Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A Harty walk

There's a nice walk around Harty on the Isle of Sheppey that Carol and I like to do occasionally, it's about 8 miles long and there's a nice pub about halfway round. Given the weather forecast, today seemed like a good day to do it and we were right.
After parking at Leysdown-on-Sea we were soon heading inland along a farm track accompanied by the local Kestrel first of all and then by a pair of Marsh Harriers quartering the adjoining fields. We didn't object at all to the extra company.

At first the Brown Hare above seemed quite pleased to see us, even posing for the prerequisite photo. However, as the next picture shows, as soon as that was completed he decided enough was enough. I believe the technical term is 'showing a clean pair of heels'.
The terrain is pretty flat here, there's not much need for a Sheppey Mountain Rescue team if you get my drift, so the wind can be quite strong, as it was at times today. I mention this for a reason, as we walked on we noticed ever increasing numbers of small dragonflies along the path sheltering on the lee side of the hedgerow, there were literally hundreds of them, more than i've ever seen anywhere before. I took a couple of pictures but it was difficult as wherever they landed they were swaying in the wind making focussing difficult. I've looked in my books and can only assume, judging by their size that they are Common Darters. I await the verdict of my peers, who will also be needed at least once more, probably twice later on.....................!

Some way further along we had our first encounter of the human kind. Nothing unusual in that I hear you say. And you're right, except that it turned out to be in the shape of Derek Faulkner of
Letters from Sheppey fame, click on his name to look at his blog. Apart from Derek we saw one other person on our travels, how good is that?
After the obligatory stop at the excellent Harty Ferry Inn we headed for the path on the top of the flood wall that winds it's way along the marshy, desolate, bird filled shoreline of the Swale. This is the Swale Nature Reserve that Derek is a warden for and very nice it is too, apart from the fact that it's a bit overgrown at the moment and the grass is very long. That's not really a problem except that we had both got our legs out today so they were at the mercy of every stinging nettle, thistle and biting insect, not to mention the terrifying prospect of one of the millions of Grasshoppers trespassing on 'private property'!
Sedge and Reed Warblers, Skylarks, Harriers, Shelduck, Greylags, Reed Buntings, Oystercatchers, Little Egrets and Grey Herons were just some of the species seen along the track. Bearded Tits were also heard, but only the shortest glimpse was had, mainly due to the strong breeze I suspect.

The butterflies were really struggling here, again mainly due to the wind. Meadow Browns were I think the main species but I did find this Green Veined White sheltering in the grass.

Also around in good numbers were what I think are Small Skippers (below) but again i'm happy to be corrected. A more open winged shot would have helped but it wasn't to be.


Another one who wouldn't open his wings is the little chap below. I'm really confused with this one, it was very small and first I thought Gatekeeper but i'm not so sure now, in fact i'm veering towards Small Heath but who knows? Seriously, who knows?!

Since we're on the subject of butterflies, I thought I'd show you this picture of a Peacock........! It was wandering about in Harty churchyard and no Warren, I won't be adding it to my Kent list!

And finally.....................I couldn't resist this Oystercatcher, just asking to be photographed, along the sea wall at Leysdown on our return.


Marianne said...

Hi Phil,

Great blog. I think you are right with Small Skipper (female as it lacks a narrow black 'scent brand' on the forewings). Essex Skipper is very similar, but a little more straw-coloured and usually on the wing slightly later than Small. The real clincher to separate them is the colour of the underside of the antennae tips - brownish in Small, jet-black in Essex.

The other butterfly is Small Heath. Gatekeeper is more richly colourful, and has a larger black eyespot with a double white 'pupil' - also doesn't usually appear til mid-July.

The dragon is a Common or Ruddy Darter - I'm inclined to think Ruddy as the legs look solid black - Common has pale stripes on the legs.

Phil said...

Hi Marianne.
Thanks for your message and help,always appreciated. I noticed you as a follower but couldn't find your blog name for some reason. I will now add you to my sidebar and have a proper look at your blog at a more suitable hour!
Thanks again.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Sounds like a really enjoyable walk , and never better than when there is a pub half way round .
Like the Harrier shot .

ShySongbird said...

A very nice day out Phil and I enjoyed accompanying you both again :) Lovely photos, I find it quite a challenge to ID some of the flitters and flutters and what I learn one year I have usually forgotten by the next :(

Lovely photo of the Peacock and I love the Oystercatcher! Great photo of the Hare too, I just missed photographing one the other day, the first I had seen since last year.

Warren Baker said...

another interesting post Phil. Like the Marsh harrier photo.

I thought everybody had Peacock on their kent list ?