Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday 25th. January 2013

Looking through the sightings on the KOS site last night , two entries caught my attention . Seven Common Cranes were seen from the raptor viewpoint at Capel Fleet and Adam / East Malling , Ditton and Barming , had obviously released one of the Hawfinches from the box , to have a fly around the churchyard at Barming . I decided to marry the two together , and set off early this morning , arriving at the churchyard shortly after 8 o'clock . I wasn't too hopeful , as there was no bike resting against the churchyard gate , but got my gear and had a wander around the site . It was very cold and the light was poor , and for an hour and a half , no sign of a Hawfinch . I was getting ready to give up , when a single bird in the trees at the back of the churchyard caught my attention . I
hadn't seen it fly in , it seemed to just appear . I had just enough time to raise the camera and fire off a few shots , before it was gone again , heading down towards the river . I waited another 20 minutes or so , but it did not return . During the visit , I also had two Mute Swan , two Lapwing and a single Cormorant fly over , and Adam's feeders were busy , but only with Tits and Robins . A Goldcrest was 'ballet dancing' in the trees alongside the car park as I left . I arrived at Capel Fleet in slightly better conditions , but only slightly . Three birders were parked up on the top of the hill before the Fleet , who informed me that the Cranes were 'out there' and also that there were good numbers of White-fronted Geese 'out there' as well . Unfortunately , 'out there' is quite a big place at Sheppey , so I did my usual slow cruise past the raptor viewpoint and down to the Ferry Boat Inn , not finding a lot to be truthful . I turned around and headed back to the viewpoint , seeing Red-legged Partridge and lots of Woodpigeon on the way . I parked up at the viewpoint , to find a mixed flock of Reed Bunting ,
Meadow Pipit and Corn Bunting in the reeds along the roadside ditch , a female Reed Bunting pictured . Later , in the same ditch , two Green Sandpiper and a Little Egret were also seen . Walking
up to the viewpoint , a male Marsh Harrier flew effortlessly by , no doubt struggling to find food with most ditches still frozen over . With six or seven pairs of eyes searching , it wasn't long before the Cranes were spotted , at a good distance and alongside vegetation which made them almost invisible . A short time later , all seven took to the air , this time landing on the edge of a snow covered field ,
which made them more visible , but the light and distance was the problem . A few minutes later , and they were off again , but in flight it was easier to get some detail on the birds . This became the
norm , landed for 5/10 minutes then flying around , sometimes landing back in the original pace . I didn't mind though , as it was my first sighting of the species . The White-fronted Geese could also be seen from the mound , but they were even more distant than the Cranes . In the other direction , 3 Bewick Swans were in the field over towards Leysdown , but once again , distance was the problem ,
the Bewicks are the three on the right of the poor shot . The Crane sightings became more and more distant , and my extremities were getting colder and colder in a bitter wind , so I decided to get back to the car and moved down the lane towards the Fleet for a sandwich and cup of hot soup . On the
way , I passed 22 Corn Bunting sat on the wires , with a single individual atop a Bramble bush . Whilst having my lunch , the Cranes lifted off again , this time , after flying in circles for some time , headed way into the distance in the direction of RSPB Elmley . I was also treated to another Marsh

Harrier flyby , this time a female , and also by an almost equally sized Great Black-backed Gull . On the way back up the hill above the Fleet , several Winter Thrushes were fossicking under the

hedgerows , having stripped just about every berry from the bushed that were heavily ladened on my last visit . It was very evident the lack of Redwings this winter , with the Fieldfares the dominant species by far . I had intended to see if I could find the Cranes again on Elmley , but found the reserve closed , no reason given . I diverted back to the churchyard on my way home , but with it getting even colder and duller , if that was possible , just Greenfinch , Chaffinch and Goldfinch were seen , not their sought after relation .
Tomorrow , weather permitting , we hope to finish the Byfleet hedge , postponed from last Saturday by the weather , that is if everyone can get there !


Wilma said...

Love the cranes! Also like the "slip of the tongue" in you title. That's a good name for the last workday of the week! ;-)

ShySongbird said...

Well done on the Hawfinch and the Cranes Greenie neither of which I have ever seen although I wouldn't have expected to see Cranes of course. Hopefully, as the Great Crane Project progresses these impressive birds will widen their range and more of us will see them, I would love to!

I too have noticed there are far more Fieldfare than Redwing around and observed the same in this area the last two years also, I wondered if anyone else had found the same.

A very interesting post Greenie.

Warren Baker said...

Hi Greenie,
I went to see the Hawfinch for myself today (Sat) But didn't!!

Ken. said...

It might have been gloomy snow covered day when you went to see the Cranes but I think the snowy scenic shots are very picturess. None of the birders that I spoke to when I was there had seen the Bewicks, so well done.
Great job with the Hawfinch, well worth the wait albeit a bit chilly.