Monday, 25 April 2011


New Hythe was absolutely bursting with bird song this morning. Nightingales, Cetti's Warblers, Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks, Chiffchaffs and Common Whitethroats (pictured above), all filled the unseasonally warm, Mayflower scented air with their own individual songs. Spring is well and truly underway, confirmation, as if needed, being my first Hairy Dragonfly of the year. These are the smallest of the Hawkers and this male was the only one I saw today who actually came down to rest, all the others were far too busy patrolling their territories and seeing off intruders.

As I climbed up to the newly christened raptor viewpoint between the sunken marsh and Brooklands lake I heard a Lesser Whitethroat rattling from the undergrowth and after a short wait I was rewarded with a short view of this, the more secretive of the two Whitethroats. I was pleased because this was my 93rd New Hythe species this year. But I was far more pleased with my 94th!

After crossing the railway line I started to turn into the east scrub when I noticed a fairly big bird heading towards me, I thought it was a Marsh Harrier but as it drew nearer I realised that at last, I'd found my first Kent Red Kite, fanatastic! I knew it had to arrive soon and of course getting it at New Hythe is the icing on the cake. To say I was chuffed is an understatement. I fired off a few shots as it headed north over the Railway lake where it was ambushed by a Carrion Crow, there was a brief tussle and the Kite turned and eventually disappeared to the south towards Warren at Pittswood most probably. The shots aren't great, all the usual reasons apply, but as ever a left click on them will help a bit.

After all the excitement I decided that something calming was needed, and what better than a spot of Water Vole watching. Three Water Voles to be precise, all along the same stretch of ditch. The one pictured below was the only one I managed to get a picture of though, he probably thought he couldn't be seen hidden in the reeds having his lunch, but he was wrong.

I checked the east scrub for Grizzled and Dingy Skippers on the way back but couldn't find any, just a few unidentified day flying moths. Four Slow worms were under the refugia and various butterflies including Red Admiral, Peacock, Holly Blue and Orange Tip flew across the scrub without stopping.
There seems to be an abundance of Ladybirds this year, I found these two having a bit of fun but i'm not sure that one of them is a Lady, or the other one come to that!

Some garden news now and we've had a constant stream of Holly Blue butterflies visiting the Pyracantha bush and yesterday I discovered why. They were egg laying, as you can see from the picture below. Apparently Pyracantha is quite commonly used by this species as well as the more usual Ivy, you live and learn. I found the eggs that were laid by this one but they were much too small for me to get a picture of with my camera.

Now for the bad news. I noticed that activity seemed to have stopped in our nest box down the bottom of the garden and when I was mowing the grass down there over the weekend I found out why. One of the pair of Blue Tits had been predated, either by a cat or a Sparrowhawk, just a small pile of feathers on the grass were all that remained. So no fledglings from that box this year unfortunately. What a waste!

As for the camera box, well, the nest was all completed by the pair of Blue Tits who then disappeared for a few days. On friday they were back and the male spent all day displaying to his lady, with flickering wings and fanned tail, how could she resist him. Quite easily it seems, for the last four days he has chased her, sung to her, called to her from the highest tree and wooed her from dawn to dusk. He flies to the nest box and clings to the front looking around anxiously until she finally appears close by and then he dives in the box as if inviting her in to his boudoir. But is she interested? Is she fiddle! She just sits there, ignoring him, while he peers out looking forlorn. It's heartbreaking, I don't know how much longer he can keep it up. There may be trouble ahead!


Greenie said...

Phil ,
Firstly , well done with the Red Kite , at last , and of course the Water Voles are always good news .
The Holly Blues seem to have lost the plot , totally , now laying on Pyracantha , but in their defence , Pyracantha , Dogwood and Buckthorn , all look similar to the Holly flowers that they should be laying on .
As for the ? Ladybirds - illegal immigrants - Harlequin , all the way from South East Asia .
Re. the Blue Tits , it does cause corcern that you know so much about 'flickering wings and fanned tail' , especially as we are going on a field trip on Wednesday !

alan woodcock said...

Hi,well done with the Red Kite.

Alan Pavey said...

Well done with the Red Kite Phil and got some pics to, great stuff. Nice Dragonfly pic to.

Warren Baker said...

I can see the smile on your face from here Phil, I reckon it's the same bird Ive been seeing :-) Alan is pipping us at the post for the 100th species - Hoopoe indeed!! I'm the only one who's not seen one :-(

Kieron said...

Well done on the Kite Phil! I have the rest of the week off - I may take a tent and camp out at the lakes until I see it...Although if I did that it would probably stop off for a rest in my garden while I was away!!

Mike H said...

Fantastic news for you re the Kite Phil some great pics from you patch today.

Mike Attwood said...

Just out of interest Phil, I had a red kite over Horsham on Sunday.

ShySongbird said...

Well done on the Red Kite Phil! I am hoping to go to Watlington Hill to see them again this year as I did two years ago. My friend saw one flying over my immediate area the other day though, in fact had I looked out of the bedroom window at the right time I would have seen it too!

The little Blue Tit looks very forlorn and what a great shame about the one from the other pair :(

Lovely to see the Water Vole and a very nice photo of the Holly Blue.

Marianne said...

Great post, Phil. Yet another superb addition to your patch list. Love the Water Vole pic too. What a shame about your Blue Tit pair though, I hope the other pair have more luck, once Mrs BT decides she can be bothered...!