Saturday, 19 November 2011

A late Darter

Saturday 19th November
Cold, misty, calm, becoming warm and sunny.

My old friend Patrick Giles was in Kent for the weekend so I picked him up for a trip out birding this morning. We reached Chambers Wall about 8am, and the mist was still over the marsh. Walking up to the railway line there were plenty thrushes along the hedge, but otherwise it was quiet. After a short walk along the embankment we joined Marc Heath and Phil Parker on the sea wall near Coldharbour, where they were trying to i.d a distant grebe on the sea.

After a bit of a chat we walked east of Coldharbour for about 400 yards, and Patrick spotted a Short-eared Owl, which we watched for a while. Little else was around so we headed off to Oare for a couple of hours.

At Oare we found another Short-eared Owl, several Marsh Harriers, about 60 Avocets on a sand bank, around 300 Black-tailed Godwits flew in to the east flood over our heads, and a Greenshank flew west, calling.

Short-eared Owl at Oare

After dropping Patrick off home, I grabbed some lunch, and on such a lovely day I didn't want to give up and go home, so I paid another visit to the Reculver area, this time parking up at Shuart. Whilst finishing off a coffee in the sun before leaving the car, I saw what I thought was a Common Darter briefly, but as luck often has it, just as it landed another car pulled up beside me and it was gone.

I walked slowly up the path north, and stood for a while at a couple of gaps in the hedge. Fisrtly looking west I saw a Common Buzzard sitting in a tree, eventually flushed by a Marsh Harrier. Next I spent a while scanning the fields to the east, and out the corner of my eye spotted the shape of a harrier flying low. I managed to get some nice but distant views of a ring-tail Hen Harrier, although the photos I took weren't very good. A Kestrel flew quite close, which did allow a quite nice picture.

Kestrel at Shuart

There was also a female Blackcap in the ivy, and a male (presumably Common)Darter briefly flying overhead.

Back at the car I stood for a while in the sun and there it was again, a female Common Darter. This time I saw it land on the front tyre of a car not far away in the parking bay. I guess the black tyre would be warm in the sun, which attracted the darter. I crept towards it to take a few photos, but typically just at that moment, with me only a few feet away, crouched down by their car, the 2 ladies that owned the car walked back. I showed them the dragonfly and explained what I was doing and they seemed fascinated and thanked me for pointing it out.

Common Darter, Shuart

This is the latest date I have seen a Common Darter, or any dragonfly for that matter, at Reculver.

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