Monday, 23 July 2018

Stilt Action at Oare !

Black-Winged Stilts seem to be becoming a regular occurrence here in the south of the country, Vange Marsh in Essex, Cliffe Pools North Kent last year, and now Oare Marshes where a family group of four Black-Winged Stilts, two adults & two juveniles have been on show since early June.
although checking the latest bird reports there does not seem to be any further reports after 19th July, so it looks like my late visit on the 17th may just have been in time.

Oare Marshes is quite a compact site, small car park behind the sea wall, an access road running alongside  the East Flood which seems to be the favoured area for waders, and a pleasant walk which circumnavigates the whole east flood area, with views over Faversham Creek and the Swale estuary.

Stilts are quite a distinctive bird and it wasn't difficult to locate them as they fed up and down the edge of the flood nearest the road.

Just managed to fit the whole family in one frame, most of the time the family were scattered all around the flood, although the two juveniles did stay close together at times.

Juv Black Winged stilt

The local Avocets did not appear overjoyed with there company, especially when they strayed to close to each other, but made for some interesting action photographs.

Plenty of other waders on show around the flood, most numerous were the Black-Tailed Godwits roosting en-masse in the middle of the flood.

Black-Tailed Godwits
Other waders noted around the flood were as follows.

Little-Ringed Plover
Ruff in moult

Plenty of Gulls on the flood, mainly Black Headed Gulls in various stages of moult, a few Mediterranean Gulls in the mix with a bonus of the single  Bonaparte's Gull hidden amongst them.

Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull, Bonaparte's Gull & Black-Headed Gull

Bonaparte's Gull with Black Headed Gulls
Juvenile Black Headed Gull
A walk around the East Flood revealed good numbers of  both male and female Ruddy Darters.
my first Migrant Hawker of the year was seen resting up in a tree.

Ruddy Darter male

Migrant Hawker
Butterfly's represented by Gatekeepers, Red Admiral, Peacock and a single Pale Clouded Yellow, which  was too quick for me to get a photograph. huge numbers of six spot Burnett feeding along the sea wall.


Six-Spot Burnett

A passing Hobby and Marsh Harrier spooked the waders and gulls a few times. during the afternoon

One of my favourite river vessel, Thames Barge on the Swale , I haven't seen this one before named the Reperter, making its way into Faversham Creek.

What a place to spend a few hours or longer on a summers afternoon!

Friday, 20 July 2018

Banded Demoiselle on the River Darent

The River Darent that runs along the boundary of Lullingstone country park is my favored area for Banded Demoiselle, just need to find a sunny aspect and you are sure to find the male Banded Demoiselle in good numbers.

 They tend to sit out on the riverside reeds or overhanging vegetation where they wait for the females to make an appearance, sometimes just a fly by,  but two or three males will launch themselves after the female trying to impress her with their fluttering display flight.

The males are quite distinctive once you know what you are looking for. The only real confusion species I guess would be the Beautiful Demoiselle, unfortunately I have never seen one of these and I'm sure this is not the right type of river habitat for them.

 These male Banded Demoiselles are right little posers and you can usally get a few nice shots of them.

 The females on the other hand are more elusive, probably with good reason, but just as photogenic as the males if you can find one. they do blend in with the riverside vegetation quite well so maybe I,m just missing them.

I was fortunate to find three different females on this occasion, couldn't find any last year.

This female had very brown wings and brown eyes making it look like the Beautiful .
Demoiselle female, while the other two had the typical light green hue

A few other damsels were seen along the river edge, including the Common Blue damselfly and the Large red damselfly.

Common Blue

Common Blue
Large Red

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Silver-Washed Fritillary at Shorne !

Found myself back at Shorne Woods Country Park today giving my Grandson some clean fresh country air as he took his morning siesta.

As I walked around the Fishing lakes looking  for that elusive Downy Emerald Dragonfly that I caught a glimpse of last week, the usual Emperors were still patrolling up and down the lake, the females ovipostering in the thick weed near the end of each lake every now and then, Black Tailed Skimmers were basking on the sun dried mud at each fishing station around the lake, Ruddy Darters  were everywhere, especially the females, a few Red eyed Damselflys were still to be seen on the lily pads. but no sign of the Downy Emerald.

As I walked around the back of the lake a large comma type Butterfly caught my eye nectaring on a plant which I believe is called Hemp Agrimony but I could be wrong.

It was certainly attracted to the flowerhead allowing a close approach, unfortunately no camera, just my trusty old Samsung  android which I managed to get some photographs of this very obliging butterfly.

I could now see that it was a Fritillary of some sort, and not the Dark Green Fritillary that I am familiar with, this was much larger, I could clearly see a very pale blue shimmer to the lower edge of the wings, and this  Fritillary had what looked like three very pale bars on the underside of the wing, not spotted like the Dark Green.

Unbelievably, I had stumbled on my very first Silver Washed Fritillary.

This one looks like a female, very approachable, which was fortunate for me,  having only my mobile phone camera to record this historic sighting for me.

The male has four distinctive black veins on its fore-wings, these apparently contain special androconial scales that are used in courtship, known as " sex brands" must be a similar brand as seen in the small skippers.

A Butterfly of the woodlands, I'm surprised I have not seen one before, very large, very beautiful.

Silver-washed fritillary