Monday, 14 March 2011

Monday 14th. March 2011

A foggy , frosty start to the day , but with a promise of sun , once the fog burnt off . I set off for what seems to have become my regular Monday destination , Sevenoaks Reserve . By the time I arrived the warmth of the sun could be felt , with almost no wind . Looking back over the 2/3 hours I was on site , the two things that made the most impression were the bird song and how smart the birds looked , coming into their breeding plumage , in the soft sunshine . My first sighting from the large hide was a drake Teal , looking very dapper indeed . Looking at the islands that have emerged since the water level was dropped , a Lapwing looked reflectfully , whilst casting it's own reflection . Movement down in front of the hide proved to be 5/6 Common Snipe , none of which moved completely out of cover for a clear shot , and most staying well tucked up in the tussocky long grass , whilst probing continuously with their long bills .
Heading down to the next hide , I found a small flock of Siskins feeding quite low down on Alder , but no sign of the hoped for Redpoll . Close by , one of many Great Tits was calling 'teacher , teacher , teacher' incessantly . When he stopped , you could be sure that others further away could still be heard . Yet again , the last hide , which had been so productive with Bittern , Water Rail and Reed Bunting back in the Winter , was birdless , apart from the pair of Coots out the back . I retraced my tracks , and just before reaching the large hide , could hear a group of students , who seemed to be doing field work on the mossy/puddley area to the side of the main path . As I approached the area , I could see a bird on the far side of the largest puddle , bobbing and showing yellow . At the same moment , the student group were assembled and led off past the puddle to the large hide . I waited for them all to pass , and was totally amazed to see the bird still in situ after they had noisily passed . I moved in , and was able to get within 15 metres of the bird , as it carried on searching for food . Standing quietly , I was treated to a 'mini ballet' , as the bird walked , ran and fluttered in front of me for a good 3/4 minutes , after which , as it moved to another puddle , I moved off quietly and left it to carry on with it's search . As I got around the far side of the lake , a Song Thrush flew up from the pathside vegetation and watched me go by . Once I had done so , it flew back down to the original spot and began fossicking again in the leaf litter . I waited to see what was so interesting . After a few minutes , my question was answered , when a large earthworm could be seen , disappearing into the bird's bill . Just past the place where I had my last Bittern sighting here , two white lumps close to the bank looked suspicious , and as I got closer , there was still no movement . Thankfully , one of the pair then heard me and they both looked to see who it was that had interupted their beauty sleep . I can only think that it was a good night last night . A quick look in at Willow hide , which was also surrounded by students , finished the visit with another drake looking very dapper , this time a Gadwall . As I walked back to the car park , with the sun getting weaker by the minute , my first singing Chiffchaff of the year serenaded me to the car . On the way back home , the A21 near Green Street Green provided several sightings of Blackthorn flower , another first for the year , and I'm sure the blossom wasn't showing on Saturday when I passed by .
On the strength of the morning , I was considering moving on to 'Spri..' , but , by the time I got home and had lunch , the cloud had closed in and it was back to greyness , just in time for the afternoon birders , so I will probably stay on 'Spr...' .
Three days volunteering now , but you never know .


Alan Pavey said...

Some nice pics again Greenie, I like the Grey Wagtail ones particularly, sounds like a good morning out, especially hearing your first Chiffy, great stuff.

Warren Baker said...

It makes such a difference birding in the sunshine doesn't it Greenie. You must tell me more about what it is exactly like,as the sun doesn't shine on us afternoon birders ;-)

ShySongbird said...

Lovely photos today Greenie! Sevenoaks Reserve seems to be a really good place to visit. Nice to see the Grey Wagtail, it performed beautifully for you :)

I thought about you and your little Robin pal when I was sat in a hide today.

Well done with the Chiffchaff!

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
You sure picked a good day to go birding. You did well getting the shots of the female Grey Wagtail, also male Gadwall in their dapper breeding plumage are a lovely looking bird.