Tuesday, 15 December 2009

New Hythe & Ditton Quarry 15th December

At last some dry bright crisp winter weather, it made a change to keep my boots reasonably dry today, although it will be a while before some places dry out and this path which runs adjacent to the river at New Hythe is one. Some parts are so bad that I now walk along the wall for most of it which is a bit dodgy when my eyes are looking at wildlife and not my feet.

I looked in at Alders lakes on the way to Brooklands this morning, couldn't see the goldeneye but two little egrets on the small lake were compensation.

The tide was high when I reached the river so not much to see there apart from cormorants, the ever present moorhens which inhabit the reedbeds alongside the outfall and the fox patrolling his usual patch on the far bank. A flock of about 30 redwings were along the northern edge of the sunken marsh as were good numbers of fieldfare. Two greenfinch also put in a welcome appearance and three probable snipe flew over the marsh as did a noisy redshank.

Over the railway line the east scrub held mostly robins and goldfinches and the west scrub was equally quiet with just a few redwing and chaffinch. I crossed the divers' car park and scanned the alders in the hope of a siskin but instead found at least half a dozen lesser redpoll typically often hanging upside down to reach the alder seeds alongside some goldfinches, first of the winter for me here.

The other nice surprise here were two kingfishers chasing each other alongside the bittern reedbed, twisting and turning just above the water and looking stunning as their electric blue backs flashed in the sun, fantastic. I walked back down the millstream towards the car park as I was going to meet Adam Whitehouse at Ditton Quarry to see if we could find the mealy redpoll which he has been reporting on his blog. On the way down the millstream I noticed this male sparrowhawk sitting quite low in a small tree, it was so intent on finding lunch that it didn't hear me approach and I was able to get one quick shot in, albeit from behind, before he departed. A low fly over of about forty greylag geese was a nice finale before reaching the car.

I got to the layby at Ditton quarry at about 12.35 and Adam pulled up a couple of minutes later. We spent some time scanning the small wooded area just inside the quarry perimeter and soon found a few lesser redpolls working their way through the alders and birches, but try as we might we couldn't see the mealy and time was running out as Adam had to be back to work at 13.30. Identifying the mealy redpoll is a tricky business and I certainly couldn't be sure of getting it right as the variations are quite subtle, however Adam has previous when it comes to these as he also had one here last march I believe, so if anybody could deliver the goods he could..............and sure enough he did. The light was tricky but I was able to see the difference in the bird that Adam pointed out to me just a few minutes before we had to leave, so that was a new tick for me, all I have to do now is find one at New Hythe, but don't hold your breath.
Many thanks Adam.


Warren Baker said...

Well done on finding the Mealy Phil.

I remember walking along that wall, your right, it's bloody dodgy when you're watching the sky and bushes!!

Phil said...

It's also pretty handy for testing whether you've sobered up from the night before Warren!