Thursday, 24 April 2014

Thursday 24th.April 2014

I set off yesterday morning for Elmley , and once again found the top of Wrotham Hill enshrouded in mist , and things further East looking not much better . But a glint of sunshine , just before Jct.4 of the M20 , had me diverting to New Hythe , to look and listen to Nightingales . As it was early , I considered that the local Blogger would still be testing the yolk of his egg and thickness of the accompanying soldiers , and felt safe to have a look around . The next hour and a half produced 8/10
singing male Nightingales , along with good numbers of other migrants . Although plagued by twigs ,
I've included the first shot to show just how much effort goes in to produce those superb notes . In an
adjacent Hawthorn , a Woodpigeon was trying to get some shut-eye , whilst sitting on it's nest . In the
time I was on site , the air was full of song , not only from the Nightingales , but backed up by lots of

Common Whitethroat , Blackcap and the resident species . No sign of any Water Voles on the visit ,
 but I did catch one Coot doing his morning limbering up routine , and appropriately , given the day , found a nice group of St.George's Mushroom / Tricholoma gambosum , looking somewhat like Field
Mushroom , but with white gills underneath the cap , instead of brown . I left with the Nightingale song audible right back to where I parked , and best of all I didn't get caught !
Arriving at Elmley , the weather was mixed , but was welcomed , just inside the first cattle grid by a
vocal and , unusually for the species , a photogenic Red-legged Partridge . Plenty of Lapwing along
the track , showing off their aerial skills , but one of these was driving off the other , and a little later
the reason became apparent , when three very young chicks came into sight . The first of 5/6 Yellow
Wagtails was seen a bit further on , this one having just caught and in the process of swallowing a large insect . Though there are no 'avian crossings' along the track , I had to stop to allow these two
Redshank 'the right of way' . Corn and Reed Bunting were both heard but not seen before reaching the car park , where Several Swallow were hawking for insects , and occasionally resting and
preening on the overhead wires . No sign of life in either Owl box , but in the scrape behind the toilet
block , a distant pair of Avocet was the only notable sighting . Speaking to a returning birder from the hides who said that he hadn't seen anything out of the ordinary , and with the weather seemingly
deteriorating , I decided to return down the track . In the ditches , the constant , raucous calls of
Marsh Frogs , and just coming into flower Water Crowfoot , probably Common / Ranunculus aquatilis , a member of the Buttercup family . In another ditch , this Little Grebe was managing to
find it's fishy breakfast , no trouble . Whilst photographing another Yellow Wagtail , this time posed
nicely on a rock , WW3 was brewing up in one of the larger ditches , with several species attempting to drive off two Marsh Harriers . By the time I arrived close by , both birds had dropped out of site ,
but shortly after a female lifted out of the ditch , followed a few seconds later by a male a bit further
along the ditch . Both were chased off by the residents , but further along , they seemed to find what they were looking for , at the expense of the family of a pair of Mallard . On a five bar gate , I saw a small bird perched and got a couple of shots through the windscreen , which were useless , but having stopped and the bird dropped down , I moved into the passenger seat and was pleased when the
Meadow Pipit re-appeared and perched on a small twig , affording great views before dropping to the
ground and feeding . One of many Little Egret seen on the visit , a species that is doing very well
here . I stopped further down watching two Lapwing in a synchronised flight display , probably
courting , and noticed a movement in the grass , which turned out to be this youngster , all on it's own , but the parents were probably watching from a distance . The mating theme continued with a
pair of Oystercatchers , wheeling around and piping , before coming in to land . Even the Redshank
got in on the display act , with this one showing it's best bits . As can be seen from the last few shots , the weather was really closing in and getting very cool , so I decided to call it a day and headed home . As it happened the further I travelled West , the better the weather got , and on the spur of the moment , again turned off the M20 at Jct.4 , for a second dose of that Nightingale song . As I walked towards the area where I had the best singing male , I could hear him still belting it out , and turning a corner towards him , walked straight into New Hythe's own 'Batman and Robin' , Phil / Sharp by Nature and Terry Laws , and got caught red handed . They too were after the loud male , but with the light and his insistence to stay in cover , the Nightingale not Phil , it proved difficult to get any shots .
So talk turned to cameras and lenses , and a general catch up . I did manage a few shots , but the sun's
position earlier in the day was definitely better . A call on the batphone  from Batwoman started the
break up of the meeting , and whilst the pair headed over the railway to where they parked their batmobiles , I headed back to my car , and this time , I did go home .
Mike , I see we were both looking at the same Nightingales after reading Phil's posting , your visit probably between my two . Perhaps next time ?
And finally , from the garden today , a very freshly emerge Holly Blue , a female identified by the

large amount of dark blue marking on the top forewing .


Phil said...

Some great shots there Greenie. Quite apart from the Nightingales I like the Meadow Pipit and do you know why the Redshank crossed the road? :-)
If me and Terry are Batman and Robin, I presume that makes you the Joker!

Marc Heath said...

Greenie, thats a superb set of shots there, a good outing with the camera indeed.

alan woodcock said...

Hi,sounds like a nice day out,pleased you managed pics of the Nightingales.

Alan Pavey said...

Great post Greenie, love the Nightingale shots and nice that there are so many there.