Well , I'm finally back posting again , with many thanks to my neighbour , who has lent me this Mac laptop , for which I am very grateful . Having said that , it has been a nightmare trying to edit photos under a different system , and failing dismally , so the pictures are straight from the card out of the camera , without any editing , and some are not the ones that I wanted to post , but on a quite day , when things have settled down , I will post them again , cropped .
It has been another busy week for wildlife and volunteering , staring on Mothering Sunday , I visited my old Mum's grave , then had a walk around the adjacent Country Park . Just one Shoveler remains on the lake , but the 3 Pochard are still there , but nothing out of the ordinary apart from them . Whilst standing at one of the feeding platforms , I felt that I was not alone , and sure enough , I wasn't . Scampering around an area of fallen trees , were about 15/20 Brown Rats , and they were also finding bread amongst the reeds . I have seen the odd one or two here before , but never this many . I must say though , they looked very clean , and just before I left the platform , two young girls arrived with bread , to feed the rats . The only picture
opportunity came with this female Kestrel , looking for her next meal . Back in the garden I found my first Bumble Bee of the year , feeding on Crocus , and producing a shot almost identical to that posted by Warren about the same time .
Monday had me up on the Downs , still looking for my first Adders of the year , and this time I did . I found 10 males out enjoying the sun , two groups of 3 , a pair and two singles . All were
found around known hibernating sites . At this time of year , the males just lie around together , sometimes in good numbers . The most I've seen together was 8 , I think , as it is difficult to see where one starts and ends when they are all laying on top of each other . As the females start to emerge in a week or two's time , the males will not be so happy to share ground with others , as the battle for mating rights start . On the way back , I had another look for the Little Owls , without success , but managed to find out some more information on their habits , and likely times to see them . I also stopped at the Trout Fishery , and found all 4 Egyptian Geese , just as
an angler had told me a few weeks ago , and they seemed to be paired up , so there could be even more later in the year . When I got home , the first frogs of the year were found in the pond and two were already coupled .
Tuesday was spent helping another Warden , working along the Pilgrims Way at Wrotham . The hedgeline had been cut back over quite a length , leaving large quantities of brash to be collected and burnt . During the lunch break , I had a wander up on he Downs where I knew refugia had been layed , but did not find any reptiles . I did however see a male Brimstone , and found the first Common Dog Violets - Viola riviniana growing amongs large swathes of Primrose . Later that afternoon , two Peacocks were seen when we returned to work on the Greensand Ridge . Wednesday was almost devoid of wildlife , but with the next day off from working on the Common , I was planning a trip to Elmley RSPB , on the Isle of Sheppey .
I made my way down early , arriving just after 9 o'clock , and I think I was one of the first cars along the track to the car park , as right away , I came across large numbers of Curlew , feeding
not far off the track . Normally , they keep well away from the area , usually needing a scope to get good views . Lots of Lapwings , many displaying and really large flocks of Starlings , swirling around in shapes , and often being targeted by two or three Peregrines that I saw on the site . Still large numbers of Wigeon , grazing on the pastures , a couple of Common Snipe , plenty of Redshank , even tough it was low water , at least 5 Little Egret and several Grey Heron , then a sighting of one of my target species , a Brown Hare . But , as I came to a stop , it started running , over the rise and out of sight , and exactly the same happened when I saw another a bit further on . Having rached the car park , I decided to head for the hides , bad decision , as , as soon as I got out of the shelter of the buildings and orchard , a biting wind was blowing across the flat landscape from the south , only passing below the sea defence banks gave any respite , and with water levels in the scrapes and the low water mentioned before , the one and a quarter mile walk each way , did not produce very much at all , apart from Skylarks , Meadow Pipits , and a fly over of about a dozen Brent Geese , before they dropped down onto the Swale . By the time I got back to the car , I was pleased that I had a hot cup of coffee waiting for me . With just a couple of distant Marsh Harrier sighting on the way back down the track , I headed off to Capel Fleet and the Ferry Boat Inn at Harty Ferry . Marsh Harrier sightings were the order of the day , with probably 6/8 birds seen , possibly more , as when they drop down into a drainage ditch and reappear some way off , true numbers are difficult to access . From the Raptor Viewing area , I
watched a male and female Marsh Harrier courting , the female above the male in this shot . Another pair seemed to dropping into the reeds at intervals , perhaps looking for a nest site . From the same point , two more distant sighting of Peregrine were had . The only other interest were at least two Bearded Tits , calling and glimpsed briefly , before the dived down into the reeds below the Raptor Point . More good Marsh Harrier sightings as I was leaving Capel Fleet along with Shellduck and several Red Legged Partridge . Heading back towards the bridge over the Swale , I made a last second decision to have one last look along the track at Elmley , before heading home . I was rewarded straight away with good views of a female Kestrel on a fence post , but the Curlew had moved on , and i general , things were much quieter than earlier . I still carried on , and within sight of the car park , stopped to have a look at a movement on the far bank of the trackside ditch . At first I thought it was a Grey Wagtail , but through the binoculars
, it turned out to be a pristine male Wheatear , looking as if it had only just flown in and exhausted . Cropped , this shot is really stunning , with the bright breeding plumage really showing up well . I got plenty of shots and , even when a second car pulled up behind me , he didn't fly off . When a third car stopped going the other way , the driver having asked what I was looking at , drove backwards and forwards several times before he saw it , but the Wheatear just carried on looking for food unphased . I left them to it and turned in the car park , by which time , both cars had moved on . Just past the spot , a Brown Hare ran from the ditch , across the track , and into the field on the other side . I was trying to get rear end shots of that one , unaware that ther was a second already on the field edge . As I took shots of the two , a strange call started from another spot , a call that I had not heard before , a cross between a cry ad a bark is the best I can do to describe it . I searched the area of longer grass where it was coming from , and eventually found that it was a third Brown Hare . I'm not sure if it was a youngster , or something to do with the mating game , but they all got together out in the open
, the noisy one on the left , and shortly after thus shot , they raced off together at speed , over the rise and out of sight . The track to the road was still quiet , but I made my way home with a big grin on my face , and glad that the last second decision at the roundabout was such a good one , for once .
Even though today has taken a step backwards , I think that after this week's sightings , I think it can be said that Spring is here .
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my computer will be fixed very soon , as working with this one I'm sure , would drive me around the bend , very quickly .