Sunday, 8 September 2013

Emeralds and Asian Exotics


I awoke to heavy rain at 3.10am on Saturday morning but, it had fizzled out by 3.50am and when I left home it was clear skies so I didn’t expect much to be seen at Grove. On entering the valley I came across thick fog and from 5.30am until 7.30am it was Impossible to view anything that didn’t fly over, four Little Egrets did just that heading north and a Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank were heard but remained unseen throughout the day. The fog tried to lift a couple of times and silhouettes of many ducks and geese were to be seen on the Ramp pool and with them a further 2 Little Egrets. Even when the sun did manage to break through it gave an awful glare over the pool with a veil of fog still hampering viewing so, along with Alan Ashdown and Sue Morton we headed to the Feast hide to get the sun behind us and hopefully see some birds. Nineteen Canada Geese left the Ramp pool just before us and numerous Greylags had already left noisily but mostly unseen in the murk. Not a great deal at Feast hide although there was an eclipse drake Mandarin on the Tern raft and a Sparrowhawk passed over the trees opposite. Next stop was Harrison’s hide where we hoped to see the Spotted Crake I found last week but, after about 20 minutes 2 Water Rails and a Little Egret, people began to fill the hide so we left them to it and headed off to the Marsh hide. Lots of water and lots of greenery here but no birds although a juvenile male Sparrowhawk almost flew through the side window of the hide before clocking me sitting there and flipped over the hide and buzzed past the front windows before alighting in a tree 50 yards away along the path. Nothing to report from either the Alder Wood or Reed Bed hide and the lake only had a few Mallard and Shoveler floating about on it, a Kingfisher did buzz by on a direction towards the Reed Bed hide. A yard or so past the Lake Tower hide in a nice sheltered sun trap we started to look for the Willow Emerald Damselfly that had been found there last week by Keith Ross and amazingly Sue found almost immediately. Whilst we were watching and photographing this first for the Stour Valley Alan Ashdown found another close by then proceeded to find another 3 including 1 male, we, now joined by David Barnes who confirmed that what we were seeing was the Willow Emeralds and not just the more common Emerald Damselfly. So the one found last week was now five so I wouldn’t mind betting there is probably more giving us a nice new colony of rare bugs. Back at Feast hide without adding along the river bank, the Mandarin was now swimming and feeding and a few hirrundines were noted including the biggest amount of House Martins I’ve seen all year with at least 130 moving through plus a dozen Swallows and 7 Sand Martins. From the Ramp there was 1 Ruff, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Wigeon, 1 Pintail and 2 Garganey while returning yet again to the Feast hide to keep Andy Hills company the Kingfisher put on a display of her fish catching prowess and a Hobby passed through. Sunday was less of a birdy day with an hour at Harrison’s not revealing the Spotted Crake so has it moved on? The Spotted Redshank and Greenshank heard again in a very much less fog and this time the Greenshank  actually broke cover, the Mandarin was still at Feast hide until a low Common Buzzard flew over and flushed the lot. Eight plus Yellow Wagtails were in the fields behind Harrison’s with the cows and finishing the morning on the Ramp , Sue joined us for a little while with her dog just as an adult dark phase Honey Buzzard passed over to the south east. The Wigeon were now three but there was no sign of any Garganey before Alan and I left. It was nice to see and chat with Steve Ashton, freshly back from two weeks in Cyprus. A few of the photos below.

Female Kingfisher

Female Kingfisher

Female Kingfisher

Female Kingfisher

Eclipse drake Mandarin

Eclipse drake Mandarin

Migrant Hawker

Speckled Wood

Willow Emerald Damselfly

Willow Emerald Damselfly

Willow Emerald Damselfly (male)

Willow Emerald Damselfly

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