Monday, 4 April 2011


After weekend reports of Common and Sandwich Tern at Brooklands lake I was disappointed but not too surprised that neither was present today. My disappointment didn't last long though. A tip off from Alan Roman had me hurrying to the southwest corner of Abbey Mead lake where he had found a singing Nightingale. When I got there I was treated to some brief views of two Nightingales (82), who seemed to be competing for the same territory. Their rich, mellow and varied song was in contrast to the dulcet tones of a couple of singing Blackcaps who also shared this sunny corner, it was without doubt the highlight of the day. Over Brooklands lake a single Swallow (83) was feeding on insects, whose numbers seem to be at plague proportions already in some areas. Good news for hungry migrants. Over the river a Sparrowhawk circled higher and higher, eventually a small dark dot against the blue sky. While on the river a pair of Oystercatchers probed the muddy edges of the ebbing tide and a Kingfisher passed silently, almost overhead, unusually showing it's brick red front instead of the more usual blue back.

A single Reed Bunting (above) was seen along the side of the lake. I spent ages trying to get a decent pose but this is the best I could get. A story repeated time and again throughout the morning. The sunken marsh was seemingly featherless, the only real sign of life coming from the Cetti's Warblers who announced their presence with gusto but remained hidden as usual. Oh I nearly forgot, the Black Pheasant was also seen here briefly as it flew up in panic from the riverside and landed heavily in the marsh. Over on the east scrub I checked the one or two remaining pieces of refugia and found four Slow Worms basking in the warmth under one of them. Apart from Chiffys and the now plentiful Blackcaps there was nothing more to be seen here, so I had a quick look in the stream along the southern edge of the west scrub where I found two Water Voles, things are looking up I think. I just wish I could have got a picture of one. I also wish I could have got a picture of my next find which was a Whitethroat (84), the first of the year at NH and hopefully the first of many more. The last find here was Ken Browne from Halling, who I also didn't get a picture of!

I couldn't resist posting the above shot of a female Chaffinch who was either nest building or has got a serious facial hair problem. Or maybe she just wants to remain incognito.

Forty one species made the notebook today, every one of them enjoyable, but some a bit more welcome than others due to their long absence. Three were new additions to the New Hythe year list making a total of 84 species so far and a further nine were also new for April bringing that total to 50. It doesn't get much better than that. Except it did.

When I got home I stood at the patio doors for a few minutes watching the garden activity when a single Swan came low over the lake and over my garden, nothing unusual in that, except it was a Whooper Swan. I believe that it was the juvenile that was reported a couple of times last week, it's plumage didn't look white enough for the adult which has made it's home on the Tesco lake. But I can't be 100% sure and there's no guarantee that the juvenile is a wild bird either, but it was a Whooper and i'll settle for that as a dodgy, 'from the garden' tick. The only butterflies seen on what was at times a cool and overcast morning were a Comma and the Peacock on Blackthorn pictured at the top of the post


Warren Baker said...

Great to hear you've got Nightingale and Whitethroats Phil, the latter shouldn't be long on my patch now, maybe even the Nightingale. Good luck mate :-)

Bob Bushell said...

A beautiful picture of the Reed Bunting Phil.

alan woodcock said...

Hi Phil,its very unusual to have four early Nightingales and if that imm Whooper is still around it could well be a feral bird.

alan woodcock said...

Hi Phil,nice Blog,if I wrote one days entry like yours my head would be spinning for a full week after.

Chris said...

Hi Phil,
I love your incognito female ;-) But the reed bunting would be my favs. This picture is gorgeous!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Sounds like a cracking day , apart from running into Ken of course , I jest !
Good news on the Water Voles , I can feel another visit coming on .
Re. the blue eyes , no chance !

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, 3 New birds in a visit, that list is certainly mounting! and a nice supporting cast especially the Water Voles. I really am hoping for either Nightingale or Whitethroat this week, I like the pics.

ShySongbird said...

You did have a good day Phil! Blackcaps and Nightingales lovely :) and what with Whitethroat and Water Voles all rounded off with a Whooper from your own house, you must have been very pleased!

Lovely photos, a very amusing one of the Chaffinch :)

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
It was good seeing you today. You also had a good species count, plus the Water vole's. Things are looking up down there.
P.S. And I thought Greenie was a friend of mine.......(haha)