Monday, 13 February 2012

Monday 13th. February 2012

Having been in all day yesterday , I was none too pleased when I looked outside this morning to find mist shrouding everything . Regardless , when ready , I dropped Carol in the town and headed off to Sevenoaks Reserve . 3C was showing on the car thermometer , but I must admit . it didn't feel like it . A quick look from Grebe Hide , showed the West lake completely freozen over . A first scan from the viewpoint just beyond the car park , showed the East Lake almost the same , but with a small area of open water beyond the Public Hide . I knew that Snipe Bog Lake would be frozen over , so decided to head for the open water , rather than to Willow Hide , as is my usual first stop . As I made my way gingerly along the very slippery path , a Moorhen below in the marshy area caught my eye , the caught a glimpse of a Water Rail scrambling to hide amongst the fallen trees . As I tried to get another view of the Water Rail , a Woodcock flew off from the ground and in seconds was gone . Not only was the Water Rail my first sighting here this winter , but the Woodcock was a first ever on site for me . Reaching the Public Hide , the open water began some 15 metres beyond the end of the hide , and had attracted just about every one of the more common duck species  on the site , along with the usual Black-headed and Common Gulls , mostly engaged in their ablutions , but no sign of
any Goosanders . Way out in the middle of the lake 'life and death' was being played out , with two Carrion Crows picking over the carcass of what looked like an unfortunate goose . The open water extended into the bay behind the trees towards Tower Hide , so I made my way there . More of the common ducks , Little and Great Crested Grebes were diving for food around the margins and a few
Canada and the strange white Goose were also found . The walk to Tower and Slingsby Hides was uneventful , apart from several Wrens and the constant chatter of Siskins , high in the Alders .From Tower Hide , all viewable water was frozen and the only movement was a Rabbit trying to find
something that wasn't frozen solid to eat . The sentry at Slingsby Hide seems to have got a mate , so watch this space . I decided to head for Willow Hide , knowing in my mind that there would be nothing there , and there wasn't . Along the River Darenth , I found 3 Grey Herons , 2 saw me at the
same time as I saw them , but I just managed to get the drop on the third one , nearly . Back on the main path , the sound of geese arriving from over the visitor centre , had me watching to see where they would land , but aftter one lap of the East Lake , they seemed to decide on the fields beyond Long Lake . But , just as the tail enders disappeared from view , three birds flew in , and settled straight away on the open water that I had left 20 minutes ago . Trying to walk fast on the frozen paths was interesting , but I made it back to the Public Hide in one piece . Looking out onto the
water , nothing had changed , apart from an assembly of Coot , just on the brow of the slope down to the water . No sign of the thre birds that had flown in , so I headed back to the bay , out of sight from the hide , and after carelully doing a bit of 'Ray Mears' , managed to get behind a tree , and there
were a drake and a redhead Goosander . The other redhead was about too , and things were going fine , until another birder watched straight out into the open , and all three took flight . They kept low , so , hoping that they would land in front of the hide , I hot footed it back , where I found another couple of birder/photographers , with lenes that made mine look like a toy . 'Did they land ?' I asked . ' No , they flew one around the whole lake , and landed back behind the trees , where I had just come from . Back I headed , and this time , with a bit more 'Ray Mears' , found the three of them
hauled out on the ice . There was I happily taking shots , when the first birder returns from the direction of Tower Hide , and all three Goosanders moved off again , this time on the water , towards the Public Hide . Back I head to the hide , only to find the Goosanders are now diving under the ice , about level with the overhanging trees . Whilst waiting for their next move , a Common Snipe flies from below the hide to the first small island , and staright away gets amongst the vegetation . The other two birders and I comment that they never come out completely into the open . A little while
later , the Snipe steps out onto the ice , and starts walking back to where it had flown from
originally . It covered the 10 metres or so at a leisurly pace , disappearing from view behind the raised ground . That's the last time I comment on Snipe behaviour . A group then arrived at the hide and were keen to see the Goosanders , but they stayed their distance . I decided to go back to the
bay , and once again managed to get a few shots . I had to be home by lunchtime as I had an appiontment this afternoon , but heading towards the car park , I just had to have one last look from
the hide , and was presented with the drake almost as close as the ice would allow , but only very briefly before he swam down to the other end again . I know I was lucky to get what I did , but , if
only the sun had been out . The same goes for the Siskin shot taken on the way back to the car . The good news though , a noticeable thaw was under way .


Rohrerbot said...

Looks like a pretty active day. Great pics of your trek. Thanks for sharing.

Rob said...

Congrats on the Water Rail and Woodcock, Greenie. An excellent winter day's birding!

Phil said...

Nice work Ray, sorry I mean Greenie.
It's only ever a quick view of a Woodcock in my short experience, but good nonetheless.
Nice Goosander shots and looking forward to the baby Robins!

Warren Baker said...

Its always a 'rush' when you get a new sight bird greenie, Woodcock is agood one to get too. :-) Hoping I get a Goosander drop in later this month when the lakes defrost!

Marc Heath said...

A nice report and photos. I'm hoping for a Goosander at Reculver soon, although the weather appears to be warming up so maybe some birds maybe on the move.

Alan Pavey said...

Nice post Greenie, very eventful. Well done with the Woodcock as Warren says nice to see a new patch bird. Great selection of pics too. That Snipe does look a bit out place with no tufts of grass in front of it :-)

ShySongbird said...

Another excellent day, Greenie! What a treat to see the Snipe properly and to get closer to the Goosanders too, well done with the photos. Good news on the Robin, there may be some nice family photos to come then eventually.