I decided to get out and have a look up on the Greensand Ridge , where , over the Winter , contractors have been removing vast swathes of Rhododendron , in the area where the refugia to monitor reptiles have been laid . I was under the impression that all the work would be done by hand tools , so was knocked sideways to find caterpillar tracks of a large machine in two of the most prolific areas , as far as reptile records are concerned . Overall , the area looked like the aftermath of a nuclear explosion , and I can only hope that no damage was done to hibernating animals . The person in charge is on holiday at the moment , but the damage has been done now , and that cannot be changed . I walked around the other refugia sites , and they have not been so badly damaged , and only time will tell what impact the work has had on the populations concerned .
On the brighter side , I did find some year firsts on the site :First Primroses in flower .First Lungwort/Pulmonaria officinalis in flower .On the bank of a lane-side ditch , my first Daffodils in flower .Although not the first , I couldn't resist another shot of Winter Heliotrope/Petasites fragrans .
I had a look in at a very quiet Bough Beech reservoir in the hope of finding something interesting , but that didn't work out , with just common species being seen from the causeway , and a biting breeze coming off the water . I stopped at the feeders in the orchard , which were alive with mainly Blue and Great Tits , but no sign of my hoped for Marsh Tit or Brambling .A single Greenfinch did break up the Tit monopoly , and whilst watching three Great Spotted Woodpeckers squabbling high in the branches of a large tree in an adjacent garden , a Nuthatch flew through the lens and onto the feeder , to join the 'monopoly' . On the scrape behind the barn , which looks more like a small lake at the moment , a pair of Wigeon stayed well out of camera distance on the far side .
On the way home for lunch , I looped into Sevenoaks Reserve , without the sunshine of last Monday's visit , and without the Bittern sighting too . Here too , the breeze off the water was cold , and this reflected on what was seen . Sorry to those fed up with the Black-necked Grebe shots , but I managed to get really close to it today , and in the still water , sheltered by the clay spit . The two Great Crested Grebes were still deliberating on nest sites , in between feeding . This one came up quite close to the bank , and looked very dapper in it's breeding plumage , even if the sun wasn't out . As I put my gear back in the car , the air filled with the chattering of Finches , as a flock of 150/200 swirled overhead , before heading off towards the Willow Hide area . The light was not good enough to get a make on them all , but assume that they were mainly Siskin with a few Redpoll in the mix too .
When I arrived home , Carol had a bowl of hot soup ready for my lunch , just what was needed .