Monday, 15 April 2013


 The first two birds I heard and saw in Brooklands car park this morning were a Blackcap above and a Chiffchaff. It soon became apparent that these two migrant species were now widespread around New Hythe lakes, their welcome voices accompanied me almost every step of the way.

 The sun shone for a while, providing energy for about six Small Tortoiseshell butterflies (above), several Commas a stunning Brimstone and hundreds of Bee Flies (below) to take to the wing around the site. 

In contrast, the river was very quiet, despite the fairly low tide, the glistening margins of mud failed to attract any wader species. But out of the blue, a bolt of Kingfisher blue flashed across the river and a couple of smart looking Shelducks also saved the day.
Along the causeway between the sunken marsh and Abbey Mead lake I was pleased to spot a couple of Martins, Warburton and Coath, fresh in from Sevenoaks I think. As opposed to Africa, where the Sand Martins and Swallows, which we spotted as we chatted, had just arrived from.  

Around Brooklands lake I found my first Common Whitethroat of the Spring and had another surprisingly good encounter with a Cetti's Warbler, who like the Wren above and below, was too absorbed with other seasonal  matters to take too much notice of me.

Abbey Mead itself held no surprises, duck numbers have reduced dramatically and apart from a few Shovelers and a couple of gangs of Tufties there wasn't too much to hold the attention. No sign either of the Little Gulls seen yesterday by Terry unfortunately.

From the divers' bridge I saw this Water Vole, one of two seen today, both of which seemed far more shy than they often are at New Hythe. Mind you a cyclist raced over the bridge while I was trying to get this ones picture so that didn't help.

I think that the stars of the show have to be the Nightingales (above) though. I heard seven or eight singing, four of which were more than happy to sit on the outer edge of their chosen stage and take a well deserved bow. The Nightingales are back and all's right with the world. If only it was that simple!
As I crossed the West scrub I again spotted the two Martins seen earlier on the causeway. Our attention this time was taken not with Hirundines but a singing Willow Warbler, one of half a dozen or so heard around the site. This one though was pouring out it's slightly mournful, descending notes from the top of a bare branch in full view, thus finding its way on to my New Hythe year list.

The Great Crested Grebe above and Grey Heron below were both fishing on the narrow finger lake along the Brook House track, serenaded by more Nightingales.  Four or five Carp cruised lazily just below the surface at one end of the lake, safe in the knowledge that they were far too big to be on their menu. I used to fish this lake myself about 46 years ago and like the Grebe and the Heron my quarry too was mainly small Perch and Roach. Big Carp were just a dream, but like now, a real fascination. 

My new garden list at West Farleigh is gradually building. Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest and Blackcap are daily visitors at the moment. Bullfinches have made several appearances, three in one go last week and low flying Buzzards are quite regular. Last Friday we had a flock of twenty to thirty Redwings in the tree at the bottom of the garden and three Pheasants also put in an appearance recently. Mistle Thrushes too are often seen and the local Heron has been taking an interest in the pond. As have the Frogs. I hadn't seen any since moving in but Sunday morning they appeared in good numbers and have been croaking and cavorting around the pond in a shameless orgy of amphibian lust ever since. Here are two of the culprits. 


Marc Heath said...

A nice session with some nice birds and shots, and a Brimstone, something I would love to photograph at rest.

Alan Pavey said...

Excellent stuff Phil really like the Nightingale pic, I've never got near one here. A nice mix of sightings too, glad the new house list is coming along nicely.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Phil.. Nice and varied pictures. Congrats and regards..

ShySongbird said...

Hi Phil. just for the teeniest, tiniest moment you had my brain, well, what passes for one, turning somersaults about the first two Martins ;-)

What is it with you and Nightingales?? A lot of us never see one at all but you seem to be a magnet!

Anyway, it is lovely to see everything looking quite spring like there, Chiffchaffs, butterflies and Bee-Fly, it all sounds like you are ahead of us. Lovely to see the Water Vole too, I haven't seen one for a long time. Great pics of the Frogs!

Warren Baker said...

Nightingales are back them Phil :-) I remember walking over there when I lived in Leybourne and just listening to them for ages - brilliant!!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
See you waited till the sun to came out before you got back to NH .
Nice selection of wildlife shots .
I can feel a visit coming for those Nightingales .

Anonymous said...

nice one philj

Anonymous said...

Nice pics, but toads, not frogs!

I had a couple of sightings of water shrew while watching the voles from the diver's bridge last year, so worth keeping an eye out for those too.


Ken. said...

First of all it is good to hear that your new garden wildlife list is on the way up, with some good sighting all ready.
As for New Hythe, Good to see the Nightingales and always a good number of them.
You did well on the butterfly front, good shot of the Small Tortoiseshell, and Water Vole.