Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Tuesday 16th. April 2013

An 0430 alarm call , and I was off to help fellow hedgelayer Roger with a bird survey on farmland around Bewl Water Reservoir , near Lamberhurst , Kent . No sooner had I got on the road , drizzle started to fall , and it continued intermittently all the way down to the site . Added to that , the wind was really gusty , and cool . We set off on a three hour survey in some really good bird habitat , a mixture of water , farmland and woods , but as I say the conditions were not conducive to birding . In all , 33 species were recorded , with many expected species missing . Good numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were recorded , but these were the only migrants that were . There were a few highlights , including a drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that was very difficult to spot in the gloom , but Roger managed to get it in the binoculars just before it flew off . My contribution was a
flyover Red Kite , at distance and in the gloom , the shots I quickly fired off produced just a silhouette of the bird , but no question of the species . In the woodland areas , large areas were
carpeted with Wood Anemones - Anenome nemorosa , a member of the Buttercup family , but with no sunshine , their flowers were closed tightly . Amongst the Bluebells , 10/15 spikes of Early Purple
Orchid - Orchis mascula  , not yet in flower were a good find as they hadn't been recorded before on site . By the time we finished the survey , conditions had hardly improved from when we started . As I would be almost passing , I called in at the 'Tree laying' Reserve for a look around . The area around the feeders were much quieter , with just a single male Siskin seen , and Tits , Chaffinches and
Goldfinches taking the opportunity to gorge on the food provided . A look under the refugia produced a juvenile Smooth Newt , A Common Shrew that didn't hang around , and three juvenile Great
Crested Newts together with a juvenile Slow Worm , all warming up together . The best sighting was an all too brief glimpse of a Stoat . It appeared to go into a wood pile , which I staked out for quite some time , before moving on without another sighting , perhaps next visit . A sub adult Grass Snake
was little compensation . A male Pheasant was strutting around the place as if he owned it , but he did
look very dapper in his breeding plumage . A bit more colour on the flower front , with the yellow Lesser Celandine being joined by the first Common Dog Violets - Viola riviniana that I have seen
this year . By the time I left , there was very little improvement in the weather , and that was born out when I stopped on the causeway at Bough Beech on my way home . The wind was coming straight down the reservoir , and it was chilly . I did find some shelter around the Visitor Centre and also saw
my second Swallow of the year , being blown past me . Apart from that , just two more Grass Snakes that slither quickly away before they got into the viewfinder , and as I returned to the car , a very
confiding 'cock Sparrow' , one of several that are usually found at the entrance . Heading home over the Greensand Ridge , the skies began to brighten , and I arrived home to sunshine , that Carol informed me had been out since lunchtime . Can't win them all came to mind .


Marc Heath said...

A Red Kite, a stunner, a pity the sun didn't shine on that occasion.

Warren Baker said...

Ive been scanning the sky fruitlessly for red Kite all month greenie, nice one.

Wasn't the weather crap this morning!

Alan Pavey said...

Great to pick up the Red Kite, like Warren I keep scanning :-)

ShySongbird said...

Not the best of conditions for your survey Greenie but you made the most of the day regardless. The Red Kite and LSW were very nice rewards.

Lovely to see the Dog Violets I have yet to see them this year although I haven't been able to look for a few days.