Thursday, 29 September 2011


I think Indian Autumn might be a more appropriate name than Indian Summer. The picture above was taken alongside Brooklands lake this morning, one of hundreds of dew laden webs among the equally dew laden grass that left me in no doubt that it was autumn, despite the warmth. By the time I reached the sunken marsh my feet and legs were absolutely soaked and the low sun and light mist added to the autumnal feel and made it even harder to locate any of the dwindling species of birds still remaining. This was especially the case on the river, where the freshly exposed mud, revealed by the falling tide was too bright to scan properly, who knows what might have gone unnoticed.
In the sunken marsh I saw two Blackcaps, one male, one female, several Bullfinches and lots of calling Cetti's Warblers who were probably top vocalists of the morning. A Lesser Black-backed Gull floated lazily up river at eye level and a single Lapwing flew up from the mud opposite the pillbox. In an attempt to dry my wet legs I moved up to the mound which the sun was warming up nicely. Here I saw a flyover Grey Wagtail to go with the Pied Wagtail i'd seen earlier at the mill having a bit of a disagreement with a Blue Tit of all things. The only other notables were two Jackdaws which flew noisily overhead, probably the same two that I saw about two weeks ago, quite an uncommon sighting on the west side of the river.

Having dried out a bit I made my way over to Abbey Mead via the overgrown footpath from the mound and got soaked. The two Jackdaws again flew overhead, this time back towards the river. Abbey Mead looked fantastic, it's surface flat, calm and mirror like from corner to corner. The reason for this was that it was absolutely deserted, not a single, solitary bird on it, not even a Coot. There were by now though one or two dragonflies about, mainly Migrant Hawkers and one Brown Hawker. I spent the next hour or so chasing them up and down the bank trying to get some better on the wing shots, well there wasn't much else to do at the time.

Things did pick up a bit when eleven Tufted Ducks circled the lake before swooping in and landing in the middle. They didn't stay long, ten minutes or so and off they went back up into the blue. Their departure though distracted me enough from dragon chasing to spot a Little Grebe, the first for a while here and also a Kingfisher which zipped by on my side of the lake.

There were two more sightings of note before I left for home, the first was a flyover Skylark, the second this week, one flew over my garden yesterday, a very rare occurence and maybe a sign of some autumn movement. The second was the Buzzard pictured below, which flew from the direction of the river, straight over Abbey Mead and then circled above the Railway lake before spiralling slowly away.

I know this Indian summer/autumn has temporarily quietened things down even more, but never mind, the much awaited migrants will arrive soon enough and so will winter, in the meantime, soak it up. I'm just glad I went to Spain last week, i'd be spitting feathers if i'd gone this week!


Warren Baker said...

You didn't waste your time with the Dragon Flight shots Phil, very nice!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Yes , those in flight shots are very good indeed . It's sometimes good not having much going on around you .
Bet it wasn't any hotter last week !

Jason K said...

I've had single Skylarks passing over my patch this week too Phil. There is definitely some movement of them.

Cracking Migrant Hawker photos btw

Marianne said...

Brilliant photos of the Migrant Hawker, crisp as you like :) I've heard a few Skylarks overhead in Sevenoaks these last couple of weeks too.

Bob Bushell said...

Wow, brilliant photos of the dragonfly.

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
I thought your wildlife shots were getting better, now I am sure they are. Your efforts to get dragonfly shots in the air paid off. they are really good, how do you do it? That is something I just cannot master. What settings do you use?

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, couldn't agree more with the photo comments, really well captured, I would havelove to have taken any one of those :-)

Chris said...

Migrants will come Phil soon or later. We are getting massive influx of rare birds here due to depression coming from the state ;-) We even got a Pacific golden plover!!!