Saturday, 16 July 2011

Elmley Marshes

Sorry for lack of posts, this has been mainly due to carpal tunnel syndrome (in both hands). Anyway on to this report. 

Yesterday with bright sunshine I went to Elmley Marshes RSPB Reserve hoping to see the Long Eared Owls (for which there is a sign) and the Humming-Bird Hawk-Moth which had been seen there by friends of mine. As always a short note about the venue, Elmley Marshes is off the A249 and clearly signposted from a junction just before the bridge to Sheppey. Facilities include a car park for about 20 cars and a toilet. There is a 2 mile drive through the reserve to the car park which is usually quite fruitful, but it is forbidden to exit your car on the drive, though you are welcome to stop and use your car as a hide. Dogs are not allowed on the reserve. Yesterday I only used my Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens.On the drive to the car park I saw Lapwings, Starlings, House Sparrows, Yellow Wagtails, a Sky Lark, a Little Egret, a Marsh Harrier, and a Heron whilst Swallows, Pied Wagtails and Moorhens awaited me in the car park.

Yellow Wagtail on drive
A look over the first lake from the toilet block gave Coots, BH Gulls, Oystercatchers, a Dabchick, a Green Sandpiper, a Great Crested Grebe, and some more Lapwings and Yellow Wagtails. Still on the farm by the Orchard I found the sign for the Long Eared Owls, but they were a no-show, however whilst there I did get to see a single Humming-Bird Hawk-Moth, sadly it did not hang around, unlike the Small Whites, Green Veined Whites, Gatekeepers and Red Admirals. 

Red Admiral


The lake at the bottom of the hill had a very low water level and the only addition to the list was a couple of Redshanks and Avocets, whilst the walk to the Wellmarsh Hide provided a few sightings of Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler (though I only saw its back), some Mallards and a large number of Meadow Browns and Small Skippers. 
Small Skipper

From Wellmarsh Hide could be seen Avocets, Black Tailed Godwits, a Wigeon family (which had me foxed for ages due to very odd plumage all round), singletons of Spotted Redshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff and Common Tern. With the exception of the Avocets, they were all at the far end of the Lake so not photographable. Fortunately I had one poser with which I went click happy (100 plus photos), what surprised me was it looked so young and yet there were no adults caring for it, do the adult Avocets abandon their young so soon?

Young Avocet
Counterwall Hide had a Common Sandpiper, another Ruff and some more Avocets, whilst distant scans with the scope picked out Turnstone, Shelduck, Greylag and Canadian Geese, also a Buzzard which was gliding into the stiff breeze to remain almost stationary.

The return to Wellmarsh Hide revealed some Reed Buntings (which I had heard but not seen earlier) and a Sedge Warbler who appeared to take my clicking shutter for a potential mate. With every click, he gave a verbal response and edged nearer with his "bug" offering. I eventually had to turn him down.

Sedge Warbler with gift
The trek back to the Car Park gave mainly butterflies, though the wind was too strong for photographing them, I added a solitary Peacock to the butterfly list. I also found what I believe is a Red-Veined Darter.

(I believe) a Red Veined Darter
One last look at the lake behind the toilets revealed a Wood Sandpiper, whilst opposite the orchard I found another youngster ambling along.

A young Hedgehog
Despite not seeing the Spoonbills or Owls it was an excellent day for me, 46 birds (missed from report are Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Sand Martin, Mute Swan, Dunnock, Tufted Duck, Collared Dove and Meadow Pipit), a large number of butterflies and dragonflies (missed from report is Common Blue Damselfly) and a young hedgehog.   

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Hemsted Forest

I was initially attracted to drive out to Hemsted Forest by a bird list which I had seen on KOS that had a number of species on it which I had not seen yet this year, secondly I had never been there before and it reached out to my exploring nature, so off I went arriving about .  Hemsted Forest is situated in West Kent, not too far from Sissinghurst, the Public car Park of which is at the South end of the Forest near Benenden. The facilities are limited to a smallish car park, probably take about 30 cars maximum and that’s about it, though the main paths are well marked being about 10 feet wide and made of packed earth and rock. From the car park I made my way along the main route and in a short space of time came across some Comma’s who were, despite the coolish weather, reluctant to settle.

Comma - Polygonia c-album - Canon 400D +100-400mm

After a while I turned right down a side track to take me deeper into the forest which is where I came across some what I believe to be Meadow Browns and a Ringlet, the former refusing to stop still with wings open and the second refusing to stop with its wings closed! They were more active than the Comma’s!
(I believe a) Meadow Brown - Maniola jurtina - Canon 400D +100-400mm

(I believe a) Ringlet - Aphantopus hyperantus - Canon 400D +100-400mm

Another couple of left turns brought me out onto a slightly wider path where I found some White Admirals, a butterfly I had never seen before.

White Admiral - Limenitis Camilla - Canon 400D +100-400mm
Well what about the birds? Amazingly I only saw a Robin, a couple of Carrion Crows and a Wren. There was some Tits calling from the upper canopy deep in the woods that I never saw, and occasionally the odd call from the depths of the Forest, but nothing near me and nothing that I recognised (must practice more with bird calls). Perhaps it was the time of day, perhaps the time of year, or perhaps the gallon of insect repellent I had sprayed myself with. There was more to see though. It was after I realised that I was lost that I came across this chap, a Common Toad I believe.

A Common Toad - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

I decided to expand my new interest in Flora, first there was a small group of Foxgloves near where the Toad was seen, then a little further on this white flower stood out from all the surrounding greenery. I have identified it as a White Musk Mallow, please correct me (as with all my identifications) if I am wrong.

A White Musk Mallow - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

A White Musk Mallow - Olympus SP590UZ

Thankfully I came across someone walking their dog who pointed me in the right direction which took me past a glade where two Southern Hawkers were, however they were constantly on the move and I was unable to get a picture. Despite my bird count of 3 (how embarrassing is that?) I enjoyed the walk and intend to return for an evening stroll soon and perhaps catch a bit more bird activity.