Sunday, 24 July 2011

Willesborough and Hothfield Common

I planned to do a breeding TTV survey yesterday morning before work, but too much wine Friday night left me a little tired Saturday morning. So today saw me wandering the streets around Willesborough before 6 o'clock to complete my atlas surveys for the breeding season. I was surprised at the number of people out and about that early on a Sunday morning!

The survey went well, I found the usual common breeding birds, plus one or two surprises, such as Reed Warbler, plus a family of Bullfinches.I got a McDonald's breakfast and drove to Sevington where i could hear a Yellowhammer singing, and 3 Common Buzzards were soaring upwards on thermals.

With the sun breaking through the clouds I headed off to Hothfield Common in search of Dragonflies. I had barely set off when a Speckled Wood landed briefly on a bush next to the path:

It's a lovely place to walk, and luckily there weren't many people walking their dogs. I could hear Yellowhammers singing continuously, while young Great Spotted Woodpeckers called noisily from tree tops.I headed over to the little walk-way that crosses the acid bog and settled down for a while. Patience was rewarded with brief views of a male Keeled Skimmer. This is the only site in Kent for this dragonfly. Eventually a few males were watched, but unlike previous visits, these neat little dragonflies wouldn't come near the path, so I settled for a few distant pictures:

Gradually more and more people started walking past, and I was becoming the focus of fascination for many groups, and their dogs. I'm sure they were wondering why this scruffy, bloke was pointing a long lens at some muddy bog. Eventually I tired of hearing dog whistles blowing, and shouts from owners who's dog had wandered off somewhere. The final straw came when a Spaniel leapt into the bog in front of me and scared everything off. The owners hadn't a clue that this may have ruined my morning, they're only concern was the smell of the dog covered in mud.

I walked over to an area that looked quieter, with more flowers and trees. Here there were many butterflies, I saw Peacock, Red Admiral, Holly Blue, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper:

I also found lots of lovely Brown Hawkers, but sadly they wouldn't land, so no photos. There were also Common Darter, Migrant Hawker and a male Banded Demoiselle. I did get a reasonable photo af a Peacock:

At half past twelve i decided to head back to the car, but stopping every few minutes for photos meant it took nearly an hour to get back. I watched one of my favourite dragonflies, a Southern Hawker, patrolling the path.

Once home I went down to the lower garden and there was a young Blackbird:

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