Monday, 28 November 2011

Monday 29th. November 2011

The first hard frost of the winter last night , led to a very chilly morning , and the afternoon wasn't much warmer . I decided to have a look at Sevenoaks Reserve , and set off hoping that the colder weather might have brought in some winter visitors . Well wrapped up , I made a short stop at Carter Hide , but just two Tufted Ducks were all that was found .On my way to Willow Hide , a Kingfisher flew past me , heading for Carter Hide , was it going to be that sort of day ? Before reaching Willow Hide , another , or the same Kingfisher flew past me again , this time heading in the direction I was
going , but there was no sign of one once I got to the hide . There was though a Grey Heron , looking even colder than I felt , if that was possible . The usual waterfowl were present , with the exception of geese , not a single Canada , Greylag or Egyptian Goose was to be seen , probably out feeding in the fields , and possibly with the 3 White-fronted relations that someone had recorded in the book recently . Heading down the side of the East Lake , a few Pochard and Tufted Ducks , along with 2 Little and several Great Crested Grebes . Long Lake only held a few Mallard and Tufted Ducks , and in the corner , the classic 'ugly duckling' , a juvenile Mute Swan , trying not to be seen , well , not until it gets it's white plumage . At the outlet from East Lake , I disturbed another Grey Heron and a Little Egret . The fields on the left at the end of the track held not a single goose , but whilst there , I
did get a fly-over from 10 Lapwing , heading for the islands on East Lake . In the corner of which , I heard the raucous call of Rose-ringed Parakeets and soon found a pair , seemingly looking for a new
home . The male was looking very smug having found this 'des-res' , but it was obvious that the
female was still giving the new pad the once over , before making up her mind . She spent ages sizing it up , then several tentative looks into the hole , before working up enough courage to look
around inside . She eventually did , and seemed to like what she had seen . I can't be certain , but as
she exited the hole , the male just might have mentioned something about her weight , as she flew straight at him , noisily squalking , and the pair flew off , seemingly arguing . Heading to the other side of the East Lake , very little was seen , with the exception of several Wrens , busily searching for
food and managing to get behind a branch just as the picure was being taken . The Public Hide was closed because the screen on the approach has blown down and was lying on the path , but I don't think much was missed from there . From Tower Hide , at last 4 Common Snipe were seen  , two
were having a doze originally , but when joined by a third , the first two decided to join in feeding
with the third . Both a Grey Heron and a Little Egret flew in and promptly disappeared into the reedbed . Some time later , first the Little Egret came out into the open , closely followed by the Grey Heron . All I need now , I thought to myself , is for the two of them to be followed by a Bittern , but , alas , it didn't happen . Just the usual Robin at Slingsby Hide and again no sign of a Water Rail . On the way back to the car , I found a relation of the Rubber Buttons fungi posted yesterday . This was
Neobulgaria pura , no common name for this one . Almost at the car park , I found this Grey
Squirrel ,avidly eating the seeds of this small Field Maple , as if it was the last food available .
And finally , the weekend may be over , but this pair of Shoveler certainly seen to be still in the
weekend spirit .

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday 27th. November 2011

Hedgelaying has been top of the pile recently , and so it will remain next week too , but today I did manage a look around the Common , and a check on the female Long-tailed Duck on the Trout Fishery at Hayes Farm .The Common produced a few fungi , which included ,
Black Bulgar or Rubber Buttons / Bulgaria inquinans ,
Gymnopilus penetrans , on a dead conifer that was also hosting Ivy ,
a cluster of the bracket Root Fomes / Heterobasidion annosum ,
but , by far the most common species found , was Butter Cap /Collybia butyracea .
The Trout Fishery was quieter than previous visits , but the female Long-tailed Duck is still in residence , and looking very happy in he environment , constantly diving to feed . The better weather
conditions, albeit windy , improved photographic opportunities , and a couple of new shots are
posted . Also caught in the better light , one of the male Wigeon .
Found whilst making my way to the Trout Fishery , a new fungi species for me , Calvatia
excipuliformis , a species similar to the Lycoperdon family , but much larger , as the 35mm. film canister shows .
Apart from the hedge itself , the only interest yesterday came when a Red Kite flew directly overhead . With a chainsaw running and with ear defenders on , I knew nothing about it , till it was well out of sight .

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tuesday 22nd. November 2011

Two very similar days yesterday and today , in that the mornings were spent doing jobs in the garden , and although the weather was anything but good on either , I managed to get out both afternoons .Yesterday , I spent a couple of hours at Sevenoaks Reserve , finding very little change from my last visit . Once again , I had two Kingfisher sightings , the first from Carter Hide , when a bird flew past , carrying the largest fish that I have ever seen a Kingfisher carrying . It landed some 20 mtrs. away , and started to knock seven bells out of it's proposed meal . At times , the action of swinging the fish to hit the branch almost caused the bird to topple off it's perch . It moved several times , always further away , until it was almost out of sight . I gave up after 10/15 minutes , so I don't know whether all the bashing was successful in the end . The other sighting was on the East Lake , alongside Long Lake . Not so many Common Snipe were seen , just 5 , but Cormorant numbers were well up . No sign of the Goldeneye that had been reported a couple of days ago . At
Slingsby Hide , I wasgreeted by the usual Robin , but apart from several LBJs diving into the reeds and moving about , little else was seen . On the way back to the car I did find a nice fresh specimen
of Coprinus comatus / Shaggy Ink Cap or Lawyer's Wig . The easiest sighting of the visit came as I
drove down the track to the road , finding this very confiding Egyptian Goose in the horse paddock
alongside .Even when I stopped the car alongside and got out , it just carried on with it's tea , just a shame the light was so bad .
This afternoon , in very similar dull , but milder conditions , I went for a look around Hayes Farm , not expecting to find much , and so it was with just a few House Sparrows at the entrance and several Pied Wagtails following the horses around the paddocks . I made my way to the Trout Fishery , and was amazed to find it alive with birds . Scanning around , I found 14 Mallard type , 2 Little Grebe , 2 Mute Swan , 7 Tufted Duck , 3 Wigeon - 2M,1F , 18 Coot , 12 Moorhen  , 4 Canada Geese and 1 Egyptian Goose . With them were anything from 40 to over 100 Black-headed Gulls , constantly coming and going for their evening ablutions . Also around were 9 farmyard geese and a farmyard duck . The Wigeon were right over in the far corner , and whilst watching them , I caught sight of a small , black and white , at a distance , diving bird . I only had binoculars , and at first thought that it
might have been a Grebe , as it was small , as can be seen here later against a Moorhen when it came to the middle of the Fishery . But now I could see that it was a duck , but not one that I recognised . It
spent more time under water than on top , but did come closer to the area that I was able to conceal myself behind a tree . Trouble was that I was hoping for it to come even closer , but all the time the light , which was bad anyway , was getting progressively worse , but I was being serenaded by a Mistle Thrush in full song which was very pleasant . Eventually , it came to within 10
metres of where I was and I got the closest shot that I could , just before it dived again , and headed back to the middle . I have done some research since getting home , but haven't managed to identify it yet , but think it is going to turn out to be an escapee , but if anyone has any ideas , I would be pleased to hear from them . As I made my way back to the car , more species made the book , totalling 17 , in addition to those seen at the Trout Fishery . One of these was a lone Fieldfare which flew up calling as I passed the log piles , but I met up with it again at the entrance and managed to
get a shot , once again , shame the light was so bad .
And finally , many thanks to the 'old blind git' , his words not mine , for getting me through the gobbilty gook to alter the font size on this blog . I hope you can read it without straining the eyes now Warren .

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Saturday 19th. November 2011

Playing catch up again , after yesterday morning's request from Carol whether we could have a trip to the coast , before the the pack ice closes in . So off we set for Broadstairs in very pleasant conditions . On the M2 , and about to take the A299 , the signpost read Margate . I wonder if it's still there , I thought to myself , and suggested a stop on the front above Palm Bay . I looked in the back of the car , and , lo and behold , my camera and binoculars were laying there . Whilst Carol sat in the sun and read her book , I made my way down to the beach , hoping to spot the Eastern Black Redstart that had been in residence for about a week . I found the spot , just below the Palm Bay Cafe , and also half a dozen other birders , but no sign of the bird . Two had been there since 0700 and it was
now 1000 , not good news . There birds about , plenty of Rock Pipits like the one above , a few Meadow Pipits , that didn't seem to get on too well with their relations , and a few Pied Wagtails and Starlings . The most entertaining species though , were the Turnstones , or as one of the other birders
suggested , Seaweed Pushers , as they constantly pushed into the piles of seaweed like mini bulldozers , to find the insects beneath . Curlews and Herring Gulls were very vocal on the incoming
tide , especially three juvenile Herring Gulls , although as big as the parent , still following it and
begging for food . Plenty of Brent Geese moving along the coast too , but no sign of the EBR . I was the last to leave the beach , after hearing from locals that 'it was there yesterday' , and seeing that it , or another , turned up at Holy Island , just north of Newcastle . Carol got her look around Broadstairs from inside the car , as quite a chilly wind had sprung up by then . Heading back , we made a stop at Reculver . Using the same system , Carol carried on with her book , whilst I headed past the Roman fort and the oyster farm , to see what was about . By now , the tide was well in , and many species ,
including scores of Brent Geese were heading for their roost sites or to the fields , as these were , that came right over my head . Not a lot was seen once the birds on the tideline had departed , but the odd
one or two , like this Oystercatcher , provided interest . Then , the fun and games started , as a flock of about 20 Snow Buntings came into sight , zig zagging the beach , undecided where they would land . I thought at one stage that they were going to settle right in front of me , but , at the last second , the flock decided not to , and headed off towards Minnis Bay , with me trailing behind . I
did manage to get a shot of three of them just before their departure . I caught up with them twice before I reached Coldharbour , only to see them depart again before I got anywhere near them . Coldharbour only produced a couple of Mute Swans and about a dozen Redshank , including a very
 vocal one , probably complaining about the fly tipping . The fields behind Coldharbour were being ploughed , with the usual collection of Gulls and Corvids following the plough , and it was two of the
Corvids that left the crowd to see off a hunting Marsh Harrier , unfortunately right into the sun from my position . I carried on towards Minnis Bay finding just Linnets and Goldfinches in small flocks , but , with Minnis Bay in sight , I was passed again by the Snow Buntings , this time , heading back towards Reculver . I about turned and retraced my steps , scanning the pebble beach , especially where plants had grown during the Summer , but without success . By the time I got back to Coldharbour , I knew my parking time was getting close , but could see figures , one standing with a tripod , the other behind the concrete side of the sea wall . My pace quickened , and on reaching the chap with the tripod , was pleased to hear that he was watching several Snow Buntings feeding , deep in vegetation . The other chap was 15 mtrs. further towards Reculver , so I guessed that some were moving that way as they fed . I took up position beyond this chap and waited . Slowly but surely ,
small movements could be seen , and eventually , the odd individual moved into the open , and
hardly taking any notice of us , posed in all their glory . I must admit , I forgot about the parking , until Carol sent me a text , but , even that didn't disturb their feeding . Chatting to the second chap , they had arrived at Margate at 0700 and left 0915 , without seeing the EBR , then walked miles at Sandwich Bay with little success , so they too were well pleased with the end of their day . Eventually , I tore myself away , and hot footed it back to the car park , stopping very briefly to see if the Black Redstarts that have been reported below the fort were showing , which they weren't ,
and had to make do with this Cormorant , just before leaving .
And finally , just before leaving home in the morning , this Ladybird , another variation of the
Harlequin Ladybird with 19 spots , was found in the bedroom , no doubt , hoping to get it's head down for the Winter .
You can see I have changed the font , as an older reader was having difficulties . I don't particularly like this font , but it was the only one that gave larger letters , as I couldn't find a way to enlarge the original font , but someone might know ?

Monday, 14 November 2011

Monday 14th. November 2011

With the weather returning to grey and damp again , I decided not to venture too far today and settled for a morning visit to Sevenoaks Reserve . I suppose I shouldn't moan too much about the weather , as at least it was decent for my recent days of hedgelaying .I must admit though , at one point on the way to Sevenoaks , I nearly turned around when the mist got very thick and heavy drizzle was falling , but carried on , and must say that it was reasonable whilst on site . A quick look from the viewpoint over the East Lake produced lots of Greylag Geese , Lapwings and Black-headed Gulls and not much else , so I headed for Willow Hide . Snipe Bog Lake , directly outside the hide , produced a good selection of duck species , which included M&F of :
Teal ,
Shoveler , still having a lay in ,
Wigeon and
Gadwall , along with Mallard and Tufted Duck , Coot and Moorhen and two flyby Kingfishers , neither of which even thought about stopping on one of the sticks out front for a photograph . I also scanned the far reedbeds for a first sighting of a Bittern on site this year , but that didn't happen either . Down on Long Lake , the direction that the Kingfishers had come from , just a solitary juvenile Mute Swan and more Mallard were in residence . Checking the far end of the East Lake , no
sign of any visiting Grebes as yet , but several small groups of Tufted Duck , always ready to move at first sight of any movement on the bank . The small grassy area between the East and Long Lake has been cut recently , and I disturbed a Jay and Green Woodpecker who were probably looking for breakfast . The area to the left of and the islands in front of the Public Hide have also been cut and were occupied by several Cormorants , good numbers of Lapwings and a mixed flock of Black-headed and Common Gulls . The best species found though , were at least 20 Common Snipe , nearly all hunkered down of the far sides of the islands , with just the odd one or two on the nearside , like
these two in front of a few of the Lapwings . I didn't see a Little Grebe this visit , but several Great
Crested Grebes , all in their drab Winter plumage , like the one above were seen . Nothing was seen from the Tower Hide and very little from the Slingsby Hide , not even a glimpse of a Water Rail . On
 the way back towards the car , I got a distant view of a Little Egret , just before it was driven off by Corvids . In total , 41 species were seen , more than I expected to see given the weather .
A few species of fungi were found on the way around ,
Common Funnel Cap / Clitocybe infundibuliformis , two from the same family ,
Lycoperdon foetidum and
Lycoperdon perlatum ,
Shaggy Ink Cap or Lawyer's Wig / Copinus comatus ,
Shaggy Parasol / Lepiota rhacodes ,
and a species that I posted recently , Wood Blewit / Lepista nuda , but looking very different as gets
older . Still the odd bit of colour around , like this Red Campion / Silene dioica , a member of the Pink family , trying to cheer things up on a dull day .