Sunday, 31 May 2015

One by one those beautiful wings drifted to earth.....

...and the predator continued to consume its' quarry,
The predator was a HAIRY DRAGONFLY its' quarry a BANDED DEMOISELLE.

Warren Baker, The Pittswood Birder, and i made our way to Westbere Lakes in Kent having spent a few hours at Stodmarsh, the highlight there being a flyover Osprey. Our main reason for visiting Westbere was to hopefully see a Scarce Chaser dragonfly something that would be a first for both of us. More of that in the next post. We hadn't been there too long when Warren called me over not far from an area where i had had good numbers of Banded Demoiselles last summer on my only previous visit to this site. He was frantically waving so i rushed over not having a chance to swop to my other camera with the 100mm macro lens already set up and ready to go but with my 300mm lens. A Hairy Dragonfly was munching away on a Banded Demoiselle and feelings of excitement, shock, horror and sadness all seemed to whirr through my mind at the same time.
As mentioned at the begining the Demoiselles wings came off as the Hairy chomped merrily on. Eventually all that wat left was the abdomen which disappeared like we would suck in that last strand of spaghetti that was poking out ! An incredible sight to witness.

Yes i know i could have done with more dof but i hadn't taken a "macro" image for some 6 months, that's my excuse anyway. For some more, and better, images of this amazing wildlife experience check out Warrens images on his blog HERE

Friday, 29 May 2015

You're so beautiful.

I'm in Kent house and pussy sitting and managed the first of my target species on Wednesday.
I've seen Banded Demoiselle in Northumberland and Durham but the Beautiful Demoiselle doesn't occur in our region so having seen one of the possible sites in Kent i decided to go for it. Warren Baker has a blog PITTSWOOD BIRDS and he describes his patch and sightings well. This was the place to find one hopefully so i set the satnav and off i drove. Turning off the A26 just before Tonbridge i headed up a stunning country lane and shortly after i spotted a gentleman sporting bins and a camera so pulled over and asked in my broad geordie accent (as reported elsewhere earlier !!!)" You don't happen to be the Pittswood Birder by any chance ?" "Yes" was the reply. Brilliant.
I explained that i was hoping to see a Beautiful Demoiselle and immediately he offered to show me around his patch and that with a bit of luck we might just get one. Talking me through the various habitats we passed through we eventually reached the "Scrubby Woods" where the Dems generally turned up. After 30 minutes or so doing a couple of circuits of the area which had lots of nettles, some of which were waist high, Warren spotted the quarry high in an oak tree. I took some images and enjoyed what views i was getting in my binoculars but Warren wanted me to see one close up. Another hour and quite a few more circuits and a heck of a lot more rashes we found one at shoulder height. What a fabulous creature.
MALE Beautiful Demoiselle
I would have struggled to find the "Scrubby Woods" never mind the Demoiselle if it hadn't have been for Warren and during our conversations i discovered that he had given up driving. I had planned to go to Westbere Lakes, a brilliant site in Kent for Dragonflies, next week but it turned out Warren was off to Wales on holiday on Saturday so i arranged to pick him up the following day so we could both head there to try and find the Scarce Chaser Dragonfly a species that would be another first for me and as it turned out for him. Fingers crossed we would get reasonable weather.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Spoon. No fork or knife.

I had the pleasure to be in the company of Dave Elliot and a Spoonbill the other morning.
I arrived at the Budge screen around 6.55a.m. having spent over an hour at Cresswell enjoying the antics of 12 Avocets. In the opposite corner partially hidden by one of the tussocks was a white bird which eventually showed itself to be a Spoonbill. Dave arrived about 10 minutes later. The bird lifted about 10 mins after Daves arrival. It circled slowly pausing, it seemed like, over the trees opposite before dropping back on the Budge field quite close to a Little Egret that was oblivious to its presence as it was busy preening. It repeated a similar action again and then a third time but this time it continued to gain height and with Dave firmly locked on it slowly drifted off in a westerly direction.

A couple of not so good images.
The Swallows at Druridge Pools continue to show interest in both of the hides either side of the path. Pleased to see many of the shutters have been left open in the Oddie hide. Never much on the pool to see when you do visit the hide but compensation when some of the Swallows drop in and possibly voice their disapproval of you presence. They make some superb noises. A couple of Swallows were collecting mud on the Budge and disappearing to the rear of the hide overlooking that field while i was there. Sometimes sitting on one of the posts out front before doing so.
Some early morning action from the Cresswell Pond hide

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The weather forecast..... a wonderful thing.
When they get it correct.
It turned out eventually that i had the car either Sat or Sunday. The affore mentioned forecast said pick Saturday. A pleasant enough morning but a little disappointing on the bird front. Cresswell at day break had very little. 2 Avocets on the main pool & 4 on the smaller area n. of the causeway. The Phantom Hooded Claw.....sorry, Crow has eluded me for some time now. It comes into the same category as the Invisible Bearded Tits of Druridge. A Barn Owl and the pair of Pintail the highlights ( i never get more than two) on the Budge, nowt being the highlight on the Pool. The walk from Druridge to East Chevington and back was brisk, in more ways than one. I didn't get as far as the north pool instead choosing to spend time on the south loop, beach and in the area of the dunes. Two smart Dunlin and three Ringed Plover the only birds on the shoreline with a single nervous Ringed Plover in the convines of the wire perimeter fence, its mate more than likely hunkered down in there somewhere. The walk in the dunes was enjoyable as the dog walkers hadn't arrived yet. Those Highland Cattle are impressive beasts. Skylarks displaying overhead all the while with the sound of Sedge Warbler ringing out when i passed nearby reedbeds. Shelduck continue to been seen in and over the dunes on many occasions.

The south pool loop was no let down. My favourite place to visit when i'm in the Druridge Bay area.
A Sedge Warbler from Chevington Burn bridge was stunning before i climbed the style leading to the circular walk. More Sedge Warblers (8) belted out, sometimes taking to the air. Not so the single Reed Warbler, it was deep in cover, but sounded fantastic. 2 Grasshopper Warblers, one in the centre of the loop and the other in the far hedge both stopped me in my tracks while i figured out exactly where they were calling from. I got some images of the bird in the hedge but small branches spoilt them. Something caught my eye on the south pools rear fence and for a couple of seconds a Yellow Wagtail sat there. It dropped to the ground, reappeared for a split second then flew off behind the hedge and across the field west. 3 Willow Warblers sang in the trees. Looking over the expanse of reeds this is a brilliant place to watch the Harriers in action with the added bonus of the occasional flyover, mainly by the male. Both Harriers showed on and off. Sometimes interacting with each other, sometimes with the local Corvids.
View from a bridge.          Chevy Burn bridge to be exact.

A couple of small flocks of Linnets, 20 plus Golden Plover peering out distantly from the deeper grass of the arable fields and 4 Whitethroat kept me entertained as i headed back to Druridge.