My October list for New Hythe ended up with 62 species. I don't know how good or bad that is because a monthly patch list is a bit of a new departure for me. I was pleased though with the reappearance of Goldcrests last month after an absence of over a year and the other two notables were Skylark and Bearded Tit, both of which were new for 2010. The Skylarks were the first for me at New Hythe in the five years or so since I started watching at all seriously and the Bearded Tits were only the second sighting, so both of these were excellent birds which took my year total for NH to what I hope is a respectable 98. This is tantalisingly close to the magical 100 but it will be touch and go whether I reach this now.
It was with this in mind that I made my first November visit to NH today. With the influx of Waxwings in the county and the country as a whole, I hoped that one of these lovely birds or indeed a Firecrest might kick off my month list and edge me closer to 100 for the year.
It didn't happen though, it was a fairly quiet New Hythe that on a mild, windy November morning produced only a couple of highlights. I was pleased to see a few Pochard appearing on some of the lakes now as noted also by Alan Woodcock on his blog this week. There were six on Abbey Mead and two on the Railway lake, still absent on Brooklands today though. Goldfinch numbers seemed up to me as well with a few small charms around the site feeding on the Teasels.
The only wader species seen was a single Lapwing which flew lazily upstream over the Medway. On a falling tide the river only produced Little Grebe, Heron, Teal and a dozen Canada Geese on the partially exposed mudbank opposite the creek, and the only raptors seen were the almost resident Kestrel lately which concentrated it's piercing gaze on the sunken marsh from fifty feet or so above it. While on the edge of the marsh a Sparrowhawk tested my heart when it crashed through the bushes just behind me in hot pursuit of a female Blackbird, both of which swerved around me at eye level only ten feet away. By the time i'd composed myself they had disappeared across the marsh accompanied by various alarm calls from other birds, so I don't know what the outcome was. Sparrowhawk beaten or Blackbird eaten!
Winter thrushes were quite sparse with four Fieldfare disturbed from bushes in the East Scrub and a dozen or so Redwing in the West Scrub. The only other winter visitor seen was a much appreciated Goldcrest which called from thick bushes as I walked back along the wide path adjacent to the river and eventually showed briefly before disappearing and moving on.
So began November, 37 species logged including just one that I didn't get on my October list which was a drake Shoveler seen on Streamside lake along with a welcome Kingfisher. While I was at Streamside I had a speculative scan along the Bittern reedbed, well you never know your luck. I think it's now time for a few evening visits to see if I can add one to the months list....watch this space!
Sorry no pics today. The only ones I took were of a 200 yard stretch of the stream on the southern edge of the East Scrub which has been thoroughly 'tidied up' by the powers that be. Absolutely stripped of all the brambles and small shrubs which lined it and were the home for Common Whitethroats in the spring and summer and Dunnocks and Wrens during the winter. Not to mention Rabbits, Voles, Lizards and a myriad of different insects. Still, it means I'll be able to stand there more easily and watch all the wildlife in the stream, Bream, Tench, Eels, Perch, Dragonfly and Damselfly larvae next spring. Oh no, I forgot, they were all wiped out by two episodes of pollution this year............depressing or what, that's why I didn't post the pictures.