Friday, 1 March 2013

Friday 1st March 2013

With yesterday's work day up on the Common , and Saturday and Sunday 'tree laying' on a small Nature Reserve , I decided that despite 'odd spots of drizzle' in the forecast , I would spend the morning at Sevenoaks Reserve , with the main target being the Bittern which has been showing on a regular basis at Long Lake . What I drove through was more like a monsoon than drizzle , and it was no surprise that the car park was empty on my arrival . I headed , full of enthusiasm down the track between the River Darenth and the East Lake . Unfortunately , that enthusiasm diminished very quickly when I spotted a tree surgeon's vehicle on the far side of the river at the junction of Snipe Bog and North Lakes . The sound of chainsaws and smoke from their fire was not what I was hoping for when I set off . I was sure that I was not going to see the Bittern , but still made my way down the track . A pair of Little and three Great Crested Grebes together with the usual Tufted Ducks and Coots were seen on that the East Lake , which was like a mill pond at the time . Reaching the start of Long Lake , I scanned the back edge of the lake , but no sign of the Bittern . I could see something light in colour right down in the corner of the East Lake , but that only turned out to be the white goose with unusual blue/grey on it's wing feathers together with a Canada Goose . Plenty of song on the way down and back , mostly Tits , Wrens and Thrushes . Just Black-headed Gulls and sheep in the fields at the end of the track , and no sign of any Parakeets , perhaps already nesting . Even though the weather hadn't improved any , I retraced my steps , knowing that Willow Hide overlooking Snipe Bog Lake would be a waste of time , I stayed on the main track and on the bend found my first flock of about 25 Siskins , feeding right at the top of the tallest Silver Birches and Alders . Without their constant chatter , it would be very easy to have passed them by . Heading over towards Tyler Hide , it was almost birdless , apart from two Bullfinches calling to each other . I just got to the hide as the drizzle became heavy rain again
 , but scanning the islands did little to warm things up , with lots of BHGulls together with a single Common
and a single Lesser Black-backed . A scan of the grass/bog area to the left revealed lots of Coots and a few Moorhens , but not a single Common Snipe . When the rain returned to drizzle , I made my way down to Sutton/Tower Hide , arriving just as the rain got heavier again . I always hope to find a Bittern in the open when opening the flap , but I had to make do with three Coots and six Teal . The reedbed between there and Slingsby Hide looked very quiet and with another drizzle period and a quick dash , that was exactly how I found it , not even a squeal of a Water Rail . On leaving the hide and taking the lower route back , another smaller flock of Siskins were seen , once again , silhouettes high in the Alders . Another scan of the islands produced ten Shoveler , split equally M/F , the usual Lapwings and a couple of Cormorants . A third flock of Siskins was in the vicinity of Tyler Hide on my way back , as was a calling GSWoodpecker . As I got near the fishermen's car park , something told me to go back to Long Lake , and I took notice . As I passed the contractors , the noise was louder and the smoke thicker , and the drizzle was returning to rain again , brought in by a chilly wind . I would love to report that when I got back to Long Lake , the Bittern was out in the open waiting for me , but it wasn't , and all I got was colder and wetter . I made my way back to the car park without bothering with Carter Hide with all the commotion going on . A look at the feeders outside Grebe Hide failed to find the Marsh Tit , but out on the West Lake , below the hide , eight smart drake
Pochard were dozing , not in the least bothered by the conditions . Another sign of Spring , with Goat
Willow catkins opening , which will provide much welcomed pollen to many insects when fully out .
On the way home , I saw the Common Buzzard , sat out on a post in the horse field , looking pretty miserable , and probably even wetter than I was . One good thing came out of the day though , at least February is out of the way .


Warren Baker said...

Not unlike one of my patch visits Greenie LoL :-)

Chainsaws, bonfires, and wetting drizzle - can only get better mate :-)

Phil said...

I enjoyed your visit to Sevenoaks Greenie. I felt sure you were going to get the Bittern,bad luck!
I'm finally moving this coming Thursday so hopefully I'll start getting out a bit after that. Sevenoaks will be on my short list to visit.

alan woodcock said...

Hi,nice read,shame about the Bittern not showing.

ShySongbird said...

An enjoyable read which kept me guessing until the end Greenie. What with the dire weather and the chainsaw gang it didn't sound the best of days st all, your persistence really deserved to be rewarded but it obviously wasn't your day...better luck next time!