Monday, 28 June 2010

Purple Patch

I'm not really much of a football fan but I do like watching England play so I feel I should make some reference to England's World Cup adventure in South Africa. I've given it a lot of thought and considered every angle but I always seem to come back to the same conclusion: IT'S ONLY A GAME!

So, i'm eating my cornflakes this morning, sleep still in my eyes and as always, wondering what day it was, when all of a sudden my mobile gently announced the arrival of a text message. It was Alan Roman asking if I'm going down to find the Purple Heron at Dungeness RSPB today. I was going to go to New Hythe originally but being weak willed and at my most vulnerable I agreed to go.

We arrived at the Denge Marsh road viewpoint at about 10 o'clock to find the RSPB volunteer warden on lookout duty by the side of the road. He pointed out where the nest site was located and within ten minutes we had our sighting and a couple of long distance record shots of what I believe to be the female. It was as easy as that!



The Kestrel chicks were there to greet us at the reserve entrance, looking as if their maiden flights were imminent and a single Tree Sparrow sat on the roof above the nest box on the barn wall at Boulderwell farm.
The Blue Viper's Bugloss that covers the site has now been joined by Yellow Horned Poppies, this together with the emerging Foxgloves and many other wildflower species painted a lovely, colourful picture in the glorious sunshine.

This same glorious sunshine kept bird activity quite low although most of the usual species could be found including Little Egret, Lapwings, Oystercatchers and Green Woodpecker. The LBJ's were well represented by Reed and Sedge Warblers, Dunnocks and Common Whitethroats.

I found the little bee species below on a lakeside gravel bank and I think it's probably a Sharp Tailed Bee. I can find very little info about it but hopefully i've ID'd it correctly.
A little further along I noticed this Pike in exactly the same spot as I found one some weeks ago. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same one. If it is it's grown a bit since last time. These fish are not the sharpest tools in the box but when they get bigger their teeth certainly are, I've seen first hand what their teeth can do to a persons fingers. Mind you he shouldn't have put them there in the first place!

Not too many birds to report on the water. Pochard, Tufties, GC Grebe, Greylag and Canada Geese, Moorhens, Mallards, Cormorants and of course the humble Coot. Mute Swans are particularly well represented at the moment and the one below had found a way to keep it's head cool.

The five (or six) spot Burnets were in abundance, especially in areas where the thistles are emerging. I know I posted a picture very recently but this was the first time i'd photographed fifteen spots (or eighteen)! Or should I say thirty do the maths.


Lunch should have been taken at the viewing mound bench but the RSPB have turned it into a temporary, well, viewing mound really, for the Purple Herons. There were tables laid out with RSPB wares for sale, scopes bristling along the trackside like radar dishes waiting to pick up and broadcast their every move and volunteers available to answer all the questions you might ask. The most common one being: " is that a Purple Heron or a Grey Heron over there? " It's not that easy to tell from a distance. So we had our lunch sitting on the gravel further down. During which the highlights were Swifts, all heading south strangely, Swallows, Linnets and a booming Bittern which at first I put down to Alan blowing into his bottle of juice but he assured me he didn't.

Most of the butterflies seen today were Small Tortoiseshells, as was the case in Dorset last week, must be good news. Feast your eyes while you can.

Finally, yet another picture of a Sedge Warbler. Sorry, but you have to take what you can get when the sun is high and the birds aren't obliging.



ShySongbird said...

I do love your posts Phil, you always make me smile :)

I have seen a lot in the press etc. lately about the Purple Heron and about the fact that the RSPB and local police are protecting the breeding pair. I must admit though, that I looked at the photos and thought...'hmm, it doesn't look much different to a Grey Heron' :) That takes nothing away from the fact that it is great news that they are breeding here for the first time though and I really envy your sighting!

All of your photos are beautiful, the Poppy, the Burnets, the butterfly... and you may say 'Yet another Sedge Warbler' but I have never seen one :(

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Were you in the VC car park at about 1300-1330 with 1/2 other chaps ? Parked far side of car park from VC ?
You sure you weren't looking over my shoulder when I did my post ?

alan roman said...

Did they realy rename that Bee after you? A great day out. Alan

Phil said...

Shy Songbird. I agree, it doesn't look too different but bear in mind the distance these pics were taken from. Also, I believe the male is more colourful.
Greenie. Alan and I were having lunch over by the viewing mound at that time. Next time I go I shall wear a red carnation just in case.....
Alan. If it wasn't true it would be a Sharp Tale not a Sharp Tail!!

Warren Baker said...

I have to agree with songbird phil, your post do make me smile.

Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen a Pike for years and never as clearly as in your photo - good shot.