Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday 31st. August 2012

Didn't expect to be publishing another post so soon , but after reading Marianne's / The Wild Side , last post which told of good Kingfisher sightings from Willow Hide at Sevenoaks Reserve recently , I made an early start for the Reserve this morning . In comment on Marianne's post , I stated that although many I have spoken to have had birds on the sticks outside the hide , I have never had a single one . The birds that I have managed to photograph on site have all been at distance in natural vegetation . A bit of a culture shock on arrival at the car park , with the car thermometer on 8C. Fortunately I had donned a fleece and a gillet , but after some time in the hide , a coat , woolly hat and gloves would have been ideal , as after a millpond start , the wind got up , blowing straight into the hide viewing flaps . Added to that , there was very little of interest happening outside , not helped by the high water level and subsequent lack of mud around the edges of the lake . I did have one flyby Kingfisher , right to left , but it disappeared towards North Lake . Even the rising sun , which was lighting up the tree tops on the far side of Snipe Bog Lake , didn't lift the temperature in the hide as it stands in the shade of some very tall trees . A couple of birders popped in for a short time , including one who told me that when he looked out last Friday , there was a Kingfisher sitting on one of the sticks . The Canada Geese started to arrive from the fields in their usual noisy fashion , but at least it broke the monotony of the squabbling Coots out front , which were only a small proportion of the species on site , with lots on the East Lake behind . The sun was slowly edging it's way towards the hide , but the two perching sticks were still in the shade , when just before 8 o'clock , from out of the shadows , a Kingfisher glided low over the water , settled
on the left hand perch and looked into the hide . Result . I had the camera set up on a hideclamp and started shooting , expecting the bird to fly as soon as the 'machine gun' of continuous shooting
started , but it didn't seem to phase the bird at all , and it changed position several times , no doubt to
enable me to find it's best profile . Looking back at the shots when I got home , the bird was on the stick for a maximum of two minutes , probably more like one and a half in reality , before flying off again . I can't be sure that it was the cause of it leaving , but as soon as it flew , I heard the sound of footsteps from behind the hide and then the door opening . It was another birder/photographer whose first question was 'any sign of the Kingfishers'? He looked well sick to have just missed the bird , but
we did get a second visit by either the same or another bird , halfway up the right hand stick , in an even murkier position , some seven minutes later . This time the bird stayed in the same position for a shorter period than the first , before it too , flew off . It was then back to the 'nothing happening' situation , and very soon after I left the hide , as much as to warm up as anything . Out of the wind and in the sun , it was very pleasant , so I headed for the small meadow alongside Long Lake . On the
way I found a young Stock Dove on one of the angler's pegs on the East lake . From the small meadow I spotted two Kingfishers , one diving for food , the other looking like it was still roosting in the bankside vegetation . Could have been the birds photographed or another two , but they kept well away from the camera . The sheltered bankside vegetation was also popular with Odonata again , this
time finding a female Migrant Hawker , and shortly afterwards , a male Ruddy Darter . Having got a
few shots of him , a female flew in . As I went to get some shots of her , the male spotted her , and she flew off , hotly pursued by the male . Also around were plenty of fresh looking male Common
Blue Damselflies , but I didn't see any females . A quick look from Willow Hide on my way back to the car park didn't produce any more Kingfisher sightings , but over on the edge of the island a pair of
Gadwall were looking very 'together' .
After lunch , I helped Carol in the garden , which proved almost as good as being out as far a
butterflies were concerned . Species visiting the Buddleias and other flowers included a very
welcome Small Tortoiseshell , Large and Small White , Painted Lady , Speckled Wood , a male

Brimstone and a very aloof Red Admiral . Quite pleasing to record more butterfly species in the back garden than whilst out this morning .
First day of the hedgelaying season tomorrow , not actually laying , but coppicing materials , Hazel stakes and binders , for our first project the following Saturday .
And finally , thanks to Marianne for her post , which enabled me to join the 'seen one on a stick club' .


Warren Baker said...

Well done Greenie, you got your reward at last :-) I wish I could get a Brimstone photo..............

Mike H said...

Fantastic experience and photos Greenie, sooooooooooooooooooooo jealous !!

ShySongbird said...

Well done Greenie! I have never managed any photo of a Kingfisher despite watching many a suitable stick ;-)

An excellent variety of garden butterflies and lovely photos of some of them.

Phil said...

Funnily enough I thought about trying for the Kingfisher on a stick picture myself Greenie. Wish I had now. Well done. I do admire you early morning types!