Sunday, 14 September 2008

Longfield - Moths

Competing against a full moon last night the mv trap managed to hold, angle shades 1, willow beauty 1, lesser yellow underwing 5, large yellow underwing 1, turnip moth 1, square spot rustic 2, setaceaous hebrew character 2, rustic 3 and pale mottled willow1.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Isle Of Grain

What a beautiful afternoon and on the back of a fan-tailed warbler in north Kent and a honey buzzard movement along the English east coast I decide to visit Grain for a nose around. There were still some migrants lurking amongst the scrub namely, 6 blackcaps, 5 chiffchaffs and a goldcrest. The group of swallows that had been building up during my last visits seemed to have cleared out and despite a honey buzzard being seen flying south toward Kent from Wakering Stairs in Essex and another seen flying west over RSPB Rainham Marsh, I didn't see any, incompetence on my part, almost certainly :-). It didn't really matter as the invertebrates stole the show for me. Migrant hawkers, common darters, holly blues, common blues, small and large whites, small heaths, meadow browns, red admirals and several fresh comma's were taking full advantage of the glorious weather. I couldn't resist the following photos.
There were a number of holly blues on the wing along with plenty of competing common blues although they were mostly tustling with small heaths. The holly blues preferring the comparative peace of the upper foliage layers.

There are usually a few little egrets feeding on the shoreline as the tide goes out.

Migrant hawkers were very much in evidence in some places occuring in small swarms. The males are just great with their lovely blue markings.

Common darters were also around in good numbers and I'm particularly pleased with this shot. If common darters ate blackberries you might think it was saying 'hands off, this one is mine',

Common Darter

Almost destroyed this web but managed to see the wasp spider at the last minute. In my opinion Britains most beautiful spider, what a cracking beastie.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Longfield - Moths

And competing with the near full moon, in the moth trap last night were lesser yellow underwing 6, clay triple lines 1, angle shades 1, pale mottled willow 2, garden carpet 1, large yellow underwing 6, square spot rustic 2, setaceaous hebrew character 3, common wainscott 1, the snout 1 and rustic 2.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Isle Of Grain

For the last two days I have been visiting Grain and looking for any migrants that might come my way. When I used to live in Hoo St. Werburgh, this site was only 6 miles up the road but at the time I was birding with a crew who were concentrating on the north Kent coast at Reculver and generally having a good time of it. Now Grain is 20 miles away from Longfield and the closest bit of good coastal scrub within easy reach so I may end up going there a few more times during the autumn. Wandering around I reminded myself just how good the remaining habitat looks and with it so close to the estuary it is with little wonder that a few good birds have been seen in the past. One thing that did occur to me as I wandered about was that I didn't meet any other birders. Surely if this had been the north Norfolk coast as opposed to the north Kent coast I would have bumped into maybe half a dozen other people out looking for birds. So it got me thinking (and not for the first time), does Kent just have less birders than Norfolk? If not where are they and what are they doing, with habitat this good there must be something to see and find? When myself and crew birded the Reculver area we were so competitive that 'ridiculously' we matched our patch against anywhere else in the country, including the Scillies and Fair Isle, whilst being a laugh it kept us going and kept us out in the field longer as we always felt that there might be just something to look at if we took anther last scan or just stayed that extra 5 minutes.
Anyway, over the two days, just what did I see. Well to be honest not that many birds. A smattering of migrants including 2 wheaters and a couple lesser whitethroats also a couple of small groups of whitethroats which were probably local birds. Over the past two days though a hobby has been flying around the more mature scrub area feeding on the abundance of dragonflies, both migrant hawkers and common darters.

This is the moat area, a heavily overgrown ditch just oozing with migrant potential. Look how close it is to the shore. In past years I believe that both dusky and bonellis warblers have been seen here.

Behind the moat you have this area of scrub.

Then looking south into the Medway you start to get some more mature trees and more scrub. This was the area that the hobby was feeding in and in the past has been good for yellow-browed and pallas's warblers.

Well, i'll be trying to visit Grain during September and October. I cannot really call it a patch but definitely a good place to wander about in at this time of year as you never know just what might turn up.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Isle Of Grain

There just had to be some bird migration going on today, south/south easterly winds and rain. I headed of to Grain in the north west of Kent and bordering onto the Thames estuary, in the hope that I might bump into something. The area has changed a bit since I was last there, much more work going on in the power station compounds and they seem to have cleared a lot of the scrub and replaced it with gas towers! Still I headed off to the area where the sand extraction works was only to find it had gone but there was a digger working in the area so I couldn't investigate further. However the north facing beach area still looked good for migrants and this was where I saw 3 wheatears feeding amongst the WWII dragons teeth, tank traps.

There were also a couple of whitethroats in amongst the scrubby areas and 3 blackcaps near where the old sand extraction works used to be. In the past that area has been good for grass snakes but not on a day like today. The tide was well out but there was a pleasing group of 12 black-tailed godwits in-close that seemed content and remained there during my visit. A few showers started and then the rain became heavier so I changed tactics and started to pick some blackberries. Here is hoping for some good crumble over the weekend!