Monday, 19 July 2010

New Hythe lakes Monday 19th July

I didn't realise just how hot it was going to get as I left Brooklands car park at New Hythe lakes at about 09.15 this morning. At that time it was pleasantly warm and the sky was dark blue with streaks of high white summer cloud. I couldn't help but feel optimistic and within minutes my optimism was rewarded with a picture of an Emperor Dragonfly. This is apparently Britain's largest dragonfly and I believe this one is either a female or an immature specimen. Either way i'm pleased to have got a picture at last because they're just amazing creatures.


I finally managed to beat my way through the vegetation and get around the Sunken Marsh footpath. It was a falling tide on the river but still high and all that it offered were the usual Gulls, Mute Swans, a couple of Canada Geese and the family of Shelducks on the far bank out of camera range. The riverside reedbeds still concealed the ever singing Reed Warblers, do they ever stop? While overhead a few loose parties of Swifts were seen heading South. I'm not sure if this is the beginning of the end of their stay with us. I think the main migration is through August but either way i'll be sad to see them go, more so than any other of our summer migrants I think.

On the water I could only find the usual Coots and Tufties on the Railway lake along with a couple of Great Crested Grebes with their fast growing stripey young, too big now I think for a ride on Mum's back, or maybe not!

One of the few bird photo opportunities was this young Blue Tit flitting through the undergrowth and occasionally hanging upside down to get at whatever tasty morsel it had found lurking in the seed heads.


On the opposite side of the path this Red-tailed Bumblebee was finding something completely different and more to his own liking in the Thistle heads. The East Scrub was very quiet, the near silence only broken by the Yaffle of a Green Woodpecker, which I didn't see. A quick look at what remains of the refugia laid down for the local Reptiles revealed just one Slow worm. I couldn't help but wonder where all the Common Lizards are on the New Hythe site this year, I've barely seen one yet. My worries about the Water Voles which I expressed through the Autumn and the Winter last year were also seemingly justified as there have been very few sightings this summer compared with last year when you could often see three or four along the same water filled ditch. I hope this is just a natural downturn for both of these species and that they both bounce back next year but i'm not so sure. Now, where did I put that optimism I had at the start of this post?


As I said at the beginning, I didn't know just how hot it was going to be and now at about 11.00am I was beginning to realise as the temperature seemed to soar. I was at the furthest point of the walk and was just about to retrace my steps when I bumped into Den & Doreen. Three pairs of eyes now so hopefully we might find some more goodies on the way back.

I'm afraid it's butterfly time again. But i've tried to put pictures up of different species which I haven't photographed here for a while. Like this Common Blue below which just would not open up and reveal what it was named for. Mind you the underwing is pretty good as well really.


Next up along the southern side of Abbey Mead lake we found this Holly Blue recognisable from the Common by the lack of orange spots on the underwing. Again not allowing a view of it's blue upperwings.


And lastly just a bit further along was this Brimstone, this is a female I think being more of a green than the bright yellow male. This species always rests with it's wings closed, maybe that's to make it look like a leaf, which it does.


On the sunnyside of the path as it drops down towards the river we couldn't help but notice this lone Pyramidal Orchid, below. First time i've seen one here, seems like it maybe a good year for these.


Back along the river path and apart from the odd Greenfinch, a few Whitethroats and a Moorhen hitching a ride downstream on the receding tide aboard a raft of reeds all was very quiet in the midday sun. But I did manage a couple of photos of a juvenile Grey Heron practicing his fishing skills. Or was he just standing in the water to keep his feet cool?



And finally.................As we walked on the wide track at the bottom of the mound between the marsh and Brooklands lake a tiny Common Lizard ran across the path in front of us. Optimism restored!


ShySongbird said...

Beautiful photos and a very good read again, Phil. The Emperor is very handsome, I don't think I have ever seen one. I think I caught sight of a Holly Blue in the garden today but we still have very high winds here and it wasn't stopping for anyone!

A very nice cooling paddle at the end...mind you I'm already pretty chilly after visiting Warren in the snow :)

Glad you saw the lizard!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Your Emperor is indeed a mature female .
The Common Blue is so fresh I'd say it is from the second brood .

Sharon said...

Lovely photos again Phil - love the ones of the bee and the Blue Tit.
And I have no sympathy for you (or Warren) when it comes to the heat! Come over to Ireland - that'll soon cool you down!

Warren Baker said...

An enjoyable walk round with you Phil :-) A lot easier reading about it than doing it, thats for sure.

Ive been seeing many hundreds of swifts over the past few evenings, they are most certainly on the way out now.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Phil.
Sorry I am late posting. What a great shot of the Emperor Dragonfly. That is the one that I am looking for. It seems to have elluded me this year, so far.I am going to have to visit the lakes when I get home.