Thursday, 5 September 2013

Reflections on summer

The weather forecast says that tomorrow it will be freezing cold with torrential rain. Can't wait. Meanwhile, I decided to pop down to the local patch for another crack at the Kingfishers, as it was (like yesterday) looking like a beautiful still and sunny day. I set off at about 8am, only intending to stay an hour or so, got home about 1pm. Whoops.

I headed for Willow hide. When I was almost there I noticed a green caterpillar dangling on a thread from a tree. This bungee-jumping is something that a lot of tortricid species do to escape danger. But in this case it didn't work. There was a parasitic wasp on the caterpillar and it looks like her ovipositor has found its target. Pity the light was not better.

There was another birder/photographer in the hide, and as the morning went on a couple more joined us, all intent on Kingfishers and looking set for a long stay. Because the tall stools in the hide have gone awol, and the benches are too low for me, I have to stand up when I want to take pictures. And because I wanted to take pictures of lots of things that weren't Kingfishers, I was standing up and sitting down a lot, to the consternation of the others in the hide who kept thinking I'd found a Kingfisher when in reality I was taking pictures of a Teal, Black-headed Gull or something similarly uninteresting (if your heart's set on Kingfishers). To be fair I did let them all know immediately whenever I saw a Kingfisher, which happened five or six times during my stay (though in some cases the bird didn't stop to have its picture taken).

While it was still just two of us and the light hadn't reached the nearest bit of mud, two Grey Wagtails arrived, but they didn't stay long enough for sunny photos. Still, good to see. It takes a lot of mud to tempt them down to this lake.

No, I didn't accidentally hit 'rotate file'. There were a dozen or so Canada Geese loafing on one of the muddy islands and I decided to take a photo of just the reflection of one of them. Not sure the result is terribly edifying but it does show how beautifully still the water was.

The geese presently waddled into the water, and then started making a racket before taking off for the fields for a leisurely day of grass-eating.

Then two Lapwings arrived. Both looked like this year's youngsters, and they hung around the whole time I was there, moving between the mud islands and generally being pretty. I took a lot of shots of them...

Gorgeous birds. I also tried a 'reflection only' pic, which I think was a bit more successful than the goose one, because of the golden tones in the water.

A few Jays were going back and forth at the back of the lake. Also seen around the margins were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one or two Stock Doves.

This Black-headed Gull is freshly moulted into its winter plumage and wanted to show off. The outermost primaries are not quite full length yet.

There were three or four Kingfisher visits to the sticks. Sadly all were rather brief and I didn't manage any flight shots, let alone any plunge-into-the-water shots.

Two Grey Herons, an adult and a youngster, came down to the water. This one walked across the full length of the lake, ending up too close to fit in the frame. I thought for a while that it was eyeing up a half-grown Moorhen chick which was swimming about with its parent, but the parent made sure the little one kept a good distance away.

The chick in question. It's at that awkward age where it's covered with both fluff and feathers.

I left the hide at about noon and wandered back to the car park. I had originally intended to visit other hides but it was now very hot and I was tired and headachey so I didn't. I did note some late-summer birdsong going on - Chiffchaffs chiffchaffing, Coal Tits tswee-tswee-tsweeing. There were still a lot of Common Blue Damselflies about, plus a few Migrant Hawkers.

I did stop in the wildlife garden for as long as it took to photograph this gorgeous female Southern Hawker, laying eggs in the tiny pond there.


Warren Baker said...

Had a visit to the willow hide myself last friday Marianne, got my kingfisher fix and pix ;-)

What a good find that caterpillar with the parasitic wasp was, very interesting :-)

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Great shot of the caterpillar and wasp .
I think I've made three visits since you mentioned the Kingfishers out front of Willow Hide , and each time the time they spent on the sticks lessened .
Re your previous post , love the beetle taking off , and would offer Field Grasshopper / C.brunneus , going by the length of the wings .

Graham Canny said...

Great photos of the reflections! I know what you mean about losing time - I spent all day yesterday at RM. I definitely want to visit Sevenoaks again...

Lou Mary said...

That female southern hawker is so well camouflaged! Great photo!