Monday, 20 February 2012

Monday 20th. February 2012

Firstly , catching up on a busy weekend . Whilst hedgelaying down off the Hog's Back in Surrey , had several Skylarks , singing and displaying . Managed to get the job finished just as the rain rolled in . Sunday spent resiting the tins and felt refugia , yes it's that time already , up on the Greensand Ridge , and recorded our first reptile of the season , a tailless Common Lizard , and Carol had another visit from the male Blackcap on the Callicarpa berries .I had planned to visit Sevenoaks Reserve today , and was pleased to read that 7 Goosander ( 5M,2F ) had been seen yesterday . Arriving just after 0730 and a temperature of -3C , it wasn't a surprise that much of all the lakes had frozen over again , but the good news was that the sky was cloudless , as
can be seen from this GSWoodpecker shot , as it warmed up in the sunshine . First decision , which way first ? As the Goosanders flew in about 1000 on my last visit , I decided to spend some time at Willow Hide first . As I approached , it could be seen that there was more open water than last time ,
but I wasn't expecting my first scan of the lake to produce all 7 Goosanders , most of them still dozing on the edge of the frozen surface . It wasn't long though before the alarm clock must have
gone off , and the group started to break up . These three drakes started the day gently with a bit of
preening , whereas the two redheads took themselves off behind the island , no doubt to look for
breakfast . It wasn't too long though before the drakes got their act together and moved off to join the redheads . It was interesting to watch the group feed along the reedbeds at the back of the lake , then
return to an area more in the middle to preen , doze , then , one by one make their way back to feed again . When things got quiet , there always seemed to be a supporting act , like a Kingfisher , which
I am glad to say , was finding plenty to eat along the far bank , behind the island . Shame was , everything was frozen solid on the hide side of the lake , so there was no chance of a shot on the
perches just out front of the hide . The nearest it came was on the side of the tree that stands on the
island . Another distraction was a constantly overflying Jay , landing in a large Oak in the field with lambs in it . I had also been watching the reedbeds for the Bittern , which also had been seen yesterday , without success , until a slight movement in a reedbed that I haven't seen it in before ,
gave away it's presence . As on previous occasions , a long way from the lens , and this time it never did come out of the reedbed , it seemed to warm up in the sun for about 10 minutes , then disappeared , not to be seen by me again . The last was a Mute Swan , one of three on the lake ,
which took off , did a couple of circuits , then decided to land back down again , but seemed to be having a problem with the air breaks , with the frozen surface coming up quick . Fortunately the sun had been thinning the ice , and although it did finish up hitting the ice , it wasn't injured . I could have stayed all day watching the Goosander and the supporting acts , but I needed to be back home by lunchtime , but before leaving the hide , the Goosanders went into another feeding frenzy , this
time on the edge of the island , where they seemed to be finding plenty to eat . Just a very quick stop
 to see how the Scarlet Elf Cup / Sarcoscypha coccinea , was getting on , very nice by the look of it .
I must admit , I was very pleased to get back to the car , and it's heater , my feet were frozen .


Warren Baker said...

You snapped that jay well greenie, pity its wings weren't on the upwards motion to catch the blue bits :-)

Warren Baker said...

I mean downward motion!!

Tim James said...

A Common Lizard out already. Personally, I can't wait for the adders to wake up.

Marc Heath said...

A great selection of shots, very nice indeed.

Paul said...

Looks like you had a good session at Sevenoaks mate, especially with all those Goossanders too.

I had my 1st adder sighting/photos on the 16th of February, an adult male.
This coming Thursday and Friday should be really warm(above 15 degrees celsius)so I would image that several reptiles will be out basking in those types of higher than average February temps. I will be out scanning, so I hope you will be too, cheers Paul.

ShySongbird said...

You had a rewarding visit and took some very nice photos too. I would love to get a photo of a Kingfisher...any photo! I particularly like your first one.

Well done on finding the Goosanders so quickly and that is a lovely action shot of the Mute Swan.

Reptiles already! I can't believe we are nearly in March.

Lovely to see the Scarlet Elf Cups are doing well.