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Birdwatcher’s Diary No.41

Published on: 17 Jul, 2013
Updated on: 17 Jul, 2013

By Malcolm Fincham

“Sweet smell of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom, July is dressed up and playing her tune …” What great lyrics to that Seventies song by the Isley Brothers?  Certainly one that has lived up to the first two weeks of this month.

Grey squirrel exhusted from the heat.

Grey squirrel exhusted from the heat.

However, the only downside was with temperatures on some occasions hovering around 30c even the grey squirrels looked exhausted out in the midday sun. I personally chose to restrict most of my outings to early morning starts or evening visits.

A lucky shot of a large carp as it rises out of the water at Stoke Lake.

A lucky shot of a large carp as it rises out of the water at Stoke Lake.

The warm weather over the last few weeks certainly helped nature return to schedule. And with water taking a lot longer than land mass to warm after our cold spring, it was pleasing for me to notice carp now spawning in the margins at Stoke Lake; and even more so to get a ‘lucky’ snap shot of one as it rose out of the water one evening while I was watching the progress of our resident common tern chicks.

And another photo as it sinks back into the depths of the lake.

And another photo as it sinks back into the depths of the lake.

Young common tern paddles back to its raft.

Young common tern paddles back to its raft.

These young common terns have continued to fascinate during the first weeks of July, especially now that they have matured enough to make short circular flights from the raft with an occasional plunge into the lake, only to find they have to paddle back to the raft due to not being able to find enough energy and momentum to take off from the water.

Adult tern continues to return with fish.

Adult tern continues to return with fish.

Young common tern goes on tour around Stoke Lake.

Young common tern goes on tour around Stoke Lake.

Braving the heat on Wednesday, July 10, I decided on an afternoon trip to Thursley Common. This gave me a great opportunity to try my luck at getting some pictures of the various array of both damsel and dragonfly that can be viewed flying around the bog and heathland there.

Dragonfly at Thursley Common.

Dragonfly at Thursley Common.

One of many damselflies also at Thursley.

One of many damselflies also at Thursley.

Another species of dragonfly on Thursley Common.

Another species of dragonfly on Thursley Common.

As mentioned in several previous reports, click here, it is one of the best places locally to get good views of one of my favourite summer visitors, the hobby. And once again with all these tasty looking dragonfly about  (a hobby’s favourite food) I didn’t have to wait long to see and even took some up-to-date pictures. All once again without walking any further than the boardwalk that leads out towards ‘pine island’.

A hobby perched in a tree near to 'pine island'.

A hobby perched in a tree near to ‘pine island’.

Hobby take flight from its perch in a pine tree.

Hobby take flight from its perch in a pine tree.

On a slightly cooler Thursday, July 11, I decided to take what is now a short trip down the A3 to visit another one of my previously reported sites, that of Farlington Marshes near Portsmouth Harbour, click here for details.

Although not expecting to see anything out of the ordinary, and therefore not disappointed, I was able to get some distant views on the far edge of one of the lagoons of a few common sandpipers and a small group of black-tailed godwit still in summer plumage. They all now heading back from their breeding grounds in the north.

A rather pleasing picture of a goldfinch.

A rather pleasing picture of a goldfinch.

Adult male linnet.

Adult male linnet.

With the glorious sunshine it gave me a great opportunity to take of some photos of the resident birds including linnets, greenfinches and goldfinches.

Adult swallow at Farlington.

Adult swallow at Farlington.

Also noticeable were families of swallows, now feeding their newly fledged young while on the wing, occasionally perching on wires and fence posts long enough for a few more pictures.

Back at Stoke Lake on Saturday, July 13, I continued to follow the progress of the common terns with continued interest, Comparing dates and last year’s report, click here to view.

Both the juveniles were ahead of schedule and very close to becoming independent. Although one of the parents continues to bring a supply of fish, they  both now readily hunt for fish themselves, and  even manage to fly back out of the water after they’ve plunged in.

And all this while listening to the music of Jamiroquai drifting across the lake on the evening’s ‘summer breeze’ coming from the other side of the A3 at the music festival in Stoke Park…. Summer breeze! Wasn’t that by the Isley Brothers?

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test 2 Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.41

  1. mike beer Reply

    July 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Nightjars on Blackheath. I heard the churring first at 21.32. A few minutes later two nightjars appeared in the fading light flashing around the clearing. As they came past me they were making the “erp, erp” call. Saw them again as they crossed in front of the half moon. Marvellous. i had only been acquainted with “Good Lord deliver us” the African highveld nightjar before.

  2. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    July 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Have not personally had the opportunity to visit Blackheath or Albury as yet this summer, but I know there has been a lot of work done over the last decade opening up the heathlands to encourage nightjars as well as other wildlife to thrive. I’m pleased to hear you got such good views.

    I would be interested to know if you happened to see [or hear] any Dartford warblers while you were there?.. A species I’m intending to write about in my next report.

    I guess the birds you saw in the African highveld would have been the rufous-cheeked nightjars?

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