Friday, 10 May 2013


 I haven't seen an Adder so far this year and i've only seen a fleeting glimpse of a Grass snake so yesterday morning, despite the cool, blustery conditions I headed for the Downs to try and find some and maybe get a pic or two if they were willing. It's quite a long drive from West Farleigh so I was a bit disappointed to get there and find that I couldn't get parked. There's only limited space and it looked like there was a work party going on as there was also a KWT (Kent Wildlife Trust) vehicle inside the gates.
With limited time I decided to cut my losses and head for New Hythe for a couple of hours. With the sun well up there were a few butterflies around, Peacocks, Commas, Speckled Woods and a few Holly Blues who as usual were much too busy to stop for me. Unlike the pair above who posed shamelessly in my back garden a couple of days ago.

I was pleased to see that the Sedge Warbler was still present and still singing in the NW corner of the sunken marsh. The Cuckoo was still calling from the other side of the river and a single male Shelduck was feeding in the margins. Fingers crossed the female is sitting on eggs close by, I seem to remember seeing a brood here two or three years ago so we might be lucky. Also in the margins was a shoal of good sized Grey Mullet, they love to feed in the shallow edges, their twin dorsal fins and tail fins often breaking the surface and betraying their presence. I'm not sure which of the Grey species these are but they're most likely to be the Thick-lipped variety which do grow quite big, ten or eleven pounds I believe. I have often seen large shoals of these fish among the freshwater species in the Hampshire Avon above Christchurch where the water is not even marginally brackish.
I made my way to the mound and watched as hundreds of Swifts circled quite low overhead. I welcome their arrival. Surely the sight and sound of no other bird says summer quite like these amazing creatures do. Their visit here is all too short though. 
I was disappointed not to find a damselfly again, it surely can't be too much longer before they appear, along with the Hairy Dragonflies, usually the first of the hawkers to emerge. At the divers' bridge I was lucky enough to see a Water Vole, but once again it was uncharacteristically nervous and sped off quickly, at least giving me good views of its underwater swimming action.

Given that time was running short and the country park was filling up with people and dogs, I decided to head down the millstream path back to Brooklands car park.

Half way down, this male Blackcap was singing with such enthusiasm that he didn't notice me sidling up and rattling off a couple of quick shots. 

Of course I just had to try for another couple of feet, but that was a step too far and we went our separate ways.

Lastly, this golden coloured Carp was one of three decent sized specimens seen together in the shallow millstream, two of this colour and one nice looking fully scaled Common Carp. I much prefer the natural Carp over these ornamental garden pond types. Trouble is they outgrow the garden ponds and end up being released into lakes and streams like these two presumably.


ShySongbird said...

Another interesting read Phil and some lovely photos. Great capture of the Holly Blues and the Blackcap singing its heart out too. It must be time you found me some Lizards again....because I can never find any myself :-)

Warren Baker said...

You'll be chasing around Damsels very soon Phil (the winged ones!)

once we get some warm weather back!

Marc Heath said...

Lovely Holly Blue capture.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Unlucky with the work party up on the Downs .
A visit to NH and not a mention of Nightingale ?
Well done with the Sedgie and the mating Holly Blues .

Jason K said...

Great shot of the Holly blues Phil...normally get them in my back garden but no sign as yet this year!

Chris said...

Your blackcap pictures are superb Phil. I only could rarely get close to that bird in France not to talk about Iceland where they are rare and I've never seen them...

Linda said...

Beautiful series.