Monday, 27 August 2018

Rain stops play at Oare !

Once again I found myself being drawn back to Faversham, this time to purchase some Home Brew equipment, a glut of locally grown Damsons had been found, sufficient to provide a good stock of home made Damson Jam and enough leftover to make some Damson wine, a new and interesting venture to keep us occupied through the long cold winter.

And so it would have been rude not to call in to Oare Marshes to check out the latest Wader situation, but with just a small window of opportunity, some seriously black storm clouds were looming on the horizon.

A shame really, as I drove down hill towards the scrapes, I could see the tide was in, which meant a good show of waders on the scrape, a quick look out of the car window as I passed the scrape proved me right, huge flocks of waders could be seen roosting with a good few close to the roadside viewing areas, a quick look out the other window confirmed that storm was moving in this direction.

I made my way quickly to the viewing areas and started to scan through the waders, all the usual suspects were in attendance, Black Tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Redskank, Avocet, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, huge number of Black Headed Gulls roosting on the scrape, but I couldn't pick out the Bonaparte's gull that is still here. Heron, Little Egrets, a surprise view of  Spoonbill that suddenly appeared from behind a preening Little Egret.

The Spoonbill moved out into the open for a very short time, before returning to its roosting position.
tucking his head down and lost to view.

 This was the calm before the storm, most of the waders appeared to be resting quietly, a few small flocks of birds were still arriving on the scrape

This tranquil scene was not to last, just as I was working my way through the waders, looking for the elusive moulting Spotted Redshank, still not seen by me, the  sky erupted into a snowstorm of birds wheeling, twisting in every direction, a wondrous scene to behold, and the cause, a Peregrine had arrived, not seriously hunting, a few stoops, the Peregrine circled above the panic stricken waders.
I managed to get a photograph of the  bird as it passed above me, the terror of the skies.

Those black clouds were not far away now and the first drops of rain started to fall, I hurried back to the car, just making it in time as the heavens opened up.
A short visit but always worth the effort to see whats about.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Hawker !

A road trip to Faversham to collect some DIY fittings,  gave me the opportunity to check out the nature reserve at Oare once again.

I couldn't resist checking out the ditches in the hope of catching another glimpse of the Southern Migrant Hawkers.

 I couldn't find a single specimen, my field guide tells me that its getting near the end of their flight time for this year, maybe that explains it, fortunately Migrant Hawkers are reaching  there peak.

Migrant Hawkers seem to have taken over the air-ways across the ditches, and true to form, there were a few very accommodating individuals prepared to hover right in front of me, for a change.

Migrant Hawker  Aeshna mixta

 Until I saw my first Southern Migrant Hawker, I found it quite difficult to distinguish between the two, especially as they patrolled up and down the ditches, but the Southern Migrant Hawker certainly lives up to its nick name of Blue Eyed Hawker as you can see below, and when seen well easy to separate from each other.

All these photographs were taken as the Migrant Hawker hovered stationary over the ditch water.

As  I made my way back to the car my first Painted Lady Butterfly for the year made an appearance.

Painted Lady

Friday, 3 August 2018

Ditch Watching !

 Plan 'A' was to go to Oare Marshes to check out some waders that I haven't seen for a while,  hopefully see the Red Necked Pharalope, but the birds were not playing ball today, remaining near the centre of the flood and too distant for any photographs, not to mention the light, which was obviously the 'bad light' coming from behind the waders.

Fortunately I had brought my birding scope and managed to pick out the Red Necked Pharalope, typically spinning behind any passing waterbird, four Curlew Sandpipers were found, one of my target birds,  one Little Ringed plover, one Common Sandpiper, but no sign of the summer plumage Spotted Redshank that I would have liked to have seen, but bad light, distant birds, meant switching to Plan 'B'.

A very distant Red-Necked Pharalope

Plan 'B' was to try and get a view of the reported 'Blue-Eyed Hawkers' or Southern Migrant Hawkers, that were frequenting the local ditches.

A local 'Odonata' enthusiast pointed me in the right direction, I made my way towards the ditch, on the west flood, a ditch I had walked pass many times over the years hardly giving it a second glance, I found a convenient small hillock and settled down for some serious 'ditch watching' .

The sun was beating down , I found myself thinking that I needed a good sun hat, trouble is I don't do hats very well, always looking slightly ridiculous, but does that matter in the middle of a marsh, probably not.

Dragons and Damsels were starting to appear, Migrant Hawkers were patrolling up and down the ditch, making my heart race each time one appeared, but not the Blue eyed Hawker I wanted to see.

Migrant Hawker
I was distracted by a passing Grass Snake which made its way along the ditch until it stopped directly opposite me, sensing my presence, it stopped and promptly retreated back into the reeds and out of sight.

I started to notice a few Common Emerald Damselflys making there way up and down the ditch, always quite well camouflaged I find, but I managed to get a few shots.

Common Emerald Damselfly

Next to show were some Damselflies resting on the green matted weed on the surface of the ditch, initially I thought Red-Eyed Damselfly, but on closer inspection I could see the half black and blue segment S8 I believe its called, which signifies the Small Red-Eyed Damselfly according to my friend the 'Odonata enthusiast' who had reappeared and was searching for the Blue-Eyed Hawkers himself.

Small Red-Eyed Damselfly

An occasional Brown Hawker made an appearance proceeding to 'dog fight' with any Migrant Hawker that they encountered, never settling as usual.

Finally the Blue-Eyed Hawker appeared or to give its correct name Southern Migrant Hawker' I would say probably two or three individuals were seen along this relatively short ditch, physically smaller than the Migrant Hawkers, but the blue abdomen and blue eyes were quite striking making them unmistakable. I watched these for some time patrolling up and down the ditch, try as I might I could not get a photograph, very frustrating I just wanted one photograph to record the moment.

I eventually moved over to the East Flood and checked out the ditch that runs alongside the footpath, two more Blue-Eyed Hawkers were seen, these two were on territory, they did not take the incursion of the other on to its chosen territory lightly, chasing each other off.

Unbelievably, each of these eventually landed on the ditch reeds allowing a photograph or two, much to my relief.

Southern Migrant Hawker

All in all a successful day

Shorne Lakes

Since rediscovering the beauty of Shorne  Country Park, in particular the fishing lake area, I have revisited a number of times now, mainly in search of Dragons and Damsels but the lake area is so peaceful, its just nice to sit and take in the peaceful surroundings and see what comes along.

Waterbirds consist mainly of Mallard, Moorhen, but a lone Heron was seen checking the lake out, and Grey Wagtail was seen flying over.

As far as Dragonflys go, the discovery of the Downy Emerald was quite enlightening, I have had three good sightings as a male Downy Emerald checked me out as it patrolled along the edge of the lake, the sightings were brief, impossible for me to  get a photograph, its getting near the end of there flight season now, so maybe next year, the same goes for the Brown Hawkers always seem to be on the go, I have never found one at rest.

I have now seen fourteen out of the possible nineteen species reported from Shorne. the latest being a Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Small Red-Eyed Damselfly

I'm sure Broad bodied Chaser and Migrant Hawkers are on the list. I wonder what the other three might be.

Four-Spotted Chaser

Black-Tailed Skimmer


Ruddy Darter
Female Ruddy Darter

The lakes look deep , well stocked with fish, every now and then huge Carp can be heard sucking at the surface around the lily pads.

Butterflies abound all around the perimeter of the lakes, on the few occasions that I have visited this area I have managed to see White Admiral, Silver-Washed Fritillary, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Brown Argus, Gate keeper, Meadow Brown, Small White, Comma, Red Admiral, Ringlet and Speckled Wood. I'm sure theirs more to see.


Small Skipper

possible Brown Argus


Small White

More to discover I'm sure.