Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Early Shift Again

I was up and out again early this morning at 5am where I stopped off to hear the Nightingale before driving along the Thanet Way to Chambers Wall. After parking up I then spent around 4 hours walking down to the sea before walking west along the seawall towards the towers where I checked the Oyster farm before returning back and checking the bushes along the embankment. Birds noted were 8 Reed Warbler, 9 Sedge Warbler, 10 Whitethroat, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Red legged Partridge, 2 Cetti's Warbler, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Pheasant, 8 Reed Bunting, 10 Little Egret, 1 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Shelduck, 1 Shoveler, 9 Oystercatcher, 6 Skylark, 1 Bar tailed Godwit flying east, 8 Swallow, 1 Merlin flying east close offshore, 12 Sandwich Tern and 23 Turnstone. 


There were 2 Greylag Geese, 1 Fulmar west, 1 Great northern Diver still offshore, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Redshank,  2 Tree Pipit west calling, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Wheatear, 12 Common Scoter east, 3 Grey Heron, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Common Tern, 2 Gannet and 2 Corn Bunting. I then drove over to Shuart where I spent an hour walking down to the sea which produced 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Blackcap, 9 Whitethroat, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Lapwing, 7 Sedge Warbler, 1 Kestrel, 3 Reed Bunting, 1 Swallow, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Wheatear, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Cuckoo and 1 Sand Martin. Having met the Hindle family earlier, they told me of an area where  the Turtle Dove could be seen so on the way home I duly called in and as I parked up, 1 Turtle Dove landed on the floor and started collecting twigs for the nest. Although the light was pretty awful, I rattled off a few shots of these attractive birds before she flew off out of sight. As I drove on and turned the car around, another Turtle Dove was sitting on the wires. Nice to see a pair in the area and hopefully they will breed successfully. A pleasant morning session and home just after 10.30am.

Turtle Dove

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Birding Bug Bites

With light winds forecast for early morning, I decided to get up at 5am and have a quick drive over to Reculver to see what was about. There had been a Nightingale heard yesterday morning so I made it a mission to stop as I drove past and sure enough, the Nightingale was in fine voice and I spent a few minutes just taking in this lovely song. I then drove over to Chambers Wall where I parked up and walked to Coldharbour and then west up the seawall towards the Oyster Farm before checking all the bushes on my way back. In pleasant conditions, I noted 15 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 8 Red legged Partridge, 20 Sedge Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Kestrel, 5 Skylark, 2 Cetti's Warbler, 6 Reed Warbler, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 late Fieldfare flew west, 3 Wheatear, 4 Lapwing, 4 Pheasant, 2 Marsh Harrier and it was lovely to watch 2 Cuckoo chasing each other along the seawall which gave me the brief opportunity to grab a flight shot.


There were 4 Reed Bunting, 4 Oystercatcher, 14 Swallow, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 4 Shelduck, 19 Sand Martin, 1 Great northern Diver offshore, 1 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 2 Shoveler, 5 Common Sandpiper on the rocks together and 1 Green Sandpiper flew high east. With the weather warming up this afternoon, I made a return visit for 90 minutes to Chambers Wall where I noted 1 Wheatear, 12 Common Sandpiper together on the rocks, 1 Cuckoo and 1 Common Tern


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Lady in Waiting

Despite the return to cold weather this week, I was fortunate that when I checked the pond a few days ago in the evening, a female Hairy Dragonfly nymph was looking like she was going to emerge. Like most people, I have to wait until the weekends to get out to most of my photography and observing of dragonflies so any photography that can take place at home from the pond is a real bonus. Having photographed a few emergences this year already, I was going to let this one emerge without me watching and photographing but who can honestly turn down one of natures most magnificent sights so I decided to get set up with the camera and tripod and settled in for a few hours. Armed with the trusty flask of coffee, I was treated to another excellent emergence and managed to capture some pleasing photos of each stage. I imagine this might be the last set of photos of this species emerging from my pond although I'm still waiting for a male to emerge so I will hopefully encounter this species when I am out and about in the next few weeks, weather permitting. Hopefully May will deliver some lovely warm weather and ample opportunities with the camera. 

 'Emerging' Hairy Dragonfly (female)

Hairy Dragonfly (female) with Exuviae

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Challenge Too Far?

As some readers will know, as well as photographing the dragonflies and damselflies that I encounter throughout the year, I also have a fascination with the nymphs of the various species that occur in my local area. From studying to photographing them, I have spent many hours learning about them and their habits but one local species over the past few years has managed to elude me as far as trying to rear through to emergence. I have photographed the Banded Demoiselle nymph a number of times but living in slow moving rivers and streams, this is a challenge I have not taken up lightly at home for obvious reasons. Having looked through the internet at lots of photos, I was somewhat amazed to find as far as I can see, there were no photos of the Banded Demoiselle emerging. This has really prompted me to try to fill this gap and capture this moment. So this year, I decided to rise up to the challenge and so armed with wellies, nets, bucket and a white observation tray, I have spent a few hours at the local stream collecting mud, food items, reeds, river water, weed and a few well grown nymphs. I purchased a new tank which I have tried to recreate the stream in, adding the mud, water and weed over a period of days and also a pump to recreate the flow of the stream. With the scene set, a few nymphs were introduced to see how they would adapt to the tank and also give me the chance to study this species under the water. It was not so much a photography tank but if any opportunities arose, I would try to get a few shots. The first few weeks went very well and it was interesting watching them acting like a Jack Snipe by 'bouncing' up and down as they walked along the bottom of the tank but one concern I had was what were they eating to survive? More hours of observing happened and then on one occasion, I saw a nymph with a cased Caddis larvae which seemingly make their homes out of bits of twig and grass to live in. The nymph was slowly biting its way through the casing until it finally got its reward to eat. The first time I have seen this and although common i'm sure, something I have not read about or ever observed. I have since purposefully returned to the stream to collect more of these cased caddis larvae and have seen the Demoiselle nymphs hunting and eating them a few times more. Continued checking of the tank has also produced a few moulted skins on the surface and looking in the tank has found the 'ghost' like nymphs which haven't coloured up yet which certainly look quite spectacular. This has provided a few brief photo opportunities for me during the evenings. As far as the emergence will go, I really don't know yet. I have some potted up reeds on which they can emerge but am unsure whether they will emerge during daylight or darkness. I would hope that through the hours of observations, that I will have the opportunity to capture this rare moment but I suppose time will tell. Hopefully in due coarse, I will bring you some more updates and fingers crossed for a few emergence shots. 

'Newly Moulted' Banded Demoiselle Nymph