Friday, 15 April 2016

Friday 15th. April 2016

A wet afternoon gives me a chance to catch up on a few recent outings .
I jumped at the chance to help a licenced Great Crested Newt handler with an amphibian survey on a pond in a country park just outside Bromley . We searched both in the water and under log piles , finding 9 GCNs
in total . In this shot are male , in front with white flash on his tail and female behind , without a flash . The crest of the male just flops over his back when out of water . We also found good numbers of Common and Palmate Newt both in and out of the water . This is a male Palmate Newt , identified by the filiment at the
end of his tail and also by the partially webbed back feet , from which it gets it's name . One sweep of the net
also found a Water Boatman / Corixa punctata .
A visit to Sevenoaks Reserve on an overcast and drizzly day , did find a pair of Gargeney , possibly the pair
that I saw at Bough Beech and mentioned on my last post , as they were not to be seen when I had a look on my way home at lunchtime , and were recordes at SR early that afternoon . A mentioned , the wether was grim but at least they were somewhat closer and out in the open this time . With a bit of sunshine , the drake
makes a really dapper individual , maybe next time . Also seen on the visit , a small number of Little Ringed
Plover , but they kept to the furthest islands from Tyler Hide .
A visit to New Hythe , primarily for newly arrived Nightingales , produced just two birds , both around the fishermen's car park , but neither were willing to show themselves . The only shot I managed was a silhouette
of one in full song , at the back of thick shrubbery , but just listening to that song again was worth it . I did better with a Water Vole though , as after scuttling off initially , went about it's routine , without taking any
further notice of me . Having been lucky with Nightingale sightings around the water treatment entrance , I tried there but it wasn't to be this time . But , on passing the large water sport lake , a splashing amongst the
overhanging vegetation turned out to be a Cormorant , having just caught a good sized eel . The bird immediately made for deeper water , struggling with the eel . Once somewhat subdued , it tried to swallow
 the eel . It seemed that it was on the verge of succeeding , when the eel was re-gurgitated back into the
water . A short stop for breath , then back to swallowing attempt , and after quite some time , it looked as if
it was going to be success at last , with just the tail to go . Once down , the Cormorant went into a strange
swimming action , with a very full neck , but it worked , as after a few seconds it took off and flew to the other side of the lake , no doubt to do a bit of dijesting .
Already , the weekly butterfly transect has started at High Elms LNR , but butterflies found were very thin on the ground . The first transect produced 3 male Brimstone , and the second , 1 male Brimstone and jus for a
change , a Comma .
A look up on the Downs was disappointing as regards Adders , with just a single male found after 2 hours of
 searching . Common Lizard and Slow Worm were more numerous , and on one piece of felt I found a Glow
 Worm larva , and after finding several Early Purple Orchid with just basal leaves , I finally found my first one
 in flower this year , just . Butterflies did better , with 11 Brimstone and a single Peacock being recorded . On the way back home , I stopped off at HE , where I had seen a pair of
Nuthatch , busily preparing their nest hole , whilst I was on the butterfly transect . The pair were still busy
when I arrived , bringing mud to reduce down the size of the entry hole . I spent a pleasant half hour
watching the industrious pair going about their work , which looks as if it is almost complete .
After reading one evening that 3 Ring Ouzel were seen on the edge of a Croydon Park , I made an early start the following morning , hoping that they were still around , Three and a half hours later , and not a Ring Ouzel in sight , I happened to meet the birder who had put the word out , only this time he added a few extra words , ' and they flew off over that way ' . End of story . The time wasn't totally wasted though as this
female Kestrel , having just been mated by her partner , flew down and fed on worms on what looked like a freshly cut cricket square . A visit at a Surrey reptile site produced just two male Adders , and on the way
 back home , I was treated to a distant Red Kite .
Yesterday , I made a visit to Asdown Forest , hoping for a few migrants . Almost immediately on arrival , Willow Warbler and Cuckoo were heard , and soon after I saw the back end of two Cuckoos , heading towards the car park , which I had recently left . That was soon made up for with a Tree Pipit on overhead
wires , just one of 3-4 that were singing in the area . I was hoping for singing Woodlark , but had to be
satisfied with two feeding on the ground . Just 3 Common Redstart were seen / heard , and this male was
more interested in attracting a mate than posing for my camera . Not a single raptor was seen , but a distant
Raven , ' cronking ' as it went was some compensation . On the way home , I stopped off at another Early
Purple Orchid site , where the plants were much more advanced .


Unknown said...

Nice blog and amazing capture! That looks like huge eel caught and putting up some fight here! But in the end (was that the same prey in it's throat?!) the bird was able to win the battle and gulp that whole thing down okay really?? It seems like it would have trouble fitting down that long/skinny neck. Also, if actually eaten, does the unlucky prey get swallowed wriggling/alive all the way as well?!


Greenie said...

Hi Kyle ,
Yes it was the same eel that it first caught that was finally swallowed . I didn't think that it was going to manage it , but after 4 minutes , during which I took 54 shots , it managed it and flew off .
Must admit the eel wasn't struggling so much at the end .

Kyle said...

Oh interesting! I have never witnessed an event like this before and 4 minutes seems pretty fast. I wonder, wouldn't a eel that size stand any slim chance of escaping or even damaging (biting, etc.) the bird's stomach/insides if eaten in that condition?! Hard to imagine if/does the hungry bird keep such a meal and the formidable-looking eel really lost.

You have some other nice shots too, keep it up! ;)