Twenty-one of us joined Malcolm and Sally for this Tuesday walk at the ever-popular wildlife reserve at Sevenoaks. From the car park we could hear Chiffchaff and Robin singing away enjoying the morning sunlight. Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler were heard by the leading group, with Wren, Magpie and Jay added in quick succession by us all. Willow seeds were blowing around on the breeze – an excellent display of seed distribution!
A scan of the water from the small viewpoint added several water birds to our list, including Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Tufted Duck, Coot – with two still on nests – and Mute Swan. A Song Thrush delighted us with its song, phrases being repeated two and three times making it easy to point out to everyone. We are now experts! Chaffinch called from perches in the trees and bushes as we continued our walk. A black and yellow Longhorn Beetle intrigued us and Common Spotted Orchid and Figwort delighted us. A family of Blue Tits with several young, “seeped” from their hiding places, keeping contact and reassuring each other as we passed by. Malcolm pointed out sawfly galls on the willows, where bright red lumps appear as the gall develops.
Our education was also expanded by finding Banded Demoiselle, Small Red-eyed Damselfly and Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillars. A Grey Squirrel ran along branches above us sending birds off in fright. Near one of the hides we found both Blackcap and Dunnock families. The Blackcaps were rather secretive, with the youngsters huddled low down on a branch almost covered by grass, whilst the female looked on and the male ferried food back and forth to his young family. The Dunnock on the other hand were sitting in a bare bush preening, with their parents keeping a watchful eye.
Red Admiral, Small White and Speckled Wood Butterflies were added by some and as we continued there were the distinctive “cigar-shaped” rolls of nettle leaves, which are the hiding place for Mother of Pearl Moth caterpillars. Nettle Tap Moths were also quite numerous around the reserve – once we saw one, we realised there were many of them around.
From the main hide overlooking the largest lake we watched Pied Wagtail with their chick, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Mallard, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Egyptian Geese and Great Crested Grebe. We also found a dead mole – but the less said about that the better . . . .
Another great walk with Malcolm and Sally, thanks to them for leading and for all those who attended. Look forward to seeing you at Hanningfield Reservoir on Saturday.