Tuesday, 22 December 2009

New Hythe & Garden 22nd December

I walked from the house again today in glorious sunshine and treacherous ice. Starting down the towpath between the Alders lakes which are still about 95% frozen, the big lake has a narrow strip of ice free water down the road side which is home to hundreds of coot, grebes, pochard, gadwall, tufted ducks, shoveler and mallards, it's just as well they all get on! Apart from these there was nothing out of the ordinary to see and that about sums up most of the morning today.


There was a single reed bunting along the top end of the millstream and a male sparrowhawk was being mobbed by a pair of angry crows but no sign of the meadow pipits that I found in this area a few days ago, I was hoping they would hang around for a while, they would be a good tick to start off the new year! I looked in at streamside lake but it's pretty much all frozen except for one or two small areas under overhanging bushes which was where I spotted a kingfisher waiting patiently for any movement in the water that might signal a meal. I imagine the bittern will have moved on to an ice free area somewhere but hopefully will return soon, this also would be a welcome new year list tick. A female bullfinch brightened up the path along the side of Abbey Mead which like the Railway lake is clear of ice, not much else here at the moment.

I found one lapwing on the river and a small flock flying over plus the second kingfisher of the day and plenty of teal but surprisingly no redshanks today. As I walked back along the path between Brookland and Abbey Mead I "bumped into" a large female sparrowhawk perched on a low branch, I don't know who was most surprised her or me. Back to the divers' bridge and as I scanned the alders for a redpoll or siskin a common snipe flew up from the ditch alongside me and flew about fifteen feet above my head giving me excellent views before circling and coming down again back in the same ditch and then flying off again.

I arrived home quite tired (you're right Warren it's hard work on snow and ice) so I went straight round the back for a sit down and a garden watch for ten minutes, only to find a heron sitting in the top of the fir tree at the bottom of my garden. It was very tolerant of me and seemed in no hurry to move on, even when the local black headed gulls started dive bombing it and screeching their displeasure at it's presence on their patch. While I was watching it I had a brief visit from a male blackcap which landed on the cherry tree, it quickly flew off again before I could get a picture but never mind I was pleased as I haven't seen one in the garden for at least a couple of years.





The last visitor was this scrawny fox which sauntered up the garden from the lake as if he owned the place. As I wrote this at 20.35 the garden floodlight came on and there he was again still scratching around for food so I put some chicken leftovers on the patio for him, it's his lucky night.


Warren Baker said...

Well done for getting out Phil, its a lot of effort on days like these for little reward at times!

Whats your new hythe list on for the year, I shold imagine 120 would be a reasonable tally.

Phil said...

I wish Warren!
This is only my second year and i'm on 107 and it's been hard work. My target was 100 so i'm pleased with that, but it will be hard to beat next year. I think 120 used to be feasible, not so sure nowadays though. I plan to post full year details next week. Merry Christmas!

Warren Baker said...

I look forward to the list Phil, it will be interesting to compare it to my year list (see my blog side bar) I can't think of many that I have seen that wouldn't be at new hythe. I'll post some end of year stats next week,- stop yawning!!

PS next year can you put your list in the side bar of your blog, as you go ?

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Phil.
Glad you managed to get out and about. I envy you. Nice Grey Heron photo's, especially when it's in your garden.

desertnutmeg said...

Wow! What a great walk and that heron! I envy you too! I had an immature Black-crowned Night Heron this past spring/summer but couldn't anywhere near him for a decent photo.
My favorite photo though is the fox, so thanks for sharing (the photo with us and the chicken with him)!
Have a Happy Holiday!

Phil said...

Warren, Yes i'll see what I can do regarding the 2010 list. Look forward to your end of year stats.........honest.

Ken, the heron was on the same perch this morning blending in nicely with the grey fog. Will contact you early new year regarding a day out.

Desertnutmeg, thanks for your comment, black crowned night heron sounds very interesting I'll look it up later.

Seasons greetings to you all.