Sunday, 3 May 2015

Sunday 3rd. May 2015

A visit to Sevenoaks Reserve early in the week explained why Egyptian Geese are springing up all
over the place . This pair had 11 youngsters , and here were fending off  one of their own kind . Down at Slingsby Hide , a pair of Reed Bunting took off as I opened the flap , and at least 3 singing
Reed Warbler were around the hide and reedbed . I was hoping to see Garden Warbler too , but although I heard two singing males , neither were seen . Over on the other side of the East Lake , a Great
Crested Grebe pair had at least one egg in their nest . On the North lake , I think I spotted two
juveniles in the Grey Heron nest , a long way behind the species at Kelsey Park in Beckenham . During the visit , just one Orange Tip and one Small White was seen , but not a single Odonata .
The High Elms LNR butterfly transect did little better , with just 6 butterflies recorded from three

species , but at least two were new for the year , Dingy and Grizzled Skipper , the two early Skippers that I have been hoping for on previous transects . At the moment , the Conservation Fields are awash
with Cowslips , this being just one small part , but down at the bottom edge , out of the thousands , a
single orange / yellow variant . A quick look around the dipping pond produced my first Odonata of
the year , a male Large Red Damselfly , a male of the hopefully the first of many .
Up on the Greensand Ridge , things have gone very quiet , the males having dispersed to look for mates apart from the non breeders . On one visit around St.Georges Day , I thought I had found some
mushrooms named after out patron Saint , but on closer inspection , found that they were three eggs .
Next visit , I went to the same patch of heather , pictured above , but saw no eggs . It was only when I
used my binoculars that I found I was being watched , by a female Pheasant . On my last visit , she
wasn't on the nest so I was able to have a good look , finding 11 eggs now present . I pulled back the heather over the nest and carried on . On my way back , I had another look , finding the female back on her nest , but more obvious this time as she was turned through 180 degrees , and the full length of her tail was sticking out .
On Friday , I made an early start , arriving down at Elmley Reserve just after 0800 . Along the
entrance track , lots of nesting birds . For some , the lack of rain has meant that their nest is now high and dry . Lapwing seem to be doing very well again , with some still on nests , but many now with young . I sat for a while watching this small chick and it's siblings , probably not more than 2/3 days
old , having to find food for itself . The female kept in contact with calls , and defended the youngsters from predators , but there was definitely no feeding being done . I was hoping for Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear on the track , but neither were seen on the visit . I must admit that I got 'way-layed' when I got to the S bends before the car park when I spotted two Brown Hares in the field across the ditch , but they never came really close . I moved on to the second bend to find a Brown
Hare running along the side of the track towards me . Well that was just the start of a couple of hours where at least 10 animals were seen criss-crossing the track and in and out of the ditches either side .
Occasionally , the odd animal would stop still for a few moments , but that was the exception to the rule . The highlight came when I had 6 animals chasing each other around the field on the other side
of the ditch . I was hoping to get all 6 in the viewfinder together , but had to make do with just 4 .
And of course the reason for all this chasing and hiding , well this buck's face says it all . Just before
the car park , a Little Grebe pair were looking for a meal , this one , in breeding plumage , was successful . By the time I reached the car park , I was frozen . Having both front windows open not knowing where the next Hare would appear from , produced a very cold wind tunnel effect , and I was glad to have a coffee and warm up . Unexpectedly , not a single hirondine was seen along the track , or at the car park . The return along the track produced a distant Hobby , my first of the year ,
but as soon as I started to slow down , it was off . Also seen on the way out were male and female

Linnet , and a pair of Redshank , acting exactly the same as the Hares earlier , chasing and calling . I think the end result was the same as they disappeared into a ditch to reappear a short time later ,
trying to make out nothing had happened . As it was the female that was doing all the egging on and calling , I'm surprised the male had the strength left . A look along the Capel Fleet road to the raptor
viewpoint , did finally produce a migrant in the form of a male Wheatear . Not much else apart from distant views of several Marsh Harrier and a flock of Corn Bunting in the brambles , 16 of which got
into the viewfinder . Before heading home , I had a quick look at the beach at Leysdown , which resembled mid-Winter with waves crashing in on a full tide . The only interest found was a single
Mediterranean Gull amongst the Black-Headeds and a couple of Oystercatchers . So , even though it was cold and windy , it certainly wasn't a bad Hare day .


Wilma said...

My word, you and the wildlife have been busy! The Egyptian goose chicks are adorable, as is the lapwing chick.

Ken. said...

Love the pics of the hares. it must have been quite some sight seeing 6 of them.
You can always get good pictures of lapeing chicks at Elmley.They are never far from the track, are they?
Nice shot of the L/R/Damselfly.