Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Monday 19th. March 2012

Another cool morning greeted me at Sevenoaks Reserve today , but the sun soon started to lift the temperature , and encouraged large numbers of midges to take to the air , and the warmer it got , the more midges appeared . Still plenty of bird song about , but bird numbers seemed well down on recent visits . With the low sun , I kept it to my back and headed for the Public Hide . Two Little ringed Plovers were reported over the weekend along with a juvenile Glaucous Gull , but none of these were found . At least three pairs of Great Crested Grebes were still displaying to each other , and two of the pairs were occasionally going back and adding a bit more material to the nest , before heading back out into deeper water . Also displaying , on the island right outside the hide , was a
female Lapwing , contorting her body and giving a strange clicking noise that I haven't heard before . She was trying to interest her presumed mate , who was standing on the far side of the island , seemingly uninterested by her performance . Slowly the uninterested bird made it's way around the shoreline of the island towards the female , searching for any tasty morsel on the way . Eventually , he reached the female , who by now had reached a crescendo of contorting and clicking , only for the
other bird to pass her by as if she wasn't there at all . A lady birder arrived at the hide , who turned out to be not just a fellow birder but a fellow Blogger , Marianne / The wild side . We actually met in Willow Hide back in mid winter , but neither of us realised who the other one was . Good to put a face to a name Marianne . I headed off down towards Tower Hide , finding very little apart from a
flock of about 25 Siskins , including this female , feeding in the Alders on the way . Nothing found around Slingsby hide , so I headed around to the other side of East Lake . Wrens everywhere and all the expected species in full song , including at least two Chiffchaffs . Long lake was deserted apart from the two adult Mute Swans , who were crashing their way through the reedbed from The Darenth . Heading for Willow Hide , the 'ugly duckling' , juvenile Mute Swan , was on the river just by the bridge . The view from the hide was very sparse , just a few Canada and Greylag Geese along with two Egyptian ones . Not even a Gadwall in sight and even the Coots had finished their constant bickering and moved on . The only interest were five Shoveler , four males and a single female , who stayed over by the reedbed where the Bittern was usually seen . Much scrapping between the males
for the female's attention , and her seemingly non-plussed by all that was happening . Every now and
again , the group would lift off and fly crazily around for a bit , then land and start the arguing all
over again . One of the males was a bit behind the other four when I took this shot . And that was about as exciting as the Reserve got on this visit
After a quick lunch in the car , I headed off to the Downs , in now warmer conditions , but with a cool breeze , which seemed to keep butterflies tucked up , as I only recorded 2 Brimstone , 1 Small
Tortoiseshell and 1 Comma during the visit . It didn't seem to bother the Bee Flies / Bombylius major , nor the solitary bees that they predate upon , they were seen all over the chalk grassland . Still
not much colour around , but Wild Strawberry / Fragaria vesca is starting to come into flower . Three
Slow Worms were found , and surprisingly seven Common Lizards , including this one which I heard
scuttling away as I approached a fallen tree trunk . I stood still and waited , and sure enough , after a couple of minutes , it returned to it's basking position on the trunk . I was beginning to think that the visit was going to be Adder-less , but in the last 10 minutes or so on the way back to the car found
three males , which included this one , tucked up well in vegetation .
Well , this post has taken about four hours to put together . I started Monday evening and finally finished it first thing this morning , Tuesday . All the trouble has been with uploading pictures to Blogger , as usual . My patience is wearing very thin , and I really can see the whole thing going out the window in the near future .


Phil said...

Sevenoaks sounds as quiet as New Hythe at the moment Greenie. But at least you're doing well with the reptiles on the Downs.
I know what you mean about Blogger and the time it all takes. I've struggled to find the enthusiasm, and time to blog recently. It'll be better when the new birds, butterflies and dragonflies arrive.

Warren Baker said...

My aim this year with the Butterflies, is to photograph a Brimstone!!

Have you tried using the new blogger version greenie, I rarely get any problems now :-)

ShySongbird said...

Don't give up Greenie, we can't have that! Although I do know what you mean and blogging is so time consuming at the best of times. Anyway, it was worth getting the photos on in the end. My favourites here are the ducks in flight and the lovely little Lizard, I never seem to see them!

Poor Miss Lapwing, all that effort and he wasn't interested!

Ken. said...

It might have been quiet at Sevenoaks again on this visit, but at least your day out was rewarded with some nice wildlife, apart from birds.

Marianne said...

It was good to meet you properly at last! I'm pretty certain the displaying Lapwing was a male and the disinterested party a female. Looking at my pics of them, the displaying bird's face shows more intense and extensive black markings, while the other is paler with some white mixed in with the black.