Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Babes in the woods

It rained heavily all day on Easter Sunday, AND I had no easter eggs. So let's just move on to Monday, which was a beautiful, sunny and warm day. I spent the morning painting my flat for some reason, but in the afternoon met Rob down at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.

I had the camera out with macro lens attached for the walk down there, and took a few flower pics. This Ivy-leaved Toadflax seems to be gazing imploringly at the heavens.

In keeping with the vaguely ecclesiastical theme, these freshly opened Copper Beech leaves reminded me of stained-glass windows.

At the reserve now. It was very busy (with humans), as expected on a sunny bank holiday. Found this White Deadnettle which had a whorl of flowers but no leaves on top.

Part of a large patch of 'feral' Forget-me-nots growing outside of the Wildlife Garden.

Weird angle on a droopy Bluebell flower.

My first BIF (bee in flight) shot for 2014. It's our old friend Anthophora plumipes, a female, rocking her orange knee-warmers and trying to figure out how to play the Bugle.

Anyone recognise this spider? It's not one that I know (but then I can only ID about six spider species). It posed very nicely even though it was watching my every move with at least two of its eyes.

Having established by the miracle of a phone call that Rob was in Willow hide, and about to head for Long Lake, I left the Wildlife Garden and headed that way myself, first swapping the macro lens for the birding lens. Luckily the birding lens can cope fairly well with insect subjects as long as they're biggish, like this male Green-veined White.

It's always a happy moment to find the year's first alderfly. This was one of several seen today. I had high hopes of also finding my first Odonata species but had no luck in that department.

When I reached Long Lake, there was no sign of Rob, but the Garden Warbler of last Friday was there, warbling away, so I got to work trying to stalk it. The bird held all the winning cards of course, being small, brown, able to fly and with lots of fresh leaf cover to hide behind. At some point Rob did arrive and added his efforts to the hunt. Eventually the little blighter (the warbler, not Rob) popped out into view and let me take a couple of pity-photos before vanishing again.

Rob was still chasing the warbler when I got distracted by this hoverer - a Drone-fly? It seems to be doing a bit of mid-air yoga.

There were a few hirundines chasing about overhead on and off through the afternoon, mostly House Martins, but at least one Swallow too.

On the way back, we went into Willow hide (I hadn't bothered on my outbound walk). Things were very quiet - Canadas and Greylags, Mallards, the pair of Great Crested Grebes (which really need to be getting on with a nest if they're planning to breed), the Mute Swans (one still on the nest) and a lurking Grey Heron.

We might have walked straight out again, but a couple of the geese were having a good old bathe and doing forward somersaults, which is always good for a laugh.

You've heard of a drive-by shooting? Well, this is a swim-by shouting.

Back out again and heading back, we disturbed a Moorhen pair with four chicks on the Darent. Todays baby-count also included three Cootlings with their parents on North Lake, and a female Mallard with three ducklings on the marshy floody bit just beyond Willow hide.

Oh yes, and this little heartbreaker, plus at least one of its siblings. And a female Chaffinch carrying nesting material, and Blue Tit in and out of a nestbox. It's all happening.

A sort-of obliging Blackcap near the bridge by Willow hide. Warbler-wise we had lots of these, one Willow Warbler, at least one Chiffy, but so far there's a total lack of Reed Warblers on the north side of the reserve.

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