Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Wednesday 19th. September 2012

A catch up on some of the interest found over the last few days . On Monday , I had a look in at Kelsey Park in Beckenham , and was most surprised to find young Grey Herons still in one of the nests on the island . The book says one brood Feb/Apr. , but have read that a second brood has been recorded before , also that if the first brood was lost , the pair might go for a second . I'm reasonably sure that this particular nest was occupied earlier in the year , and can confirm that the youngsters ,
here begging for food from one of the adults , are just as noisy at this time of year . Elsewhere on the
lake and river , the Mandarin flock numbered at least 27 , with 12 drakes , 13 ducks and a couple of
juvenile drakes that were being kept in their place by the adult drakes . On  the waterfall from the main lake , a Grey Wagtail was searching for food in the shadows . It looked like a juvenile and I saw
adults flying with food in their bills earlier in the Summer , but could of course be an adult , as the male loses it's black bib after the breeding season . Only other interest found was what looks like a
Ringed Teal , again either a juvenile or male in eclipse , but either way an escapee , as they are natives of South America .
Even as I was driving along the M25 on Tuesday , I wasn't sure exactly where I would finish up . Oare Marshes was one option , but with a strong wind blowing plenty of cloud in , a last minute decision as I carried on past the A2 turn-off , and as I had my passport with me , headed through the Dartford Tunnel into Essex , trying not to let the £1.50 each way toll ruin the day . I headed for what is my closest RPSB reserve , Rainham Marshes , a first for me . It was here where a few days ago , Marianne / The Wild Side , made the great find of a juvenile Baillon's Crake . Naturally enough , it was the talk of the Visitor Centre , but apart from really early in the morning , sightings have been few and very brief , and the opening time has now gone back to normal , but I hoped that there would be other interest on site too . Still cool and with a strong wind I started around the path through the large expanses of reedbed , with the Thames on one side , a high-speed train line , roads and industry on the other and overhead power cables on pylons as well . One quarter of the way round , I met a volunteer who told me that sadly the local male Peregrine was no more , having hit a wire while chasing prey , but whilst we chatted a Marsh Harrier soared over the back of the reserve . Lots of Little Egret and Grey Heron activity , often dropping out of view when they landed in the ditches . At half distance I had reached the Butts Hide , and I must admit it was not as crowded as I had anticipated . A piece of paper stated that the Crake had been seen 0600-0620 straight out from the hide , but it was now 0945 . Five minutes later , a flash of brown across the little channel from the island to the mainland , was the Baillon's Crake , a sighting that must have lasted two seconds tops . Well , given that some people have spent days in the hide without seeing the bird , quite a result . It was heading right to left , so the reedbed left was scanned continuously , until , just after 1000 , 'there it is went up' and everyone strained to get a glimpse of the tiny bird . I got on it reasonably quickly , sat up on the swaying reeds above the water and had the camera ready . I managed to fire off nine shots into the sun , as the reeds swayed and the bird ran down them into cover below . The best of
what can only be described as a record shot , but none the less , a shot of the elusive Baillon's Crake . So it was back to scanning as the hide really started to fill up and I've got to say that I have never heard so many ringtones from mobiles and pagers in all my life . I decided to get out and leave the
crowd to it . As things warmed up , Marsh Frogs , also known as green frogs , started calling , until someone walked past when everything went quiet . In the warmer margins of the ditches were good
numbers of juvenile frogs of varied colouration . I spent some time watching two Kestrels hunting over some rough ground , and tried to get in front of them to get some shots head on , but every time I
got close they flew further along , leaving me just with the usual backend shots . At least three Water Voles were seen on the way round , some like this one , more happy to pose for a while , before it too
disappeared into the maze of ditches within the reedbeds . What Odonata I saw was very mobile in the windy conditions , but seemed to be dominated by Migrant and fewer Southern Hawkers .The rest of the visit was quiet , until I got back to the car and started down the track back to the road , when a fast moving bird caught my eye , diving low into the vegetation , then climbing quickly back up

again . I concentrated on trying to get it in the viewfinder , and later confirmed it as a Hobby , albeit a bit of a tatty individual , a really nice way to finish my visit . The last two shots show just how varied the cloud cover was , driven by the strong wind .
Today , I did what will probably be the last full butterfly transect of the season at High Elms as just
30 butterflies of 6 species were recorded , 20 of them Meadow Browns , some of which , like this female looked quite respectable , but the odd Speckled Woods , Large White and male Common Blue
had all seen better days , but the female CB was still quite reasonable . Two Comma and two Red Admiral completed the findings . Two Hornets were also seen , and followed , but unfortunately again not photographed . I did manage to get shots of a male Migrant Hawker , but would have been
 happier with the one of the Hornets .


Marc Heath said...

Great collection Greenie, nice shots. The Baillons was well worth the trip.

ShySongbird said...

A very enjoyable round up Greenie. Well done on the Baillon's Crake, it certainly has caused quite a stir. I hadn't realized before just how tiny they are!

It seems like a different country where you are ;-) I don't see Mandarin Ducks or Marsh Frogs here.

Lovely photo of the Migrant Hawker.