Leaving after having my lunch , I did a quick loop of Lunsford Lane , looking for a Jack Snipe or Redpoll , or a Goldeneye on the small angler's lake - well Steve/New Hythe Wildlife Blog used to manage it - but it wasn't to be for me , I headed for East Malling , just a few minutes away . Had I not done the Lunsford Lane loop , I might well have bumped into another blogger , Adam/East Malling , Ditton & Barming , who tells me that he spent his lunch break around the churchyard , alongside which I parked . Taking the footpath alongside the church , I was soon on the edge of the Research Station , with plenty of Apples and other fruit both still on the trees and on the ground , perfect for Winter Thrushes and perhaps , a Waxwing or two . A first walk to the road , checking each row with binoculars , was very disappointing . Although I could hear Fieldfares , there were none to be seen , but almost at the road , a small movement on one of the trees , revealed a Blackcap . I'm not sure if it was the light conditions and the distance , but most of the cap looked brown , but the middle looked as if it was coming through black , in my mind making it a first year bird just coming into adult plumage . Another couple of scans didn't produce anything better , so I took the path across the road and down another road where many of the Fieldfares seen overhead were landing . Unfortunately the road is lined with windbreak trees that are still in full leaf , so that didn't work either . Heading back , I reached the churchyard again , and finally got a shot of a Fieldfare in a tree on the back wall . I also realised that some of the birds I had heard , were feeding deep in the many Yew tress , on the ripe fruits , but very difficult to see . Keeping an eye on the rows of fruit trees too , I finally found the only one I saw on the ground . Whilst in the churchyard I found a specimen of Stinking Iris-Iris foetidissima , now in it's fruit bearing stage , under one of the larger Yews . The book says it smells 'sickly sweet' when crushed , hence it's common name .
By now , the sun was dropping quickly , casting shadow over the fruit trees and making the churchyard even darker , so I moved to a small lane behind the Yews , which was still in sun . Once again the Fieldfares kept well hidden whilst feeding , but one of their relations , the Song Thrush , one of several seen and heard showed well , as did the other native relation , the Mistle Thrush , showing well against the clear blue sky , and enjoying a meal of Yew berries .
Whilst watching the Thrushes , a Green Woodpecker flew in and landed high up on a trunk . Shortly after this , one of the local residents came out to hoover out his car on the drive , and that was the end of the Thrush watch .
I had to pass Hew Hythe again on my way home , and decided to give the Bittern another chance to meet me . By the time I got to the reedbed , the shadows were already creeping over it and making their way up the lake . Not much had changed since my last visit , but I was treated to two more Kingfisher sightings , probably the same bird as this morning .
The Great Crested Grebes were going about their evening ablutions , prior to roosting . Every overflying bird was checked as well as watching the reedbed . A slow , low flight caught my attention down at the far end of the lake in the gloom , and my hopes were raised , but as it came closer , and circled in front of me , it was just a Grey Heron , which then settled in it's probable roost , halfway up the lake , on a dead tree . By now the light was going fast , and the moon over the Downs was getting quite bright in the evening sky . At 4pm. I gave in , the cold and damp getting the better of me . So the day finished , no Bittern , no meet with Phil ( I've heard since that he was on 'domestic duties' at the Bluewater Shopping Centre ) , no Waxwings and just missed Adam into the bargain .
That should be the end of this post , but .
I was the one on domestic duties this morning , when Carol asked for help with some shopping . We set of to get the bus into Bromley , when a couple of hundred metres from the door , I look up into the top of a tree , and couldn't believe my eyes , a Waxwing . I immediately asked Carol if she could manage on her own , and headed back home for the camera . As there was quite a bit of traffic passing when I saw it , I returned in the car , hoping to use it as a hide . My heart dropped when I got back and the tree was empty . I parked up anyway , and had a look around , and a couple of minutes later , spotted the bird , feeding on Rowan berries on a small tree in the road . I managed to get just three shots , luckily with the large lens attached , before a skip lorry came by with chains clanging , and that was the last I saw of the bird . I checked other berried trees around but nothing . After lunch I did the local streets and further afield , but did not connect again .
I got the three shots , but I think I've blown a big hole in my 'brownie points' account .
12 hours ago