Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Wednesday 12th. December 2012

A round up of the last few days starts with an afternoon visit to Sevenoaks Reserve , in the hope of seeing the Bittern which was seen recently and some Siskins , which seem to be fewer in number so far this Winter . Needless to say , I did not see the Bittern , or much other than the usual waterfowl and gulls , apart from two Kingfishers , which flew straight across Long Lake towards me before doing a 'u turn' and heading back from whence they came . I got them in the viewfinder , but the AF couldn't cope with them coming straight on , so sadly no shots . As I walked round I checked the
Alders for Siskins , but only a single Goldcrest was found , and finding nothing else of interest , made my way back to the car . Then , close to the fishermen's carpark , the chatter of Siskins was finally heard . It was a very mobile flock of 40/50 , which is the largest I have seen there so far , and for
once , a few birds were feeding in the open , rather than their usual thing of being at least half
concealed , but still very high in the tree . On the track leaving the reserve , several Woodpigeons
were gorging themselves on the Ivy berries . Whilst on site , I received a text from Adam / East Malling , Ditton and Barming , that a good sized flock of Waxwings had been found at his place of work , East Malling Research Station , but it was too late to get over then , so started planning for this morning . With freezing fog and cloud , the forecast was not good , but waking to a hard frost but clear , I decided to give it a go . En route , a text from Adam saying that he found 31 birds when he arrived was music to my ears , but further texts of 'flighty' , 'flown off' and 'only 3 returned' , was not what I was hoping to hear . On arrival the car thermometer was showing -2C , but several layers of clothing was donned and I headed for the area that Adam had indicated , which was bereft of Waxwings . In fact , the number of Winter Thrushes seen on the way was also very low , but it was noticeable that there was far less fruit on the trees and on the ground than there has been in previous years . I kept moving up and down the road , as much to keep warm as anything , when another birder appeared , no less than Phil Sharp / Sharp by Nature , who I haven't seen for ages , so it was good to catch up whilst we waited . Then Phil said that he could hear trilling , and a few seconds later 8 Waxwings few into the Silver Birch close by . We fired off a few shots , and they were gone , not
even coming down to the Guelder Rose berries below . I wasn't too worried as the flock I photographed 10 days ago often flew off , only to return after a short while . Unfortunately , these birds hadn't read the book and some time passed . We took the opportunity to get some Fieldfare
shots , but these too were very flighty and always kept at a good distance . As Phil mentioned at the time , they usually manage to get something between themselves and the camera . A bit later , 5
Waxwings flew in and landed in the Silver Birch and although they stayed a bit longer , a passing car
spooked them and they too were gone , and they was the only sightings of the birds whilst I was there . Phil and I gave it a bit longer , but that blue sky turned cloudy and the temperature dropped again . Phil decided to head for New Hythe and I walked back to the cars with him , before checking out the houses on the edge of the site , as a couple of years ago , the birds were feeding on ornamental berries in the gardens , but there was no sign this time , although plenty of berries . I the drove around to the other entrance to the Research Station and had 'lunch on the go' , whilst checking out the orchards . A few more Winter Thrushes were found , but no Waxwings . I returned to where I had originally parked and retraced my morning steps along the footpath , finding less birds than before ,
but managed to find a few Redwing , often being chased off by the larger , noisier Fieldfares , who
acted as if they owned the area , guarding their area of fallen apples . I met two other small groups of birders , neither of which had seen or heard Waxwings , but like me , frozen solid . I also met up with Adam and Ross / The Bald Birder , out at lunchtime , hoping to find the flock , but even with their local knowledge no Waxwings were found , and there was also a cameo appearance from Rambling in Kent by Twisden . I decided to call it a day and headed back to the car , but got waylayed around the church graveyard , trying to find a Nuthatch that was calling , apparently quite a rarity in the area and watching the inter-action between theFieldfares and a Green Woodpecker . My last shots taken were of a beautiful Mistle Thrush , high in a tree , eating Mistletoe
berries and wiping it's bill on the branch to get rid of the seeds , exactly what it says on the wrapper .
Many thanks to Adam for putting out the news and for the resulting impromptu 'Blogger-fest' .


Warren Baker said...

Well you got most of your target species Greenie, and it must be nice to meet up with fellow birders/bloggers for chat :-)

That was bloody cold this morning !!

Edwin Whitefield said...

Hi Fred
Nice to talk briefly with you at EMR.
Our group has split into two sections,those with Plantar Faciitis and those without.The smaller group is Cycling WX permitting,but today we walked with no ill effect..
GP aka cycling Twisden

Phil said...

Good to meet up again today Greenie. My visit to NH was uneventful but a fisherman told me he had just seen a bittern on brooklands lake. I failed to confirm it.

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ShySongbird said...

That was a bumper blog fest Greenie! You're getting greedy with these Waxwings now ;-) I still haven't found one! A nice selection of photos, the Winter thrushes are too flighty for photos here so far. Good to see the Siskins.

Marc Heath said...

Great account Greenie with a nice bunch of photos. How I would love to see a Fox up close in the snow. That would be on my list of wanted photos for next year.