I ended January with 65 species seen at New Hythe throughout the month, not a bad count, but I think it was probably helped by the really cold weather which brought a few of the less common species such as Snipe, Jack Snipe and Woodcock to the area. I don't think i'll be adding many new birds during this month but out of interest I am going to count the species seen for February to see what changes.
I arrived at 09.20 this morning in bright sunshine and headed off towards Brookland lake after logging my first eight species of the morning in the car park, including Starling, Redwing and Goldfinch among others. The lake itself produced the usual wildfowl species including Pochard, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Coot and a female Goldeneye in the SW quarter of the lake. Also around the lake were good numbers of Song Thrush, Robin, and the ever present flock of Long Tailed Tits moving urgently through the trees and bushes in their never ending search for food, their high pitched contact call confirming their presence as usual before they were seen.
The tide was low on the river and I picked up the first of many Little Grebes here as well as a single Lapwing, some Teal, a Redshank, lots of Grey Herons and best of all two Shelduck at last, which is year tick 66. Further upstream were two Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and a Common Gull standing together in the shallows and the first of several Kestrels made it's way slowly downstream. The sunken marsh was practically deserted today, all I noted was a Dunnock, a couple of Magpies and two Mute Swans flying over low, which I belive landed on Abbey Mead where I also found a single Canada Goose and another seven Little Grebe.
After walking across a seemingly deserted East Scrub I walked up the Brook House track in the hope of finding some Siskin or Redpoll but neither showed so I had to be content with a Gt Spotted Woodpecker and Gt Crested Grebe on Johnson's lake, Shoveler also made the list here.
I added Greenfinch while crossing the West Scrub, and then went to the Bittern area of Streamside more in the hope of a Kingfisher than a Bittern but the lake was frozen and all that I added in this area was a Wren along The Millstream. On the way back past Railway lake I saw another six Little Grebes which bought my tally to 14 of these delightful little birds, one more on Brookland lake on the way back made it 15. The final part of the walk took me along the southern edge of Brooklands and back to the river where I had a quick cup of coffee, during which time I added Cock Pheasant and Sparrowhawk to my list and although a last minute 'rummage' round the edge of the lake produced a fleeting glimpse of a Water Rails rear end disappearing into the reeds, I wouldn't exactly call that a bum note to end on!!
My final list included 44 species and I was very happy with that, but where were the Bullfinches? Not one heard or seen today, likewise Green Woodpecker, just goes to show you can't take anything for granted. Hopefully they and others will turn up in episode two, although that won't be for a little while because I am off to Tobago in the sunny Caribbean sea on thursday morning, well someone's got to do it. I'll be looking forward to catching up with all the latest when I get back.