David Saunders has sent me this report of his visit today:
With the sound of a tractor in the background, this time harrowing the field and not harvesting ( how quickly the farming season progresses ), there were large numbers of Swallows over the orchard.
On the phone lines were 8 Mistle Thrushes in various state of moult, a couple however were resplendent in still summer plumage. On a close up view they really are a handsome bird with those spots against an almost creamy-buttery breast. From the car park I walked along to the viewpoint catching a couple of Turtle Doves on the over head wires, I showed them through the scope to an elderly couple passing, they were amazed at their beauty.
At the viewpoint, a scan over the reservoirs gave a lot of Lapwing, plenty of Mallard, Teal, Widgeon and some lovely Gadwall. Several Heron, Coot and Moorhen of course. Mute Swan and Little Grebe were also present
A young Green Woodpecker seemed to be everwhere, yaffling as if he just got it as a Christmas present.
Swallows aplenty again and then a lone Swift which I thought I'd seen the last of for the year.
Then my first butterfly, a Tortoiseshell as I walked to the bridge, once there there were plenty of bees ( Common Carder, Buff-tailed and Honey ), wasps and hoverflies to keep me and my camera happy for a half an hour. The odd Dragonfly showed up, mainly Darters.
Then on to the Heron Walk where a few Gatekeepers kept just ahead of me, by the stile a Common Blue flitted over the Rye Grass, I was pleased at this despite the dullness of the weather.
My attention was draw to a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying past with some thing in its' beak, I watched it as it rammed it into one of the holes in the dead tree. Oblivious to my observations, it appeared to pecking at it and eating it, so I speculated it was an acorn or maybe a small snail it was snacking on. Then it pulled out a tail-feather and rammed that in the same hole, flew off and came back with a small leaf and did the same. Still mulling over the likelihood of this curious behaviour I continued on up to the sanctuary, there I saw the my best butterfly, a Green Veined White, it allowed me to get very close up and really appreciate it's greenness.
Back at the car park, both Tawny and Little Owls could be heard.
With a modest pair of binoculars and maybe a magnifying glass a whole world awaits discovery as I find out even after 50 years.
Three Common Buzzards gave the volunteer work party good views on Thursday, as they started work to improve habitat on the far reservoir. A few Wigeon have appeared on the nearest reservoir; otherwise it’s much the same as usual.
Other wildlife sightings:
A Grass Snake was outside the Bromhey Farmhouse on Wednesday and a Painted Lady butterfly, just off the reserve; near Egypt Bay on Sunday was a nice spot. According to the Butterfly Conservation website they’ve been quite scarce this year, this sighting was one of only 4 submitted in Kent this month.
Peter Beckenham, RSPB Residential Volunteer, Northward Hill
this picture was taken by Jason Elmore while out with the RSPB on a dragonfly walk last Sunday.
You can read the full story on the RSPB News pages here.
Another report from David Saunders:
With the distant sound of a combine harvester and the almost ripe damsons and hips in the car park, it isn't difficult to believe that Autumn is just around the corner or even here in ornithological terms. A trek along the foot path to the viewpoint was accompanied by a shower of fairies blowing in the gentle evening breeze. On the wires above 5 linnets sat and twittered, a Great Spotted Woodpecker chipped overhead and its' cousin the Green Woodpecker yaffled in the distance. The Rose Bay Willow Herb and Ragwort were both showing signs of the long summer, all the Cinnabar caterpillars were gone from last weekend. they are so photogenic in their stripey livery. At the viewpoint the ponds were well stocked with wildfowl and interesting things, A lot of Coot, Mallard, Mute Swans with their cygnets, three statuesque Heron and a handful of Green Sandpipers feeding and bobbing in the shallows. A kestrel overflew the Cherry Orchard and put up a juvenile Woodpecker. Across over the Thames a skein of Geese flew to their roost too distant to identify but probably Grey Lags. The assembled Corvids were gathering readying for their bed time. In the Elderberry by the barn a small party of Long Tailed Tits foraged for their supper. The sun was setting and a rabbit stood on its hind legs Meercat fashion looking at it, it was tempting to wonder what it thought of the big yellow duster as Little Owls vocalised in the bushes. On the way back to the car a Sparrow hawk whanged overhead, Swallows flew past as a Cock Pheasant called in a nearby field.
these little beauties were spotted in the woodland at Northward Hill yesterday: