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.
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.
SEDGE WARBLER (JUV)