Sunday, 10 April 2011


At about 09.30 friday morning I had a call from Jerry Warne to say he'd just seen a Black Stork circling over the southern end of Abbey Mead. I was at home at the time and had just been trying to get a picture of the immature Whooper Swan which i'd spotted earlier on 'our' lake at the end of the garden. I didn't get a decent picture because it steadfastly refused to come over to our side of the lake and so was just too distant. I guess it's continued local presence indicates another feral bird like the adult which is still over the country park, so no tick there then. Anyway, back to the Black Stork. I hadn't intended going out because grass needed cutting, weeds needed pulling, sunbeds needed airing, if you get my drift. But a Black Stork at New Hythe lakes?! I was out of the door in minutes, rude not to really. I parked at the waterworks entrance, taking calls (handsfree) from Eddie Denson and Adam Whitehouse on the way, all hail the mighty mobile phone, faster even than jungle drums. I semi jogged from the car to the millstream bridge, about 75 yards, before reverting to a hurried walk across the east scrub where Jerry, Dennis and Doreen were trying to relocate said Stork. I expect you've already guessed the outcome and you're right, no sign of it. It had been seen on thursday at Gillingham and my guess is that it followed the River Medway, passing over Abbey Mead and then continued southwards. Not sure I like this twitching business, too much excitement, too many let downs! Small consolations were singing Sedge and Reed Warblers, my first of the year, coming from the Bittern reedbed on streamside.

Saturday was another gardening day, but I did break off for a bit of camera practice, a couple of the better pics (you should have seen the others) are below, first a Collared Dove and second a female House Sparrow. Again, I couldn't get a shot of the Whooper due to distance.

So on to Sunday. I got down to Brooklands car park at 07.10 and no, I didn't fall out of bed, I just decided to see what the lakes look like at the crack of dawnish. And I have to say they looked and sounded the business. Even as I put my boots on in the car park I was serenaded by a Nightingale in the bushes behind the cafe, slightly incongruous, but welcome nonetheless, a Blackcap in the trees in the marshy area and a Chiffchaff in the trees on the eastern edge, surround sound!

The Swans were just leaving their nest site as I walked along Brooklands lake path and a couple of Blackcaps, one pictured at the top of the post, showed better than usual as they searched for breakfast in the still very cool air. The tide was in on the river so not much to see from the small wood, plus this faces east and the low sun made it difficult to see much anyway, so no bucket watch today. Just a solitary Shelduck, a couple of Canada Geese and the usual gulls and Cormorants were all that I recorded. The sunken marsh wasn't much better with Reed Bunting, Pheasant, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Grey Heron seen and of course the Cetti's Warblers and a Nightingale over the river proclaimed their territories in their usual fine voice.

Just the merest glimpse of a Water Vole's tail was seen in the usual stream but while there watching for them I heard and saw a couple of newly arrived Whitethroats and also heard a Willow Warbler singing it's descending notes from the west scrub, the sound of summer. I stopped briefly again at the Bittern reedbed and heard, but couldn't see, a single Sedge Warbler singing from deep within the reeds.

Back over the railway line, along the railway path and once again at Brooklands lake where I spent the last half hour or more chatting to a local fisherman and a local birder who i'd met earlier. But while we talked Swallow, Sand Martin and a distant Buzzard (a closer one drifted over the garden this afternoon at 3 o'clock) were all added to the list to bring the total to 37 species, not bad for a couple of hours but unfortunately my two New Hythe lists stay the same, 58 for the month and 86 for the year. I need to get my skates on.

Lastly i've added a picture of a sunset, taken from the garden recently. Red sky at night, shepherd's delight. It works for me.


Warren Baker said...

Well at least thats one species that has been over my patch Phil, back in May 2006 :-)

Keep a sharp-e lookout while your weeding mate :-)

Greenie said...

Phil ,
I dream of a Blackcap shot like that , superb .
Shame the Black Stork didn't work out .
Still a good species result on the day .
Nice red sky behind your lake .

Chris said...

HI Phil,
Twitching is a terrible thing for me... I've done that quite often over here and maybe got successful half of the time. But at least you have a nice story to tell. I love the pictures of the day and this sunset is terrific.

Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant birdies.

Jason K said...

I wouldnt mind Nightingale singing on my patch Phil..but they are all but extinct in Worcestershire now with just a handful of breeding pairs on the Worcs/Gloucs border.

P.s. Lovely Blackcap photo

ShySongbird said...

Another most enjoyable post Phil and very entertainingly written. Lovely photos too, the one of the Blackcap is really beautiful.

Bad luck with the Black Stork but I know exactly what you mean about trying to track down a particular bird...the times I have spent trying to find something that everyone else seems to have seen at Draycote...the infamous Lesser Scaup particularly comes to mind... and then there was the Smew just recently... Oh well!

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, Lots going on there!! I can sympathise with missing a rarity on your own patch!! Some nice shots there especially the Backcap :-)