Thursday, 13 September 2012

Thursday 13th. September 2012

Firstly , many thanks to ShySongbird and Warren for their thoughts on the mystery raptor on the last post . I now have three possible options , but I was never happy with my initial Sparrowhawk identification , which is why I asked for opinions . So , I have dredged up another not very good shot
and doctored it a bit , with the wings on the upbeat , showing similar coloured underwings to the top and a streaked breast . Combining those with the very close to the ground flight , I'm now leaning towards ShySongbird's suggestion of Merlin . The one I saw distantly at Elmley was initially sat on a slight rise on the ground facing me , but I only had back , then distant side views of this bird . Any further thoughts ?
Today , I was heading for the Downs to do a reptile survey , but decided when almost there , to let things warm up a bit , and detoured to Sevenoaks Reserve , arriving about 8 o'clock . It was only 8C in the car park , admittedly in the shade , so a brisk walk to Willow Hide helped warm things up a bit . One birder / photographer was already settled in , and had been for some time , but he hadn't had a single interesting sighting . Regardless , I set up the camera and had a scan around , and he was right . By 0830 I was thinking of moving on , when from over the trees the other side of the lake , the
Geese , mainly Greylag with a few Canada , noisily announced their arrival , mostly overflying Snipe Bog Lake and landing on the East Lake . Just six Canadas looped back and landed out front of the hide , but even they didn't stay long . A couple of minutes later , what I thought was a Teal flew from the far left side of the lake and landed 20 metres out . It proved not to be a Teal , but a Little Grebe , but , for all intent and purpose it might just as well have been one , as it started feeding in a very Teal
-like , non Little Grebe-like manner . I came to the conclusion that if it wasn't practising to be a Teal , then it must be practising for the 'bog snorkeling championships' . Needless to say , every now and
again it did come up for air . Whilst watching the Lt.Grebe , we did have a flyby from a Kingfisher , which landed in a Willow on the left hand island , only to get into an altercation with a Jay . Needless
to say , the Jay saw the Kingfisher off , then returned to it's preening . I went back to watching the Lt.Grebe , when the other birder started taking shots . I turned to see what he was photographing , to see a Kingfisher diving off the lefthand stick for it's breakfast , and I had missed it . But , seconds
later , it reappeared on the righthand stick , and this time I was ready . It must have missed on the first attempt , and was already lining up a second , so I only managed 10 shots , before it dived and then
flew into the bushes on the right , and that was the last we saw of it . A walk down between East and Long Lake produced lots of Coots , some of the Geese that flew in earlier and three Pochard . Heading back around the other side , it was more Geese from Tyler Hide and in the bay heading
down to Tower Hide a single male Pochard , enjoying the warming sun . Also enjoying the warm
sunshine were at least 15 Red Admiral , one Small Tortoiseshell and two Comma , that were
nectaring on the Buddleias around the site . With things obviously warmed up , I headed up onto the Downs to do the reptile survey . Given the conditions , I was expecting to get some good results , but in the end had to settle for 6 Adders , but they did include the first neonate , newly born , of the
season, which was good to see , not much thicker than a pencil . Just a single Grass Snake was
recorded together with 19 Slow Worms and a very odd looking lizard , a copy of which I have sent to
 the Sec. of Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group for his thoughts , which I'll post when I hear back . Most of the colour has disappeared now from the chalk grasslands , but I always look forward to the
show of Devilsbit Scabious / Succisa pratensis , a member of the Teasel family . From the look of the seed heads of the Fragrant Orchids , I will be looking forward to a bumper show from that species
next year too . On the way around I also recorded 11 species of butterflies , including a few very tatty Chalkhill Blues hanging on , making a total of 12 species on the day .


Rohrerbot said...

Very fun and different shots. The snakes you've presented are very very interesting.

Mike H said...

For what its worth Greenie I would vote Kestrel.We had one go through the flock on ARC today looking very similar and causing a few differences of opinion!

ShySongbird said...

Hi Greenie, I have just had a look at what has been seen at Elmley recently and a Merlin was recorded there on the 7th 9th and 13th of this month so I will stick with my original suggestion and will be interested to see if other blogger's have any further thoughts.

An amusing account of the Little Grebe, my usual experience with them is of the now you see it now you don't nature and always very distant :-)

You seem to be on a roll with Kingfishers at the moment, lovely photos of them! I also particularly liked the photos of the butterflies and the Devil's-bit Scabious.

Your remarks on the lizard are intriguing.

Warren Baker said...

If I had to put money down Greenie, I'd go for Kestrel, But being there and watching the bird May have influenced me the other way :-)

Nice Kingfisher BTW, your best efforts yet i'd say :-)