Thursday, 30 August 2012

Wednesday 29th. August 2012

A wet and windy afternoon yesterday and the same this morning , has given an opportunity to catch up on a few recent outings . Last Sunday, I did the High Elms butterfly transect , and although 10 species were recorded , only Meadow Brown and , thankfully , second brood Common Blue managed
to get into double figures . No WHHs and just 4 SWFs , all , like the male pictured , far from their pristine emergent condition , and flying a lot slower too . On Monday , the Down House bird survey produced the average 15 species , with nothing out of the ordinary found . A juvenile Green
Woodpecker was feeding at distance on the main lawn , but by the time I managed to get closer , it
was gone . In the walled vegetable garden , a Robin was trying to keep out of sight whilst moulting . Around the Sandwalk , Violet Helleborine numbers have reached a superb 11 specimens , although a
couple have been badly damaged by slugs . This is the best specimen , it's first flower spike , behind , already in seed , whilst the second , smaller one still in   flower . My arrival at Keston Ponds
coincided with a young angler just landing a rather large Carp . When he got it on the scales , they registered 25lbs.5oz / 11.5 kg. , a 'pb' for the young man who was noticeably well pleased . Only
other interest was a Mallard family resting up on what looked like a Coot's nest . Sevenoaks Reserve was my first stop on Tuesday morning , but apart from Geese , Coots and Cormorants , not a lot else birdwise . Like many other places , growth over the Summer makes sighting birds difficult , but from
Slingsby Hide I did manage to get a few shots of one of two Chiffchaffs feeding on the ripened Elderberries just outside . On the track back around the main lake , a Treecreeper stopped just long
enough to get a couple of shots , before disappearing again . As the temperature rose , I turned my attention to the Odonata present , which consisted of large numbers of Migrant Hawkers like this
male , resting up between aerial skirmishes , a very active male Brown Hawker , continually
searching the small meadow alongside Long Lake for a meal , which did eventually come to rest , allowing a few shots showing his amber suffused wings . After another aerial display , he settled
again , and I managed to get a close up of his 'working end'  , before I got just too close for his liking , and he was gone . Common Darters and Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies were also around in good numbers . Leaving the reserve , I headed up onto the Downs to look for evidence of reptile
reproduction , which I did not find . The Adders and Slow Worms seem to be late again this year giving birth , but did record 11 Adders , like this male , but also sub adults and juveniles ( last year's
young ) , this adult and a juvenile Grass Snake , and 30 Slow Worms . My final stop of the day was at Hewitt's Bank , a Kent Wildlife Trust site , just off the A21 , close to the M25 . I hadn't been there for ages , apart from anything , you have to take your life in your hands crossing the A21 to get there , but hardly recognised the place when I did . The main attraction , a chalk hill , deposited from the digging of a railway cutting / tunnel , which used to hold some interesting plants , seemed very ordinary on this visit , or was it the passage of time ? Much of it is now covered with Wall Cotoneaster / C. horizontalis , but no sign of the Basil Thyme /Acinos arvensis , a striking little
Labiate that I used to find there . Much of the rest of the small site is covered in Goat's Rue / Galega
officinalis , a member of the Pea family . I failed also with the other species that I had hoped to find , Blue Fleabane / Erigeron acer on site , but on my way out , found a few plants on the edge of the golf
course . This species , although a member of the Daisy family , looks nothing like it's more widely found relative , the yellow Common Fleabane , looking more like a 'yet to open' Michaelmas Daisy , to which it is also related .
The weather has dried up some this afternoon , but it remained very windy and cloudy , and didn't
manage to get out today , which left me plenty of time to try and work out how this Coot at Sevenoaks managed to do this !


Warren Baker said...

The species total at Down House is a bit disappointing Greenie, I suppose its all manicured and tidy there ?

Maybe that Coot had a bit of wind :-)

ShySongbird said...

You have certainly had a busy few days Greenie and have a good mixed bag here again with some lovely photos. The SWF certainly had seen better days poor old thing and no wonder the Robin was trying to hide!

A nice selection of flowers too. I was hoping to look for some Violet Helleborines having never (knowingly) seen any but with so much bad weather I didn't get round to it.

I particularly liked the Mallard photo especially when enlarged.

Marc Heath said...

Great selection Greenie and a nice account as always.

Phil said...

You,ve managed to find more than me in recent days Greenie. Maybe I should go back to fishing!
I'm giving NH a visit today, maybe something will turn up there.

Alan Pavey said...

A great mix of flora and fauna, which I always enjoy reading and lovely photos as ever

Anonymous said...

Retirement is fun! Great blog - I'm planning to do something similar but can't hope to get photos as good as these! (Particularly like the adders and the lizard on heather.)