Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday August 13

A warm sunny morning with a very light south-westerly breeze.

A stroll around the Netherstead Farm end produced in flight views of Grey Wagtail and Little Egret.

Little Egret
A short way along the track away from Netherstead I spotted my first Brown Argus of the year.

Brown Argus
Although I believe they do sometimes emerge in spring, I always record them from about mid-August. This year, there are also good numbers of Small Heaths about, and today's list included a rather worn Small Copper, and a Painted Lady.

However, I am starting to get far more interested in birds as autumn approaches, and the pool was to supply me with a juvenile Greenshank to boost my optimism.

I was unable to get past it without flushing it, but it only went as far as the nearest flash. As I approached I could see four snow white blobs, which were of course four Little Egrets. Even if I assume the one over Netherstead was one of these, it is still a record count for the site.

Three of the Little Egrets
I set my scope up to search for the Black-tailed Godwit which Matt W had seen on Friday. Sure enough, it was present. Unfortunately the day was warming up and the heat haze and distance resulted in some pretty ropey (even for me) record shots.

Black-tailed Godwit - juvenile
A scan of the rest of the flash produced just nine Green Sandpipers, five Teal, two Snipe, and six Lapwings. I spent quite a while there, and eventually noticed some birds fly-catching in the hedge behind the flash. Most were phylloscs (probably Chiffchaffs), but one was a year-tick: a Spotted Flycatcher. I think I have never failed to see Spotted Flycatcher here in the autumn, but in a poor year they can appear on one date only, so it was a bit of a relief. Too distant for a photo attempt though.

I started the return journey. Three vocal Kestrels behind the flash field were clearly newly fledged, and so another three in the ridge field meant a record six on site. This is a bit of a soft record and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the numbers on site are now in double figures. Also on the wing were numerous Buzzards, at least two Sparrowhawks, and a single Hobby.

I reached the dragonfly pools where all the expected species were available. These included what was either a Southern or a Migrant Hawker (I suspected it was the latter but it just wouldn't land). However, I did at last get the chance to photograph a Brown Hawker as a female was ovipositing, almost the only time they stop flying.

Brown Hawker
A pair of Ruddy Darters were mating, and were therefore also available for the camera.

Ruddy Darters
Back to birds. Numerous hirundines were flying around, and these included a Sand Martin. It eluded the camera as usual. This is the one regularly occurring species I just can't get a shot of here.

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