It was blue sky and sunny when I got up today but by the time I got to Brooklands car park it was overcast and breezy. I know what you're thinking, I should have got up earlier!
Apart from all the usual species I was happy to see four Linnets fly over the northern end of the sunken marsh and even happier when four Jackdaws appeared flying in the opposite direction heading over the river to Burham. This is only my third sighting of Jackdaws in this area in a couple of years, so far so good. Also of note were the Cetti's Warblers, there were four or five singing around the marsh area, one of which treated me to a rare and welcome glimpse as it skulked in the bushes. I noticed the river was quite low but the tide was still falling so I decided to check it out from the small wood on my return when it would be at it's lowest point.
Still large numbers of Tufted Ducks on Abbey Mead lake accompanied by an equal amount of Coots and at least six Great Crested Grebes. I decided to clamber up the steep eastern side of the mound to scan the Sunken Marsh and nearly trod on a Slow worm in the process. I was surprised to see it in the open like that on what was a fairly cool morning . I'm only used to finding them soaking up the warmth under the refugia on the East Scrub. While I stood at the top of the mound I noticed a flock of thirty or more corvids, Rooks I think, rising up out of the trees on the far side of the river. A scan around them revealed the reason, a Common Buzzard, which dropped down into the treetops a couple of times before drifting off in a southerly direction, unconcerned by it's noisy escort. This is only my sixth sighting of a Buzzard at NH this year, the last being on the 28th May so that was another good tick for the day.
Just before I joined the footpath alongside the railway I heard the unmistakeable rattling call of a Mistle Thrush and looked up in time to see two flying overhead, another surprise sighting and oddly enough the last one at NH was the same as the Buzzard, 28th May. The East scrub was quiet apart from a mixed flock of Great, Blue and Long tailed Tits, and more Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers than I think i've ever seen together at NH, along with the yaffling of the ever present Green Woodpeckers, who seem to be thriving here. I did find a couple of dragonflies willing to brave the coolish overcast conditions and I managed to snap one that landed briefly. I know my last post featured pictures of Migrant Hawkers but they were Dungeness Migrant Hawkers and this one is a New Hythe Migrant Hawker and therefore gets it's picture in this post. Plus I like them, plus I couldn't find any other species willing to pose.
The walk back was pretty uneventful and I soon found myself battling through the tall reeds and nettles that have overwhelmed the muddy path to the small wood adjacent to the river.
A quick scan upstream revealed the island which is only exposed at low tide and today was a temporary home to four Grey Herons, a few Cormorants, some Black headed Gulls and a Little Egret which was a welcome addition to my list.
The downstream scan produced Common Gull, Great Black Backed Gull and a Common Sandpiper which was feeding on a small mudbank in the corner by the mill. I wonder if this is the 'Surfing bird' featured a couple of weeks ago?
I stood for a while watching the Sand Martins and Swallows trickle by in small groups, all following the river and heading north strangely, and then decided to call it a day. But before I did I had one more scan along the far bank and suddenly noticed two little Sapphire and Emerald gems sitting right on the waterline. Two Kingfishers which had been there all the time and I nearly missed them. As the distant shot below shows, this isn't where you would normally expect to see them and that led me to believe that maybe these were two juveniles. And if they were there might be an adult in the vicinity. I waited for about thirty five minutes, during which time a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk flew right above them but all they seemed to do was crouch slightly lower until the danger had passed. The only action I saw from them otherwise was a small bob of the head and neck occasionally until suddenly I heard the urgent piping of another Kingfisher, this sparked a lot of excited calling from the other two until the third bird arrived with them and they all departed together upstream. I just wish i'd been able to get a shot of all three of them but it was all too distant and quick at the end of a fascinating half an hour or more.
The Kingfishers bought my total species for the day to 42, a pleasing total but it doesn't reflect the amount of pleasure that the four hours walk produced. And the final piece of good news is that the old Cafe in the Brooklands car park is reopening in about two weeks time and the new owners assured me that a quick phone call to them will have bacon rolls and steaming mugs of tea waiting for hungry walkers on their return, through the coming winter. Lovely................................