Sunday, 9 September 2012

Afternoon patch visit

Today Rob (yes, that Rob) and I met for a walk at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, in warm, sunny but increasingly breezy conditions. Though I didn't take many photos (and hardly any good photos) it was a good day with some nice stuff seen.

A quick look at Grebe hide revealed a steady procession of Great and Blue Tits coming to the feeders. These have been moved a little further from the hide windows - a good thing in my opinion, the birds certainly seemed more relaxed when visiting them.

The walk towards Willow hide was briefly delayed by this Peacock feeding on one of the remaining Buddleia blooms. At first glance the butterfly looked great, but its right hind wing is in tatters, the 'eye' marking almost completely gone. I think that the Peacock's large 'eyes' function as a 'startle' pattern, designed to alarm predators rather than divert them to attack the wrong end, as with some other butterflies' smaller eyespots. If that's the case, clearly it didn't work that well this time.

Nearby was this male Common Blue Damselfly, relaxing on a spent Water Mint flower.

A little further on, I thought I found something exciting in the form of a biggish, pale greenish damsel. But a closer look proved it to be a female Banded Demoiselle, one that I guess is getting on a bit as her wings and body were both much paler than is usual in this species.

We went into Willow hide and watched Mallards, Coots etc paddling about. The water levels are beginning to fall, and patches of weedy mud are appearing. Noting this, I remarked that we should look out for Green Sandpiper, and moments later a Green Sandpiper flew across the lake, flaunting its white bum at us. Similarly white-bummed were a couple of flyby Jays. There was a Kingfisher around too, we heard it piping, but no views.

On we went to Long Lake, as far as the big field, which is full of rampantly tall wild flowers of various species. At the far end we found a male Migrant Hawker. This individual was really obliging, coming close then hovering on the spot to be photographed. The only problem was that he'd picked a rather shady corner in which to do all this showing off, so we were struggling with low light/slow shutter speed/high ISO.

We were busy trying to photograph the hawker when there was a commotion around the trees beyond the lake - crows mobbing a raptor. I managed one shot before it disappeared - a Common Buzzard. Moments later, a Sparrowhawk flapped briskly into (then out of) view from the same area . Horrible photos, but a two-raptor day here is fairly unusual...

We had a look under the refugia while here, and found a Slow-worm beneath one of them, which showed very little reaction to being exposed to daylight. Then we headed back, going via Carter hide.

As soon as we entered Carter hide we spotted a Kingfisher, quite a long way off and sitting with its back to us on a curved branch at the water's edge. I took a few pics, even though darkness and distance made this almost pointless. After a while, the Kingfisher turned around, showing the brown breast-band and dopey expression that identified it as a recently fledged youngster. However, it was no slouch as a fisher, and caught itself a snack before flying away across the lake.

It was getting late and darkish by now, but we did score one more goodie - another Green Sandpiper flying high overhead just before the visitor centre. Hopefully next time I'm here I'll find one on the deck.


Alan Pavey said...

Sounds like a nice visit Marianne, I'm still trying to get a Kingfisher pic so impressed with anyone who manages that! The Migrant Hawker pics are superb :-)

Phil said...

Glad to hear you had a nice day Marianne. Good to see Sevenoaks is still producing some interest.
Also very well done with the Crake on the previous post, a fantastic find.
If I had to bet i'd say your shoal of Roach were in fact Rudd, the fins are very bright and the dorsal fin is further back than the pelvic fins. Also the protruding lower jaw suggests surface feeders.

Warren Baker said...

I like those Hawkers shot Marianne :-)
Plus you got another Kingfisher photo, I still await any decent photo of one!

ShySongbird said...

It sounded a very pleasant day and you got some great photos and another one of a Kingfisher... any photo of one would do me!

That word verification seems to get more difficult to decipher every time :-(

Marianne said...

Thanks for the comments, folks, and thanks for correcting my shoddy fish ID, Phil :)

ShySongbird, sorry about the word verification doodah. I didn't realise it was on by default, but it should now be off... I find those things a bit of a nightmare too!