Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Tuesday 20th. December 2011

After not getting out yesterday , today I was delayed by a dentist appointment , so I didn't get to Sevenoaks Reserve until nearly 11 o'clock . The sun was out , but a chilly wind was blowing down the site . The Public hide was full with a group , so after checking out the area from behind the screens and finding the usual species , but no sign of the Common Snipe , I headed down to the Tower Hide , which was standing right in line with that wind , and not surprisingly didn't have much in the water in front . Having seen a report of a Water Rail at Slingsby Hide , the two of us , me and the Robin , settled down to watch the flooded ditch , the top end still in the sunshine . During the stay , not even a Wren moved in the ditch , and if hadn't been again for the odd Reed Bunting ,
nothing would have been seen at all . Heading back to the entrance , a few small flocks of Siskins were seen , but they always settled high in trees with the sun behind them . On a stump , I found
three different species of fungi , the large orangey one , Velvet Shank /Flammulina velutipes , the small white edged bracket , Many-zoned Polypore /Coriolus versicolour and in amongst the two , Stag's Head or Candle -snuff Fungus / Xylaria hypoxilon . With the sun rapidly giving way to grey clouds , I walked the other side of the East Lake , finding no new species . Heading for Long Lake , I met another birder who asked if I had seen the Bittern . He said that Willow Hide was full , probably the group that I encountered earlier , but you could see the bird from the screen to the side of the
hide . I made my way to the screen , and in the distance , sitting up on the reedbed , was indeed a Bittern . Trouble was , the light was going quickly and the bird was about 100 mtrs. away . After  a couple of minutes , the group started to leave , making some room in the hide , which I eagerly filled . I got a few more shots and very soon after the last group member left , the bird dropped back down into the reedbed . Whilst waiting and hoping that it would show again , three Mute Swans , one
a juvenile flew in and landed noisily very close to the reedbed . The sun was completely gone by now
and things didn't look good , when out popped the Bittern again , but this time infront of the reedbed . At one point , it left the reedbed completely , but returned very quickly when a Sparrowhawk
panicked everything in the area , and the Bittern assumed it's head up - you can't see me pose . Two families came separately into the hide before I left , and both managed to get their first sighting of a
Bittern ,but shortly after the second family managed to see it , the Bittern slipped back into the reedbed and stayed unseen for some time . By now , I was feeling decidedly chilly , and the flask of hot soup that was in the car was calling me . I hope the last family got another sighting , but the weather was going further downhill by the minute . I had my late lunch in the car and warmed up , an in the horse paddock on the track leading out to the road , finished off the visit with not one , as it
was on a previous visit , but two Egyptian Geese . Heading home , the only stop made was near Keston Church , where I found the first flower buds of Winter Heliotrope / Petasites fragrans ,
usually the first flowers of the year , but beaten by the Primroses found in flower whilst coppicing last Saturday .
I have also dug up some info on the icicle , but I have more digging to do .


Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
You certainly timed it well to go to Sevenoaks. It must have been a omen that you went to that particular hide to see the Bittern.
What good photo's of it out of the reeds, not sommething you see every day.

Alan Pavey said...

I'm glad the Bittern showed well, what a treat!

Kingsdowner said...

Great shots Fred, and it's good that you were able to show the bird to the families.....
once bittern.....


Warren Baker said...

Well done with the Bittern Greenie, and not a bad shot of it considering the distance and light :-)

Phil said...

Got your Bittern then Greenie, he who dares wins and all that!
Hoping to meet up with the NH one in the morning.