Monday, 3 August 2015

Down with the dragons at Sevenoaks

It's been a lovely weekend. It is currently being a nice Monday morning too but no gallivanting for me today. I did go out after work on Sunday though, just down to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve for a couple of hours. The reserve is often very quiet in high summer but has a pleasant mellow vibe about it, and sunshine + flowers + new camera made for a thoroughly nice time.

The wildlife garden was my first stop. The pond here is a pond no longer - completely dried out, I don't think even the most desperate Southern Hawker would come and oviposit on the bare stones that remain. It is surrounded by Purple Loosestrife spikes in full bloom, one of my favourite summer flowers.

I made a bee-line for Long Lake. Actually I did look in at Willow hide, as I figured the low water levels might have attracted a wader, but it was rammed with humans so I left (but did see there was a Little Egret on the far bank).At the near end there were a couple of Brown Hawkers hawking about - one a female which came and oviposited very close to where I was standing. Also at least two male Emperors.

I carried on to the meadow bit at the far end of Long Lake. Lots of damsels here, including this fresh male Common Blue. It's nice to see that new damsels are still appearing, makes it feel like we have a bit more summer yet.

Male Banded Demoiselle. Looks like I've done some cheesy Photoshop vignetting on this image but I haven't, honest.

Moments after I spotted this Comma, it took off and chased after a Brown Hawker. Somehow it didn't get itself killed doing this, and returned to its perch to resume its combative stance.

The field here is now nearly grass-free and full of various tall flowers. I wonder what the management has planned for this area. Overhead were quite a few Herring and Black-headed Gulls, and one or two Swifts - I also heard the calls of House Martins. A single Kingfisher belted down the lake.

Wildfowl today was mostly just Mallards and Tufties, though I admit didn't have much of a look at East Lake. The D7200 made a good fist of getting focused on this close and fast Tuftie.

The surface of Long Lake is probably 50% lilypads at the moment. With a bit of searching I found a few Red-Eyed Damselflies on some of them, including this ovipositing pair with another male politely looking the other way.

From the riverside vegetation came an almost constant racket of Wren noise - squeals of fledglings and cross rattling of adults. Robins were also about, and I heard a brief splutter of Reed Warbler song.

One of my favourite moths in the Long Lake meadow - Pyrausta aurata. Or Mint Moth if you really have to give it an English name.

I tried Willow hide again on my walk back, and the human count was down to one so I took a seat next to her. Sadly the mud was wader-free, but the Mute pair that live on this lake were about, with two half-grown cygnets. One of these was a white 'Polish' type - this is a sex-linked mutation, which means it's probably a female. Her sibling was a normal 'ugly duckling' type. I don't recall ever seeing a Polish form swan here before - wonder if that means one or both of the adults are new birds.

Looking good, Dad. Despite your giant comedy feet.

The egret was still on the far bank when I arrived. Too far for photos but nice to see. Then a second one showed up, flew across the lake and settled high in a willow tree. It stayed there for a while then came down to the water to feed, giving me my best ever views of a Sevenoaks Little Egret.

Sadly, the light wasn't very good. Or, to put it another way, luckily, the light was amazing. The egret was VERY backlit so I experimented with exposure to try to get a nice shot. This one was at -0.7.

Somehow it was now gone 6.30pm and I decided I had to make tracks. On the return path I took some backlit plant pics just because I was drawn to the subjects - a load of unripe Blackberries, and this fearsome-looking Spear Thistle strung with a mesh of spider silk. At the top end of West Lake I found a Southern Hawker patrolling a small clearing.

A juvenile Blackbird was foraging on the path near the visitor centre. Not a great photo but this is ISO 3200 - and the D7200 certainly does a lot better in low light than the D300 did.

I had a quick look in Grebe hide before packing up. As with last time there were plenty of juvenile Blue and Great Tits coming to the feeders. I thought I heard a Bullfinch here too but couldn't locate it. There was a Chiffchaff hooeeting its socks off.

Last bird of the day - a Blackcap sitting in full view (if not full light).

1 comment:

Phil said...

A nice local patch visit Marianne. Particularly like the Litte Egret shot, they strike some great poses don't they.
Well done getting a shot of the Brown Hawker, one of the most difficult to get I think.