Sunday, 29 July 2012

Many damselflies

Saturday 28th July 2012
Warm, overcast and s/w breeze.

This morning I spent a few hours looking for various damselflies. First stop was another walk at Marshside to see if the numbers of Willow Emeralds had increased over the last couple of weeks. It was quite dull when I arrived, and it took ages to locate a couple of them, high in some trees, but a little later the sun came out and I was able to find at least 9 Willow Emeralds, though there probably quite a few more around.

I was joined by a few more dragonfly enthusiasts looking for the same damselflies as me, so I wandered up the road a bit, and looking over the small river I managed to find quite a few Red-eyed Damselflies, sitting on the floating vegetation. Then the sun came out again and suddenly there were damselflies all over the river, and quite a few Small Red-eyeds appeared, as well as Common Blue and Blue-taileds.

Another wander back to see the Willow Emeralds revealed quite a few within range of the enthusiastic photographers gathered around the hedge, and then it was off home for me.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Chalkhill Blues

Wednesday 25th July Hot, sunny, calm and dry (30C) Another early shift at work, so as per yesterday I took my camera and bins with me in the morning, and at 4.30pm I was out the door and on my way to Lydden to look for butterflies. Apart from one or two dog-walkers, I had the hills to myself on another beautiful warm evening, with hardly a breath of wind. There were Meadow Browns dashing all over the place, but at first glance there appeared few other butterflies. However, a slow wander along the trails that cut across the hills revealed loads of Chalkhill Blues, mostly sitting wings closed.
Apart from the more common butterflies, the whites, Gatekeepers and skippers, there were a few Marbled Whites and many more Chalkhill Blues, a few of which were sitting wings open enjoying the warmth of the sun. Another lovely evening in a superb location.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Hothfield Common

Tuesday 24th July 2012
Very hot 30C, calm, dry and sunny.

I've been working far too much lately while it's hot and sunny outside, so with an early shift finishing at 4.30pm in Ashford I took my camera and bins to work and hoped if I finished on time I might get out for a walk in the evening sun.

By 5pm I was drawing into Hothfield Common car park, and only 1 other car in the small car park. Perfect for a quiet walk. I strolled over to the bog where there are Keeled Skimmers every summer, and as I approached the walkway I could see about a dozen of the dainty skimmers, some sitting on sticks in the bog, and a few darting around. Most of the skimmers were looking a bit tatty, I guess in previous years I have been over a bit earlier in the season. Still, it was nice to see them.

I sat in the sun watching them for a while, to the backdrop of Yellowhammers singing and calling, and young Green Woodpeckers 'chuckling' softly.

Walking around the reserve there were very few other dragonflies, just a couple of darters that wouldn't sit still. Only 1 darter landed within view, and although a bit far off I'm fairly sure it was a Ruddy Darter (legs looked all black).

Butterflies seen included Large White, Comma, Small and Large Skippers, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and a beautiful Small Copper.

A rather nice evening stroll in very warm sunshine.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sunny Sunday

Sunday 22nd July 2012 Warm, sunny and calm After a late night at a wedding I wasn't up for an early start, so it was mid-morning by the time I made my way over to Chislet to look for damselflies. Having seen Willow Emeralds a week ago I was hoping there would be a few more about, with the prospect of a few photos. I struggled to find any, eventually finding a female quite high in a tree. I took a photo, but I was at full stretch so it didn't turn out too well. However, I have heard from Marc Heath this week and he has been trying for a photo of Willow Emeralds as well, and he can't stretch nearly as far as me, so I will put this one up for his benefit:
Other bits seen while wandering along included this family of Mute Swans:
A little later I spent some time around the Reculver marsh, adding Black-tailed Skimmer, Emperor, Common Darter, Azure, Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies and this rather obliging Red-eyed Damselfly:
I had a pair of probable Small Red-eyed Damselflies, which would be my first of the year, but they were out over the water and just a bit far to be sure. Back home in the evening I had a walk round Church Woods where I saw both Southern and Brown Hawkers

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Willow Emerald Damselfly

Sunday 15th July 2012
Mostly cloudy, 19C with westerly breeze.

I arrived back in Kent late Friday evening after 6 days in the Brenne. Mostly the weather was poor, which rather took the edge off the trip. The locals said it is the worst summer they can remember. However, we did enjoy our time, and once I have looked through the photos I shall put a short trip report up.

Anyway, today I decided to have a trip Reculver to see if the Small Red-eyed Damselflies were out yet, but just before leaving I noticed a bird behaving rather unusually at the bottom of the garden. It appeared to be ripping something up, so I grabbed the bins and saw a large female Sparrowhawk eating a Woodpigeon. She sat for a while, long enough for me to take a few pics through the double glazing.

I spent a while at Reculver, but failed to locate many Odonata, the wind was rather strong, making it quite unpleasant. Next I took a trip to Marshside to look for Willow Emeralds. Having seen quite a few in France last week I figured they should be out here soon.

After some considerable time and effort I eventually located 5 Willow Emerald Damselflies sitting in the low vegetation over the river, very well concealed. Of course, I gave photography my best shot, but the sun was completely hidden behind a large hedge, and the damselflies were a little way off, so this isn't much more than a record shot.

Little else of note, apart from a couple of Whimbrel high over south, and a pair of Turle Doves.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Insect life in east Kent - and now for La Brenne

Week of 2nd July - 6th July
Warm, mostly south westerly winds, and a bit damp at times.

I had the last week off work, mostly to spend time with the family, as both kids are home for the summer. I managed an early morning walk at Reculver on Tuesday, after waking at 5am at home I strolled from Reculver towers to coldharbour and back. Rather quiet, though there were a few waders moving. Over 20 Lapwing flew s/w, as did a single Greenshank, a few Curlew flew west and there was a Green Sandpiper in coldharbour lagoon. Quite a few Yellow Wagtails around, numbers building up as usual this time of year, and an adult Med Gull flew west.

On Wednesday afternoon the sun came out, so I went back to Reculver for a few hours to look for dragonflies etc. I was really happy to find several Banded Demioselles, I thought they may have been lost from the area. At Chambers Wall there was an obliging Black-tailed Skimmer, plus an Emperor Dragonfly patrolling the Wantsum. I added Red-eyed, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Azure Damselflies to the day list.

I paid a visit to East Blean Woods, where there were huge numbers of the wonderful Heat Fritillary floating around, and then a trip over to Thornden Woods where in the cool of the evening I found many skippers. In the evening I had a wander into Church Woods and enjoyed several sightings of roding Woodcock, and then I was treated to a fantastic display by the Nightjars, first seen at exactly 9.30pm and still flying around and churring until gone 10 o'clock.

On Thursday I set off towards Wye about 1pm, with a hot sun breaking through the clouds. On route I decided to have a quick look at Denge Wood, a place I haven't been to very often in July. Four hours later I left, never having made it to Wye, but having enjoyed a brilliant time watching the variety of butterflies in these lovely woods. I started off with Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and many Ringlets, and upon reaching an area of grassland I could see loads of Marbled Whites and all three skippers. A Comma flew past a couple of times, and having had a brief sighting of a White Admiral, on the return journey I came across another sunning itself on some leaves. The only frustration all day was trying to capture an picture of the Marbled Whites, they just wouldn't sit still very long. All in all, a great day out.

And now I have 6 days in the Brenne with Patrick Giles, hoping for many new dragonflies and butterflies, as well as some nice birdlife.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The month of June

June is not the most exciting month for birding, so I usually spend my free time enjoying casual trips out around east Kent to see butterflies, dragonflies and a bit of birding away from Reculver.

This year, however, the weather has been miserable through most of June, with strong winds most weekends, and little warm sunshine. Add to that Euro 2012 has been on most evenings, and my time out has been rather limited.

Below are a few photos from some of my walks, starting with a picture of an adult male Blackbird sunning itself on the garden lawn.

These Heath Fritillary butterflies were taken in East Blean Woods:

and a little later the same day the Speckled Wood and Variable Damselfly were taken in dull light at Stodmarsh:

On June 13th the weather was lovely, so after work I went for a walk in Thornden Woods. There was a big match on at 7:45pm, so I made my way home just in time for kick-off. The match had just started when I had a call from Marc Heath to say he had found a Norfolk Hawker in Chislet. Not only a new dragonfly for me, but possibly only the 3rd recorded in Kent. Needless to say, I made a hasty trip over, and thanks to Marc's patience in waiting for me to arrive, I was lucky enough to see the hawker hanging from a small branch of some bushes, and a little later enjoyed it hunting along the hedge. Rather an orange glow in the photo, which was taken around 8:30pm. I also enjoyed superb views of a hunting Barn Owl at the same location.

The following week I had a trip up to Shuart to look for Small Blue butterflies, which Julian Perry had found along the railway embankment. Sadly I think I was too late in the evening for them, though a few had been seen flying around earlier in the day. On the way back there were a couple of Small Tortoiseshells and a Red Admiral enjoying the warm evening sun.

On Sunday 24th June I had another walk at Thornden Woods in the late afternoon. The sun was out after another dull day, and the wind was easing slightly. There were loads of Heath Fritillary butterflies, some landing by my feet along the edge of the path. There was also a cracking immature Broad-bodied Chaser sitting on some bramble in a little sun-trap:

The month ended with an afternoon walk after work on Saturday 30th June. Again, there was a strong southwesterly wind blowing, but out the wind it was quite pleasant. I had a walk at Reculver, and where I found some shelter I had a really lovely few hours watching the insect life. I managed to find Red-eyed, Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies, my first sighting of Banded Demoiselle this year in the area, and a couple of Black-tailed Skimmers, which took some capturing on the camera.

There were also several butterflies, including Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Browns and a few Large Skippers