Thursday, 26 July 2012


I had a couple of hours to spare monday morning so I thought i'd have a bit of a safari. That's what the drive along the RSPB Elmley track always reminds me of. It's a couple of miles long (or so) and flat as a pancake, except for a few slight mounds where I always expect the Meerkats (Rabbits) to be watching out for Martial Eagles (Marsh Harriers), or Jackals (foxes). And the Wildebeest (cows) stand nervously along the track as the top predators (birdwatchers) approach in a cloud of dust, toting their high powered rifles (lenses), searching for their own kind of prey to shoot.....I think it's the heat!
Anyway all I saw was the cows, who shockingly seemed to have no idea about the highway code and absolutely refused to concede to horsepower and get off the track, Starlings by the gross and the Cattle Egret, sorry, Little Egret above. Upon reaching the water hole at the entrance to the reserve proper, Pied Wagtails, Yellow Wagtails, Swallows, and House Sparrows were all seen before I started the fairly long walk to the first of the hides.

I was under no illusions about how little birdlife I would see at this time of year especially in the (very welcome) hot weather. So it was eyes down and looking for smaller winged beasts, like these Ruddy Darters (above and below) who were definitely the most prolific of the dragons with just a few probable Black-tailed Skimmers, an Emperor or two and an unidentified hawker species to keep the interest. 

Butterflies were in abundance though, especially Meadow Browns and Skippers, like the one below which i'm going to guess is an Essex Skipper due to the tips of the antennae being quite dark (and the false eyelashes of course). Sorry Stephanie :-) and if you read this, congratulations and very well done on passing your driving test! Why do they have to make them flipping Skippers so similar? 

Gatekeepers, Small Tortoiseshells and best of all for me the Peacock above, i've hardly seen one of these again this year, were also seen, but photographing was difficult because of the stiff breeze (haven't used that excuse for a while now).

As I said, birds were at a premium but these Yellow Wagtails looked good in the sunlight while Reed Warblers still sang from the reeds, a couple of Kestrels patrolled and hovered and the Skylarks poured forth their liquid, summer song from above, just  dark spots hanging in the blue sky. Nothing much else was needed. Which is just as well as not much else was seen, the visit to the first hide lasting about thirty seconds during which time I saw nothing on the water.

I did see literally dozens of six spot Burnet moths though, but couldn't find a single one that was settled. I'd given up and was nearly back to the farmhouse when I spotted a clump of thistles, which was obviously what they were looking for and I got my shot of three very fresh specimens together.  

It wasn't just me who was feeling the heat by now, this young House Sparrow was happy to take refuge in the shade of a bush near the farmhouse, can't say as I blame him. The drive back along the track was incident free, even the cows had moved on, I expect the Lions chased them away.
Wednesday I had the pleasure of Marianne Taylor's company when she joined me for a trip to sweltering Dungeness (not two words you usually associate together). It's now 10.30 and i've run out of time and energy, so I've posted a few pictures below which were taken on the day and I hope you'll click on this link to visit Marianne's super blog to read the words to go with them. 








Alan Pavey said...

A really nice read Phil with some great shots getting out twice in a week sounds like the way to go to :-)

Mike H said...

Great read Phil and a very amusing read as usual. I admire you for even attempting the trek down to the hides in the heat. Thankfully it seems that you survived to comment on your adventures.!

Marianne said...

Great read, Phil, lovely pics from Elmley as well as our Dunge day :) - btw you've labelled the Sedgie as a Reedie!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
As I've mentioned to you before , you should leave the 'waccy baccy' alone when driving the car , and more importantly , when posting .
Re. your Elmley Skipper , would say Small , but the Dunge one certainly fits the bill .
Peacocks certainly have been scarce this year , haven't found a single tent of larvae in any of the usual places this year .
Your Dunge Ruddy Darter certainly seems to be wilting in the heat .
If you want a number for re-hab , drop an email , the one I used is great , spend all my holidays there .

Jason K said...

Loved your opening section to this post made me chuckle.

Nice to see the Yellow Wags. Do they breed in your neck ofthe woods? They are only a passage migrant round these parts

Mike Attwood said...

Good read Phil. I would try that number of Greenies its probably the same I use.

Warren Baker said...

No Ruddy Darters here this year Phil, and Peacocks have gone missing :-(

Love that Sedgie, hoping to get my first glimpse of one on my patch this year in the next few weeks :-)

ShySongbird said...

A most enjoyable post Phil and I really enjoyed going on safari with you although those temperatures were a bit much for me :-) Lots of lovely photos. I took photos of a couple of Six Spot Burnets but couldn't even manage one where they were both in focus :-( Lovely to see the Peacock, I have only seen one this year! Hopefully they are all starting to emerge now.

Oh dear, I feel Essex Skipper ID problems coming on, I must study my pics very carefully ;-)

✿⊰♥⊱ FRANCE ✿ said...

Bonsoir et merci pour ce superbe partage ce héron est magique
je repasserai plus tard regarder vos photos
Bonne soirée