Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Wednesday 21st. October 2015

A wet day at least gives a chance to catch up on a few recent outings .
A trip to Knole Park in Sevenoaks , in better conditions , in the hope of finding some deer rutting proved unsuccessful . A good number of Fallow Deer were found around the site , mainly Fallow like
this stag browsing on the lower branches of a conifer , but the usual centre of activity , Echo Mount , was almost empty of any deer at all . Eventually one stag did make his way to the top , bellowing as
he did so , but shortly afterwards , collapsed into his ' pit ' , and there he stayed . Apart from the Fallow , there are a few Sika Deer on the site , and a short distance away , I found this confiding
female .Finding little else of interest , I started my way back to the car , when I noticed someone in the distance twirling something on a rope . As I got closer , I could see it was a falconer , obviously trying to entice a bird down from a large tree . I got onto the other side of the avenue of trees and could hear the bells attached to the jessies , every time the bird moved , but could not see it because of the canopy leaves . After a lot of effort and calling , the bird was taking no notice until it attempted to take a pigeon as it flew by , but failed , but it did land in the open and I got my first view of a
beautiful female Goshawk . The saga went on for another half hour before the falconer finally managed to entice the bird down . When he did so , I asked if I could get a few shots and was pleased
when he agreed . Initially , she was very agitated , but after some food she settled . It was great to see
the bird up close , but I would have preferred if she was flying free .
The bird survey at Down House produced 19 species , which included all Thrush species apart from Ring Ouzel . The Yew tree in the formal gardens held 9 Mistle Thrush , 13 Redwing , and 7 Fieldfare
( one pictured ), and around the site Song Thrush and Blackbird were recorded .
A visit to Bough Beech Reservoir found it full of Greylag and Canada Goose , with the single Black-tailed Godwit still on tthe North Lake . A single Little Egret and a fly-over Raven were the only other avian  interest found . On the way , a lovely show of Sowbread / Cyclamen hederifolium was found
on a roadside verge , and also in the local area , a super show of Devilsbit Scabious / Succisa
pratensis , providing nectar for the many bumblebees still on the wing , along with the odd specimen
of Betony / Betonica officinalis , a member of the Labiate family . On getting home , I had to remove
a Dor Beetle ( one of the Dung Beetles ) / Geotrupes stercorarius , from the carport floor , before backing in .
A visit to Sevenoaks Reserve didn't produce any excitement birdwise , but on the way round
Lawyer's Wig or Shaggy Ink Cap / Coprinus comatus and the less often found Ramaria stricta were
found on the fungi front and down in the small meadow alongside Long Lake , a very fidgety female
Common Blue Damselfly was unexpected , along with a more expected female Common Darter .
This species can go on into November if conditions are suitable . Also on the wing were large
numbers of Caddis Flies , all making the most of the sunshine . That sunshine had also enticed out
dozens of Harlequin Ladybirds in the area of Buddleia bushes behind Tyler Hide . Three of the forms

found are pictured , there were probably more .
Yesterday I made another visit to Knole Park and although there was more activity amongst the Fallow Deer , the nearest they got to rutting was lowering of heads , but nothing else . Echo Mount
had four well antlered bucks , two were only metres apart most of the time , all roaring to attract
females and gathering small harems . The only action occurred when a younger buck , like these two , got too near to the females , when the older buck would chase it off . So I don't know if any rutting took place this year , or did the stags just divide up Echo Mount , but one thing is for sure , and that is
that the future generation is ensured . This buck must have had the right bellow , as he mated with several females . The other bucks bellowed and got nowhere . As I left the site , I managed a shot of
a male Sika Deer .

Monday, 5 October 2015

Monday 5th. October 2015

A catch up on a few outings , before the Summer ended .
With butterfly transects ended , a general look around High Elms produced a low fly-over Common Buzzard and the most Hornets I have ever seen , numbering 35+ . Every sunny glade had them
dropping in for a meal , and over on the golf course , found a nest about 5 mtrs up a dead Ash tree .
A visit to Sevenoaks Reserve and Willow Hide in particular , held the usual water fowl , before 19 Egyptian Goose , the majority being this year's youngsters , dropped in from the field behind for their morning ablutions . That meant no Kingfisher on the stick between them in the photo . One did turn
up , but once again the closest it came was the Willows on the island out front of the hide . A male

and female Gadwall came reasonably close , but two Shoveler kept well away . Over towards the
island , a female Wigeon , my first of the Autumn , made a change . In between times , several Jays
were flying back and forth , stocking up their larders with acorns . With ablutions continuing , I made my way down to the meadow alongside Long Lake , so see what Odonata were about .Two more Kingfisher sightings , before a male Mute Swan decided that he wanted the same bit of bank that I
was on , having waddled up from the water . There we stood , me trying to photograph a Migrant Hawker in flight , he , preening himself in between grunting / snorting noises , no doubt to encourage
me to move on . The only damselflies found were Common Blues , and just males at that , but there
were female Migrant Hawkers about , as this male found . Male Brown and Southern Hawker were
also found , along with several Common Darters , including this mating pair . Also found in emergent vegetation on the water's edge were these iridescent , metallic coloured beetles , Donacia marginata ,
they too looking to make the most of the sunshine . On the way back home , I called in at a quiet
Bough Beech where one BTGodwit was still in residence and seemingly up to his neck in it ,
as was the juvenile Shellduck . A look up on the Common the other day was very quiet too , with just
a juvenile Common Lizard being found .
Last Friday , with the promise of plenty of sunshine but unsure where to go to enjoy it , found me pitching up at Elmley Reserve again , on the Isle of Sheppey . I was cordially welcomed as I entered
by this male Stonechat , looking very dapper indeed . This time there was some interest along the
track , with a couple of Curlew and in an area recently worked , the local Corvids , including this
Rook were looking for an easy meal . With less wind that on my last visit , the walk down to the hides was very pleasant , if rather short on interest , but to be fair , the tide was well out . Absolutely nothing from Wellmarsh Hide , but along the ditch towards South Fleet Hide there were still several
Marsh Frogs about . Kestrel , Com.Buzzard and Marsh Harrier were all seen at a distance , but one did venture closer when in the hide , putting up the mixed Goose flock that was grazing out front .
The large flock of Teal were also sent sky-ward , and it was some time before everything returned to the ground again . On my way back , a passing birder had seen a Merlin chasing and failing to catch a Meadow Pipit , but the best I could do were two Bearded Tits , which dived into a reedbed as soon as I spotted them , and didn't reappear . Just before leaving the reserve , a movement in the long grass
turned out to be a Stoat , but as usual , no sooner seen than it disappeared , seemingly under the post and rail fence and into the field beyond . I backed up to the end of the fence , where I could watch both sides , and was amazed to see a rabbit feeding out in the open , within metres of where the Stoat disappeared . I got set up and waited . Half an hour later , with the rabbit , and a second having joined it , were both still feeding . I can only think that the Stoat had already had lunch . The Little Owl in
the farmyard was shyer than the last time .