Thursday, 21 April 2011


There was a Nightingale singing in Brooklands Square today when I arrived. Well, it does sound better than Brooklands car park doesn't it. Either way it was a very nice way to start the morning. A reedy view of a Reed Warbler alongside the lake a few minutes later convinced me that today would be a good day, how could it be anything else.

There must have been a very high tide last night because the track to the small wood was very muddy and there was water lying on the surface in places. This meant a correspondingly low tide, which it was, but I still didn't find either of the two Common Sandpipers reported yesterday. Shelduck, Herons, Cormorants and a couple of kipping Canada Geese were all I could muster from the bucket today.

I started walking around the sunken marsh and immediately saw another Reed Warbler. Like the last one it was halfway up the reed stems, maybe they'll make it to the top soon and I can get a picture, the camera hasn't seen too much action lately. I heard four different calls as I continued along the northern side of the marsh. One from a Bullfinch softly calling to it's mate, one from a Cetti's Warbler at the other end of the decibel scale, one from a Lesser Whitethroat rattling from some dense cover and one from Terry Laws whose ringing call came from Brooklands Square. I mean car park. We arranged to meet at the corner of the marsh which Alan Woodcock has suggested on his excellent blog today, should be called the New Hythe Raptor Watch Point. A nice suggestion but I think I prefer Hoopoe Corner! Mind you at various times today there has been myself, Terry, John Davies, Alan, Dennis and Doreen, all hoping for a raptor rarity to fly in, so maybe Alan's got a point.

For a long time Terry andI scanned the heavens for little reward bar the usual riverside residents like Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, the two Oystercatchers, who certainly have earned the right lately to be called residents, and a single, solitary, Sand Martin. Then at last, the raptors started to appear, first a Kestrel to the east, maybe it's using the Owl box over the river. Then I spotted a Buzzard approaching from the north, this one swung past us to the east giving good views before picking up a thermal and spiralling out of sight. And then, remarkably, from the same direction we spotted another raptor which turned out to be another Marsh Harrier, mine and Terry's second of the week at New Hythe, this time a probable female. As we watched I noticed another bird of prey at about the same distance and height, we watched as they briefly interacted, the second raptor almost turning over and showing a very pale underneath, Terry managed to scope it but we were unable to get an ID. It wasn't Sparrowhawk and didn't look right for Peregrine, so who knows? Lets just say it's the one that got away.

As I said earlier the camera has been neglected lately but I did manage to record Holly Blue butterfly in the garden yesterday, pictured at the top of the post. And when I got home this afternoon I noticed a pair of Canada Geese peering over the garden fence at me, I went to have a look and he and his mate hissed at me alarmingly. The picture below explains why.

I forgot to mention earlier that I also saw my first Red Admiral butterfly today at New Hythe.


Greenie said...

Phil ,
How big are the Canada Geese around there if they can look over a 6' fence ?
Great shots of the female Holly Blue , much better to photograph them in shade rather than glaring sun .

Warren Baker said...

Another Marsh harrier !! Ok i'll swap you with the red Kite now Phil :-)

Alan Pavey said...

I like the idea of a Raptor watch point and it seems to be proving pretty fruitful, especially if you get the odd Hoopoe while you are there :-)

alan woodcock said...

Its funny the Harrier didn`t follow the river right up to New Hythe,maybe it saw you two jumping up and down and change its mind.

The Broadstairs Birder said...

Phil, enjoying the blog immensely.Have just signed up to follow it.If you get a spare moment you might like to take a look at mine, The Broadstairs Birder.Best Wishes,Phil Parker.

JRandSue said...

Love your Holly Blue shots,top notch Phil.
Lovely colour.

ShySongbird said...

That'll be the day, when I look over the back fence and see goslings ;)

The Holly Blue photos are lovely, I keep seeing them in my garden but they just don't settle!

Chris said...

One of this marsh lost his way to Iceland last year but I did not manage to see.. Hope this year will be the one!

Simon said...

Great Holly Blue pics Phil, never managed to get a photo of these little guys. Well done the Marsh Harrier!