Monday, 27 February 2012

Monday 27th. February 2012

Gone was the weekend of Spring , it was back to the grey of Winter again this morning , and even though the car thermometer read 9C , it didn't feel anything like that . After an early visit to the tip with the result of Carol's 'spring clean' of the back garden over the last couple of days , I set off for Sevenoaks Reserve , which has become a regular site to visit over this Winter , and usually on a Monday . A few Siskins and possible Redpolls were feeding in the Alders near the Visitor Centre , and skulking below the feeders by Grebe Hide was this magnificent male Pheasant , dressed in all his
finery . Plenty of birdsong despite the gloom , and a look from the viewpoint at the end of the East Lake showed small numbers of waterfowl spread around the lake , no longer confined to small areas of open water . A flyby Kingfisher and a Little Egret fishing near the island were a good start . As I walked down the track between East Lake and The Darenth , the Greylag Geese that were down by
 the spit decided it was time to head off to the fields , and took off in twos and threes . The three
Mute Swans that were on East Lake also decided to move into the small pond alongside the Darenth .
No excitement on Long Lake , so I returned and crossed the Darenth to have a look from Willow Hide . Now , I don't know if it says something about me , but as soon as I got settled in , the pair of
Canada Geese that were out in front decided to depart too , was it something I said ? At least the two
male Pochard stayed put , but would have looked so much better with a bit of sun shining on their plumage . I wasn't expecting the Goosander to be still there , so wasn't disappointed at their absence . Also not showing was the Bittern . Walking back on the other track alongside the West Lake , a Song
Thrush was in full song , just where the river runs out of the lake . On the way to the Public Hide ,
another small flock of Siskins , this male looking sadly rather drab in the conditions . The usual Lapwing and Gulls from the hide along with a minimum of 20 Common Snipe feeding amongst the
grass tussocks and marshy areas . A last sweep of the islands found a single redhead Goosander on
one island , and a Cormorant playing 'King of the Castle' on Cairn Island . Out on the water , there
were at least three pairs of Great Crested Grebe displaying to each other , one of the pairs were starting to collect nesting materials , and whenever either of the other pairs got too close , a chase
ensued , until the intruders were far enough away to satisfy the nest builders . At one point , the nest building pair swan over to the side of the hide and displayed , then moved into the overhanging
trees , and I'm sure performed the 'weed dance' , but with so much in the way , I could not be sure .
Just my luck , last time was branches and right into the sun , so all I got was a silhouette . The pair
returned to the nest building , and I had to be satisfied with a Little Egret that flew across into the same area . I could have done with two other birders in the hide to watch the three pairs of GCGrebes , but on my own , I had to keep moving from one pair to the next . Patience finally paid off , when I returned at one time to the nest building pair , who were further away than their nest
site , but swimming towards each other with weed in their bills , and gotcha , I finally managed to get a few shots , albeit at distance . The whole thing only lasted eight shots of continuous shooting , but it's by far the best I have managed so far . Next time , right outside the hide please . Elated , and
cold , a last scan around the islands found three Common Snipe feeding on the edge of the nearest island , that was until someone on the building site dropped something on the building site behind the Bittern's reedbed , that made one hell of a clang , and everything on the lake , and probably the Reserve , took off . That was my cue to make my way back to the warmth of the car , and headed home .


Warren Baker said...

Got the grebe dance then Greenie :-) Makes it worth being cold for when you achieve your goal ;-)

ShySongbird said...

Well done with the GCGs Greenie, your patience was rewarded.

Lovely to see the Song Thrush in full flow, I love their song, so cheering I think.

The Pheasant was looking very handsome.

Phil said...

Full marks for persistence with the GCG's Greenie.
Bewl water is a good place to watch them performing, hope to be up there for some Trout fishing soon. Will take the camera just in case.

Robin R Robinson said...

Love the Great Crested Grebes in their behavioral portraits. Nice job! I'd love to see those guys and gals. We don't have them here in Maine. Well, not to date we don't. Birding has gotten so strange with climate changes that who knows: maybe we will have GCgrebes here before we know it!