Monday, 13 June 2011

Thames path

On Saturday, Rob and I went to Goring to have a walk along the Thames there. Our goal was to see Club-tailed Dragonfly, aka Common Clubtail. I was worried we were already too late for this spring dragon, and so it proved (or else we were really unlucky, or in the wrong place). However, there was sunshine (at first, anyway), and other wildlife around to see.

This stretch of the Thames is quiet, lush and devastatingly pretty, and it winds along from expensive-looking village to even more expensive-looking village. We found a place to park past Goring station and found our way to the riverside in short order. We'd already seen Common Buzzard and Red Kite from the car window so were hopeful of photographic opportunities.

The path took us through flowery meadows, over which hawked House Martins. Here's a bad photo of one, in a cloudy moment. We kept pausing at the riverside to look for Odonata, and saw quite a few Red-eyed damsels on the lily pads, Banded Demoiselles showing off among the bankside vegetation, and one or two Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damsels resting quietly in the long grass. I'd expected more, but despite mostly sunny skies and little in the way of breeze, it was still rather chilly.

We settled down on the river bank by the railway bridge, supposedly the Club-tail hotspot (unless I misunderstood everything I'd read about it) and waited. From here we saw a few Red Kites.

This kite came over fast and low. Unfortunately for him he'd caught the attention of a Carrion Crow, which began a sustained aerial assault. I scrambled to my feet and began taking photos.

This was the last one I managed before the action got too close to fit in my 420mm lens. Quite a sight.

Back at the riverside, a female Banded Demoiselle was ovipositing from a mat of floating leafy stuff, her mate lurking nearby. Unlike most damsels, males of the Calopteryx species don't maintain their grip on their partners during this process, but they hang around in close attendance to see off any potential rivals.

The Thames here is very busy with boat traffic. Little motorboats, canoes, and bigger, grander things with balloons and waving, champagne glass-wielding passengers. Whenever one of the bigger boats went by, a few moments later its backwash would slap hard into the bank. This constant disturbance explains the paucity of emergent vegetation along this river, bad news for some Odonata though not, according to my dragonfly book, a problem for Club-tailed.

One species that has apparently suffered from reduced 'em veg' is the White-legged Damselfly. However, we did see a single individual of this species. Rob spotted her first, clinging to the stem of an unopened water-lily flower and laying eggs. Later she moved to a nearer lily pad for more of the same. Check out those tibias! I am very fond of this species, having spent hours watching them at one of my haunts back when I lived in Groombridge, and it was nice to meet again.

We walked a little further along the river. Rob pointed out this startlingly ginger young Rabbit in a horse paddock, of which I managed only this bad photo before it boinged away. I know some places have populations of black Rabbits, but orange ones?

On the other side of the river, a Common Buzzard was wheeling lazily about. It kept looking like it was coming closer, when actually it was drifting further away.

With the clouds getting thicker and the breeze stronger and chillier, it was clearly time to give up. We wandered back the way we'd came, with a brief pause to negotiate with a herd of cows that had blocked a narrow section of path.

Although the light had all but gone and it was beginning to spot with rain, I couldn't resist taking a few shots of this far-away Great Crested Grebe with its little fluffy passenger.

1 comment:

ShySongbird said...

A shame you didn't manage to see what you were aiming for but it still sounded like a very enjoyable visit.

I love the Red Kite photos, beautifully captured! We went to see them at Watlington Hill in the Chilterns a couple of years ago and I was absolutely captivated by them, really magnificent creatures!

The GCGs always look so sweet like that, every time I see the stripy babies I do think they look slightly odd though :)

A very enjoyable post Marianne!