Last week I paid a long overdue visit to Quarry Wood, a local KWT reserve. Birds seen included a Tawny Owl, courtesy of the local Blackbirds who were mobbing it mercilessly at its roost site near the top of an Ivy cloaked tree. It was the din caused by the indignant Blackbirds that alerted me to its presence and which eventually caused the Owl to abandon its cover and fly away to a quieter perch. Goldcrest, Jay, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were also present as were two or three Buzzards who called and circled low overhead, sometimes allowing a glimpse against the blue sky as they crossed the gaps between the tree tops.
Apart from a single Peacock the only other butterflies I saw were Green-veined Whites, pictured above on Lady's Smock. So nothing too exciting to report from the woods but in the Spring sunshine, among the wildflowers like the Bluebells below, it was a real pleasure to be there.
At New Hythe today the butterflies were more prolific. During our walk around the site Terry and I noted Peacocks (above), Small White, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blue, Orange Tip and Brimstone, pictured below earlier in the week.
A Common Snipe surprised us when it lifted from a ditch round the sunken marsh, this was the first one i've seen in a while. Apart from that the marsh contained little else except a few singing Reed Warblers, no Sedge unfortunately which is a hard bird to find here now, a male Reed Bunting, and the usual array of Blackcaps and Chiffies. No sign of an earlier reported Cuckoo.
Garden Warbler was on our wishlist and with this in mind we chose to take the millstream path up to the scrub area of the country park. We failed miserably on the GW front but consoled ourselves with lunch on the seat opposite the water treatment works, we're not proud and anyway, there was always the chance of a Wagtail or two around the works. And we were duly rewarded when this, the Grey of the species turned up and posed briefly in a tree by the path. I've included the poor picture for two reasons, one being that you don't often see them in trees (at least I don't) and secondly in the hope that somebody might tell me the name of said tree. We also ran into Mike Hook near here which was another bonus, nice to meet you again Mike.
It's the time of year when all sorts of other creatures start appearing and they provide a welcome diversion when the going gets tough in the avian department. This little Grass Snake is one such creature, found under a small piece of refugia along with a few Slow Worms and Common Lizards.
This is another, much smaller creature spotted by Terry hiding in the nettles (the bug that is not Terry). We deduced that it was a Weevil species and I believe it's actually Phyllobius Pomaceus, which is a bit of a mouthful for such a tiny creature. It's usually found on nettles because its larvae feed on their roots.
Dragonflies and damselflies were also on our wishlist today, we failed miserably with the former, not a Hairy in sight or on site. But we did find one or two of the latter, the one above being my first Blue-tailed of the season
You cannot talk about New Hythe at this time of year without mentioning Nightingales. Their amazing song can now be heard right across the site, both sides of the railway line. Of course hearing is much easier than seeing the little blighters. but today we got a bit lucky. The one pictured above and below was, I think, more intent on vocally beating up a nearby rival male interloper than worrying about me and Terry and stayed out in the open just long enough for us to get a few coveted pics.
A bit further along, while watching another Nightingale, another interloper arrived on the scene. Not a rival male Nightingale but Greenie, of Greenie in the Wild fame. We all had a chat, talked camera talk and listened to a bit of singing before going our separate ways. Very nice to see you Fred.
This is a rare sight. An Orange Tip at rest. I was beginning to think that they were the equivalent of Swifts. Not the best photo, must have been the excitement.
Just before the railway crossing there's a piece of old roofing felt lying by the side of the path. On it were two Bee Flies. Both were landing on the felt and vigorously rubbing their rear ends on it while still vibrating their wings. This went on for quite a while. Any body know what that's all about? I don't think it's egg laying as their larvae live as parasites in mining bee nests.