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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Sunday, 9 June 2013

A splash of Mediterranean colour!

I knew about the "Pegwell" Bee-eater yesterday afternoon - Keith Ross finding a bird in Stonelees NR and posting some very nice video on Youtube, plus a couple of images with Birdguides. I had another 06.00 - 12.00hrs shift today, so didn't find out that the bird was still present until I got home, around 12.15hrs - it had been reported as present at 11.50hrs. Bev and I had some stuff to attend to so it was after a lunch, in The Sir Stanley Grey, that I found myself with enough free time to make my way along the cliff top and down to Pegwell Bay.

Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana) - a beast of an insect.
I can't imagine that I've made a major discovery, for such a widespread and common species, it must
just be overlooked? How many people take time to look at flies?

As usual, I looked like an advert for a charity shop - full camo, bangles, beads and a necklace, plus a snide Rolex; is it any wonder that no-one ever speaks to me? With no more info than I'd gleaned from Birdguides, my intention was to head straight to Stonelees. One brave soul asked if I knew anything about the Bee-eater, as I passed the car park - I could only tell him that it was still present at 11.50hrs; it was now well after 15.00hrs! I wandered along the cycle track, encountering no-one; so arrived at a deserted Stonelees NR. That's funny, the car park was rather full, surely they weren't all dog walkers?
A slow stroll around the reserve, finding a very smart fly along the path towards the old Pfizer sports field. I fitted the extension tubes and fired off a few shots - Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana) being the result. New to me and new for Thanet (if the info I gleaned from the Internet is correct?), however, I feel that like many insect records, they are simply overlooked and under recorded.

My best effort - pitiful by any standards, yet the best I could muster in the grey conditions of a balmy Thanet afternoon.
With my head down and arse up, the distinctive dy-syllabic "purr-ip" of Bee-eater distracted my efforts as the avian quarry passed close by, without being seen. Had I mis-heard a call, no surely not, it had to be Bee-eater. I walked about 20m to be confronted by the sight of a Cuckoo and Bee-eater in the top of the same small dead Hawthorn. "SHIT" I still had the extension tubes fitted - I fumbled about with the camera gear and managed to grab a series of four shots before two passing dog-walkers flushed the birds. It would appear that the Bee-eater had been showing in the area directly behind the hide, at Pegwell, and that was where the "twitchers" had set up base camp. My sighting had coincided with a mass movement and I stumbled across the mob as I made my way out of Stonelees. Cameras and mobile phones seemed to be the tools of the trade, very few choosing binoculars as a way of locating their quarry; times they are a changing?

I stayed on site for a couple of hours, bumping into Heather Willis and Steve Ray, which was nice. However, my over-riding memories will be off the desperate behaviour of the visiting birders (twitchers) who harried the Bee-eater from pillar to post. I will make no more comment, I used to go twitching and am sure that I would have been no less enthusiastic. The Bee-eater looks very tired, I didn't see it catch any prey whilst watching it, the strong NE (20mph) wind and 11C temperatures will have done nothing to aid its' cause and constant disturbance by birders won't have had any beneficial effect.
Don't panic - I didn't get this shot at Pegwell Bay!
This is what a Bee-eater is supposed to look like,illuminated by the Mediterranean sun.
(Pefkohorri, N.E. Greece - May 2009)
There was a significant movement of Common Swifts, several hundred moved north during the afternoon, and I was happy to grab the chance to get an image of a male Common Whitethroat, spider's web still attached to its' beak - fantastic birding in comparison to the Newland's Farm patch. There were at least seven Song Thrushes singing between Pegwell Village and Stonelees - I think we have one in Dumpton!
Common Whitethroat - a male
I used my 170-500mm Sigma with a 1.4x converter - not too shabby?

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