Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A patchy interlude

I'm not done posting about Norfolk... not quite sure how to break down the rest of the week's trips, but I'll worry about that later. This post is about my local patch visit this morning, an early one to take full advantage of the day's sunny start.

It seems like only yesterday that I was complaining on Warren Baker's Pittswood blog about not seeing any juvvie Blue Tits this year. Well, that's all changed, because today I saw two. This one was by the visitor centre, pursuing one of its parents through a birch tree.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers were much in evidence all around the trails, though only this one, near the viewing mound, proved photographable.

I went to Tyler hide first. Things were quiet. The Egyptian Goose family, still with seven goslings, were on the far side of the Serengeti along with a mixed bag of Greylags, Canadas and their offspring. On the islands, Little Ringed Plovers and Pied Wagtails were flitting about, and a drake Teal was the only notable duck.

Other wildlife out on the Serengeti - a nearly full-grown Lapwing chick, a fine male Pheasant sitting among the tall Marsh Thistles, and an interestingly two-tone twosome of Rabbits who looked very friendly with each other.

I went on to the Sutton hide but there wasn't much to see from here, and as things were starting to warm up as the sun climbed, I opted to head back and make my way towards the north end of the reserve, where hopefully I'd find some Odonata.

Walking past the patch of grass with the 'beware of the Bee Orchid' sign, I stopped to take a pic of these two - not Bee Orchids but Common Spotteds. Am kicking myself for not moving the leaf in front of the smaller one (mind you, the photo's super-noisy too).

From Willow hide there was almost nothing to see. One Coot, three Mallards, a handful of geese. No sign of the Mute Swans, hopefully they were just lurking in a corner out of view. This Grey Heron and its reflection showed up to provide a bit more interest.

I spent some time trying and failing to photograph Reed Warblers around the hide. From the little dead-end trail overlooking a reedbed I did get some views but no shots. Instead I photographed this fine fellow, the hoverfly Volucella pellucens.

Long Lake next, where I did manage some Reed Warbler photos. No Mute Swan report from here either, I'm afraid, no sign of them. Again, hopefully they were just hiding.

Long Lake was quiet, apart from the incessant squeals of these Coot chicks (there was a third youngster, just out of shot). I went down to the grassy area, and here found lots of inverts to photograph among the now very tall grass.

A snail and a spider. I can't be any more precise than that I'm afraid, if anyone can tell me the species I'd be most grateful. I was very surprised to see the snail out sliming around in direct sunshine. ETA - spider now IDed as Tetragnatha extensa - thank you ShySongbird :)

The damsels were just starting to wake up. From the top - male Common Blue, male Blue-tailed (which was flicking its abdomen about for some reason), rufescens female Blue-tailed, and Azure. No sign of any Red-eyed or Large Red, but I did see a couple of Banded Demoiselles.

Also in the grassy area, I noticed this solitary, small but lovely orchid, which I think is Pyramidal (again, opinions welcome), although I'd thought Pyramidal was a chalky downland species.

Walking back beside Long Lake, on a whim I followed the short concreted path to the lake shore, and straight away saw a Downy Emerald dragonfly hanging over the water. Remembering how much of my life I'd wasted taking blurry photos of these infuriating dragons last summer I nearly carried on walking, but decided that a few more hours wouldn't hurt and sat down on the concrete, camera at the ready.

I don't know if I'd picked a better spot this time, or if the individual dragon was more obliging, or if perhaps I've actually got better at photography...? but I managed some shots quite easily this time. Shutter speed too slow to freeze its wings but that doesn't bother me. Love those green eyes - though the rest of it does have a rather wonky, almost 'cobbled together' look.

On the walk back, I spotted a Common Tern flying along the far side of East Lake, a nice bonus. Near the turning for Carter hide I stopped to photograph a juvenile Robin sunbathing at the start of the East Lake trail, and grabbed a bonus Blackcap.

Besides what's been shown and talked about already, I saw five or so Garden Warblers, heard Long-tailed Tit, saw a distant Sparrowhawk, and glimpsed a short-bodied blue dragonfly which would have been either Black-tailed Skimmer or Broad-bodied Chaser. Oh yes, forgot to mention two mammals - a Fox near Tyler hide (we were rounding a corner at the same time from opposite directions, I gave the poor thing an awful scare), and, rather sadly, a dead Mole on the path between Tyler and Sutton.


Warren Baker said...

Baby blues at last then Marianne :-)

A good selection of wildlife seen there today - that'll be the sunshine then :-)

Phil said...

I like the Heron shots in particular Marianne, and am suitably jealous of the Downy Emerald in flight shots. What fascinating creatures they are.
I tried to find your unidentified spider but i'm afraid it remains unidentified, to me anyway.
Very nice post as always.

ShySongbird said...

What a great place to have on your patch. You Kent folk do seem to have all the best places! You saw a wonderful selection of wildlife and took some lovely photos too. Well done with the shots of the Downy Emerald Dragonfly, I have enough trouble trying to get still ones that aren't blurry! I also particularly loved the first Heron photo.

I think your spider is 'Tetragnatha extensa'. Have a look at this photo and see what you think. It is a foreign site but the spider is quite common in the UK.

Marianne said...

Thank you for the comments, folks. Thank you to SS for IDing my spider and to Phil for trying to! I'll edit the post to add the correct name.