It’s been a while since my last update, so I’m going to do a couple of separate posts to bring things up to date.
Going back to the beginning of last month, Jem and I started with a walk along the Thames at Barnes to the Leg-of-Mutton reserve. It was a hot morning and there wasn’t an awful lot about, but we did get good views of some House Martins collecting mud from the shore. The following weekend Jem did a run on Wimbledon Common whilst I found myself some Coal Tits, Swifts and a Common Buzzard. On the Sunday Jem’s family and I planned to go down to the RSPB reserve at Dungeness as I’ve heard lots of good things about it and never had the chance to visit. Sadly, our trip didn’t get going as Jem’s dad’s car developed some issues and so we didn’t even manage to get south of the River. Instead, Jem, her mum, and I had a wander around Valentine’s Park. Highlights included a family of Green Woodpeckers, some young Pied Wagtails by the cricket pitch, and a Sparrowhawk that soared over as we were having lunch. I also became the unwitting recipient of some angry vitriolic abuse from a middle-aged drunk sat on one of the park’s benches. He took exception to the fact that I didn’t want to take a photo of him, and then he proceeded to accuse me of being racist and then threatened to ‘bang’ me. I’m not sure what kind of banging he had in mind, but I wasn’t really interested in any of it. I felt pretty safe though, as I was carrying a pretty heavyweight tripod and gimbal-head combo which I’m sure would’ve kept him at bay if needed. In any case, he didn’t seem to be bothered enough to even stand up, so we just walked on. On the way back to Jem’s house we saw hundreds of Banded Demoiselle damselflies fluttering around the River Roding.
The following weekend I was up in York for Stem and Zoe’s wedding, so birding was limited to a few newly-fledged Robins in the pre-ceremony pub, plenty of Swallows out near Byland Abbey, and a few assorted raptors seen from the train as we returned to London.
The weekend after that included a late-afternoon walk to Fulham Palace Gardens, where I managed to get a nice macro shot of a Red Admiral, and a few hours at the London Wetland Centre. I said to Jem beforehand that I’d like to see the local Sparrowhawks and a Kingfisher. I’ve been a regular visitor to the LWC for seven years but I’ve never seen a Kingfisher there. Anyway, everything went to plan as we got brief views of a Sparrowhawk hunting over the main lake, and then a Kingfisher zipped past as we walked back to the Visitor Centre. I wasn’t able to get photos of either, but I did get some shots of a female Emperor Dragonfly laying eggs, a pair of Red-eyed Damselflies mating, and a male Emperor Dragonfly resting on some grass.
To end this first half of the update, I’ll mention our wander around Brompton Cemetery. For several years I’ve been photographing old cemeteries. I don’t want to sound too morbid, but I find them fascinating – especially London’s Magnificent Seven – and I’ve taken hundreds of photos during dozens of visits. I did a shoot on the Saturday morning for Isle Skateboards, and Jem and I decided to pop into Brompton on the way back home. The good thing about these necropolises is that they are also havens for wildlife. The most interesting shots I got were of a pure white pigeon, a boldly-singing Wren, and a Squirrel in a state of…erm…excitement…