Today I had a couple of hours at New Hythe. I was lucky enough to bump into Eddie Denson in the car park so we had a bit of a stroll together before he left for home. We walked round to the pylon in the SE corner of the sunken marsh picking up a small flock of Sand and House Martins flying over Abbey Mead lake on the way. There were singing Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Blue and Great Tits in the SW corner, always a good spot for small birds this time of year there's plenty of cover and plenty of food, the elderberries here being of particular interest now.
Although on the ebb, the tide was quite high and consequently the river was disappointing with just a distant Teal to add to the usual Herons and Mallards. Despite the freshening wind the temperature was climbing, so we thought we might get lucky with a raptor or two, which we did with a couple of Buzzards spiralling up over the Downs and a Hobby which although high did treat me to a stunning dive down towards the river before being lost from sight.
Eddie had to go so I made my way along to Abbey Mead lake via the railway track. And for some strange reason this was the route chosen by the Swan pictured above. I don't know how it found itself on such a narrow path but it certainly wasn't too happy about it. It almost ran in front of me, sometimes with outstretched wings which brushed both sides of the track and left a trail of white feathers behind it. I hung back to let it find a way out and eventually it did, squeezing through a small gap on the lake side of the path. The strange thing is that I too use a small cut through to the lake, very close to the one the Swan used and I got there only a minute or so later. But there was no sign of the Swan, I walked quickly along the length of the lake and checked the complete surface of the water but it was nowhere to be found. Maybe it got onto the lake and took off straight away but it must have been amazingly quick if it did because I was there almost straight away, very odd.
The western edge of Abbey Mead lake is a real sun trap and after giving up on the Swan I settled down for a while to watch and enjoy any wildlife that might happen to pass by. This included a party of I think four, handsome but raucous Jays who have abandoned their invisibility of late to begin to cache some of the abundant crop of Jaycorns on the nearby Oaks. Also spotted was a party of Long-tailed Tits who were loosely accompanied by Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chiffchaffs and a single Lesser Whitethroat, a Little Egret also flew over looking pristine against the blue sky, with the sun shining almost through it's pure white wings.
A Red Admiral settled briefly, the only one seen today, but Meadow Browns, Speckled Woods, a couple of ragged Commas and lots of mostly Small Whites were also on the wing. Only three species of dragonfly were seen, the very common Common Darter, good numbers of Migrant Hawkers and a couple of Brown Hawkers. Perhaps the only other species that could be seen at New Hythe now is the Ruddy Darter but I didn't find it today.
I always think of Craneflies, or Daddy Longlegs as being an Autumn species and I suppose they are really. But the ones pictured above which I think are Tipula paludosa are fairly common from May onwards, but are much more abundant now. I've had some good fishing days in the past when these are being blown onto the surface of Bewl Water. The trout love them, unlike gardeners, who detest their larval stage known as leatherjackets, which damage lawns and crops.
I made a brief visit to the east scrub but apart from a Green Woodpecker, a couple of Goldfinches and a flyover Grey Wagtail it was as usual deserted. A Wheatear or Whinchat would make a very nice change, maybe one day. My last sighting was a young Pied Wagtail perched on a railing inside the paper mill, it has it's uses I suppose. This chap bought my NH September species total to 59 which was the total for the whole of August. I said I had high hopes for this month, lets hope i'm right.