Wednesday, 4 July 2012


I spent a few hours at Sevenoaks wildlife reserve on tuesday with my mate Alan Roman. As usual the weather wasn't great, overcast and damp with outbreaks of drizzle. I'm fed up with it and I think the Magpie pictured above would have agreed had I asked him. But we didn't let it get us down. Even when we reached the first hide (Tyler) and found it bursting at the seams (with people, not birds), we kept a stiff upper lip and headed for Sutton and Slingsby hides via the woods. Blackcaps were still singing their perfect song in competition it seemed with some very vocal Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, while the humble, tunefully impaired Chiffchaffs just carried on chiffing and chaffing.
We just got settled in the Sutton hide, noting not much apart from a surprise brief visit from a Common Sandpiper, a Pied Wagtail, some Egyptian Geese, the odd Gt Crested Grebe and some brave Ringlet butterflies, then a couple of reserve volunteers walked in and told us they would be doing an Orchid survey in front of the hide, right now. Out came the stiff uppers again and off we went to Slingsby hide, where we were sort of entertained by some very distant Jackdaws, the odd Swift (can't believe they'll soon be heading back), and some very close but very shy Reed Warblers.
Since we were thwarted at Tyler hide we decided we would return there, hopefully find it empty and have a spot of lunch. It was empty apart from two other volunteers who were giving the undergrowth a bit of a trim, they finished and went, leaving us to enjoy the Little Ringed Plovers (4), more Egyptians, a couple of Herons and a couple of sandwiches (bread not Terns). Then the two Orchid surveyors turned up again, yep, they were going to do another survey in front of the hide. No stiff upper lips this time, well it's difficult when you're eating. We just watched them until they'd finished and then Alan politely asked if they wouldn't mind picking one of the Southern Marsh Orchids so we could have a look at it in the hide. Bless him!

That seemed like a good time to move on, so we headed round to Willow hide, passing an area where Bee Orchids were growing, we spotted just one from the path along with some Meadow Browns above and a couple of what looked like Common Spotted Orchids. Bird wise it was again pretty quiet. More singing Song Thrushes, the odd Dunnock and  plenty of Wrens, as ever exercising their tiny lungs to the max. 

From the Willow hide itself, we watched a Gt Crested Grebe, fishing unsuccessfully in the shallows, at least four, maybe five Jays across the far side of the lake and a single Kingfisher who remained motionless on his distant perch all the time we were there.

Alongside Long lake the sun very nearly pierced the grey clouds, this raised the light levels and the temperature just enough to bring a few more butterflies to the wing. There were several Large Skippers (above) and quite a few more Meadow Browns as well as a few day flying moths, one of which I think was a Silver Y, but try as I might I couldn't get it in my sights because of the long grass. And so to Carter hide, where I hoped I might get a Kingfisher perched on one of the conveniently placed fishing sticks. But apart from one which flew straight over us it wasn't to be. Instead we watched the Carp basking lazily in the shallow weedy water directly in front of us. It was difficult to be sure but I thought they might be wild Commons judging by their shape, a fish not seen much these days, I hope they were.

Finally, Alan's got a new car. He's very pleased with it but all the new fangled technology on it, you know, radio, windscreen wipers, reverse gear and the like (there isn't even a starting handle) is driving him mad. I helped him all I could but I fear this modern world could soon push him over the brink and into the garden above. Bless him!


Rob said...

A very entertaining post, Phil!

Those orchid surveyors - I picture them crouching low in the sward with tiny theodolites mapping the position of each bloom.

Bob Bushell said...

It was a bad day, but you have made some good photos.

ShySongbird said...

A very entertaining read again Phil. You would think those orchid surveyors could have spared a nice bunch or even a root or two ;-)

Lovely butterfly photos, at least they let us pretend it is Summer. What a depressing year it is, it feels like pretty well all of May, June and now July has been wasted.

I love the photo of the Robin helping to point people in the right direction.

Warren Baker said...

I do like settling down and reading your posts Phil, you do keep me smiling :-)

Better weather soon mate, get down to new hythe for those Autumn migrants mate!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
So who's looking after New Hythe while you are swanning all over ?
See we know the hide names now .

Jason K said...

That Magpie looks as down in the chops about the weather as you sound Phil! Still at least your getting out and making the most of a poor summer!