Fancied a change of scenery today , so headed off to Leybourne Lakes at New Hythe . Usually I visit during the Winter for ducks , but thought I'd give it a try . The most noticeable thing on arrival , was the lack of water in the drainage ditches , some completely dried out . One of my targets was Water Vole , but with the conditions as they were , I didn't hold much hope . Surprisingly , Odonata were still using the dried up ditches as if they were still full of water , with good numbers of Migrant Hawker males patrolling their territories . Also seen , were 6 male Ruddy Darters , one posing for the camera on some gone over Black Knapweed heads . The lack of water in the ditches did not seem to deter the Damselflies , as they were making the most of the warm sunshine in sheltered corners . A pair of Blue Tailed Damselflies , and a pair of Common Blue Damselflies , both pairs in the ring or wheel position . Also seen were plenty of Common Darters , a few Red Eyed Damselflies and two male Brown Hawkers .
With quite a breeze blowing in exposed positions , Butterflies were not found in large numbers , in fact the most numerous were the Whites , Small , Large and Green Veined , which made up the majority of numbers found . Speckled Wood , Comma , Small Copper (pictured)
and a very fresh Painted Lady , which could be one of the last ones I find , with the night time temperatures forcasted to fall over the next few days .
Very few birds were found during the first part of the visit , and the scrub area was particularly quiet , I had been hoping for a couple of migrants there . On the lakes were the expected Coots , Moorhens , Tufted Ducks and Great Crested Grebe . The usual Canada and Greylag Geese were found in good numbers . A fly over Grey Heron was about as exciting as it got . I crossed the railway tracks , and on my way towards the river , met a local birder Allan , who told me that he had just got his first ever Spotted Flycatcher for the site , and also a large Tit flock with a Chiffchaff tagging on . We chatted for a while , then went on our separate ways . It was good to meet you Allan , and enjoyed the chat . As I reached the river , Bullfinch and Blackcap were heard , but neither species showed itself . A short way along the river , there was a lot of wing slapping on water , but I could not see what was causing it , due to the thick vegetation along the bank . When I got to an open area , I found three Mute Swans just leaving the water and onto the far bank . From the way two of them carried their wings , I would say that they were males , and the third , a female or juvenile . The two males seemed to be handing out a lesson to the third one , with both of them pecking and one at times , holding the third one down . This must have been the source of the noise earlier on . After giving the third one a hard time for several minutes , they all walked away as if nothing had happened . Something had obviously happened to the next bird I saw on the far bank . It was an adult Grey Heron , that looked as if it had a broken wing and a broken leg , as it was getting agitated with the conflict with the three Swans , ans was trying to get away from it , but it's injuries wouldn't let it . There was nothing I could do , so had to leave it to it's fate . Shortly afterwards , I came across Alan's Chiffchaff , having separated from the Tit flock , but not lucky enough to find the Spotted Flycatcher . I found a male Kestrel hunting over the Sunken Marsh , and am pretty sure I had a Cetti's Warbler , with a subdued song , not far from the paperworks .
Which was where I had the strangest sighting of the day , when I caught sight of a Common Wasp flying with what looked like a small piece of wood or straw , trailing behind , held in place by it's legs . Fortunately it landed almost in front of me , and I managed to get a couple of shots . The piece of wood or straw , turned out to be a female Common Blue Damselfly , that the Wasp must have caught . Once it steadied itself in the stiff breeze , the Wasp proceeded to have the Damselfly for elevenses . I wouldn't have thought that the Wasp could have handled the Damselfly , but I was proved wrong , and as I left , one third of it's meal had already been consumed . Whilst looking for Odonata at one of the fishing platforms , I thought I had come across yet another Hornet from a distance , but it turned out to be the largest of the Hoverflies , Volucella Zonaria . The only reptile found on the site was a Common Lizard that was sunning itself on a piece of wood , but not interested in posing for the camera .
By the time I got back to the car , I had recorded 37 species of birds , best being a seen/heard Kingfisher low near the Diver's Bridge , 7 of Odonata and 7 of Butterflies . I got a flyover from a Mute Swan as I was leaving , and just hoped that it was the one that was getting a hard time , and now doing it's own thing .
Halfway through posting this , Carol called up 'what's that on the lawn at the bottom of the garden '? . Camera in hand , I went to check it out . It turned out to be a young Fox enjoying the last of the sunshine . I got 4 shots before he left , and will post them on a quiet day .