Friday, 6 July 2012


Back to New Hythe yesterday where the spring and summer rain and the subsequent lack of footfall have rendered some areas impassable to all but the very brave or the very tall, i'm neither. The vegetation, mainly nettles, brambles and anything else with a sting or a thorn, is higher than i've seen it before. It's also home to large quantities of biting insects, copious amounts of  anti histamine are recommended.

Talking of biting insects, this Scorpion fly, although toothless and harmless, does appear to be sucking dry the contents of it's prey here, possibly stolen from a spiders web.

2012 is the Chinese year of the dragon, but in the UK I propose that given the soggy conditions it should be the year of the slug. Here's one I found earlier along the path leading to the mound. I think it might be a Leopard Slug, although I must admit it didn't slither very fast. But maybe it should have done............

..............because as I crouched down to get up close and personal for a picture, a movement in the grass caught my eye and I saw the unmistakeable, dark velvety coat of a Mole. You don't see them very often do you! This one seemed quite relaxed and appeared to be foraging for food, or maybe it was a youngster looking for its own territory. I followed it down the path for some distance trying to get a clear shot of it, but it never did show itself completely above the surface. Hence the blurry pictures. The odd thing is that i'd just found a dead Mole about twenty feet away, maybe it was a sibling, also striking out on its own. 

I walked to the river at the southern end of the sunken marsh where I saw a Turtle Dove on the wires, a Shelduck and a few Herons. Cetti's Warblers, Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers, Common Whitethroats and a Kestrel were all seen or heard but generally the birdlife was quiet.

So as usual at this time of the year my attention turned to smaller stuff. The sun had gone in by now and even the insects were quite hard to pin down. But I did manage to find this handsome little soldier fly, Chloromyia formosa, a male in this case.

Not many dragonflies on the wing at the time but I did manage to see some Black-tailed Skimmers (above) and a couple of Emperors which didn't perch favourably for a picture. Damselflies were still in abundance with good numbers of Common Blue (below),  Blue-tailed and Azure along with plenty of Red-eyed in the margins of Abbey Mead.

Over the surface of Abbey Mead a Kingfisher (or two) kept my attention for a while and as usual I couldn't resist keeping an eye on the the captivating world below the surface, where shoals of Perch fry moved in unison in and out of the weeds and the occasional tiny but perfect young Pike (below) hung motionless in the warm shallows. These two particular species of fish, and their environment as a whole have fascinated me immensely ever since I was a youngster and I never tire of seeing them.

Ringlets, Meadow Browns, a few large Skippers and a couple of Red Admirals (above) were the only flutters of note. It seems to me that the only drought we have this year is of butterflies, it can't bode well for next year can it.  

My final stop was at the little bridge that crosses the millstream in the country park, it's a good spot to find Banded Demoiselles. I only saw one today though, this male, who waited patiently for the next few rays of sunshine to prompt him into flight.

While I stood on the bridge a Nightingale appeared and perched in full view a little further downstream. I watched it as it flew off several times and returned, calling constantly to its youngsters hidden deep in the undergrowth. I wondered if this was one of the birds I counted earlier in the Spring while doing my national Nightingale survey duties. I like to think it was.


Greenie said...

Phil ,
Great Fox shot , looking over it's shoulder . Would agree with your Leopard Slug ID .Once a fisherman --- . I see Alan got in on your Nightingale shots . I'm surprised you found your way around , it's been so long .

Warren Baker said...

Well, another action packed post Phil! That Mole must have been fun :-)
Is that a ring on the Nightingales leg?

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Phil!!!.. Nice pictures.. Congrat.. :-)))

Alan Pavey said...

Nice account Phil, well done seeing the Mole during the day, not sometihng you see often.

ShySongbird said...

A live Mole on camera! That is unusual, well spotted Phil. Nice to see the Odonata, I'm not seeing much at all here and I agree, the butterfly situation doesn't bode well at all for next year either :-(

Lovely photos as always, my favourites this time are the Fox and the Nightingale.