Monday, 13 December 2010

Monday 13th.December 2010

I did go out for an hour or so yesterday in some lovely Winter sunshine , but with it , a chilly breeze . Hayes Farm provided Gulls and Corvids , and of course , the inevitable Rose Ringed Parakeets . These two enjoying that sun , high in an Oak . Keston Ponds fared no better , with all three ponds still frozen over , there was no sign of any Mandarins , probably still at Kelsey Park in Beckenham , where the river flowing through the lake keeps some water free of ice . The mixed species residents were all sat in the centre of the middle pond , looking pretty glum .
I wanted to get out today with working up on the Greensand Ridge Tuesday and Wednesday , but woke up to a hard frost and freezing fog . I couldn't be sure what conditions would be like further out , so opted for a return to Sevenoaks Reserve , albeit that Carol thought I was mad venturing out in the conditions . I must admit that I was beginning to agree with her , as by the time I got to Poll Hill , it was almost a 'pea souper' , and it was little different when I arrived . Given that it was so foggy , I thought I would go straight to the hide where the Bittern has been seen recently , thinking that it might have stayed put in it's roost reedbed . I was obviously the first to enter the hide and scanned the reeds for any movement , of which there was none . It was bitterly cold , but I stuck it out for the best part of an hour , seeing just a couple of Wrens , but did have the 'peanut eating Robin' for company , I just wish I had remembered to take a few mealworms for him . With hypothermia setting in , a small movement on the edge of the reedbed , produced another Water Rail , and after disappearing for a while , reappeared and showed well about 10/15 metres away . It was just a shame that the sun wasn't on it , but there again , it probably wouldn't have shown so well in clear conditions . I took lots of shots , before it eventually went out of sight , following the edge of the water . Well pleased I made sure the Robin was out , and closed up the hide . Stopping in at the main hide , it was just about possible to see the edge of the water and odd movements , but no better than that . A look at the lake that produced the Goosanders was slightly less foggy , but so sign of them today . The two small lakes are still frozen over , and there nothing to see from the Willow hide . I found the Red-necked Grebe in the same area as last time , but managed to get a bit closer this time . I also managed a shot with it's cousin the Little Grebe for size comparison . I searched the fog for the Black-necked Grebe , and at one point thought that I had found it by the naked eye , but when I got the binoculars on the bird , it turned out to be a redhead Smew , which would make it a female or juvenile . It was a very difficult species to photograph , because no sooner had I got it on the viewfinder , then it would upend like a Grebe , diving to find food on the bottom of the lake . It did at one stage come up near a Coot , giving an opportunity of a comparison shot , showing just how small this relation of the Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser , is . Heading back to the car park , I again came across the Siskin flock . About the same number , but sounding much louder in the thinning fog . I also came across the first fungi found since before the snow , Lactarius rufus-Rufous Milk-cap , a species found under Pines , and very close by , another glimpse of a Water Rail after it had 'squeaked' it's whereabouts . In the horse paddock before reaching the road , a female Pheasant was hoping for a meal from under the thawing snow.
So no Goosanders today , just a relation .


Phil said...

Nice post Greenie despite the difficulties from the weather. I like the Water Rail shots, don't see them often and have never got a picture. Good to see the Red head Smew as well, lovely looking birds. No fog here today thankfully.

Warren Baker said...

Phil had all the Bitterns Greenie!

Excellent Smew, brilliant record :-)

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
Good find, the Redhead Smew, one of my top 5 birds.
Nice to see the Red Necked Grebe is still in residence.Seeing as Phil has got all the Bitterns Maybe a visit is in order.
Nice Blog.

Anonymous said...

Red-necked Grebe & Smew are 2 species that i`ve been longing for up here Greenie.

Orchids and Nature said...

Water Rail shots are great, only seen it once and that was around my garden pond last winter during the harsh conditions.

The Wessex Reiver said...

Good water rail shots Greenie, one of the advantages of frozen water, they're easier to see as they forage.

ShySongbird said...

Another most enjoyable post Greenie and well done for braving the murky weather! Lovely to see the Water Rail and the Smew, a really lovely bird.

Always good (but still odd) to see the Parakeets and nice to know you had the company of the Robin during your cold vigil and that you didn't shut him in! :)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Is that a 1st winter Med Gull I see stood in the middle of the dodgy ducks?
Can't get the pic to enlarge.