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 .
4 hours ago