Friday, 25 November 2011


I took my Uncle for a guided tour of the lakes today. We started out at the small wood by the river where we found the tide was just beginning to come in and the 'island' was still exposed but disappearing fast. We could see a Little Egret in the distance upstream and a single Redshank on the far bank whose legs shone brightly in the low sunlight. Little Grebes, Cormorants, Mallards a couple of Lapwings and a few Teal made up the numbers along with the usual gulls. I also saw a smallish wader fly across the river and land on the island, it was too distant to ID but i'm sure it wasn't another Redshank, which means it could have been a new NH tick, i'll probably never know.
Around the sunken marsh we saw a couple of Reed Buntings, I seem to be seeing these more regularly now. The Sloe bushes just inside the marsh are still loaded with berries, and Redwings, Fieldfares, Blackbirds and a handsome Mistle Thrush were all making the most of them but as usual our approach caused them to fly off noisily, maybe indignantly, before we could see them properly. Cetti's Warblers are still calling well from around the marsh area and Bullfinches were heard but not seen there. The biggest surprise of the morning came as we approached the end of the marsh path, when a Common Seal surfaced in the river just downstream of us, it wasn't the longest of views because he saw us and dived without resurfacing within sight but a good New Hythe tick nonetheless.

Of course it would have been rude not to go and check on the Bitterns while we were there, so we made our way to streamside lake via the northern end of Abbey Mead where a Little Grebe, Tufted Ducks, some Pochards, a Great Crested Grebe or two and surprisingly, a couple of Teal were seen.

The picture above of a Cormorant having a wash and brush up and the one below of a Humpbacked Whale's fluke as it dives in streamside lake, or maybe it too is the Cormorant, were taken (badly) a few days ago when I paid a quick visit looking for the Bittern.

What I found interesting was that as soon as the Cormorant started splashing and thrashing about in the course of it's ablutions a female Tufted Duck attacked it. This happened three times, as soon as the Cormorant stopped splashing the Tuftie retreated, but as soon as it started again the duck came back spitting feathers and gave it another good going over, from a respectable distance of course because those Cormorants have got pretty big beaks. The crap picture below shows brave Tuftie launching one of her attacks and the Cormorant, once again, taking absolutely no notice. What on earth was all that about?

Anyway, back to today and i'm pleased to say that after a few minutes scanning the reeds I managed to find a Bittern, this was a lifer for John and I was pleased that New Hythe hadn't let me down. While we pondered our good fortune with the Bittern John spotted a wader flying across streamside lake which turned out to be a Green Sandpiper, this was another lifer for him and number 69 for my New Hythe November list.
Our return route took us past the Water Vole stream, no sign of them but a couple of Goldcrests and some super views of Goldfinches feeding on Teasels with the sunlight striking their backs more than made up for it. Green Woodpecker, Gt Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinches and another couple of Goldcrests were all seen and as we had coffee on the mound a Chiffchaff called from the edge of Abbey Mead lake, which is where I took the picture shown at the top of the post, can anybody name it please?

Lastly, Alan Woodcock posted a picture on his blog during the week of a leucistic Grey Heron he saw at Dungeness, click on his name to visit his blog. He wondered if anybody might have mistaken it for the semi resident Gt White Egret down there. That reminded me of a trip I made to Dungie on 25th July this year when I saw the bird below from a distance and thought it was the Egret at first. But when I got home and saw the photo I had second thoughts and after much deliberation decided not to use it on the blog. I'm glad I didn't now, because I think it might be the Heron, mystery solved if it is!


Warren Baker said...

An eventful day Phil ! That Green sandpiper was a good November bird, be good to see you get 70 species this month :-)

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Sounds like your uncle had quite a day at New Hythe , and no surprise that a Bittern was spotted given your track record .
I can understand the yellow legs on the leucistic Grey Heron making it not a GWE , but , how does the Humpbacked Whale get from the Medway into Streamside ?
BTW , your fungi looks like Sulphur Tuft / Hypholoma fasciculare , from here .

Marianne said...

Great report. How nice to see a Common Seal. But Humpback Whale is a VERY good inland record, nice one ;) I think that is a leucistic Grey Heron - and surely more of a scarcity than GWE!

John Lambshead said...

nice pics

Bob Bushell said...

Nice picture you have there.

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
Nice walk you and your uncle had, some good sightings too.
As for the Whale, I guess streamside is deeper that we thought. If you see it in the Medway send it my way.
Nice to see the Common Seal has showed in your area, and not just up here.
Have a good weekend.

Alan Pavey said...

Another interesting walk by the sounds of it Phil, great to be able to show someone a couple of lifers too :-)