We managed to do a good day's work up on the Greensand Ridge yesterday , coppicing all the Reptile glades , at a time when all the residents are hibernating , and as a bonus , staying relatively dry . Today's work was cancelled for a couple of reasons , mainly because of the dire weather forecast for the day .
Today started as forecasted , grey and wet , but by about 10 o'clock , the rain stopped and the sky lightened a bit , enough for me to grab my things and get out . A snap decision to go for the male Goldeneye that Phil / Sharp by Nature , had posted recently was made , but once again reaching Wrotham Hill on the M20 with the 'Fog' lights flashing , the idea seemed flawed . The fog did thin out going down the other side , but it was very grey . Parking in Lunsford Lane , I had a quick look at the stream/raging torrent that runs alonside the road , but nothing showing . I walked the footpath between the large and small Alders Lakes , and with no anglers about , located the male and immature out in the gloom of the small lake . The pair are so edgy , the moment either spot you , they head over the other side of the lake . They had been diving , but then both went into preening mode , the male showing off his brilliant white underside whilst doing so . I got behind a large Willow and waited , hoping that they might come closer .Whilst under cover , I made the odd 'distressed Vole call' , or at least I think that was the noise I was making , as I have read that by doing so , you stand a better chance of getting the photograph you want . Eventually , I'm not sure if it was due to the calls , the male moved to the angler's car park end and started feeding again , only to have a Black-headed Gull try to mug him every time he returned to the surface . I also saw it reacting to fly over Gulls as Phil had described . I only moved when he dived , then had to guess where he was going to come up , and this was the best I could manage in the conditions , but it does show how the species gets it's name .
I then left him to feed and decided that I must have another look for Bittern whilst I was there , so headed for Brookland's car park , which showed no evidence of Mr. Bittern/Phil Sharp in attendance . I carefully checked all the reedbeds around Brooklands Lake , especially near the paper works , but found nothing .Climbed to high ground above Abbey Mead , with the same result . As I was wearing wellingtons , dropped down and crossed the stream to get to the pipe with the view over the reedbeds of Abbey Mead , another blank . Almost the only bird I saw in that corner was this Great Crested Grebe , just starting to come into it's breeding plumage . The small reedbeds along the anglers path back towards the railway were meticulously checked , again without result . My last chance were the reedbeds along the railway path side of Brooklands Lake , but just a few Tufted Duck and a sleeping pair of Pochard was all that was found . A small flock of Goldfinches feeding on Burdock seedheads met me back at the car park , on yet another Bittern-less visit . Light drizzle had started to fall , changing to light rain on my way home . By the time I had eaten my lunch , steady rain was falling . Just glad I decided to get out for a couple of hours between the rain .
6 hours ago