Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Wednesday 18th. June 2014

After spending the weekend and Monday with a stinking cold , I decided that the best remedy was to get out and about yesterday . With the cloud forecasted to break up mid morning , I set off for deepest Kent , to search for the Norfolk Hawker . I arrived at Westbere Marshes at about 1000 , but there was no sign of any clearance and also a cool wind , not the conditions for Odonata . Regardless , I walked the ditch , searching for a roosting specimen , but to no avail . There was the odd moment of sun , but not enough to change the situation . By 1200 , still without a sighting , I decided to move on to East Blean Woods , to see if I could do any better with the Heath Fritillary butterfly . I remember arriving in the car park many years ago with the two 'old boys' I used to go out with , finding swarms of the butterfly as soon as we got out of the car , but that was not the case now . A lot of the area around the car park is now well overgrown , but I carried on looking , avoiding the Giant Hogweed , which wasn't there last time I visited . Eventually , I did find 7/8 , mainly worn specimens in the area , but
then went looking further afield . Not that far away , I found a recently cleared area with a reasonable amount of Common Cow-wheat , the food plant of the larvae of the species , having sprung up following the clearance . Still dull and windy , any Fritillaries there were more interested in
'hunkering down' , but every time the sun broke through , those present got on the wing for a short time . I probably found another 7/8 in this clearing , but nothing like those halcyon days of some time
ago . Returning to the car to get some lunch , the skies opened and the sun was searingly hot . I also got a call from fellow enthusiast Keith , at work , re. the Short Toed Eagle that had been inhabiting Ashdown Forest for a couple of days . He was considering going when he got home , and we decided to keep in touch and decide what to do late afternoon . Having recharge the batteries , I decided to return to Westbere , in the hope of doing better in the changed conditions . Still windy , I walked and re-walked the ditch , and eventually , I did see a Norfolk Hawker on the wing , but it did not stop , and with the amount of vegetation , it was impossible to follow . Reed Warblers in the surrounding area sang , unseen under the now almost cloudless skies , and Banded Demoiselle and an immature
Ruddy Darter kept the interest , but no further NH sighting .  Also frustrating me was a plant seen amongst the Phragmites , but the grey matter just couldn't recognise it . A search through the

books when I got home turned it up , Common Valerian / Valeriana officinalis , with it's unusual leaf structure , another species first seen with the 'old boys' many years ago .Deciding that the wind won , I made my way back to the car and decided to cut across country to Ashdown Forest  , mainly to find out if the bird was still there , and whether it would be worthwhile Keith coming down after work . The answer to the first part was obvious with the number of cars packed into the car park , and I learned later that there was another packed one over the other side of the site , an area the bird also frequented . Walking down the broad track the gathered birders were scanning the sky , I joined in but couldn't see anything until a chap with a scope felt sorry for me , and I got my first sighting of a Short Toed Eagle . It stayed high up , hanging on the wind for about 20 minutes , before stooping into the valley at just after 1600 . The birders who had been on site the previous two days reckoned that it had gone to roost , and the assembled group moved further down the hill towards an area of Pines , where the bird apparently roosted the previous two nights . While the bird was 'hanging high' , I took a few shots , the bird showing as a small dot in the middle of the viewfinder . When I got home , I
was pleased with a record shot , that at least showed some detail on the tail . Keith didn't manage to get off work early , and as |I returned home he was still talking of going down for a look , but decided against it . Hopefully the bird will remain till the weekend , when we'll give it another go .


Marc Heath said...

Hard luck with the Hawkers, hopefully you can return in better weather. Any chance of some info on Fairmile common. Is ss blue quite easy here and where do you park etc. Thanks in advance.

Mike H said...

So sorry you had that cold fred. Glad you did manage to see a NH though. The Heaths are not as good at East Blean , much better now at Blean woods. Up to 200 seen on Tuesday.

Greenie said...

Marc ,
Have sent details by email .

dwwardgay said...

Liked the photos of the cormorant trying to swallow the fish.

Please could we use one in a book being used to raise funds for a charitable trust.

My email is