Friday, 19 June 2015

No Hobby puns here...

No offence to those who enjoy Hobby puns but I am so over that. Ditto 'Britain's got talons'. I went to Dungeness with Shane on Wednesday and we enjoyed a sunny though breezy walk around the reserve, and a great many Hobby sightings. It was a rare moment when there weren't at least a couple in view, and the top 'in view' count was seven.

But first things first. We drove down the access track and enjoyed an extremely close Marsh Harrier flyby. Unfortunately the rest of the day's Marshies really kept their distance. We went into most of the Burrowes Pit hides, from where we saw nothing terribly exciting.

Black-headed Gulls on Burrowes Pit, loafing in the sun - clearly this lot have no current breeding responsibilities and plenty of leisure time.

The excitement then ramped up a notch or two when a Common Gull decided it had to sit in exactly the spot that a Black-headed was sitting.

Common Gulls are rare breeding birds in the south-east, but do breed at Dunge, offering a relatively rare chance for us to see them in their pristine white-headed summer attire.

Also on the pits were a few moulting Mallards and Shovelers, several Great Crested Grebes, the usual Cormorant gang, a couple of distant Ringed Plovers, Greylag Geese and Lapwings.

As we headed towards Christmas Dell hide, we got out of the wind a bit and started to see lots of insect life - damselflies in particular. Most were Common Blues, like this 'drab form' female. A couple of Four-spotted Chasers also appeared, and we heard but did not see Beardies pinging away.

Parts of the pathside shrubbery were heaving with these caterpillars, which I know I should know (they do seem familiar) but somehow I don't. I've had a quick search for them on UK Moths and will have another go later. ETA - Lackey moths! Thank you Shane :)

The paths (everywhere) were lined with Viper's Bugloss, a favourite of mine and looking particularly fabulous at the moment.

We took Hobby photos almost everywhere, but the path between Christmas Dell hide (where, incidentally, an invisible Lesser Whitethroat was singing) and Denge Marsh hide offered the best views.

Just a few of the various Hobby-poses with which we were presented. They are rather easier to track in flight than Swifts - the main trouble was catching them in good light and facing the right way, as they seemed very skilled at angling themselves exactly the wrong way (I have many shots of silhouetted Hobby rear views).

From Denge Marsh hide there's quite a close view of a tern raft, complete with Common Terns to-ing and fro-ing. Also a pair of Oystercatchers nesting on the raft.

As with Burrowes pit, there was a smattering of wildfowl here. These two Mallards are both eclipse drakes.

 We saw a couple of Black-tailed Skimmers on the way round, but they were very skittish - only this one permitted photos.

We took the path across the reserve back to the visitor centre. The scrub was full of singing Whitethroats and a few Linnets. Sedge, Cetti's and Reed Warblers were also singing a bit. And back at the visitor centre I found this beauty nestled in a nettle leaf. My investigations have led me to Great Green Bush-cricket nymph - a first for me if so. Sorry I cut short its right antenna.

We 'did' the ARC pit next, visiting the hide first. This Scarlet Pimpernel was growing on the sandy bank.

The Willow loop was open and the number of damsels on this sheltered path was quite ridiculous. We also found this cracking praenubila form Four-spotted Chaser, I think the first one I've ever seen. The blue blur behind it is one of the many damsels.

We finished with a walk to the viewing screen/hide thing. The water in front of the hide is much diminished and there were no birds within close range. However, it soon became apparent that Swallows were nesting in the corner of the hide.

It was possible to get pics of the approaching adults if you were lucky. They didn't seem to mind coming into the hide despite our presence.

 A very rare use of the little built-in flash on my camera allowed me to catch this pic of the five nearly-ready-to-fledge chicks. Aw.

1 comment:

Shane said...

Hi Marianne, glad you had a good day I really enjoyed it too, I eventually remembered the caterpillar ID it turns into a Lackey Moth I believe.