Monday, 17 December 2012

Monday 17th. December 2012

I made a decision last night to head for Dungeness today , and set off early down the M20 to avoid the traffic , only to be brought to a standstill just before New Hythe , the aftermath of an accident on each side of the motorway . With nothing moving down the motorway , I managed to slowly work my way over and exited at the New Hythe junction . Reaching the roundabout on the off slip , I then made another bad decision , to spend some time at the East Malling Research Station , where I had Waxwings recently , whilst the motorway sorted itself out . Once off the roundabout , all the local roads were gridlocked and it took over an hour to travel the short distance . Eventually I arrived to find no Waxwings and very few Winter Thrushes , even compared to the small numbers last visit . A
few on the wires and a few on the ground in the orchard beyond the research station buildings . I decided to head back towards the church and then to try Ditton Quarry where Alan had found some birds last week . Adam must have been reading my mind , as he had seen me passing through and texted me with the same thought . The gridlock had by now unlocked itself , but an hour in the quarry produce no sign of Waxwings , even though there were masses of rosehips , on which Alan's birds were feeding .Feeling that today was not going well , I decided to try again for Dungeness , especially as the weather was so good . Halfway down the motorway , another text from Adam , Phil Sharp had just found six Waxwings in the scrub at New Hythe . I decided to carry on , and as it happens , I read tonight that they didn't stay long , so at least that decision was right . Very little was seen driving over Walland Marsh , especially with the low Winter sun and quite a bit of traffic . I arrived at the Arc Pit car park , grabbed a quick lunch , and headed for Hanson Hide , which had the sun behind it . I passed three birders on the way , finding just one in 'Ken's seat' . Very little on the water , but the birder said he had seen a Great White Egret and a Bittern in flight in the last half hour or so . A
couple of minutes later , up popped the GWE again and landed in front of a reedbed to the left of the viewing screen on the far side of the pit . Scanning around , a good number of Wigeon , a few
Gadwall and Tufted Duck and one possibly two female Goldeneye ( pictured ) , but very distant and very mobile . At least two Cetti's Warblers were also heard but as usual not seen , and two Marsh Harriers were hunting well over by the tower . Then all hell broke loose , and from the other side of
the pit , the GWE was flying straight towards the hide , chased by a Grey Heron , who was making most of the noise , but half way over the GWE turned and flew down the pit . It managed to escape
the GH , diving into a reedbed , then later flying back to it's original place , but still at a distance . It would have been good if it had come as close as the Cormorant that had a 'wash and brush up' out
front of the hide , before it too headed off . Heading back to the car , I headed along the road to a spot at the far end of the Arc Pit , where I have been lucky with Smew in previous Winters , but just more of the other species today . On the other side of the road , I think it's called the New Diggings , two more GWEs were seen , one flying in that could have been the Arc Pit bird . Also seen , another
distant sighting , this time a Great Northern Diver , but it stayed well away from the road bank .
Should have checked recent sightings before posting , as it is a Black-throated  Diver rather than a GND . My excuse , very long way off and into the low winter sun . Many thanks  to Mike H for emailing the correction . Another birder pulled up and whilst chatting realised that he too was caught up in the hold up on the M20 too , small world . With the sun going down , and the temperature , I headed for the RSPB Visitor Centre to use the facilities before heading home . Heading back to the car , I spotted a
movement behind the feeders , so got in and waited . A couple of minutes later , this Fox appeared , looking for any morsels below the feeders . When it finished there , it checked out around the picnic
benches , probably a daily routine , and looked very fit on it . My final decision was the route home , the one used to get there or via the A21 . I decided on the latter , wish I had done that this morning , and it was not long before a traffic flash told me I had done the right thing , the M25 at a standstill from Jctn.4  to the Dartford Tunnel and affecting all subsequent routes . Apparently , another 2 lorry accident , air ambulance and the motorway in need of resurfacing . And where was the birder I spoke to from ? Essex . I wonder if he is home yet ?


Warren Baker said...

Well you got a half decent day in the end Greenie, I hate sitting in traffic, a total waste of life!

I like that Fox, you're right, it looks prety healthy :-)

Mike H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ShySongbird said...

It sounded like a rather miserable journey Greenie but an enjoyable visit eventually. Nice to see the GWE, I never have, in fact seeing a Little Egret is still quite a novelty for me, it's not so long since I saw them for the first time!

Lovely to see a much healthier looking Fox on this post than the last one you showed us :-)

Phil said...

Great Northern or Black-throated, either way a super bird to see on a lake in Kent.
The Waxwings didn't hang around at NH so you made the right decision I think.

Ken. said...

Late post. Quite a day you had. Nice to see my seat in the Hanson Hide is now getting recognised. Good pics of the GWE and also a record shot of the Black Throated Diver that has been seen on and off for a while now