Saturday, 20 November 2010

Saturday 20th.November 2010

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 .


Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
First of all, well done on finding the Waxwing, and getting a few photo's as a record.
You timed you outing just right, well for you anyway, for Carol maybe not. Looks like you have got some sucking up to do.
I too would have met you down the lakes if I had known you was going there.There is always next time. As for a possible Goldeneye on the Little Lunsford Lake, although there are a few Goldeneye's around, personally I think it is a bit early for one there, but like all birding, who knows what will turn up where, and when.
You had 2 good day out, with some great birds, and photo's to match.

ShySongbird said...

Fancy abandoning poor Carol for a strange bird ;)

Wow! I am really envious of that Waxwing sighting Greenie. I am desperately trying to work out how to fit a Rowan tree into my garden (seriously) I do wish I had had the foresight a few years ago.

A most enjoyable post again, both this and yesterday's which I somehow missed commenting on :( A shame you missed the Bittern.

Lovely photo of the Goldfinch yesterday and I particularly liked the Song and Mistle Thrush photos today.

Kingsdowner said...

Good of the Waxwing to take the opportunity to meet you (unlike the Bittern). Impressive that it knew to find you shopping.

Waxwing flocks seem to be heading south - maybe yours was a scout.

Adam said...

Sorry to have missed you Greenie - those 'birds' rustling through the Yews were probably me looking for me non-existent Coal Tit! The best site for Fieldfares and Redwings is actually further along the path from the churchyard - probably 0.5miles to the east in case you visit again. Carry on along the path from the church, it eventually joins up with the road and continue until you get to just before the main lab buildings (glasshouses on the right - south) and scan across the 'pear concept orchard', wires and heavily-ladden apples on your left. I think the way the weather is going this and next week you'll get some better views as the poor buggers have to feed more frantically on the rotting fruit. If you're back down East Malling way by all means give me a bell - I'll email mobile number to you.

What a result with the Waxwing - always get the best birds when you least expect them! That's both us got Waxwing as a patch tick (come on Warren, catch up!). But you've managed to grip me off my own patch with that Blackcap - I've never had one on site during the winter despite looking!!!!! It's missing off the BTO Atlas tetrad, so please, please let me know where you saw it and I'll get it on there ;-)