Monday, 10 March 2014

Monday 10th. March 2014

A catch up on visits over the last few days , starts with the bird survey at Down House . A sunny , crisp visit produced 19 species , just on the higher side of average for the site . The birds were in fine song , like us , probably glad to see and feel that sun . Great Spotted Woodpeckers were duelling on
their favoured drums , this one over by the cricket field , the other was answering from the formal garden . In the large paddock , a Green Woodpecker swooped down , probably to feed on ants . I tried
to get close , but just after this shot , I was spotted , and it was gone , along with a noisy 'yaffle' . In
the formal garden , tucked under a hedge , an Earthstar fungus / Geastrum triplex , the fleshy outer layer splitting backwards under fruiting body raised above the ground . Anything touching the spore sack , even raindrops , producing a jet of spores to be emitted from an opening on the top of the sack . Walking back to the car along the lane , a splash of blue close to the ground caught my attention . My
first thought was Borage / Borago officinalis , there being not that many blue flowers , but that grows to quite a good sized plant , and the top of this flower stalk was only 30 cms. off the ground . From the books , I now think it might be Abraham , Isaac and Jacob / Trachystemon orientalis , or maybe not ?
As the week warmed up , I made several early morning visits to an area I passed through many times en route to hedglaying over the years , and on 3/4 occasions , had sightings of Brown Hares . Unfortunately , the Hares didn't show , but it was worth while just for the song of the Skylarks . The only shot I took on the visits , was this rushed one , without a chance of changing any settings , of a
male Pheasant that appeared flying from behind a rise and disappeared into some adjoining woodland . After each failed visit , I consoled myself with a stop up on the Greensand Ridge , where
the warm weather has encouraged more Adders to come out of hibernation . Singles are still to be

found , but more doubles and trebles are becoming more frequent . Sorting out the number of heads
and tails , I must admit , is made much easier when the animals help out and stay separate . My best animal count to date is 12 , one of which I was really glad to find , a youngster born last Autumn ,
and proving breeding on the site .
This morning , with cloud forecast to take over from lunchtime , I headed to Sevenoaks Reserve , and
was welcomed by one of many Wrens , singing their hearts out . I was hoping to find Great-crested Grebes displaying , but only found two pairs , one intent on feeding , the other mirroring each other at distance and behind a reedbed . A very quick look in at Willow Hide , as someone had decided to leave their last meal over one end of the hide . The island on the East Lake was noisy , with this pair
of Egyptian Geese evicting the Canadas and Greylags , even though both species are bigger than them . A bit further along the track , another , or the same Jay , allowed me to get a few shots , before
flying off . But even that was eclipsed later , when I spotted a Treecreeper land on a tree just off the track , then fly on to a nearby Ivy clad tree . I waited a while , then it flew back past me , before returning again as before . I made my way to the area that the bird had been heading to , and got the camera ready , albeit not good light and lots of vegetation between , as I didn't want to get too close . The following shots tell their own story :

Assuming I was watching the female , she came backwards and forwards 7/8 times whilst I was there , with different nesting materials , whilst , who I assume was the male , took no notice of me ,
and stood guard on the surrounding trees , at one time landed on a close Elderberry , almost too close for the camera to focus . A few minutes that I will never forget . I moved on , hoping that the pair will
be successful . From Tyler Hide , a fine looking male Shellduck , but no sign of a partner . Whilst out
on the back of the nearest island , 13 Common Snipe , with another 3 just out of the shot . More
Wrens from Slingsby Hide , along with a male Reed Bunting , also singing his heart out . Around the site , Goat Willow , a great early provider of nectar was attracting lots of Bumble Bees , mostly
Buff-tailed , and also another Comma . With the first clouds showing , I headed home , and as I approached the bottom of Poll Hill , could see a Common Buzzard , quartering the adjacent fields . I
managed to get on a quieter lane and got a distant shot , unfortunately into the now milky sun . I
watched and waited , and was eventually rewarded with a better shot , as it turned towards the sun . By the time I got home , the cloud cover was complete .


Marc Heath said...

Cracking Treecreeper shots. How i would love to see a wild adder.

Warren Baker said...

That was a nice encounter with the Treecreepers greenie, what a well concealed nest!

flukeprint said...

Hi Greenie, catching up with your blog after some absence. Thanks for the plant id, it gets me every year. If you ever get to New Hythe again there is a good cafe in the Brooklands Lake car park area.