Sunday, 11 August 2013

North Downs Way - 10-8-2013

Small White

We went for a long walk along the North Downs Way yesterday and as expected for the time of year bird life was very limited and in addition that which was about was more vocal than visual. As this was to be a bit of a trek I only took a pocket Lumix (Panasonic DMC-FS10) which was sufficient for the insect life that would be patient enough to sit still, however please be aware that the quality of most shots were impaired due to having to lean over bushes, shrubs, Thistles and Nettles more often than not whilst balancing on one leg in order to get close enough to take the shot.
Green Veined White (I believe)
Whites were everywhere as usual with Large, Small and Green Veined seen in almost all fields that we passed (see above), in addition Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods were found alongside most pathways.
Common Blue (m)
Common Blue (f)
Common Blue (f)
It was at a crossroads that we came across the only blues of the day, several Common Blues (above) and my first ever Brown Argus (below)
Brown Argus
Whilst trying to get some photos of these I found a Brimstone, this was an excellent find as although they are supposed to be quite common I had never seen one before (lifetime spot no.2)
Brimstone (f)
I reluctantly moved on – Butterflies were not the only insects to be found on the walk, Soldier Beetles were to be found on the majority of the Cow Parsley we passed and day moths were quite abundant including many Silver Y’s.
Silver Y Moth
We also found more Ladybirds on the walk than I had seen previously all this year, on just one plant we found this little lot.

7 Spot Ladybird

Fourteen Spot Ladybird
Fourteen Spot Ladybird (I believe)
The strangest (for me) find yesterday was this Scorpion Fly

Scorpion Fly
Walking alongside a field which had been edged with wild flowers I was lucky enough to find a third lifetime butterfly spot – a Painted lady.
Painted Lady

 The last spot of the day was a Small Tortoiseshell (female), sadly too far away for a photograph. Birds noted were Wren, Jackdaw, Magpie, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Herring Gull, Green Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Black Headed Gull and Jay. The last photo of this batch is of a Comma Butterfly, superb camouflage but the white legs give away its position.
Comma Butterfly
As always - please correct me where I have made a mistake - I am no expert and although I do my best my educated guesses are sometimes just that.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

New Hythe Lakes - 24th July 2013

Greylag Goose - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Today I managed to get up to Leybourne Lakes for an hour and have a wander around mainly in search of Odonata and I was not disappointed; birds as expected were quiet and remained hidden most of the time. However we did see a Chiffchaff and a young Robin near the entrance, plenty of Canada and Greylag Geese on Ocean Lake together with a few Mute Swans, all had almost mature young in tow, in addition a couple of Cormorants were on a nearby boat. Seen in the bushes alongside the stream by Ocean Lake were some young Blue Tits and a female Black Cap whilst in the stream some Mallards.

Mallard  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
In the Conservation Lake were a Heron, some Coots and a couple of Dabchicks, also seen at various points were some Magpies, Wood Pigeons, a Green Woodpecker, Great Tits, Long Tailed Tits, Tufted Ducks and some Moorhens.
Tufted Duck  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Not a lot I know but my concentration was equally divided between Birds, Butterflies and Odonata so on to the other categories, at the first bridge by Ocean lake were some Comma butterflies whilst among the many Common Blue Damselflies (including three or four ‘homochrome’ forms)were a fair few Banded Demoiselles.
Banded Demoiselle  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Common Blue Damselfly  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Common Blue (homochrome) Damselfly - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Alongside The Ocean Lake were Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, Small Skippers and some Six Spot Burnet Moths whilst at the fork for the Dipping Pond were a couple of Black Tailed Skimmers.
Small Skipper - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens

Small Skipper - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens

Gatekeeper - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Six Spot Burnet Moth - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Black Tailed Skimmer - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
At the Dipping Pool a Migrant Hawker patrolled unceasingly whilst a few Emerald Damselflies flitted among the reeds, another Migrant Hawker was egg laying.
Emerald Damselfly - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
Migrant Hawker Egg Laying - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
On the return route alongside the wood by the Reed Pond a pair of large brown dragonflies were hunting as they were not competing they may have been a pair of Brown Hawkers, but I am not good enough at identification to confirm this, also on this stretch was a Peacock Butterfly.
Peacock Butterfly - Canon 400D + 100-400mm Lens
As always I am happy to learn from my mistakes so please let me know if I have made any identification.
A Baby Coot - not quite the fluffy duckling that Mallards and Tufteds have.


Monday, 15 July 2013

Cliffe Pools 13-7-2013

Saturday saw Wendy and I take a trip out to Cliffe, it being July and scorching hot I did not expect to see much bird-wise and hoped that the Butterflies and Dragonflies would make up for this but it was a lifetime spot that made the day for me. From the Car Park a scan of Kingfisher Pool revealed a number of Black Headed Gulls, Coots, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese whilst the odd Wood Pigeon and Carrion Crow were in the woods behind us. The butterfly spotting got off to a quick start with a Small Heath, Small White and several Meadow Browns whilst Common Blue Damselflies abounded.
Common Blue Damselfly - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The walk to Radar Pool gave forth Goldfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, and several Comma Butterflies.

Comma Butterfly - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

From the viewing platform over Radar Pool I was slightly saddened that with the exception of a couple of Common Terns and 3 Oystercatchers the nearby islands had been taken over by Black Headed Gulls who were also making a huge amount of noise from the pool behind me, I am sure there was more variety on the islands last year. The water provided more Coots, Great Crested Grebes, a solitary Tufted Duck, a single Dabchick and some Pochard.
Unknown (to me) Dragonfly
On the way to Flamingo Pool I saw some distant House Sparrows and a Great Tit. There were more white butterflies along with the few blues however they remained unidentified due to their constant movement (hence why no Photos either) Fortunately this Cinnabar Moth happily stopped for a photo.
Cinnabar Moth - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

On Flamingo there were a number of Great Crested Grebes including a pair briefly displaying.
Great Crested Grebes - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Along the far shore were a large number of Bar Tailed Godwits all in summer plumage along with a few Lapwings and what I believe to be Whimbrel (though I am more than happy to be corrected to Curlew - the view through my scope was not any clearer than this heavily enlarged shot).
BH Gulls Lapwings and Whimbrels? - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
There were also 2 flocks of Avocets with a few Little Egrets and some Shelducks. The heat was getting to me so I returned to the car seeing a Collared Dove, a Dunnock and a Magpie on the way. I decided to drive round to the other side of Radar where sadly the water provided nothing new however I did find a pair of Whitethroats busy collecting food for fledglings.
Whitethroat - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
I was attracted to a small bush by some reeds from which I could hear some high pitched peeping (not unlike a squeaky wheel on a bike) and decided I was looking for a really small bird and then saw one flitting around at the back of the bush, I then saw some tail feathers of what I thought was a dove in the bush and the small flitting bird which turned out to be a Reed Warbler landed next to it.
Reed Warbler with young Cuckoo in background (apologies but autofocus latched on to leaves not the Warbler)
Then it dawned on me, the dove was a Cuckoo and I was watching a pair of Reed Warblers frantically gathering food for it. Whenever either of the adults returned the Cuckoo let out the high pitched squeaking which did not equate to its size in any way. I was fascinated and as they were unconcerned by my presence I was able to watch them for about 15 minutes, despite the length of time photo opportunities were very few and I had no wish to disturb them with random clicking.
Juvenile Cuckoo  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Other sightings for the day included a Heron flying low over the BH Gull island being heavily mobbed, a Green Woodpecker, a Cormorant and some Starlings, heard but not seen were Jackdaws and a Chaffinch. Other wildlife seen was a rapidly scampering lizard, a pair of young adult foxes and this dragonfly whose wings glistened with coppery sparkles my knowledge is poor on Odonata and I am going to plumb for a female Darter of some sort.
Female Common Darter ?
Only 26 bird sightings for the day, but a once in a lifetime experience with the Cuckoo especially as numbers appear to be plummeting (in fact this was the first Cuckoo I have seen or heard this year) so I was more than happy.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Reculver 27th March 2013

Cormorant - Canon 400D +100-400mm - Kelsey Park - 17-2-2013
This post has been delayed due to lack of photos (please see end of report). The 27th March saw Stephen and I take a stroll around Reculver, the tide was in and a bitter ENE wind battered our faces. At the car park we could hear and see a number of House Sparrows and Starlings flitting around near the pub. Moving on to the Towers all we found was a solitary Brent Goose sitting on the stones at the base of the cliff, however slightly further on over the fields to the south a Kestrel hovered on the hunt.
Kestrel - Olympus SP590UZ - Resting on one of the Towers at Reculver out of the wind 29-3-2013
A couple of Blackbirds were also pottering around the hedgerows at the edge of the field. Everything looked a bit bleak but at least it was nice and sunny as we strolled down to the Sea Wall. Looking out over the Oyster Farm there was little to see although the odd Redshank did lift off as we passed and out to sea various Gulls (Black Headed, Herring and Great Black Backed) accompanied us. Further out we saw a number of birds too distant to identify properly and a few Cormorants, fortunately a short while later we found one sat on a post close enough to photograph. A few Dunlin and Knot also flew past.

Cormorant - Canon 400D +100-400mm - Reculver

East of the Oyster Farm Steve picked out a Marsh Harrier flying low to the south whilst nearer us a Reed Bunting was flicking in and out of the bushes, a Meadow Pipit also presented itself briefly on the Sea Wall. As we approached the turning point of the Wantsum we picked out a small mixed flock of waders namely Ringed Plover, Knot, Turnstone and Sanderling. Turning South away from the Sea Wall we were at long last out of the biting wind, a scour of the fields revealed in the far distance some Shelduck, Mute Swans and a Heron, a Pheasant and a few Carrion Crows were also seen.

Ringed Plover - Canon 400D +100-400mm - Reculver
As we made our way to the railway crossing we heard then eventually saw a Sky Lark, first one this year for me whilst to our East a flock of (200+) Brent Geese took to the air. Looking south from the railway we saw a field containing Golden Plovers mixed with some Lapwing, Black Headed Gulls and a few Feral Pigeons; also seen from this spot was a Magpie and my first Wood Pigeon of the day. Whilst munching on our sandwiches a second, much darker, Marsh Harrier flew down the line of the dyke to out northwest.

Grey Plover - Canon 400D +100-400mm - Reculver
After lunch we made our way back to the Towers via the south side of the Oyster farm and were pleasantly surprised with a number of spots that we had not seen from the Sea wall, namely Avocets and Oystercatchers in the pools along with some Redshanks and in a nearby stream some Teal, Mallards, Moorhen and a Dabchick. At this point we were joined by another birder who took us round to the Sea Wall where he had seen the Black Redstart earlier, sadly there was no show although a Robin briefly appeared.
Robin - Canon 400D +100-400mm - Kelsey Park (on a much warmer and sunnier day 17-2-2013)
We were about to go when the Black Redstart made a brief appearance, a lifetime spot for me, sadly though it was constantly on the move and I could not get a photo, nevertheless it was gorgeous to see. Back at the Car Park a last minute addition to the day list was a Collared Dove whilst on the way home I found a Buzzard flying low near the Motorway.
Black Headed Gull - Canon 400D +100-400mm - Reculver 1-4-2013
For the day 40 different birds seen. I did not get many photos so I have added a few into this blog from Kelsey Park which I visited earlier this year (17-2-2013). I have returned to reculver twice more to photograph the Black Redstart, on each occasion the weather has been colder and more windy, so much so on the last visit that the bird in question failed to appear. The Kestrel and Black Headed Gull are from these visits and to the tally of birds at Reculver I can add Little Egret, Sandwich Tern and Pied Wagtail.