Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tuesday 6th. December 2011

Yesterday , I did the Down House bird survey , and finished up with an average 21 species for the visit . Mind you , with the cold wind ripping through the site , I feel that it was a good result , the pick of the bunch being a male Bullfinch , 8 Fieldfare and a single Stock Dove . No Deer sightings during the visit and no sign of the 'silverback' Jacob's ram , who must have done his duty .
A stop at Keston Ponds on the way home , produced just 6 Mandarins including 4 drakes , but as usual , they stay well tucked up amongst the overhanging branches  , but very little else .
A look on the Common turned up very little too , just a small stand of  Red-cracked Bolete / Boletus
chrsyenteron , of which this was one , and a bunch of the chunky form of Honey Fungus / Armillaria
mellea , at the base of a Beech that looks very close to the chainsaw .
Having seen a recent report of a Black-necked Grebe at Sevenoaks Reserve , I wrapped up and headed there to see if I could find it . It was bitter on arrival , and things didn't get much warmer during the visit . If the BNG was still there, I'm pretty sure that I , or one of the other birder's who had come for the same , would have found it , as very little was on the lakes early on . The bird
population went up dramatically , when this skein of about 50 Canada Geese flew in . Fr the first time in several visits , I did not see a Kingfisher this time , but as some compensation , I did find a couple of small flocks of mixed Siskins and Goldfinches . The Siskin numbers are nowhere near what was seen last year , but there's still time for them to grow . Getting a shot with the birds high in
the Alders and very bad light , was difficult . Beyond the Public Hide , I came across a very
confiding Great Creasted Grebe , unusual I find for this species . In front of the Tower Hide I found a large flock of Greylag Geese , many performing their morning ablutions , and even though I checked
each one individually , I couldn't find a single White-fronted . The only variations were a couple with too much white on the bodies , and two Grey Heron statues , standing amongst them . It was too cold
to spend too much time at Slingsby Hide , but whilst there I did see two Reed Buntings including this male that posed for a shot , and in the ditch that should have produced a Water Rail , the best I could
manage was this Wren that would stand a good chance of winning Dancing on Ice , the way it managed to skate over the surface . On the way home , I had some stuff for the tip , and as I was passing the Trout Fishery , made a quick visit , finding the female Long-tailed Duck still in residence . Also found in residence was a second pair of Little Grebes that were feeding very close to the original pair . I tried to get an 'all four' shot , but it proved impossible to get all four on the surface at one time . I did get a 'four' shot with one pair thought , when they surfaced very close to the pair of
 Mute Swans , showing the massive difference in size of the two species . Also on the Fishery today
were two Egyptian Geese . The adult , standing on one of the Barley straw bales put in to attempt to control the Blanket Weed growth , seemed to be displaying to the juvenile standing behind the bale . Of interest , I read today that this species was declared a 'pest' in 2009 . With the temperature dropping like a stone , I headed off home for a hot cuppa .


Alan Pavey said...

Another great account Greenie, lots of good birds from the places you visited, the Mandarins seemed to have dropped in number here recently.

Warren Baker said...

I love that Grebe/Swan photo :-)