Tuesday, 13 September 2011


The tide was very low when I reached the river, the lowest i've seen it for a while. I didn't walk down to the small wood where the bucket seat is though because the six foot tall reeds and nettles completely covered the path, knocked over by the recent rain and still soaking wet. In other words I wimped out. Instead I stood at the head of the small creek where the EA have kindly erected a short piece of rail and post fencing, which is ideal for resting elbows on while scanning the river. I don't know why they put it there but my guess is it's our old friends health and safety, aka covering one's a**e. So now if i'm stupid enough to carry on walking straight into the river it won't be the EA's fault, unless I do it ten yards further up when presumably it WILL be their fault.

Anyway, I digress, the only birds of note seen here were Little Egret and Kingfisher, both of which looked splendid in the morning sunlight. I saw a single Whitethroat and a single Blackcap as I made my way around the sunken marsh, both these species are becoming more and more scarce now as we reach mid September. Cetti's Warblers were still in good voice though as were the Bullfinches, their presence betrayed as usual by their soft contact calls. A single Pied Wagtail flew over the marsh, where the telegraph pole provided an ideal perch for a watchful Kestrel and there was a small stream of Sand Martins passing through as well. On the stretch of river opposite the pylon I saw four Lapwings, the inevitable Grey Herons, and a couple of Teal, not much of a haul considering how good it looked.

I made my way towards the railway via the raptor viewpoint and down through the sheltered area of thick undergrowth between Brookland and Abbey Mead lakes. I always take my time walking this stretch, especially on a sunny morning like today when it's a great place to find insects of all shapes and varieties. Today seemed to be a good day for these wasp mimics above, I think they are Myathropa Florae but I wouldn't bet my pension on it.
It's just as well I didn't bet my pension because Rob, from 'The Living Isle' blog has pointed out that it's the very similar looking Drone Fly Eristalis tenax. Thanks Rob, there are clearly no flies on you!!

Shield bugs too were out in force making the most of the early Autumn warmth, the ones pictured above with their sharp spined pronotum bear a passing resemblance to Picromerus Bidens but again, i'm keeping my pension safe. I photographed two other different species of these bugs today as well but haven't been able to get close to IDing yet, i'll save them for a rainy day perhaps.
Now comes a short warning. For those of you fed up with my seemingly endless array of dragonfly pictures look away now, because here come some more, taken today at Abbey Mead lake. They are both of Migrant Hawkers, which were particularly plentiful at New Hythe today. A couple of Brown Hawkers and lots of Common Darters were also seen.

I managed to tear myself away from the delights of Abbey Mead and made my way across the east scrub. The only entertainment offered here was a flyover Grey Wagtail, a Green Woodpecker and a small charm of Goldfinches, their welcome presence down to the abundance of Teasels. No sign of Water Voles in the stream adjacent to Johnsons lake, just a solitary Moorhen, but the covering undergrowth is beginning to die back a bit now so i'm hopeful that a long overdue sighting is relatively imminent.
I called in at the Bittern watching area on the edge of Streamside lake, no I didn't see a Bittern but I guess it won't be long before they return for the winter. What I did see was this first winter (?) Black-headed Gull who, unaware of my presence was pre-occupied with chasing some sort of flies on the surface of the lake. I don't know what they were but if you left click the first photo I think you can just see one before it gets caught and devoured.

This was very entertaining but it was time to move on, mainly because I wanted to have half an hour on the raptor viewpoint, in the sun, watching for passing raptors. A very pleasant half an hour it was too, although the hoped for Osprey or Buzzard didn't show up, just a Sparrowhawk who passed overhead and spiralled up over Brooklands lake. Just after this though I saw five birds approaching from the north and as they passed I saw that they looked like Wagtails, but they didn't sound like Pied or Grey, could they have been Yellow Wagtails? I like to think so, but i'll never know so I won't be claiming a New Hythe tick so my year list for here stays at 103 and the September list languishes still at 59, the same as the final August list.


Warren Baker said...

Nice read again phil. Pity about those wagtails - if you can remember how they sounded, try out one of the bird call websites and compare it - worth a go :-)

Bob Bushell said...

Bugs and a Gull, they are superb.

Alan Pavey said...

Migrant Hawker in flight, great stuff, I would be pleased with any dragon in flight!! :-)

Graham James said...

Hi Phil, I agree with you that the bugs certainly look like Spiked Shieldbugs (Picromerus bidens).
Another enjoyable post and nice pics.

Rob said...

Interesting observations of the fly-chasing gulls Phil.
I reckon the first pic is a Drone Fly, Eristalis tenax or thereabouts.