Saturday, 4 June 2011


I doubt that I could have taken the above photo of this Goat's Beard clock this afternoon because it would have been blown away. Obviously, it wouldn't mind because that's what it's supposed to do, spread it's seed in the wind, not tell the time which is what I used to think it was for when I was a kid.

Anyway, the morning wasn't too windy and after a busy few days visiting a quiet Stodmarsh and two evenings chasing Nightjars and Woodcocks in the dark at Mereworth woods (with little success), I was pleased to have a sedate plod around New Hythe today.

First up and very welcome was this Reed Warbler below, checking me out from the reeds in the corner of Brooklands.

I must say that I had no great hopes of seeing anything out of the ordinary today. I reached the southern edge of the sunken marsh after noting a Common Tern on Brooklands lake and an Oystercatcher on the river from the bucket seat. Then I was chuffed to little mint balls when I looked up and saw a Red Kite, only my second ever here, drifting casually over the marsh following the river to the north and virtually over the paper mill. Now, I apologise for the terrible photo, it seems like sacrilege to sully the image of such a splendid bird, but it's the best I could do in the circumstances and I just wanted a record for the NHBRC (New Hythe Birds Records Commitee).......... :-)

Moving swiftly on, just before reaching the railway crossing I heard what I thought was a Gt Spotted Woodpecker contact call. I waited for a while and sure enough an adult and a single juvenile appeared. I managed to get a picture of junior below, sporting a red crown which will soon fade and be replaced by a red patch on the back of the head if it's a male, or no red at all on the head if it's a female.

On to the east scrub, where a sheltered sunny spot was home to four or five Meadow Brown butterflies, pictured below, my first of the year. I saw no others, just these few in a very specific area, they were still in the same place when I returned later on my way back.

On the southern edge of the scrub I noticed another brown butterfly lurking in the tangled undergrowth, sheltering from the freshening breeze. I thought it was another Meadow Brown at first but a closer look revealed it as a Ringlet, another first of the year at New Hythe. I waited for ages for it to settle into a more open area so that I could get a better shot of it.

Eventually I was rewarded and got the better picture below. Nice looking butterfly the Ringlet, I look forward to seeing more of them hopefully.

After another fruitless Water Vole quest, I moved to the west scrub area where I managed to get a look at my first stationary dragonfly of the morning, taking shelter and basking in the sunlight. I'm pretty sure it's an immature Black-tailed Skimmer. It's a stunning looking beast either way. I learnt all this stuff last year, trouble is, after a long hard winter without them, I have to learn it all over again. Oh for a bit of space in the memory banks!

The middle of the west scrub area is an oasis of calm, no bikes, no dogs, no people, well only me and that doesn't count, so I stayed a while and was rewarded with a troupe of Long-tailed Tits. At least a dozen of these delightful birds, adults and juveniles made their way past me chattering excitedly, some searching for food and others like the ones below waiting patiently for a small morsel, delivered willingly by one of the adults, parent or not possibly.

By now the wind had seemingly lost control of itself, and dust and detritus was being lifted from the track in all directions and continually blown into eyes and unprotected lenses. Time to head for home. As I did so I noticed the Robin's Pincushion pictured below, on a Dog Rose by the side of the scrub. It's a gall caused by the larvae of Gall Wasps which live in it's centre. I didn't think they should be this red colour until autumn but either way it's quite nice and so is it's name.

I stopped twice more as I battled, homeward bound against the breeze. Once to look at this Comma butterfly, above, which was sheltering, alongside a Red Admiral on the lee side of a bush. It was a good opportunity to see the underside of the wings and the white 'Comma' which I believe gives it it's name. And lastly, this time I believe an adult male Black-tailed Skimmer, resting on a fishermans platform after vigorously defending it's airspace from a marauding Four-spotted Chaser.

I was really pleased to record 51 species of birds today at New Hythe including Hobby, Willow Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush (not too comon at the moment), Lesser Whitethroat, Nightingale, Blackcap,Cuckoo and many others, but no Turtle Dove. I haven't had a chance to update the June list yet so i'll catch up next time.


Alan Pavey said...

Great spot, picking up the Red Kite Phil, always nice to see :-)

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
I have yet to see a local Red Kite, hope it won't be too long, you did well getting a record shot of it.
I popped down to Brooklands area yesterday(Friday) afternoon, it was so warm. and I heard and saw a lot of the commoner species, including the Hobby, and Common Tern. I too was at one of the fishing platforms where possible the same Black tailed Skimmer kept coming back to. at times it was just a few feet away.
Sorry you missed out on the Nightjar, and Woodcock, better luck next time Phil.
I must go and look for them at some time soon.

Mike H said...

Hi Phil,

Another good patch account,as usual, also accompanied by some super photos
Must arrange to trespass again soon.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
The flower of the Goatsbeard would also have disappeared by the afternoon .
Well done with the Ringlet , I searched yesterday , but once again , you win .
Your gold/black dragonfly is indeed an immature or female BTS .
Great shots of the LTTs , won't mention the Red Kite !
Spot anything different with your Comma shot ?
Usually the underwing is very dark , but yours is golden . This is the form 'hutchinsoni' , a result of early Spring caterpillars .
Better luck next time with the Nightjar and Woodcock .

Bob Bushell said...

Great range of photos, I love the Reed Warbler.

Warren Baker said...

Seems like you had a real mixed bag today phil, much like my day, I think you got better species than me though :-) Especially the Red Kite!

ShySongbird said...

A nice mixture there Phil. Love the LTT photos.

Butterflies are a bit thin on the ground (or more correctly in the air!) here but we have hardly had any sun and the wind has been high for weeks!

Great capture of the juvenile GSW too :)

Kieron said...

Hi Phil, a bit of a late comment on this post but I wanted to mention that I haven't had any joy with Nightjars in Mereworth Woods yet either. Weather permitting I will try again Thursday or Friday.