Monday, 22 February 2016

Monday 22nd. February 2016

' Slim pickings ' remain the order of the day as the worst , for me , month of the winter draws to an end . I have been going out , but it's taken this long since the last posting to cobble together some sightings for this one .
The garden has produced a few visitors ;
This fox spent a morning wandering around ours and other back gardens ,
Blackcap visits to the Callicarpa bushes have been fewer this winter , but Carol has had up to three on the odd occasion , needless to say whilst I was out .
more encouraging are the House Sparrows , with up to six , three pairs , on the feeders and the odd time looking around the communal nest boxes , maybe this year ?
And finally , Carol was well pleased with the third Pheasant to visit the garden since we moved in .
A visit to Larkfield Lakes at New Hythe found the heronry very busy , with nesting materials being brought in and the usual noisy arguments amongst the residents . No sign of Phil's Bittern unfortunately , but several Bullfinch heard , but as usual , not seen .
A couple of visits to Sevenoaks Reserve , the first producing no more than a Mute Swan which came down the East Lake like an Exocet missile towards Tyler Hide before veering off ,
and some Common Snipe on the nearest island , enjoying the morning sunshine .
The second visit produced a bit more , with both male and female Reed Bunting showing well outside
Slingsby Hide , but I still haven't seen or heard Water Rail there this winter .
A drake Shelduck was the only out of the ordinary sighting .
On the way back to the car , Scarlet Elf Cup / Sarcoscypha coccinea , growing on buried branches ,
brightened things up , as did the ' Pussy Willow ' catkins , just opening on the Goat Willow .
A couple of visits to Sth.Norwood Country Park , found 8/10 Goldcrests working their way along the
Scots Pines , and in one of the ditches , Marsh Marigold /Caltha palustris , already in full flower . The overwintering Bearded Tit was seen on both visits , but the Cetti's Warbler was only heard on the first . The second visit also caught a female Rose Ringed Parakeet busily preparing her chosen nest site ,

much to the annoyance of the local Corvids , who were being kept at bay by the male . As can be seen , the weather was not photo - friendly that day .
Similar grim weather prevailed when I had a trip to West Malling for the Winter Thrushes . Mainly Fieldfares , and with not a lot of apples lying on the ground to attract them , it proved difficult to get
close to the wary birds , but the top one did pose ,, whereas this one kept a steely eye on me whilst feeding on a fallen apple . No sign of the hoped for Bramblings .
The Down House bird survey produced a dismal 14 species , without a single winter visitor , but it
did produce my first female Hazel flowers of the year , looking very insignificant to the left of the
male catkins in the first shot .
An early morning visit to Bough Beech Reservoir near Ide Hill produced nothing more exciting than
a male Pochard on the half-frozen North Lake , and he didn't want to be photographed , so I moved on to the feeders in the woods . Although the feeders were almost empty , a procession of birds

visited them and the surrounding area , including both male and female Siskin . The Tit family were well represented , with Blue most numerous , followed by Great and several Coal . One Long-tailed

was unusually obliging and the odd Marsh Tit made ' smash and grab ' raids . On my way back home , I had to pass BB Reservoir again and stopped to see if things had changed . Indeed , out on the main
reservoir , two pairs of Goosander had arrived , or emerged from the trees now half submerged by the water . But on a sad note , just below the causeway , an immature gull was standing motionless on the waters edge , just 10/15 mtrs away , and it didn't look well . It could be subsequently seen that it had fishing line wrapped around its body and might even ingested some of it .The consensus of opinion
was that it was a Yellow-legged Gull , but as stated here before , I find gull ID difficult , and this species is particularly difficult . The local birders were trying to get some help for the bird , I hope they were successful and that the bird survived .

1 comment:

Phil said...

Nice Foxy pic Fred, always good to see. We have a Callicarpa bush down the garden but never seen a Blackcap on it.
The New Hythe Bittern has only been seen by one other person as far as I know so I was really lucky to see it.
Well done with the Fieldfare pic., never been able to get close enough myself.