Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Sevenoaks flying visit

This morning I had an impromptu visit to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve with Shane and Karen, after we checked the forecast for the week ahead and decided today was our best chance of good weather. It was fairly sunny, and felt rather close and muggy. At my instigation we headed straight up to Long Lake, as yesterday Penny had texted to tell me that the Downy Emeralds were out and making a proper exhibition of themselves - thanks Penny :)

From Grebe hide, a Great Crested Grebe family was swimming by, appropriately enough - parents and two well-grown chicks. A few Blue and Great Tits were visiting the feeders - no juveniles as far as I could see - and it looks like the Wrens in the basket have fledged. On the way towards Long Lake, this little Mint Moth caught our eye as it flitted over the riverside nettles.

A couple of Banded Demoiselles were by the little reedy pond just east of Willow hide.

At Long Lake, a Downy Emerald appeared straight away at the first swim, but then the sun went in and it did its vanishing trick. We walked along to the far end, where from the swims on the meadowy patch we could see lots of Red-eyed Damselflies conducting their business over the lily pads.

Over the meadow, other damsel species were about, including many tenerals. I'm sorry to say that my first Common Blue Damselfly of 2014 was this young male that blundered into a spider's web and was immediately pounced upon by the spider.

We walked on to the big field, and paused there a while to coo over the many various-aged Greylag and Canada goslings, and also this baby Rabbit. Then the sun came out again and so we returned to Long Lake to have another go at the Downy or Downies.

There were at least two males on patrol. As usual, they hovered beautifully until I thought about raising my camera, and then they nipped off to hover in a different spot. But I got a lucky shot after a little while. I'd like to come and try again sometime soon, and spend a bit more time here.

We walked all the way back to the visitor centre, and then did the other half of the reserve, stopping first at Tyler hide. No photos from here as everything was too distant, but Shane won 'wader-finder of the day' by locating a Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover. Also on view was a Great Crested Grebe on its nest and others on the water, an Egyptian Goose pair with small goslings, a smattering of Mallards, Tufties, Cormorants, Lapwings and Pied Wagtails, and a flyby Kingfisher.

On to Sutton hide. En route we found examples of both Black-headed and Red-headed Cardinal Beetles. There was almost literally nothing to see from Sutton hide (a Lapwing and two Tufties as I recall). We could hear a Reed Bunting singing and so went on to Slingsby hide to see if we could see it.

We could - it was singing from a small bare tree that sprouted out of the reedbed, a bit far off for photos. However, there was also a pair of Reed Warblers here, behaving just like the pair I was watching at Rainham on Sunday. This is the female, in between her nest material-gathing forays. She's the only bird to make it into today's blog, on what was a rather quiet day.

 I do have one more Odonata to add, though. I saw this from the hide window. Preposterously enough, it's the first Large Red Damselfly I've seen this year.


Warren Baker said...

I had a go at the ''Downy emerald in flight'' shot last friday, at sissinghurst Marianne, I think your effort is a bit better than mine!

Penny Taylor said...

Hurray! I was sure that one of those downy emeralds would perform well for you. Also, I now have a really good shot I can show Nathan to make him jealous that he wasn't with me yesterday! Xx

Shane said...

Thanks for the company Marianne, my wife was very impressed with your knowledge and enthusiasm.

Graham Canny said...

Glad you guys had a great day out! I really must try and get down to Sevenoaks one day, especially to see that Emerald!