Thursday, 22 March 2012

An English country garden

Before I move onto today's stuff, a quick bit about my brief visit to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve on Monday. I only had a couple of hours and didn't see a lot, nothing new for the year. In particular, I didn't see the Glaucous Gull reported on Sunday, or the Lesserspot seen the week before. However, I did finally meet Greenie, author of the excellent Greenie in the Wild blog, which was a great pleasure. We met in the Tyler hide, and watched some interesting Lapwing behaviour.

This male was making peculiar snarling noises and shuffling about among a clump of dead shoots on the nearest island.

A female wandered over, whereupon the male's noises grew louder and his shuffling became more vigorous as he showed off his orange undertail to her (at least, I hope that's what he's showing off). However, she showed zero interest and just walked straight past.

Meanwhile, these two males were chasing overhead, and making plenty of noise too.

And so to today. My friend Sue, formerly of Pembury, has moved to the wilds of East Sutton on the wrong side (as far as travel is concerned) of Maidstone. Her pretty cottage is set among lovely rolling fields, copses and orchards. I went over for the day and spent some time in the garden, noting a rather amazing variety of birdlife considering I barely moved from the spot.

The first thing I clocked, though, was not a bird but my first 2012 Bee-fly. It was buzzing about quite high up, presenting a photographic challenge that I didn't really conquer.

Happily, it came down to earth and basked briefly on an Ivy leaf, showing off its dark-edged wings and impressive stabby mouthparts.

I was kneeling down peering at the Bee-fly when I heard a familiar quizzical 'yowk' call from overhead - not exactly a bird I'd expected to encounter here. I just about sorted out the camera settings in time to grab a couple of shots of the Mediterranean Gull before it wafted out of sight.

Back to the Bee-fly. I got a few flight (well, hover) shots as it investigated a Grape Hyacinth.

Nearby, on this attractive white flower that I recognise but can't remember the name of (any help out there?) a Honey-bee pottered about. ETA - the flower is a Snowflake - thanks ShySongbird for the ID :)

What about the birds? My photos weren't up to much, some heavy cropping has occurred... but there was plenty to see including quite a few Lesser Redpolls.

This Blackbird did a creditable impression of a turkey on the cottage rooftop.

In next door's garden, a Song Thrush was living up to its name with a real virtuoso performance, including a very convincing imitation of a car alarm.

Numerous Greenfinches were moving to and fro between the taller trees, giving the chance for yet more flight shot practice.

Other finches included good numbers of Chaffinches and Goldfinches and a singing Linnet almost hidden in a thick bush. Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits were in the trees, as was a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker. I heard Wren, Dunnock, Chiffchaff and Robin, while the hedge on the lane opposite bristled with House Sparrows. Overhead flew Woodpigeons, Collared Doves, a Stock Dove, Rooks and a Kestrel. I'll have to have a more thorough look around next time.


Phil said...

Blimey Marianne, your Lapwing photo is almost exactly the same as mine. Here's me thinking, fame at last, i've discovered hitherto unrecorded Lapwing behaviour! Back to the drawing board.
Your friend in East Sutton is very lucky, sounds like paradise. Have they got a cat you can look after??

Ken. said...

Well done on getting some shots of the Bee Fly, I look forward to getting one in my garden to try to photograph.
You did well getting a record shot of the Med Gull passing over.

Warren Baker said...

Hi Marrianne,
Great Bee-fly effort on the grape hyacynth, ive not managed that yet. Like the Greenfinch flight shot too -

ShySongbird said...

An interesting and well illustrated post as always Marianne.

I'm pretty certain your flower is a Snowflake.

I love the 'Turkey' on the roof :-)