the first one almost in the same spot where Steve and I had the Firecrest , and where he got those fantastic shots . Without much cover , they were very edgy , but further along I found another young looking animal that was happy to sit eating whilst I snapped away .
Later , the 'plop' of an animal into the water gave the opportunity for a swimming shot . I checked the Bittern spot again , but without any sighting , and then decided to head off to Fackenden Down , to see if any reptiles had been teased out with the warm sunshine .
The first thing I saw on arrival was a male Brimstone , my first butterfly of the year , to be followed by a second at the other end of the site . The first pair of refugia , well lying alongside them , produced another year first , a male Adder taking the rays , still looking earthy after his winter underground . Was this going to be a special day - no , in fact , apart from two Slow Worms , no other reptiles were found . Out of interest , the report on last year's monitoring of the site , identified 75+ different Adders on the site . No I can't identify them , but I know a man who can , so when I find them , I send a shot of the head pattern , and he can put a number to each individual . Another first for the year on site , was Primroses in flower . Birdwise , only Magpies and Carrion Crows put in an appearance whilst I was on site . A pleasant enough visit in the sunshine , but disappointing in numbers of reptiles found , after a good start .
Tomorrow , hedgelaying under the Downs near Dorking , don't think the sun is going to be with us .


Ken said...

Hi Greenie.
What an interesting, and enjoyable day you had. Nice selection of creatures you saw today.I look forward to seeing my first butterflies and reptiles.

Warren Baker said...

New hythe always seems to be two weeks ahead of us here in Hadlow. Fascinating stuff about being able to recognise each adder.