Sunday, 13 June 2010

Tales from the riverbank

After a slow (really slow in my case) start to the day, Rob and I went for an afternoon walk along the Medway today, the same one that I'd done with Sue a few weeks ago. It was a day of 'sunny intervals' and quite breezy compared to yesterday.

Rob had the Bigmos today and I had the macro lens. Therefore he was in charge of birds and I was in charge of insects. At first, he didn't have much to do but things soon picked up.

I didn't improve on my other recent photos of Banded Demoiselles today. I spent a while trying to photograph them in flight, without much success. This pic, though, was a nice surprise with the damselfly's reflection caught quite well, though the insect itself had escaped from the frame.

I had more luck trying to get a photo of this Buff-tailed Bumblebee in flight, as it moved around a big clump of blue Comfrey. Even the quite speedy Tamron macro lens couldn't even begin to freeze the movement of its wings though. No, I didn't catch it, remove its wings and then drop it and take a quick photo. That would be wrong.

Rob called 'Kestrel', when he saw this. I can't be too hard on him though, as I'd done exactly the same thing with the last Cuckoo I'd seen before taking a proper look at it. This one didn't say 'cuckoo' so was perhaps a female - it was certainly in a hurry (escaping an egg-related crime scene?) flying low and fast over the field of long grass by the riverside.

His next call really got my attention. No doubt about the ID here, a lovely Barn Owl out hunting (for its brood presumably) well before dusk. I have tentatively identified the unfortunate furry bundle in its talons as an ex-Common Shrew. I followed the bird with my bins as it flew west alongside the river, Tonbridge-wards. It was a real joy to be able to just watch it, rather than frantically try to take photos.

We were at the lock by this point, and a pair of Grey Wagtails were flitting around, both of them with bill-fulls of grub (boom-tish) for their chicks. I have been repeatedly amazed this spring by how many little invertebrate corpses one songbird can fit in its bill and still manage to sing, call and pick up even more foodstuffs.

On the walk back, we saw several more interesting insects resting in the long grass, including this female scorpionfly (Panorpa communis)...

 ... and this mayfly, Ephemera vulgata (I think). Also on today's list are Nightingale, Turtle Dove, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Jay, Painted Lady, Small Heath and Red-eyed Damselfly.

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