Tuesday, 28 April 2015


 Spring seems to have been on a slow fuse this year, unless it's just been my impatience. The Water Voles at New Hythe last friday seemed to be in no doubt of its arrival though. With several individuals criss crossing the water filled ditch adjacent to the west scrub, I sat myself down on the bank and watched their comings and goings for half an hour or so.

My presence didn't seem to bother them, I think their minds were on other things. One Vole made its way along the far bank from my right and then disappeared into a small burrow directly opposite me. A couple of minutes later a Vole emerged from the same burrow, hotly pursued by another.

They both dived into the ditch where they chased and splashed about for a minute or so with the animal at the rear appearing to be biting the neck and back of the one in the front. The question is, was this aggression, or passion. Water Voles can mate on land or in the water apparently so i'm hoping this was passion.

Whatever it was though, this one appeared to have been left with a bit of a headache. 

 Butterfly numbers are picking up now and with the help of a bit of warm sunshine they will occasionally settle, albeit briefly.
I have recorded nine species on the site so far including; Brimstone...

...Small Tortoiseshell...

...Speckled Wood...


 ...and best of all a single east scrub Grizzled Skipper. My first at NH for two years.

You can't talk about New Hythe and Spring without mentioning Nightingales. I saw and heard my first on site this year on 10th April and i'm pretty sure this was the first arrival date for them at NH. The internet is awash with stunning images of them from NH and elsewhere, but i'm afraid this half hearted effort is the best i've managed so far.

Terry and I visited again on the 27th April and were finally treated to our first view of a Cuckoo this year, about time too. This bird bought my NH year list to a somewhat meagre 81 species. As I said, it's been a slow fuse this Spring.  Hirundines also featured well at last with a good sized feeding flock of Sand Martins, House Martins and a few Swallows at Brooklands lake. Buzzards made a good appearance from mid morning onwards, peaking with a minimum of eight birds overhead at one point. A stunning sight in the sunshine against a bright blue sky. Other raptors included a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel. Disappointingly, no Hobby yet.
Consolation came though in the shape of this Large Red Damselfly found by one of the ditches. And even better was this freshly emerged Hairy dragonfly spotted by Terry in the Country Park.
The Dragons have arrived!!


Greenie said...

Phil ,
I think this one should have had an 'X rating' with all the talk of passion and mating amongst the Water Voles , and not much cover for their courting either . Nice pics .
Your butterfly species count is higher than my High Elms transect at the moment , well done with the Grizzled Skipper .
And yes , the dragons are coming , but not this weekend according to the forecast .

Warren Baker said...

Nice springy post Phil,
Reading that lot makes it seem like its full speed ahead, but as you say its fits and starts in reality.

Well done with that Grizzled Skipper, one ive not recorded here :-)

Marianne said...

What a classic that Water Vole covering its ears is :) Good catch of the Small Tortie egg-laying, and great to see some Odonata out and about, plus a Grizzled Skipper - nice one! I must go up to the downs soon to have a look for Grizzleds and Green Hairstreaks.

Mike Attwood said...

More successful spring than I am having Phil, well done.

Ken. said...

Great selection of wildlife pictures. Love the comical one of the Water Vole.