Wednesday, 30 May 2012


I was late on parade tuesday morning and I didn't get to the reserve until about 10.45. It wasn't my fault, I had jobs to do. By this time the sun was well and truly up and so were the temperatures. Luckily, Sevenoaks reserve has some very nice wooded areas and it was here that I spent my first hour or so, enjoying the shade and the varied bird song. I think the singing sounds richer now that the leaves are on the trees forming a canopy to keep the sound in. Trouble is the leaves also hide the birds very effectively, so although I heard Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Chaffinches, Robins, Wrens, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds among others, I didn't necessarily see them all.
I called in at the first hide, the name of which eludes me as usual although it might be Tyler? Anyway, from here three Little Ringed Plover chased each other around the islands, along with Lapwings, Egyptian Geese, Greylag Geese and Canada Geese, plus broods, together with Shelduck, Pied Wags and Moorhens. And in the shallow water between the islands I watched large bow waves, topped by shiny dorsal fins as some of the lakes Carpy inhabitants cruised nonchalantly below the surface while the birds swam, unconcerned, on the surface above them.  

It wasn't long before the great outdoors beckoned again and I left the hide to walk around the main lake. My attention was soon drawn to the piping of a Gt Spotted Woodpecker coming from a dead tree. A quick look revealed this little chap calling impatiently for his hard pressed parents to provide more food.

I retreated to the cool shade of some nearby trees and waited for one of the parents to show up. I didn't have to wait long before meals on wings turned up, Mum I think, I didn't notice a red nape.

Junior was very pleased to see her, as was I, and he immediately took the beakful of delicious, wriggling grubs that constitutes grub to  growing woodie woodpeckers.

Time to retreat and leave them in peace so I made my way to the nature trail area adjacent to the River Darent, a delightful, shallow, fast flowing piece of water which was obviously to the liking of the local Banded Demoiselle population.

This is one of those creatures that for me, is impossible to walk past without stopping to marvel at, and if I have a camera about my person, it demands to be pointed at them.......... as you can see I did, lots of times.

There's a small lake nearby and here again I was drawn irresistably to the myriad of damsels, especially the Red Eyed pictured above, who for once seemed happy to leave their beloved algal rafts to settle on the reeds along the fringes. It was here that I also found some dragonflies of the non perching type. They steadfastly refused to stop their constant back and forth patrolling so there was nothing for it but to spend a long time trying to capture them in flight.

I managed a couple of frames from the dozens I took, most of which contained a blurry shot of an empty sheet of water. I think (fingers crossed) that they are Downy Emeralds, but i'm still having nightmares and counselling therapy to try and get over my last encounter with this species (if there are any regular readers you'll know what I mean, if there aren't, forget I ever mentioned it). 

The handsome little chap above is Nemophora degeerella, a day flying longhorn moth, sometimes referred to as the 'fairy moth'. Don't think i've ever seen one before.

My last stop was at another hide, the name of which I also can't remember. Why do they give them such forgettable names? Or is it me, memory span of a thingamajig. Anyway it's the hide with the Kingfisher perching sticks in front, except they weren't being perched on. In fact both of the little beauties absolutely refused to play ball and insisted on a spectacular synchronised diving display on the far side of the lake. Only coming slightly closer to take a bow on a bough. A good way to end a very entertaining few hours I think.


Marc Heath said...

Great shots, looks like you have a passion for the Banded Demoiselles too, what stunners.

Warren Baker said...

Blimey Phil,
Two posts on consecutive days :-)

Loved those Stag Beetles from yesterday. Everyone's posting with this good weather about - it's hard to keep up with all the blog action!

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Phill.. Good pictures.. especially like the great spotted woodpecker and the kingfisher... Regards

Mike Attwood said...

Well up to your usual standard Phil.

ShySongbird said...

Oooh, I'm very envious of the wonderful GSW series Phil! I would love to have witnessed that and to have taken those superb photos.

Well done on the Downy Emerald, your patience was rewarded....that is the second time I have written similar words on a blog about the same subject today ;-)

Lovely to see the Kingfisher too.

Jason K said...

A cracking set of woodpecker photos Phil. Nice one!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Think it's about time I gave up . Finally got the Broadband connection back , then posted a comment intended for your Sevenoaks post , on my own page .
Please see there .

Ken. said...

The first thing that came to mind was "It's about time I paid it a visit, now that there is more wildlife about". The Banded Demoiselle, is probably my second favourite Damselfly, my first is the Beautiful Demoiselle.
A good effort with the dragonfly in flight, very hard thing to manage.
A good variety of wildlife seen. nice one.

Linda said...

Hi Phil,

Greetings from Montreal, Canada. My parents and I were born here in Montreal, but my father's parents were born in Kent (Dartford and Dover). Your photos are just gorgeous, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. You have a really nice blog.

Marianne said...

How did I miss this post? Glad you had a good time at Sevenoaks. You've done way better with those pesky Downy Emeralds than I ever have, love the woodpecker shots too.