Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Left click to enlarge

I had a very pleasant hour or so at the East Malling Research Station this morning. It's part of Adam Whitehouse's patch (thanks for the text mate) and temporarily home to dozens of Waxwings who are currently munching their way through all the leftover apples in the orchards there. I'd hoped that they would be in the area just at the back of East Malling church where the research station starts because that would put them closer to the public footpath, but they weren't. I continued walking through the station and lo and behold Eddie Denson appeared, he soon pointed me in the general direction of a flock of about 40 Waxwings in a tree at the back of the orchard. They were some distance away so no decent pictures i'm afraid, (you'll find some much better ones on Adam's blog) just the long distance effort above. Still, they were nice to see and I could at least make out their trilling calls before they all departed in a northerly direction.

There were plenty of other birds to see of course, including plenty of Redwings. The one pictured above stayed still long enough for a quick pic before flying off (below) with a flash of red underwing.
Lots of Chaffinches were also feasting on the apples, I couldn't find any Bramblings among them
but I bet there are one or two in the area somewhere.

Fieldfares too are attracted to the free fruit and their chack chacking call can be heard all the time as they work their way through the apple trees and constantly pass overhead in small flocks. Although the one pictured below looks a healthy enough specimen from a distance, it needs to get that cyst on it's bum removed sometime soon! I'm not surprised it's standing a bit funny.

I stopped in the churchyard on the way back, usually a good place for some birds and this one was no exception. There was a noisy flock of Long-tailed Tits passing through with various other birds mixed in including a couple of very vocal Goldcrests.

Other birds seen included Jays, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Robin, Collared Dove, Mistle Thrush and Blackbirds.

From East Malling I went straight to Sevenoaks wildlife reserve. I didn't have long but I wanted to see the Goosanders of which there were four today, possibly even five, although I might have counted one twice. I searched for ages trying to find the Black-necked Grebe among the multitude of birds crammed into the relatively small ice free part of the lake. Teal, Wigeon, Coot, Gt Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Greylags and Gulls all sharing this area made it difficult to locate, but I got it in the end, diving between a couple of the Snipe inhabited islands which are dotted around in the shallow water. Another small diving duck seen looked like a female Ruddy Duck but I wasn't completely sure.

I don't think i've ever seen so many Siskins as there seems to be here, there were lots of small flocks feeding in the many Alder trees around the lakes and several larger flocks flying over at different times in the short but enjoyable time I was there. I'll get back soon for a longer visit hopefully.


Greenie said...

Phil ,
Shame you didn't manage the same as Adam with the Waxwings , but at least you saw some , and some of the Winter Thrushes on site .
Glad you made Sevenoaks at last , as you say , with so many species around , it is well worth it . Your 'other duck' was what you thought , but you will probably get it in the neck from other Bloggers , like I did , when I posted it last year .
Glad you found the BNG .

Warren Baker said...

Well done on getting your fill of the Waxwers Phil. I can agree on your Siskin comment, they are very prolific this year!

Mike Attwood said...

Waxwings. My bogey bird Phil. I am always in the wrong place at the wrong time. In more than 20 years my only sighting was a flock of about 20 birds fly over my head.

Paul said...

Hi Phil, Glad you too, got the Waxwings at East Malling. Ive just read with interest about your diving duck(Ruddy?) at Sevenoaks. I was there on the 3rd Jan. with my youngest son for several hours, we also saw that same diving duck(I do have a photo of it too) but me being the novice! I had no idea what it was?!
I also captured photos of 3 female Gossander, the Black necked Grebe, and Ive never seen so many Snipe, we counted 25+.

Adam said...

Hi Phil

Glad you connected with them, shame they weren't any closer (give me a bell if your on site next time and I'll see what I can do). Yeh that Fieldfare with the boil always makes me wince! Only one Brambling so far this winter, a single male seen by numerous people, but can't seem to find anymore - seem to be fairly scarce all over this winter.


Adam said...


Just looking at the photo strip down the side of your blog and that Peacock butterfly on blossom picture is absolutely superb - might have to ask you for a copy!


Chris said...

Hi Phil,
Nice post... We do have a surprisingly large amount of redwings this year... They can be found everywhere in large numbers, but we do not have any siskins... Maybe you can send some over here ;-) I've seen it only once ;-)

Simon said...

Phil, good selection of birds there!! I do the monthly bird counts at the Sevenoaks Reserve and I agree with your comment about the Siskins, there's loads of them isn't there?!!!