Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Wednesday 14th. January 2015

A pictorial catch up on a few recent outings .
A windy Bough Beech , full to overflowing now , produced very little apart from one redhead Goosander , at distance on the main reservoir .
Moving on to the feeders in the woods , at last my first Siskin of the Winter , still no Redpoll or Brambling .
It wasn't long before the Bank Voles appeared , looking for spillage from the feeders . Their MO was
to fill their pouches with as many seeds as possible , before heading off to deposit them in their store .
Mind you , sometimes it was a case of first come , first served .
It took quite some time for the Nuthatch to work up the courage to come in , but he did .
No such problem for the Marsh Tits .
Since the last post , I have returned to Kelsey Park on two occasions to try for the Firecrest in better light conditions . Although sighted once since , no sign on my visits . Whilst waiting :

In The Beck , under the overhanging vegetation , a Little Grebe , already showing signs of breeding plumage , caught , and was fastidiously washing what looked like a 3 spined Stickleback , before swallowing . Highest Mandarin count now 21 .
Stock Doves like this one already thinking about breeding .
Two Grey Squirrel who seemed to be de-lousing each other .
A male , determined by size , Egyptian Goose , constantly 'cackling' , as he watched his partner
getting into a bit of a flap after a wash and brush-up .
A very cold bird survey at Down House , only produced 15 species , and not a single Winter visitor .
Today's sunny start encouraged a visit to Sevenoaks Reserve . No cars in the car park wasn't a good omen .
From Willow Hide , only interest , a few male Shoveler .
A walk down to the 5 bar gate found the juvenile American White Ibis still on site , and quite close .
The first island from Tyler Hide produced a count of 67 Common Snipe , 19 in this shot . No doubt there were many more both on this island and others .
From the view-point between Tyler and Sutton Hides , distant views of the Goosander pair on the East Lake that have been around for a few days now .
And finally , two Jays along the track on the way back to the car park .

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Wednesday 7th. January 2015

Having dropped Carol off at a friend's and with the weather decidedly on the turn , I stopped off for a look around Kelsey Park in Beckenham , in the hope of finding the Firecrest that was seen there last Monday . Having driven through rain to get there , the wet stuff caught up with me just as I got out of the car . I could almost see the bridge where the bird was sighted , but when I got there , the only
sighting was a very brazen Brown Rat feeding on some crumbs on the bridge , which only moved on when I got within touching distance . On either side of the bridge , a minimum of 19 Mandarin Duck were counted on The Beck along with a similar number of Mallard types . After about 15 minutes in the area , a lady stopped and surprisingly asked if I was looking for the Firecrest , as she had spoken to a couple of birders yesterday that were looking for it . As we talked she asked ' Is that it there ? ' . Looking into the what light there was , all I could make out was a small bird 'ballet dancing' in a nearby tree . ' Could be I replied ' and with that it flew back towards the bridge . The lady continued on her walk , and I headed towards the bridge . After a few minutes , a movement in a shrub caught my attention , and in the mirk , I finally managed to get binoculars on the bird and saw the orange
crest and more importantly , the white eye stripes . As usual with ' Crests ' , it didn't stop moving and that with the poor light made capturing any sort of shot almost impossible . I just tried to follow it , firing off shots , in the vain hope that it would come to rest . Most were rubbish , and many never even had the bird in them when looking back , but just one caught the bird , just before it moved off
again . After a couple of minutes it disappeared and even though I returned several times to the area , I never caught sight if it again . A walk around the lake and The Beck where it leaves the lake , found just the expected waterbirds , until I crossed the last bridge but one , and found a black duck with a
bottle green head , having a wash and brush up in The Beck , something I wasn't expecting . Even
more unexpected was when it had a shake down , revealing green and blue colouration all over . A group of walkers stopped as I was photographing it and asked what species it was . ' I haven't got a clue ' was my reply ' but I hope Google will be able to tell me when I get home ' . The duck seemed to
be part of a double act with an American Peking Duck type , one following the other's every move . My last shot was looking down The Beck from that bridge , with over half of the Mandarin seen
earlier , interspersed with some of the Mallard types . Back home , ' iridescent green duck ' was entered into Google and up popped Cayuga Duck , a resident of North America  and first seen I here at the Great Exhibition of 1851 . Almost definitely both escapees , but , could they possibly have teamed up with the American White Ibis at Sevenoaks Reserve for the flight over ??

Friday, 2 January 2015

Friday 2nd January 2015

A catch up on a few recent outings .
A trip to Kelsey Park in Beckenham found a handful of Redwings feeding on Holly berries , but definitely not in the mood to be photographed . Most of the lake was frozen over , but The Beck ,
which flows into the lake remained free of ice and most species were concentrated there , including at
least 18 Mandarin . The females looking very smart in their new livery , but as usual , the more
numerous males were not to be outdone for colour . It wasn't even New Year but the Grey Heron
were already taking possession of several of the nests on the island heronry .
A very cold look around Hayes Farm found the Trout Fishery awash with waterfowl due to a JCB working on the far bank , but of the 100+ birds on the water , nothing better than a pair of Little Grebe . As I left the fishery , the Common Buzzard flew from the woods behind , chased by the local
Corvids , eventually landing in one of the large Oaks . The Corvids didn't give up though , taking it in
turn to buzz the Buzzard , until once again it took flight , and last seen disappearing over the athletics track in Norman Park .
Another cold visit was to Bough Beech Reservoir , which is already almost full , which means that the water is already into the surrounding woods , giving plenty of hiding places for birds . The notice board showed 34 Goosander seen at dusk a couple of days earlier , all I could manage was a single redhead , well out in the main reservoir . A look at the feeders in the orchard produced Nuthatch and GSWoodpecker , but once again no hoped for Brambling , or Fieldfare or Redwing either . On the way back home , a look around Keston Church car park produced it's usual early flowers , Winter
Heliotrope / Petasites fragrans , a member of the Daisy family , with 25+ flower spikes found . Another site , usually good for Winter visitors , also failed to produce .
Whilst watching 2 Fieldfare and 5/6 Redwing , feeding on next door's Cotoneaster berries , a flock of 10/12 , the most I have seen locally for some
time , RRParakeets descended on the bush , dispersing all other feeders .Four was the most I managed to get in any one shot , as when others arrived some got moved on , but some just sat
quietly gorging on the ripened berries .The shots were taken from the back bedroom window , too far off to get any decent shots of the Winter Thrushes .
This morning , I managed to secrete myself amongst the greenery in the garden , and finally managed a few .

Mind you , today was probably my last chance , as the berries are disappearing at a fantastic rate .