Up until a couple of days ago there had only been three confirmed sightings of Norfolk Hawkers in Kent. Then came the news this weekend that at least two had been seen in the Westbere lakes area of the Stour Valley. I had a bit of time free on monday morning and as they were reported in the exact same place that Terry and I had failed to find Scarce Chasers last thursday, I knew exactly where to head.
When I arrived Terry and a few others were already there scouring the reed lined ditches that lead down to the river. I joined the search and was lucky enough to find one straight away. The others joined me and together we spent a couple of hours watching and trying to photograph them.
Two males had been reliably reported at the weekend, so we were particularly pleased to see a female on site too. We were soon treated to the sight of two of these regionally rare dragons flying directly over us in tandem, followed by the female ovipositing in the narrow water filled ditch alongside us. Norfolk Hawkers breeding in Kent. A great wildlife moment and a super Kent tick. Scarce Chasers also showed up, another Kent tick for me but somewhat overshadowed by the stars of the show.
Before I left I sat in the shade of a tree with Terry and John and Gill Brook (county recorders for Odonata I believe) and as we recounted the mornings events I glanced up and there was a Red Kite drifting lazily above the main lake. A very nice way to finish a very nice morning.
With the fine weather set to continue Terry and I decided that since we seemed to be on a bit of a dragonfly roll (sounds delicious), we would meet up this morning at Alan Pavey's local patch at Sissinghurst (click on the link entitled 'Sissinghurst Birds' on my sidebar to go to his blog). Our quarry there was Golden-ringed dragonfly another species I had never seen and which occurs at only a few sites in Kent at most.
We spent some time searching, without too much knowledge of the site and we were not feeling too optimistic. But then in a sunny glade close to a small stream, Terry spotted this super specimen pictured above. It settled just long enough for us to fire off a couple of quick shots before disappearing as quickly as it had turned up.
We soon realised that the stream was part of the territory of the Golden-ringed dragonfly, this being their preferred habitat I believe, so this was where we concentrated our efforts. This bought us further sightings of the dragonfly and a surprise handful of Beautiful Demoiselles (male pictured above), my first of the year of this aptly named damselfly.
Butterflies seen at Sissinghurst included several White Admirals and also two or three Purple Hairstreaks which seem to be just emerging. I only had one quick chance to record them before they disappeared back up high into the surrounding Oak trees. Woodpeckers, Treecreepers, Nuthatches and a Marsh Tit (well spotted Terry), all contributed to a very nice couple of hours in a very nice place.
And finally. Last night, at long last, Carol found our first baby Hoglet, almost certainly born under the bush in our garden. Rustling undergrowth in other parts of the garden suggested that there were others, but we only saw the one, who curled up in a small prickly ball as soon as it saw us.
And finally, finally. It's 21.45 and we've just watched Mum Hedgehog and three baby Hoglets all tucking in to some food that Carol put out earlier. Too dark for pictures. It's happening all over the country I know, but when it's in your own back garden you feel privileged and somehow responsible for them. Next thing you know we'll be giving them names!