Saturday, 13 August 2011


Brooklands Lake was like a mirror this morning. The marginal trees and reedbeds, completely motionless, were almost perfectly reflected along the edges of the water. A few Coots diving for weed and a Great Crested Grebe fishing in the middle of the lake were the only small disturbances to the flat calm conditions.

What a welcome, probably short-lived change to the wind driven weather of late. It didn't seem to have made much difference to the birds though, but it certainly made me feel better. I felt even better when a look along the creek by the small wood turned up two Little Egrets, singles have been hard to come by down here this year. Also sharing the rapidly receding mud banks were four Lapwings, it would only be a matter of time before they were all pushed off by the incoming tide.

When I reached Hoopoe corner in the sunken marsh I had a call from Terry Laws to say he was on his way round. This was a good opportunity to rest in the warm humid conditions until he caught up with me. Grey Herons, Cormorants, Mallards and Greylags all flew up from the now rapidly rising river. And from the marsh I saw, but hardly heard, Whitethroats, Reed Warblers, one with a beak full of insects, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and a Wren. As Terry arrived, a Sparrowhawk circled over the river, the first of three or four sightings to follow, possibly all the same bird but I think maybe at least two individuals. We stayed for some time and scanned the skies above the Medway Valley and the North Downs in the hope of finding some welcome raptors, maybe even an early Osprey passing through. Think big Terry said, but it didn't happen.

What did happen were Buzzards, quite a few sightings, about half a dozen if my poor old memory serves me correctly. At one time we had three in the air together, so that's the minimum different birds seen, the others could have been duplicates, who knows. A couple of Grey Wagtails flew over us and another small flock of ten Lapwings followed the river. While in the distance Sand Martins and Swallows were appearing, maybe using the valley to guide them south as they join in the return migration. Swifts also made an appearance later, their own migration surely well under way by now, with sightings becoming less and less likely.


It was time to move on and as we emerged from the marsh, a scan along the far bank of the now tide flooded river revealed three Common Sandpipers all in about a 100 yard stretch, that's the most i've seen along the river in one go I think.The Elderberries are now out and they are a big attraction for the birds, a source of fuel for those planning a foreign trip and maybe a boost for those staying, before the impending Autumn. Either way, the berries and the surrounding bushes at the bottom of the mound were attracting a steady stream of birds including, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Blackcaps and I think the odd Chiffchaff. Long-tailed Tits, not seen very much lately, and Bullfinches were also seen in the area and as we were departing from the mound a Hobby was seen flying high overhead to the east.
Although very warm, there wasn't much sunshine and this meant not many butterflies, Speckled Woods and the 2011 star performers, the Gatekeepers, making most of the numbers. Dragonflies too were hard to find, a couple of Brown Hawkers, some Common and Ruddy Darters and an Emperor or two was about it. Scorpion flies, pictured above were quite numerous, as were hoverflies, maybe the calm conditions suited them all.
We ended up with 40 species which isn't too bad for August, but my NH list for the month is a meagre 47 species, something needs to happen because that is still six behind the poor result of 53 for!

On wednesday Carol and I paid a visit to RSPB Pulborough Brooks, partly to buy a new pair of binoculars, which I ended up not getting, but that's another story. Anyway, the birding wasn't great either, enough said, but I did get two new non bird ticks in the shape of a Southern Hawker dragonfly and a Brown Hairstreak butterfly, neither of which are seen at New Hythe. Pictures below.


Warren Baker said...

That Brown hairstreak is a stunner Phil :-)

Did it not rain over there this morning then ?

Warren Baker said...

Ooops. Just looked at the date of your post Phil :-) thats why it didn't rain over there ;-)

Bob Bushell said...

The Brown Hairstreak is another that I would like to see. Thanks Phil.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Shame Pulborough Brooks didn't work out for the birds , but you must be well pleased with the Sthn.Hawker and Brown Hairstreak , and getting pictures of each , well done .
I was a bit further down the A29 at Slindon on the chainsaw refresher that day .