Thursday, 17 May 2007

Thursday 17th May

Harlequin Ladybird larvae

Oak before Ash you're in for a splash? The idiom didn't ring true today. Large numbers of Swifts coursing over East Malling village were the only sightings of note this morning.

The nettles supporting the large population of Harlequin Ladybirds had been strimmed this morning, but checking the remaining nettles it appears that this has just displaced them - there were large numbers of Harlequin larvae outnumbering the 7-spts by about 2 to 1.

The rain continued this evening and almost made me postpone my trip to Mereworth to check out the Nightjars again. It had cleared slightly by 19:30 so I decided to go. We were rewarded with Woodcock roding on at least 6 occasions , a couple of times individuals flew directly overhead. A Willow Warbler was found in the same location as on Saturday, and a few Whitethroats bellowed away in the conifer plantation. The first Nightjar was heard churring just after 9. The Collins Guide to Bird Song describes the 'churr' as a constant 'reel' similar to a Mole cricket (if that helps!), but James described it perfectly, "the sound of a mudguard trapped against a rotating bicycle wheel!". The perfrect description! The churring was so intense that we were able to locate the bird quite easily, where upon we had excellent views (well as good as they get at dusk!) of a Nightjar using the top of a dead tree as a song perch. It flew out a few times, and onto another song perch before returning and eventually taking flight in the direction of the newly felled area. A pint of 'Whooper' in the Swan on the Green, West Peckham ended a perfect evening.

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