Saturday, 11 April 2015

Saturday 11th. April 2015

A round up of the week :
The first butterfly transect at High Elms LNR , failed to produce the hoped for Orange Tip or early
Skipper . The two and a half hour visit in good conditions didn't blunt the pencil with 9 Brimstone , 2 Peacock and one Comma being the only butterflies going into the book . I must say that it might be a blessing in disguise as apart from Primroses and Violets and the first Cowslips , there are very few nectar plants in the 'scalped' glades and meadows . Even the Bee Fly / Bombylius major had to resort
 to the Primrose too . Along the bridleway through the golf course , Coltsfoot / Tussilago farfara , a
member of the Daisy family , and a species that flowers before it's leaves appear , was found , and just before the car park , the flower buds of the Horse Chestnut / Aesculus hippocastanum , had just
burst open . In a short time these will become the erect stalked clusters of flowers ready to be pollinated and produce the conkers in the Autumn . On the way home , I stopped off up on the
Common where the 3/4 Chiffchaffs were singing , and as I photographed one , the faint 'hueet' contact call of it's mate was heard , as she looked for a nest sight below .
A trip to Bough Beech Reservoir found the water still very high , with almost no muddy edges , there is very little hope of any waders stopping in to refuel . A Cuckoo , calling from behind the Oast and a singing Blackcap at the far end of the reserve , where I looked for Orange Tips amongst the Cuckoo Flower along the hedgeline without success , were the only highlights . Moving on to the small
reserve with feeders , I was greeted as I arrived by a pair of Treecreeper and also heard the Bullfinches , but never saw them . With several Common Buzzard heard and the odd one or two
drifting into view , I found my first Grass Snakes of the year . This probable female from the size allowed a couple of shots , but a smaller specimen was too quick for the camera . When I arrived back home and unloading the car , an insect , looking somewhat like a honeybee , caught my attention as it moved across the carport floor . I grabbed a sheet of paper and the camera and it obliged by walking a short way on the paper before flying off . I have got to admit that it would probably gone in my 'to be identified' folder , had it not been for a photo on the Rye Harbour webpage the previous evening . It was in fact a Black-horned Sawfly / Zaraea lonicera , one of the
less seen species . Like many of the Sawflies , it's name reflects the plant with which it is associated , Honeysuckle .
I left it quite late for a visit to Sevenoaks Reserve , but even so arrived in a pea soup , but the warmth of the sun could be felt through it , and after an hour or so , it was gone . From Tyler Hide on my arrival , I couldn't see the first island , so headed down to Slingsby Hide , hoping for Water Rail or
Reed Warbler , but only a single male Reed Bunting was seen . With the islands now showing from Tyler Hide , two Little Ringed Plover were seen in flight but when landing , were on the far side of the furthest islands . Along the main track towards the sheep field , 3 male Blackcap were singing ,
one down by Long Lake just made it into the viewfinder , but no sign yet of a Garden Warbler . From the gate I scanned the sheep field , but failed to find the juvenile White Ibis , but last night I noticed that an immature White Ibis touched down briefly at the London Wetland Centre at Barnes , before carrying on westwards . I can't imagine that it wasn't the Sevenoaks bird , so the long staying attraction has moved on , perhaps it ran out of worms in the sheep field .
Yesterday I took Carol to friends near Rye and after a quick cuppa , disappeared . I headed first for Pett Level and was frustrated before even stopping to see a pair of Mute Swan mating in the middle of one pool . It looked like the cob jet-skiing on the pen . As I pulled up , it was over and as I unpacked the camera they did a 'ballet thing' , but as I was ready to take a shot , they split up , gutted .To add to the frustration , ripples from the edge of the ditch in front of the pool turned out to
be a Water Vole feeding on emerging reed stems , but it steadfastly refused to come out into the open . The only other interest was a pair of Shellduck , way over on the far side . My second stop was at Rye Harbour NR  in now somewhat hazy conditions . Lots of families on the path out to the mouth of the Rother , so I headed out to the right and beyond the caravan park . The tide was out , but the
number of birds around were few . A Curlew was feeding in the water on one pool , and not far
away , one of two Avocet , the only two seen on the visit . The air was full of BhGull calls , interspersed by a few Skylark battles involving two or three birds at a time . This one had just had a
spat with two other , and was taking the chance to look for food . A few Linnets were seen on the way to the hides , where the noise level increased by each step from nesting Gulls . Almost all were
Bh , but way out on the pool were a few Meds , but they never came close , and when did come
ashore , it was always on the far side of the island . A Redshank was much more willing to pose . Making my way along the metaled road between the reserve and the beach , usually a good spot for Yellow Wagtail or Wheatear , hardly a bird was seen or heard , apart from another Skylark that lifted
up overhead in full song . Near the mouth of the river , I met up with the 'last of the summer wine' , three old boys , all must have been well into their 80's , out on a day's birding . They too were hoping for migrants in the area , but hadn't found a single one . After reminiscing about how it used to be in the 'old days' , we went our ways . As I turned to follow the river back to the car park , I looked over to where I had stopped and chatted to the three . They hadn't moved far , and I smiled and thought to myself , it won't be that long before I could join their club . My next move was to Dungeness , where before going to the reserve , had a look down the Gully . Very little apart from an LBJ that dived into the gorse , and a report from a returning birder that he hadn't seen a single migrant . Still , I parked up and had a look around and was as pleased as punch to find two male Wheatear , looking very dapper ,
one of which was more obliging than the other , which made the bumpy ride back up the track much more satisfying . Arriving at the RSPB reserve , not a sign of a Tree Sparrow , or any other species at the feeders at the entrance , and a slow drive along the track only produced one singing Reed Warbler and a female Kestrel of interest . Few cars in the car park didn't bode well , plus the fact that I was running out of time to pick Carol up , so I did a quick circuit , not going into any of the hides . A distant Marsh Harrier and several calling Cettis Warblers and swarms of black , 'mosquito type'    insects and the odd Peacock butterfly was all that was seen as I approached the 5 bar gate near the track to Dengemarsh Hide , when my progress was slowed instantly by two bursts of Sedge Warbler song , from Brambles either side of the gate . As usual , it was some time before I saw movement , never mind a bird , but patience paid off . One bird suddenly appeared on top of the Bramble , as if
trying to out-sing his rival , before disappearing back into cover . With one eye on my watch and the other on the other Bramble patch , again my patience was rewarded when the bird defiantly appeared
in a small tree to post his response . Almost immediately , both birds were spooked by four people on horseback , and all went quiet . The hoped for 'boom' from a Bittern didn't materialise , but just before the return track to the car park , I met two birders who told me that a Hoopoe , probably the one seen in the trapping area at the Bird Observatory yesterday , had been seen within the last 20 minutes in the area . There was no way I had time to look around , so left them to it , but searched on my way back , without success . Back at the car park , I was told by another birder that when seen , the bird flew off immediately , without a chance of a photo , so it could be anywhere on the reserve , or even flown off altogether . I finally picked Carol up 'well late' , but it was described as 'to be expected ' !


Warren Baker said...

Getting envious of all these posts with summer birds on them Greenie! I like that Skylark shot :-)

Had real mega on my patch today, should keep me interested for a few more visits :-)

Phil said...

Great round up Greenie. All in all an action packed week and some great pics.
Like Warren I really like the Skylark shots but the Sedges do it most for me.
Don't think you're quite ready for the Last of the Summer Wine club. When you are, give me a shout and I'll come and join you!
Sounds like your Carol knows you too well:-))