Saturday, 26 July 2014

Butterflies, dragonflies and horse flies

I spent some time this week at Oare and at Elmley. The sun was shining strongly, the heat produced a shimmer in the air and the light made viewing difficult, but there was a cooling breeze that made it lovely just to walk around.

At Oare, quite a few people were looking for the Bonaparte's gull which had been sighted there. I spotted it many times, but strangely it mutated into a black-headed gull each time I zoomed in on it. The general agreement of those who had not spotted it so far was that the light made it difficult. (Not just me then!) (See Robs Birding blog if you want to see more on it.)

For me the highlights that day were the butterflies and dragonflies, including this Small Copper - the first I'd seen...

...and this female Ruddy Darter...

Great names! And thanks to the iSpot experts who helped me with ids.

At Elmley, I spotted a pair of the Ruddy Darters together ...

And again, there were butterflies all around, particularly Gatekeepers...

Swallows were whizzing around the barn at Elmley and were a joy to see.  Also in large numbers were horse flies. There is not much in the natural world that I don't like, but I really really dislike horse flies. And I have the bite marks to justify it. And no, I haven't taken a picture of one. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Oare marshes

Oare is a magical place. Just across the water from Sheppey, you can see the island from the northern end of the marshes. It is a place where the light on the water glows in the morning sun, and when there is mist, there is a feeling of mystery.

Highland cattle wander through. Large flocks of waders come and go. Warblers dart in and out of the reeds - tantalising glimpses only - more heard than seen. There is so much to see, and so much to easily miss. Hidden amongst the flocks of one species will be a rarer sight.

For the less knowledgeable, like me, you can observe where the more experienced have got their scopes focused - and ask politely what they're looking for. People are generally very friendly there - they don't even get cross when you've already taken a picture of the bird they were looking for without knowing what it was!

There is a sense of peace, of light - even on a duller day - and always the chance to see something new, or something familiar but beautiful.

It is another of the places I visit often, so there will be more from here, but here are a few pictures from previous visits.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Elmley NNR

I have to start somewhere, so I'm starting here.

Elmley NNR is a place that makes me happy. I love the big skies, the surreal backdrop of the Sheppey bridges, the cows that don't care who you are and just wander across the track you're driving on. I like the surprises - the swans walking through the grass, the hares that sit on the path ahead and then rush away if you approach too close, the stoat that you see briefly before it disappears.

There are butterflies and dragonflies in summer and birds all year round, erupting from the reeds and the grass, flying above and away. And water, from puddles, to scrapes, to the estuary. It is marshland - flat and expansive, with grass, wildflowers, mud, reeds and fences and gates where birds can perch. It always seems to reveal something new on every visit at whatever time of year.

It is getting away from the worries of everyday life - absorbed in the moment - waiting, watching, catching a glimpse of something, the eye too slow at times, or deceived. At other times spot on, seeing a bird, capturing it on camera, seeing a scene a new way, or just recognising it as something magical.

I go back time after time - so there will be a lot about Elmley to come. Here are just a few pictures I've taken there.