Thursday, 5 May 2011


I may have misheard but I thought the weather forecast for today was similar to yesterday, sunny and blue skies, but a few degrees warmer. As it was, I stood at hoopoe corner with Terry, John Davies, Martin Coath, Martin Warburton and Flossie, in my shirt sleeves and nearly froze to death under a grey sky and distinctly chilly breeze. I wouldn't have minded but there wasn't much to get excited about at the time. No sign of yesterdays purring Turtle Dove, although Martin C. thought he may have caught a fleeting glimpse across the river. I've since seen though that Alan Woodcock found it while out on the early shift. That'll teach me to arrive on site at the crack of noon.

John, Martin and Martin went their separate ways leaving Terry and me feeling cold and slightly dejected with a list that included distant Kestrel, high altitude Sparrowhawk, wheezy Greenfinches, scratchy Whitethroats and Grey Herons that matched the sky perfectly. We tried the old morale boosters like, 'things can only get better', and 'anything could turn up in a minute', and 'think positive', then we decided to call it a day.

We trudged in near silence on the raised ground adjacent to the eastern edge of Brooklands lake on the way back and only paused to see if a Common Tern might be around to help save the morning but you can't always judge a bird by it's name even if it does have common in it. Then suddenly, things looked up, well actually we looked up, and saw a small bird flying around in circles above us which finally landed in the top of a Hawthorn bush and confirmed our suspicions that it was.............a Linnet! Just a Linnet, but Terry needed this humble species for his New Hythe year list, well, they're not common here, like the Terns. Spirits were lifted, and a few minutes later they were on the top floor when Terry got a call from Martin to say they were watching nothing less than an Egyptian Goose (below) further up the river at the southernmost end of the site.

Neither of us have ever seen this species at New Hythe so it was about turn and quick march with everything crossed, which isn't easy, in the hope that it would please stay until we got there and not leave on the rapidly rising tide. We reached our destination in record time and after a few seconds were able to locate our Egyptian quarry which was hanging around with a couple of Canada Geese, very international. With the inclusion of Feral Pigeon, yes, they do count, this bought my New Hythe year list very nicely to 100 species, imagine bells ringing and champagne corks popping. Before we left the river a Grey Wagtail did a suitable flypast to add to the moment. What a turn around to the day!

Although it was still grey we decided to have a look at the east scrub in the hope of repeating yesterday's success with Grizzled Skippers. Needless to say they weren't playing ball, there were hardly any butterflies to be seen anywhere apart from a couple of Green-veined Whites later on. But I did find another difficult damselfly which I gallantly rescued from a ferocious spider's web. It's pictured above, but doesn't really do it justice. I think it must be an immature Red Eyed Damselfly like the last mystery which I posted earlier in the week.......or maybe not.
I think it was Martin Coath who found the strange caterpillar pictured below but this is not such a mystery, it's the caterpillar of the Mottled Umber moth.

Finally, a quick update on the Blue Tit camera box. She finally gave in, after nearly a week, to the males constant attention and has now produced some eggs. The three in the picture have now increased to at least four possibly five. Hopefully there are more to come. Compulsive viewing, and easily the best thing on TV at the moment.


JRandSue said...

Great to beable to watch all the chicks when they come into the World.

Adam said...

Entertaining post and hitting the ton - well done! Adam

Paul said...

Hi Phil, some nice birds seen, to reach your 100 mark there.

Chris said...

Spring is in the air. Nice post!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
I knew it wouldn't be long before the bells rang and the corks popped , well done !
I'd say your damselfly is another immature Red-eyed , same thorax markings and the pterostigma , the markings on the leading edges of the wings are just turning red on this one too .
Good your Bluies sorted themselves out .

ShySongbird said...

Well done on the 100 Phil and a most entertaining read to celebrate it!

I was hoping last year's solitary Egyptian Goose might return to Draycote with a mate this year but maybe it got sidetracked and stopped off at New Hythe ;)

Excellent news on Blue Tit TV and looking forward to the next episode :)

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, 100 up, great stuff, great for it to be a new patch tick as well :-) I'm glad the morning picked up for you, it's nice when that happens.

Warren Baker said...

Its never over till the Fat bird sings :-) 100 up already Phil! I'm hoping for 4 more species before the 17 may, that will be my quickest ton ever, not looking likely now though

Bob Bushell said...

Nice photo of the Egyptian Goose, and you have the camera in a bird box, well done.

alan roman said...

Well done on the Ton. Have you had a telegram from the Queen yet?

Dominique W. said...

Beautiful photos! Love nature!