Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year, New Hythe

Very bright this morning but very icy underfoot as I walked along Lunsford Lane to start my 2010 New Hythe list off with a pair of goldeneye which thankfully were still in residence on the alders lake. The big lake added shoveler among the usual dabblers and divers and a common gull also made the list. A small foray into the country park next to check out the wooded area adjacent to the car park for a treecreeper, this is quite a difficult species to find at New Hythe and today was no exception as I came away empty handed.

Alan Woodcock's car was already in the car park at brooklands when I arrived, hopefully the early bird found the early birds! As I crossed the car park I saw a small flock of fieldfare flying over and i'm glad I did as the sunken marsh is now just about devoid of winter thrushes, they've eaten all the berries and moved on to pastures new. The tide was very high on the river and at my usual vantage point I only found a single lapwing, a grey wagtail, some teal and a distant little egret so I made a small detour across the flattened reedbed further upstream and added redshank from the far bank and a common snipe which flew up from the near bank just in front of me. More of the commoner species were encountered on the way to the railway line which I crossed and then decided to have a quick scan on the railway lake, not usually very productive but today it threw up a real surprise in the shape of a red head smew! I quickly fired off a couple of distant shots and soon after it flew off in the direction of streamside lake where Ken Browne from Halling managed to locate it later on.

Red Head Smew Railway Lake

I started to cross the east scrub from the railway lake and was immediately confronted with a sparrowhawk which was chasing a blackbird but also flushed a green woodpecker which flew off making the devil of a din as did the blackbird. I added reed bunting and a single lesser redpoll before meeting Den & Doreen Capeling and walking back over the railway and down the riverside path with them. We got back to the sunken marsh where Den spotted a buzzard flying very low away from us in a northerly direction virtually following the river Two kestrel were also seen in the vicinity. The river by now was as high as i've seen it and just before we came to the end of the path and out to brooklands lake we found our way blocked by a stream of water pouring across the path and into the sunken marsh itself, this was impassable without wellies or waders so we had to retrace our steps back round the marsh and hope the river hadn't breached the path behind us or we'd have to climb a tree and wait for the ebb tide, thankfully it hadn't.

My final list consisted of 47 species, not a bad start to the New Hythe year list, especially when day one includes goldeneye, buzzard and smew all in about four hours. When I got back to my car I found a note under my wipers from Alan asking me if i'd found the red head smew on railway lake.............damn! The early bird got there before me!!


Warren Baker said...

Great new years day out Phil......Smew! Brilliant! Nearly every bird you mentioned would be a fantastic sighting for my patch, but your total for the day was still one behind me, how does that work! I'll give your list a scan and find the answer. :-)

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Phil.
Well you are certainly off to a good start for the year. When you told me about the photo I thought it was going to be a bit iffy, but it's fine, you can see what it is, and it's a record shot.
A good days birding I would say.I never did see any Redpolls, oh well next time.

Phil said...

Hi Warren
It was a good day but the only surprise was the smew really. There were noticeable absences such as greylag,kingfisher,pied wagtail, great spot, bullfinch and chiffchaff all of which have been fairly regular lately.......i'll get them next time. Let me know when you get the answer!

Phil said...

Thanks for your comment.
One of my new years resolutions is to buy a decent digital SLR camera,will just need someone to teach me to drive it then.

Adam said...

Congratulations on the Smew Phil - there had to be one sooner or later, fingers crossed a drake will join it!


Phil said...

Thanks Adam
A drake would certainly be fantastic and a first for me locally, last redhead was about two years ago I think.

Steve said...

Got the Smew myself today on Abbeymead. Did it arrive on New Years day?

Phil said...

Hi Steve
Good to hear from you! I think it did as I didn't see it on new year's eve and I don't think anybody else reported it. Hopefully it will stay a while.
All the best