Sunday, 5 July 2015

You wait for years for a snake and three come along at once.

An early morning trip to the Waterworks was needed to soothe my agitated soul after trying to choose a new kitchen at Howdens. (Anyone else find this kind of thing stressful & tedious?).  I wasn't hopeful of seeing much in the way of birds but hoped the hot weather would have brought out the dragonflies and butterflies.

Nothing in the flood relief channel but I could hear a green woodpecker and a Whitethroat was displaying above the large clump of bushes near the wildlife garden.  There seems to be quite a lot of chick feeding going on still and I watched a very busy Whitethroat going to and fro with food, emerging at one point with a cricket in its bill.

There was plenty of butterfly activity.  In fact, walking across the grass brought up small clouds of what I think were Small Skippers - none of which stayed still long enough to be photographed.  These beauties did however:

I was particularly pleased to see the Comma.  For the last couple of years there seems to have been hundreds; this year I have only seen a couple on the Waterworks.

There were many dragonflies around, mainly emperors but I think also I migrant hawker or two.

I walked along the boardwalk.  The pond at the end was alive with damselflies, frogs, long horned beetles and the occasional darter.

I then caught sight of something rather wonderful - a dragonfly emerging from its larval stage.  I thought this usually happened at night and I have certainly never seen it before but it was quite beautiful to watch.  It was very difficult to photograph though, being hampered by distance, bright sunshine and reflections and the breeze blowing foliage in the way.  This is the best I could get.

Once emerged, the dragonfly appeared colourless, silver with the sunshine on it.  It flew into a branch of a nearby tree where I lost it.  Having been leaning on the wooden fence for over an hour watching this, I was about to leave when the frogs started jumping around.  At first I thought my moving had spooked them until I saw this:

I do love a snake!  And what a beauty this one was - almost 2 feet long and gliding smoothly and silently through the water.  Happy days!

On the way to the hides I came across a thrush smacking a snail on a large stone.  Now, I know they do this, and I expect all you experienced bird watchers have seen it hundreds of times but it was a first for me and it was fascinating to watch - how he chose the perfect stone and how when he dropped the snail, he brought it back every time to the same stone.  A bird using a tool - excellent!

In bed 18 a grey heron was fishing from the central raft, and I lost count of the number of frogs peeping out of the water after I got to 50.  They were calling loudly and close enough to the windows to see their cheek action.

Bed 13 still has plenty of reed bunting and reed warblers feeding young but for the first time in ages I didn't hear the Cetti's.  I did however see two small snakes near the far bank.

There is a snake there, honestly!

It was a brilliant morning.  Snakes and emerging dragonflies - who could ask for more?  I spent far longer there than I intended and so new kitchen decisions had to be postponed. Again. Job done! (SH)

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