Thursday, 9 June 2011

100th post!

I think it is anyway. Pity I don't have a mega-exciting day to report, but the weather was against us. Sue and I went to Thursley, looking for dragons. The weather was due to worsen as the morning went on and so it did - we had some sunny intervals/spells/periods at first and then the cloud closed in and it started to rain. Also it was windy, and got windier.

Around Moat Lake I saw a couple of emerald dragons. The only one that I got a good look at seemed to have as bright green a thorax as its eyes - could it have been a Brilliant? It was chased off when the local Mallards piled into the mini-bay where I was standing, I guess they were hoping for a handout of Mother's Pride or something..

There are maybe a dozen Mallards on this pretty, round lake, and two of the females had ducklings - one had two and the other five, but they all looked the same age and the broods kept getting mixed up. The two mothers did their best to maintain order by periodically attacking each other and the ducklings that weren't theirs.

Among the pine trees around the lake there was a family of Nuthatches, which seemed to be munching the ants that were climbing over the branches and twigs.

I watched a parent make several  feeding trips for this hungrily squeaking fledgling.

We walked out onto the boardwalk, keeping an eye open for dragons and damsels. There weren't many to see. The first was this handsome male Large Red Damselfly, unfortunately not one of the special species I'd hoped to find here.

The place was quiet birdwise too, but I could hear Woodlark singing in the distance, with the occasional chuckle from a Green Woodpecker.

We paused at a viewing platform where a few Four-spotted Chasers were cruising about over a small mire pond. This one was caught by a gust of wind and nearly blown into the voracious mouth of my rucksack. It began to rain a little, but the wind blew it over and a longish sunny period began as we went on to the bigger lake where the track swings right along a row of pines.

Here I saw a new dragon at last - male Keeled Skimmer. This small, pretty dragon is very common at Thursley, though it will be a couple of weeks before numbers really build up.

There were a lot of other dragonflies out over the water, but a look through my bins revealed that most were Four-spots, with one or two emeralds of indeterminate species. A Hobby appeared from nowhere, flying just over the surface, and caught one of the dragons in a neat aerobatic flourish before powering away to the denser pines over to the east.

I wandered a bit further around the boardwalk while Sue sat and relaxed. Parts of the boardwalk here have half fallen into the mire, making it an interesting experience. There were several Common Lizards sitting on the wood, trying to absorb a bit of sunshine. I spent some time with this particularly nicely patterned one.

Thicker cloud arrived, soon followed by some more purposeful rain. We hurried back to the car without further interesting sightings, and drove back to Pembury, where we released an Oak Tortrix moth that had hitched a lift with us. By the time we got there, the rain had cleared and it was a really rather sunny (though breezy) afternoon. I spent much of it photographing various baby birds in Sue's garden.

The young Great Tits are thriving, and happily eating fat-balls on their own.

They've been joined by a family of baby Blue Tits, possibly the ones from Sue's apple tree at the top of the garden. There were at least four different individuals, and they too were competently feeding themselves though they were ridiculously approachable. I almost had to lift them off the feeder in order to top up the fat-balls.

Here was a lovely surprise - a fledgling Coal Tit. I haven't seen Coal Tits here before that I recall. Wonder how far away they nested.

Further up the garden, a bunch of Wren fledglings were exploring the fence and making a lot of noise about it.

Later on, I sat in the lounge watching TV and photographing the birds through the open patio door. How decadent. Here are all three tit species together.

As evening wore on things got really busy, everyone grabbing a last mouthful of calories to see them through the night.

The other feeder, which is full of sunflower seeds, saw a lot less action, but one of its visitors was this lovely male Greenfinch. I've seen Greenfinches in the trees around here plenty of times, but this is the first one I've seen on the feeders.


Phil said...

Congratulations on your ton up Marianne. Unfortunately you don't get a telegram from Elizabeth, just a comment from Phillip!
Very nice account and pics of Thursley. It's very high on my list for a visit in the near future. It would be nice to see some different dragons and damsels.

Ken. said...

Hi Marianne
Like Phil says, well done with the 100. I also have never been to Thursley Common. I have wanted to for years, but as you say that it should be better in a few weeks, then I will definately go then.
Nice variety of photo's, I like the Nuthatch shot.

Mike Attwood said...

Last time I did a ton was in akart round Brands Hatch. Well done.

ShySongbird said...

Well done on the 100 Marianne. A very nice post with great photos to celebrate it.

Lovely to see the Nuthatches, it's not often that I do! Love that little garden Wren too.

Odonata seem to be thin on the ground here and butterflies for that matter, due no doubt to the inhospitable weather. We have had a persistent wind blowing for what seems like weeks now.