Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tuesday 7th. February 2012

Well , at least the car thermometer was reading above 0C as I pulled into the car park at Sevenoaks Reserve this morning , positively barmy after a previous visit at -5C . Mind you , there was still plenty of lying snow , and large areas of all the lakes were frozen over . The smaller lakes , like Snipe Bog Lake , only had a small area of open water to the left of the island , but there was little around using it .
Keeping the area open was helped greatly by the pair of Mute Swans , and a juvenile paddling around . Usually a good place for wildfowl , today , only only a pair of Mallard and two pair of
Gadwall , all four sleeping on the ice , were all that could be seen . The Coots were arguing as usual ,
and a Great-crested Grebe was having a good preening session , before it nodded off . It was looking as if it was going to be a non eventful day . Then , whilst I was watching a female Blackbird ,
fossicking for something to eat at the side of the path , another common species dropped down from the overhanging trees and began feeding on seed heads . It was a Goldfinch , but probably the most
confiding specimen that I have ever come across . As long as I kept my distance , I was able to follow the bird as it went about it's business , but I obviously got too near at one point , and that was the last I saw of it . The fields at the end of the East Lake contained , snow , not a single goose in sight . The West Lake wasn't very productive either , but it did contain 4 Little Grebe , 3 of them
heading away in line abreast when they caught sight of me . The second of two Kingfisher sightings was obtained near the bridge where the river Darenth leaves the lake . Close to the car park , Siskins
could be heard in the Alders , so I got the sun behind me and attempted a few shots . All was going well in the sunshine , listening to the Siskins , as they chatted constantly between themselves .
Trouble was , that all that chattering attracted another species , when a Sparrowhawk appeared out of nowhere , and the Siskins took evasive action . The walk around the other hides was very quiet , apart from more Siskins , or the same ones , in the Alders between the Public and Tower hides . No sign of the Goosanders at the far end today , nor of the Water Rail . The walk back to the car was equally quiet . A hot coffee , and I was off back to Willow hide . Although the reedbeds were now in full sun , the Bittern once again didn't show . The Grey Heron that had appeared since earlier , was
obviously feeling the cold from the look of it . Mind you , I don't think my feet were much warmer by this time . The only excitement at this second visit to Willow Hide was when a Sparrowhawk
crashed into the trees on the island , without catching it's prey , and for once , sat briefly before flying off . I forgot to mention them last visit , but in the fields behind Snipe Bog Lake , lambs are behaving

like young lambs do , quite bizarre , given the snow covering . And finally , a bracket fungus found on an Alder along the bank of the Darenth , Artist's Fungus / Ganoderma applanatum , not good news
for the Alder . On the way back home , the sky at the top of Polhill and Old London Road , towards Bromley , was almost grey with large flocks of Winter Thrushes .


Warren Baker said...

That was one chilly day today Greenie. I see the Sprawks are paying you some attention now, they always turn up when you dont want them too !

Marc Heath said...

A great account with some nice wintry shots. I bet the lambs wonder what the heck is going on!

Simon said...

That certainly was a cold one today wasn't it?! Felt like -10 out on the marshes!!! Nice shots, I love the Sevenoaks reserve! Great Goldfinch photo - if fancy getting close to Goldfinches, the feeders at Northward Hill are perfect!

Rob said...

The heron does look chilly - wearing a coat of icicles, at first glance!

Alan Pavey said...

Nice post Greenie, you did well to catch the Sparrowhawk before it moved on and like the Siskins, struggling to find them here at the moment, just half a dozen yesterday.

ShySongbird said...

A very enjoyable and well illustrated post again Greenie. It did sound very inhospitable weather wise!

That is a lovely photo of the Goldfinch and also the Heron, Rob is spot on regarding the look of icicles.

Siskins never seem to be in evidence here.