Friday, 10 January 2014

Friday 10th. January 2014

First , a catch up with a couple of visits earlier in the week . Between showers , I made a quick visit to Kelsey Park in Beckenham , where to my surprise several pairs of Grey Heron were busy re-
furbishing their nests , and one pair further into the heronry were even more forward , noisily mating .
Just one Mandarin , a male was seen . On the way home , I visited the site just outside Bromley where a Water Rail over-Wintered last year , but work on the large Willows on the island had flattened the reedbed that the Rail used , and there was no sign this visit , making do with just a fleeting glimpse of a Grey Wagtail . I also did the Down House bird survey , finding a better than average 21 species , none of which were out of the ordinary and only 3 Fieldfares counted . The Sandwalk woodland had taken a hemmering in the recent gales , having lost two large Beech trees and limbs torn from others , but it also held two Roe Deer . One skipped off before I could raise the
camera , but the other 'hid' behind a tree , no doubt thinking I couldn't see it . But a couple of seconds later , two rear ends were reaching the far end of the adjacent horse field . As usual , I stopped at
Keston Ponds on the way home , finding a juvenile Cormorant , the first I've seen on the site , sitting on a post in the middle pond . Being normally very wary , I took a wide swing around the pond to get closer , only to find a group of walkers standing 10-15 metres away from the bird taking photos . Even as they left it took no notice , so as I was wearing wellingtons , I waded out to get the above shot and still it didn't fly off . The walkers had told me that the bird had caught three fish when they
stopped earlier , and whilst I watched , it caught a small Roach for a starter and followed that with a
Perch for the main course . Having swallowed the Perch , it flew back to it's favoured perch to digest
it's meal and dry off , and that's how I left it .
This morning , with the sun shining , I headed for Sevenoaks Reserve to make the most of the day before the cloud and rain returned . I headed for Tyler Hide first , finding the mixed Goose flock ,
Lapwing and mixed Gull flock occupying the closest islands , but also a few Common Snipe , tucked in amongst the coppiced Willow . The walk down to Sutton Hide was very quiet apart from small flocks of Chaffinch and the odd Tit species . The mist was still rising from the reedbed  and the sun was just climbing over the trees , just a shame that a Bittern or Water Rail wasn't showing , just more
Greylag Geese . Slingsby Hide was still in shadow , so I didn't hang around too long . On the return loop through the woods , I did find three Siskin , quietly feeding high in the Alders , and they proved
to be the only ones seen during the visit , surprisingly as numbers of 100+ have been seen in previous years . I headed next for Willow Hide , following along the side of the West and North Lake , only to find the path closed at the small bridge just before Snipe Bog Lake due to erosion . I retraced my steps and took the other route between the East Lake and the River Darenth . I finally reached Willow Hide , only to find very little on Snipe Bog Lake , apart from plenty of water . A scan of the fields beyond the far bank though , did produce at least 12 newly born lambs , which seems incredibly
early , especially with colder weather in the pipeline . Back towards the East Lake , a small bird flew
up from the track and I just managed to fire off one shot before it disappeared , from which I was able to confirm my first Common Redpoll of this Winter . Almost at the car park and at a point where a
Jay can often be seen , one flew into the tall trees alongside the East Lake . Unusually , it took no notice of me and flew closer and closer , allowing me to fire off several shots . Leaving the car park
and along the track several Redwings were seen , some feeding on the ripe Ivy berries , whilst others
preferred the bright red Cotoneaster berries at the livery stables where the track meets the road . Interestingly , Blackbird , Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush were also seen along the track , feeding on the berries and on the ground in the horse paddocks .


Warren Baker said...

Plenty to keep up the interest out there then Greenie, and lots to point the camera at!

Phil said...

A nice round up of visits Greenie. If I wore one, I would take my hat off to you for getting shots of Jay and Redwing, two species that always evade me.

Alan Pavey said...

Great set of pics Greenie, I hope the Herons come back here this year quite a few of the nests have been lost in the recent winds :-(