I finally managed to get out this morning and after such a wet and gloomy week, what a welcome surprise the sun was when it finally came out too. I don't know why but it seems to be getting darker in the mornings and evenings to me as well lately instead of lighter.
Anyway, there were two Mistle Thrushes standing tall on the piece of grass behind the Brooklands cafe, my first of the year at New Hythe taking my list to 60. Nothing much to report on Brooklands lake, the only new additions being quite a few fishermen who are no doubt pleased to be able to wet a line after the weeks of ice.
The tide was high on the river so I didn't venture into the woods, instead electing to tackle the quagmire round the near deserted sunken marsh. Hardly any berries, hardly any birds, but plenty of mud! A single Redwing, a single Lapwing, a short burst from a Cetti's and some Magpies was all I could muster. Talking of Magpies though, while I was updating my NH list this afternoon I realised I hadn't listed one so far this year, so that makes 61!
Abbey Mead was a different kettle of fish with five Shelduck (62) catching my eye on the lake straight away, the first of the year for me here. Also seen were a total of three Goldeneyes, two of which took flight and are pictured below and a further one found a bit later in the south eastern corner. A single drake Wigeon was also dozing in the middle of the lake and this chap bought my total to an unexpected 63 so far.
I was joined then by John Davies, a fellow birder from Leybourne and while we chatted I spotted a super Goosander on the lake (top picture) and John located the long staying Red-head Smew along the Eastern edge. This was actually his third Red-head Smew of the morning, the first on Alder's lake and the second on Streamside. A fine Sparrowhawk also put in an appearance while we scanned the lake but unfortunately still no sign of a Kingfisher. It's been about four weeks or more since I last saw one at New Hythe and I'm beginning to wonder if the hard weather has taken it's toll.
I called in at Streamside lake on the way back, bumping into Dennis and Doreen on the way and together we located the Smew which John had mentioned earlier on. A good sized flock of Siskins and Goldfinches was seen on the Millstream path but a search for a Water Rail in the swampy area further down failed to turn one up, I always struggle a bit with this one.
Bizarrely, when we reached the car park the two Mistle Thrushes were gone and were replaced by a young girl exercising a pony on the tiny patch of grass beside the Cafe..........nothing surprises me any more!