Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Tuesday 7th. December 2010

With volunteering cancelled for today and tomorrow because of 12'' of snow still lying up on the Greensand Ridge , and thankfully rid of the freezing fog that enveloped the area yesterday , I had to get out and headed for Sevenoaks Reserve , over some roads that are still far from normal . On arrival at the Reserve , still covered in a blanket of snow , and also dressed in a hoar frost , making everything look very Christmasy . Another birder/photographer had arrived just before me , and between the two of us we were making one hell of a racket as we walked on the frozen snow . He went left , so I went right to reduce the noise , but I don't think it made much difference . I headed for the hides by the reedbed , hoping for Water Rail or even Bittern , if I was lucky . Needless to say , I wasn't , and had to settle for a few Gulls taking their morning ablutions , and a male Pochard that was diving for his breakfast just outside the hide . The second hide was even quieter , with just a couple of Wrens fossicking around , but never still enough for a shot . Over the back of the reedbed , a Green Woodpecker was searching for it's breakfast amongst the snow . I had noticed on entering the hide , that one flap had been left open , and some seeds and nuts were on the window ledge . Just as I was leaving , I found out who they were left for , when this Robin landed on the sill , and eyed what was on offer . He took a few small seeds , then attempted a peanut , which he couldn't manage and had to drop . Taking no notice of me , he then proceeded to search the inside of the hide for any other food . Whilst he was doing so , I crushed the peanuts and spread them on the floor , and as I closed the door on leaving , he was tucking into his breakfast , now in edible form . A quick look at the large hide didn't produce apart from the usual , Mallard , Tufted , Shoveller , Teal , Gadwall , Canada and Greylag Geese , and lots more Gulls , including several Greater Black-backed .
Heading round to Willow Hide , I found the whole lake frozen over with the exception of one small area of open water , being kept open by a single Great Crested Grebe . Returning to the main lake , I bumped into the chap I saw earlier , and he told me that he had been trying to photograph a Red-necked Grebe that he had seen yesterday . Why did I make that first decision ? Anyway it had just disappeared behind the island , so started a game of cat and mouse between myself and the bird , that made getting a shot of the Slavonian Grebe at New Hythe like a walk in the park . I got brief glimpses of the bird every now and again , but the two things against me were the light and the distance it could travel under water . I gave up trying to walk quietly , concentrating on trying to get in front of it whilst it was under . Eventually I managed to get a few , what I would call record shots , but I was pleased , as with the Slavonian Grebe , I have seen the species before , but always out of camera range . Fortunately , a couple of the shots were in a bit better light and showed the red on the neck and the yellow on the bill . The chap also mentioned that he had seen Black-necked Grebe the day before , but hadn't seen it today . Eventually the Grebe took itself well out into the lake and started to preen itself , just as a bank of cloud rolled in , by which time my feet were like blocks of ice , so I headed back to the car , getting a shot of an overflying Grey Heron on the way , and having two flocks of Fieldfare fly over . Near Knockholt Station , the road is lined with heavily ladened Hawthorns , and I spotted a few Thrush sized birds as I passed . Turning around and parking opposite , I could see that they were a small flock of Redwings , but still the most I have seen together this Winter . I know it's not sharp , but I couldn't resist posting this shot showing exactly how the species gets it's name .
And finally . Whilst looking through shots taken today to see which to use on this post , I came across a few that made me stop and stare . I can't even remember taking them , and can only assume that I thought I was taking long distance shots of the Red-necked Grebe , but guess what they turned out to be ? I think . Could it be that I got some shots of the Black-necked Grebe , without realising it ?As always , I stand to be corrected . If it is , that's another species seen before but not photographed .
And positively finally , had to include this single Lapwing in the fields behind the main lake .
Have just heard that Thursday's work on the Common has been cancelled , so I will be climbing the walls by Saturday .


Warren Baker said...

'Tis indeed a Black Necked Grebe Greenie :-)

and wasn't it a pain in the arse walking on that crushed ice !!!!

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
Well done with getting photo's of the Red Necked and Black Necked Grebes. The steep forehead and amount of black on it's head gives the Black Neck away.
Good on ya for looking after the Robin.

Kingsdowner said...

Looks good for a Black-neck - nice one.
Good of you to crush the Robin's nuts - I'm sure it appreciated it.

Phil said...

Hi Greebie!!

You are definitely having a bit of a Grebe fest at the moment. I'm jealous of the Red necked having never seen one. Better get myself off to Sevenoaks very soon.
Great post and some great shots.

Adam said...

Nice post Greenie - RN Grebe not to be sniffed at! Like the Redwing photo as well.


ShySongbird said...

That was an eventful visit Greenie and a very enjoyable read with some very nice photos. You must have been very pleased to see both the Black and Red-necked Grebes!

What a delightful encounter with the Robin, The first photo of it in particular is a real beauty. I was so pleased you crushed the peanuts for it.

Lovely to see the Redwing too.