There have been some good waders dropping in and over New Hythe this past week so I set off from the car park at Brooklands with high hopes this morning. I met Terry Laws and Alan Woodcock at the bucket by the river, where Terry had already had Common Sandpiper, a species that was still missing from my NH year list. Unfortunately it still is as it didn't make another appearance. With an absolutely bitter NE wind blowing straight across the river, Alan sensibly went on his way and left us to brave it. We were soon rewarded when I spotted a raptor flying high across the valley, it was a Peregrine, which was joined by two probable Sparrowhawks who drifted away just before the Peregrine performed the most fantastic stoop. I don't know what height it was from, maybe four or five hundred feet, but it dived so fast it was hard to follow it, I didn't see the outcome but a flock of pigeons flew up in panic from the area, probably minus one of their mates.
A short time later Terry spotted another good bird, a Mediterranean Gull, not a common sight here and only the third i've seen in the last two years. By now the wind was almost unbearable so we moved round to the sunken marsh in search of shelter. We parked ourselves just opposite Hoopoe corner and watched a large mixed flock of Hirundines and Swifts feeding over Brooklands lake. This has easily been the best Hirundine day of the year for me and the arrival over the weekend of the Swifts was very welcome and seemed a long time coming. Other birds seen from here included Reed Buntings flying to and fro across the river, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, a couple of Jackdaws, a single Lapwing and best of all three Common Terns crossing over from the Brooklands lake area. It's not very often I see three at a time here.
The tide was very low so we moved to the southern end of the sunken marsh to scan the mud for a possible wader. We didn't find any but Terry was pleased when I spotted a Little Egret flying over, a species which had eluded him at NH so far this year. This was no sooner in the bag when I noticed three waders flying NE, I couldn't ID them with binoculars but thankfully Terry was able to get them in his scope and confirm three Whimbrels! My first ever at New Hythe, what a great tick to take me to 97 species, just three to go for the magic ton.
Again the wind eventually moved us on and we made our way to the sheltered area just past the raptor viewpoint. Here in the warmer conditions we found a couple of moths, the first shown below is a Common Carpet and the second pictured at the top of the post is a very striking Angle Shades.
Butterflies were unsurprisingly few and far between but I did manage to get a shot of this Green Veined White and a poor shot of a Red Admiral. Apart from a Speckled Wood and my first NH Green Hairstreak, that was about it really.
There were still some Nightingales and plenty of Whitethroats and Blackcaps singing around the site, not least being at the east scrub where a search for Skippers proved fruitless, as did our attempt to find some Water Voles in the usual ditch. There has been a Garden Warbler down the millstream so we headed back in that direction, only to be disappointed again, I still need this for the year list. But we did find a few damselflies like the Large Red below, as well as a couple of Hairy Dragonflies patrolling over the stream and a decent sized Pike patrolling in it.
A final look at Brooklands lake failed to produce a hoped for Black Tern or Alpine Swift, well, you never know do you! But just as we were leaving I noticed an unusual looking damselfly, pictured below. These things, much as I like them, do my head in. Terry is suggesting possible recently emerged, green form, female Variable. As for me......i've got a headache! Any other bids?