Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Monday 10th & Tuesday 11th May

Yesterday morning I did the first count on my Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) square in Hodsoll St Meopham, ably assisted by Alan Roman. We started at 06.15 in the morning although to my mind that's still classified as night time, it was breezy and very chilly with occasional light drizzle. To be honest there wasn't a great deal to record in some transect sections but I think the weather may have played a part in that, so nothing particularly exciting found but at least the information gathered will contribute to the overall picture of breeding bird populations in the UK so it's all in a good cause.. I just hope that the second visit in June will be a bit warmer.


From Meopham we went straight down to New Hythe to try to find the Greenshank seen earlier by myself and Alan Woodcock and also the Grey Plover found further upstream the evening before by Steve Nunn. I'm afraid to say that neither bird graced our vision yesterday. We amused ourselves for a while looking for Red Rumped Swallows among the abundance of Hirundines over Brooklands lake.These were brought down by the overcast conditions that keep the fly hatches and wind blown insects which are their food source, low over the water. Unfortunately we didn't find one but we did find a couple of Reed Warblers and a Linnet in the Sunken Marsh and a brief glimpse of a Cuckoo as it flew over the river.

At the southern end of Abbey Mead I noticed a lot of the flies pictured above on and around the undergrowth but have been unable to ID them. I wouldn't mind betting 'longhorn' comes into the name somewhere, if anyone can help i'd appreciate it. At the railway line Alan headed back to the car park but I continued on over the East Scrub accompanied by the now familiar musical serenade from the assorted Warblers who wouldn't be beaten by the grinding wind and slate grey skies which continue to outstay their welcome.

I found this small butterfly in a more sheltered spot and I believe it may be a Grizzled Skipper. I've never seen one previously so I hope i'm right, it also appeared to have a damaged wing unless it was holding it up as a wind brace!

Further along I met Den and Doreen and between us we found a couple of Sparrowhawks over the country park a Kingfisher flying straight and true just above the surface of Millstream lake and a Garden Warbler at the Brook House entrance. The refugia on the scrub provided warmth and shelter to a couple of Slow Worms and a nice fat Common Lizard. Annoyingly I managed to lose the lens cap for my camera somewhere along the path back near the paper mill and despite retracing our footsteps I was unable to find it.

Today Carol and I headed off to Dungeness despite the forecast of cold winds, cloudy and possible drizzle. I don't think it will be too bad were my famous last words. I'm not going to bang on about it again. Suffice to say it was bloody freezing and blowing a gale!

Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Swift and Pied Wagtail were some of the species who turned out in the adverse conditions to welcome us along the track. Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Reed Buntings and Sedge Warblers still doing their little display flights above the tangled undergrowth featured as we made our way down to Christmas Dell hide. And opposite here was a Little Egret and a Wood Sandpiper, a first for me but I wish it had been closer for a better look. Further on and a lone female Wheatear flitted around low amongst the scrub showing off her white rump unashamedly. Amid much loud calling two Whimbrel chased each other over the flooded meadow and behind us two Red-Legged Partridge ran around nervously among the gorse. And so to Denge Marsh hide where we had lunch and eagerly awaited the non arrival of a Spoonbill which had been seen in the area earlier.


Again the entertainment featured Hirundines over the pit. The two snaps above were the best I could manage in the poor light. These were joined later by a couple of Common Terns, who provided the calm elegance among the feeding frenzy of the Swallows, Swifts and House Martins, daintily dipping into the water to catch a small fish with supreme agility.


On the way back to the visitor centre I had a call from Dennis to say that he and Doreen had found my lens cap down at New Hythe. Excellent news, hope they're not expecting a reward though........................


Rob said...

Phil, I found moths like your one in the hedgerow about this time last year and came to the conclusion Adela reaumurella. Watching them while settled, every now and again they'd flick their wings out in some kind of display.
Great shots of the Swallows and Terns.

Steve said...

YEs that's a Grizzled Skipper - nice one Phil. Some good pics. Wish the weather would turn...

Phil said...

Rob. Many thanks for your help, much appreciated.

Steve. Thanks a lot. The Skipper was in the East Scrub close to the railway crossing. I think you'll get your wish this weekend weatherwise.

alan roman said...

After our BBS and walk around New Hythe on Monday I needed a rest. I went to Tescos for a coffee then to Tescos lake where I sat looking for a Red Rumped Swallow. No luck but the Whooper Swan flew in and a Hobby flew over and disappeared over toward Abbey Meads lake. It was nice to let the bird come to me for a change. Great pictures and have a nice holiday.