Thursday, 1 May 2014
NEW HYTHE, NEW HYTHE. SO GOOD I WENT THERE TWICE.
A dragonfly at last!! I found this female Hairy dragonfly drying out in the undergrowth between Brooklands and Abbey Mead lakes on the 28th April. But this wasn't the opening of the floodgates I hoped for, no more being found then or on a subsequent visit yesterday, 30th April.
Other sun loving creatures have been quicker to emerge. Hoverflies, like the one above, probably Helophilus Pendulus, sometimes called 'the footballer' because of its stripy thorax, have wasted no time getting on the wing. They are a welcome distraction when the going gets tough.
It seems to be a very good year so far for New Hythe's Common Lizards. Common they are, especially on the east scrub and along the sunnier edges of the ditches around the divers' footbridge area. I'm assuming the mild winter has helped them but i'm pleased whatever the reason, they've always been a favourite of mine.
The birds are much harder to see now that the leaves and blossom have appeared, the Mayflower looks and smells fantastic at the moment. And the birdsong in most areas is great. Common Whitethroats (above), can be seen and heard 'scratching' and displaying from bushes and trees all around the site and Lesser Whitethroats 'rattle' away hidden from sight in very good numbers this year. Nightingales, Blackcaps,Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler and Cuckoo are all making their presence known, the latter two species being welcome additions to my NH year list.
Noticeable still by their absence are the Hirundines, I still haven't seen a House Martin there, Swallows and Sand Martins have numbered just a couple of each. Still no Swifts either, they need to hurry up, it'll be time for them to leave again in no time.
The butterfly list is still quite short too. I would have hoped for Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak to have put in an appearance by now, but so far no show for either. But still Brimstones, Peacocks, Small Torts, Orange Tips and Green-veined Whites have all been quite abundant. The male of the latter species in the picture above would like to keep the momentum going, but I believe the females pose, with upturned abdomen is the butterfly equivalent of the brush off.
Yesterday, Terry and I paid another visit to NH in warm, sunny conditions, contrary to the wintry feel of the picture above. Near the top of our wish list was Sedge Warbler, an increasingly scarce visitor to this site now, but despite our best efforts we didn't find one. Reed Warblers seem to find the habitat appealing, especially to the east of the railway line and along the river, why the Sedges don't is a mystery really. Even the otherwise almost barren sunken marsh is holding its fair share of Reed Warblers this year.
It was while listening to these and trying to turn them into Sedges that we spotted two Hobby's circling above the marsh. A sight for sore eyes indeed and species number 83 for my NH year list.
While fruitlessly searching the west scrub for Green Hairstreaks Terry spotted something else Green. A Grass Snake, a big Grass Snake, basking out in the open. We just had time for a couple of quick shots before it sped off at an incredible speed.
Like the Lizards, Slow Worms seem to be doing well on the drier parts of the country park. These two were found under a piece of refugia, again on the west scrub. I have no idea what the head biting is all about, aggression, a precursor to mating? I'd be interested to know.
I haven't mentioned damselflies yet. So far we've recorded Large Red, Blue-tailed and Common Blue as definites. There are an increasing amount of teneral individuals among the low vegetation. But still not in the big numbers we will see later on......but they are coming, as you can see above.
Peregrine Falcon, another Hobby, a couple of Buzzards and probably two Sparrowhawks and the very mobile and often silent Cuckoo were all noted and appreciated.