Friday, 21 January 2011

Friday 21st. January 2011

After two days up on the Greensand Ridge and yesterday working up on the Common , and tomorrow out hedgelaying with the Surrey Group , yet another dismal , damp , cool day was what I woke up to this morning . I had thought about Dungeness last night , but today's forecast for the area put me off , so I decided to go back to Sevenoaks Reserve for another attempt at the Bittern and also to see if the Barnacle Geese , posted by Ken / Focusing on Wildlife , were still around . On the way to Sevenoaks , sleety rain showers were unexpected , but it was dry when I arrived at the car park . A quick look from the main hide showed that there was very little on offer , especially no sign of the large number of Common Snipe that have been on the Reserve . Just the usual wildfowl on the way to the other hides , and on arrival , found another birder / photographer already there , and with a Bittern located in the adjacent reedbed , magic I thought . He was worried that my arrival might have scared the bird , but it carried on moving and feeding , albeit on the far side or the middle of the reedbed , but at no time more than 10 metres away . The bird seemed nervous , so we agreed that neither of us would start photographing until it was out in the open area between the hide and the front of the reedbed .
The next one and three quarter hours were spent with the bird in sight , for most of the time , but alas never coming out of the reedbed . At one time the distance between us and the bird was down to 6/7 metres , but the bird's superb markings and the dead vegetation , made it very difficult to see . Towards the end of that time , it did start moving out of the reedbed , only to turn at the last moment , and disappear back into the thickest stand of reeds , and out of view completely .
Frustrated , we decided to have a look around the rest of the Reserve , and whilst walking , I mentioned that I had been looking for Scarlet Elf Cup fungi last Sunday up on the Greensand Ridge , and Cliff said that it was found here on the Reserve , so off we headed to see if I had better luck with the species here . Sure enough , in conditions exactly the same as I was looking at last Sunday , were good numbers of the fungi , mostly still in the early stage of development , but some specimens were found at a later more open stage . With no sign of the Barnacle Geese , we headed for the Willow Hide , to see if they were on the lake behind , but there was no sign . Egyptian Geese , lots of Coots , many of them squabbling amongst themselves as they seem to do at this time of year , no sign of Wigeon , but the most numerous duck on the lake were the Gadwall , with many very smart looking males , showing off their finery in the weak sunshine that had broken through . A few of these males had already seemed to have paired up with the
drabber looking females , but together making a striking pair . We walked on down past Long Lake , in the hope that the Barnacle Geese might be in the field behind , but it only held Canada Geese and the white goose that Ken had posted . Walking back towards the Visitor Centre , we found the long staying Black-necked Grebe busily feeding , but unfortunately not in a good spot for a shot as the sun was half behind it . Also in the vicinity were two Little Grebes , and at one stage , one of these and it's cousin posed , once again with the sun not helping the shot . Before heading to the car park , we decided to have a last look for the Bittern , and on the way Cliff mentioned that there had been a Peregrine seen on several occasions near the first hide , which probably explained why there were no Common Snipe about the area .
The reedbed looked very quite when we arrived , but we set about concentrating on our quarry .
After half an hour or so , with no sign where we had seen the Bittern earlier , I sat down and had a look along the ditch which had provided good views of Water Rail on recent visits . Within seconds , a Bittern walked out of the reeds on the left of the ditch and crossed into the reeds on the right , a bit further away from where I photographed the Water Rail running across the ditch , whilst my camera was on the tripod pointing out the other opening . Although we stayed on hoping that the Bittern would show again , it didn't , and so ended a visit in which I had seen more views of a Bittern than I have ever seen before , but came away without even a record shot of the encounter .


Warren Baker said...

Heh Heh Heh !! thats always the way of it Greenie, but when you get your photo's they will be ones to savour :-)

Phil said...

Don't know whether to say what a great shame or what a great sighting Greenie!
I guess what a great sighting is more appropriate, at least you saw it.
I like the Gadwall shots and nice to see the two Grebes for comparison.

ShySongbird said...

Well done on the good sightings of the Bittern Greenie, you saw them that is the main thing!

That Scarlet Elf Cup fungi is very impressive, I don't recall ever seeing it. Of course I had to look it up :) and found it is quite uncommon, you must have been really pleased to find it.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, nice Scarlet Elf photos, really bright little things, I've not seen them before. You mentioned Grey Wags at Sissinghurst they are much more difficult now and are not under the bridge anymore :-(