Monday, 25 July 2011


After being locked in at the Brooklands car park recently and subsequently receiving an altogether unsatisfactory reply from Snodland Town Council to my letter of complaint, I wasn't too surprised when I arrived there on sunday morning and found myself locked out. How difficult can it be to open and shut a car park on time?

However, a bad start to the morning soon gave way to better things, when I finally got my first shot of a Brown Hawker dragonfly, above. It only took me two years or so, well, the flipping things just will not settle nicely. I have to say though, that given the choice I would have preferred it not to have settled on something brown, with a brown background, but never mind.

I didn't bother with the river path today as the tide was in and anyway it's been pretty quiet of late. Instead I went over the raptor viewpoint, aka the mound and took the path down between Brookland lake and Abbey Mead lake in the hope of some more dragons and butterflies from this sheltered, sunny area. As it happened I didn't get much of either but I did get a nice surprise when I spotted this young Grass Snake. It was actually about 18 inches off the ground and lying on the vegetation trying to catch the last of the disappearing suns rays, it saw me immediately and slithered away in an instant, just after I took the above shot.

My next stop was to have been the SW corner of Abbey Mead lake to look for Small Red-eyed damselflies, but I changed my plan when I saw a lady with two vicious looking dogs heading along the path towards it. So instead I crossed the railway line and had a look at the Railway lake, where I noticed eighteen Tufted Ducks, the most i've seen for a long time now.

Crossing the east scrub, I saw a couple of Green Woodpeckers, some Bullfinches, a pair of Linnets and a few Greenfinches, a Gt Spotted Woodpecker was also heard but not seen. Butterfly wise the Gatekeepers were by far the most numerous still, with Meadow Browns next and Red Admirals third, I also saw a Peacock at last, the second brood don't seem to have done too well here so far this year.

I called in at the finger lake at the Brook House entrance and was amazed to see my second Grass Snake of the day who was a bit bigger than the first one and was again basking some way off the ground, curled up on the nettles, thistles and hawthorn. It doesn't sound like a comfortable place but it must have liked it because it was loathe to move, and I was pleased to be able to take my pictures and leave him undisturbed.

There are some pieces of refugia along the edge of the scrub and a quick look under just four pieces revealed at least fourteen Slow Worms, including possibly the biggest one i've ever seen, and a probable Common Shrew who didn't hang around for a positive ID.

I saw a very small butterfly as I made my way back to the railway line, luckily the sun disappeared for a few minutes which prompted it to settle. It was a Brown Argus, the first i've seen for a while at New Hythe so presumably this is a second brooder, it looks very fresh and I think it's a male.

My final stop was the corner of Abbey Mead which thankfully, was now clear of canine activity. When I got there the sun was still behind the clouds and damselflies were hard to find, I amused myself with a picture of a grounded Common Darter, below, and the sight of a Common Buzzard being harassed by a couple of gulls as it drifted lazily over the River Medway.

I continued my search for the Small Red-eyed but could only manage to spot a few Red-eyed damselflies like the one pictured below. I also bumped into Mike Easterbrook here, who was hoping to get a sighting of the Lesser Emperor dragonfly. We both failed, maybe it's too late now, but we had a good chinwag as the sun re-appeared and it was a very pleasant way to end the morning.

I've added a couple of pictures below of a Black-tailed Skimmer which took a liking to the vegetation around my pond one afternoon last week. As ever with this species it's difficult to say whether it's immature or an adult female, either way, it's welcome in my garden any time it likes.


Warren Baker said...

You actually got a reply from the council ! :-)

Red Admirals are abundant here too phil, no tufted ducks though ;-)

Rob said...

Phil, Your Grass Snakes seem to have discovered the hammock!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Firstly , don't you think the Council are trying to tell you something ?
Well done getting the BH shot , looks like he has been involved in a few scraps .
Nice male BA , they are in good numbers at the moment .
I think it's safe to ID your BTSs as females , as their flight season is on the back end now .
As for the Sm.Red-eyed Damselfly hunt , relax , you have photographed your first specimen . If you look at your shot , there is blue on the underside of segment 8 as well as all of 9&10 , albeit not the best marked specimen . And it just isn't chunky enough for the larger Red-eyed .

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, I can sympathise with Brown Hawker pics and I've only been trying to got them for a few weeks,nice one, I haven't seen one settle yet! Some nice pics again, I'll study that Sm.R-ED, I'm not sure if we get them at the castle.

Phil said...

Hi Greenie.
As always thanks for your ID help. I couldn't make up my mind about the Red-Eyed, there just didn't seem to be enough blue on S8, I expected the blue to come halfway up the side of the segment but this shows only a very small amount.
Once again, my head hurts!