Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sunday 13th. December 2015

Sightings are still ' in the doldrums ' and with all the wet and windy weather , it has not been particularly pleasant being out and about . Winter visitors are almost non existent , just one Redwing being found on the Down House bird survey , which produced 18 species . No sign of any deer and even the fungi has gone over . A look in at Keston Ponds was equally devoid of interest , with just the usual species showing in small numbers .
I did make a trip to Rainham Marshes , hoping for a Short-eared Owl or two , with seven being seen recently . Arriving well before the center opened , I made my way along the river towards the landfill area , finding little around .My hopes were raised when I found another birder around the Serin mound who had visited the previous afternoon and had two SEOwls , but two hours of scanning failed to find even a long distance specimen . I returned along the river and entered the reserve , thankful to be out of the biting wind along the river wall . I did a lap of the site , visiting briefly each hide , but finding little in the way of birds . Best of the few sightings was a drake Pintail feeding out
in the distance , whilst anything else was sheltering in the margins . I wasn't alone though , as the other birders I passed were finding things the same , apart from one who had a pair of Raven just as he arrived . The odd Marsh Frog was heard , but that was about it . To rub salt into the wound , the toll on the river crossing , which was paid for many years ago , stuck in my craw as usual .
A morning visit to Sevenoaks Reserve found two Little Egret and a Grey Heron still in roost at the
back of the West Lake and at the far end a male Kestrel was warming up in the morning sun . Heading round towards Willow Hide , a Kingfisher gave a fleeting photo opportunity before speeding
off over to the East Lake . From the hide itself , apart from the usual species , a pair of Wigeon stayed
well over the far side , whilst a female Shoveler at least came close enough for a shot or two , and just before leaving , a flock of mixed geese flew in for their ablutions and include what looks to me like
a Canada x Greylag hybrid . A Goldcrest ' ballet dancing ' around a Bhudliah bush was nice to see , but didn't stop ' dancing ' long enough to manage a shot . Very little on the way to Tyler Hide , but the regular geese and gulls were their noisy selves outside the hide . On the nearest island , 7/8 Common
Snipe were feeding in the margins , a couple in the company of a Greylag Goose , making for a good size comparison . Further out amongst the smaller islands , a Grey Heron was parading something ,
I'm not sure if it was food or not , but whatever it was , it wasn't letting go of it . Amongst the gulls
were a couple of Lesser Black-backed , one posed briefly for a shot . Walking down to Slingsby Hide and back produced the odd Treecreeper and , at last , my first Siskins of the winter , spotting just three specimens high in the Alders .
A visit to Kelsey Park in Beckenham produced the usual large numbers of Rose-ringed Parakeets , but again no Blue-crowned , which was my target with most of the leaves off the trees . On the way round , an old friend ' Angel Wings ' , a Canada Goose with the condition , caused by being fed too
much white bread . Unable to fly , I'm amazed it survives , given the large gardens surrounding the park and adjacent woodland being ideal territory for the urban fox . I was told that a Firecrest had been seen again this winter , in the same area as last , but although I hung about for some time , there was no luck with a sighting , never mind a photo .The only other shots taken were of a male and

female Mandarin from the bridge as I made my way out of the park .
And finally , I took this shot whilst at Sevenoaks of the Grey Heron and his ' food ' , as he passed two
other species . I could imagine the conversation going some think like - Cormorant ' You're not going to eat that ? ' . Grey Heron  ' I'm certailnly going to give it a try ' . LBBGull ' You'll regret it in the morning ' .