Thursday, 8 December 2011


Despite the horrible weather this morning I decided to venture out anyway, just for about an hour and a half. First stop was the Alders trout lake to see if the recently reported, 'traditional' December Goldeneye was still in residence, and i'm pleased to say it was. It was far too dark for a picture though and the presence of a few fishermen kept the bird distant anyway.

From there I went to the woods by the river where disappointingly, the tide was approaching it's highest point. It was also nearly dark, blowing a gale and raining a bit so I didn't expect to see too much. The star of the show though was a pair of Grey Wagtails, above and below. Their sharp, metallic call cut through the roar of the wind in the trees as they approached and gave me just enough time to crouch down partially out of sight, before they landed in the reeds close by.

There were six Teal sheltering in the reeds in the channel to the right of the woods, but as usual they saw me before I saw them and an in flight rear view was all I got. A single Heron flew along the river, buffeted by the wind on it's big lazy wings, I think it was looking for somewhere to put down, but the now completely full tide denied it permission to land and it headed off upstream.

To my right I watched several flocks of Fieldfares, one consisting of around fifty birds, who all crossed from the other side of the river and landed in the sunken marsh, most likely to feed on the still plentiful supply of Sloe berries along the northern edge. To my left, in the distance, was a large flock of Corvids who swirled untidily over the Holborough marsh area. There were about fifty or sixty of them, i'm not sure what they were and I don't know what put them all up so suddenly, but a few minutes later they had gone and were replaced by sixteen Lapwings who headed south, and gradually disappeared from sight against the darkness of the North Downs.

My only other company was a single Wren in the reeds in front of me, two Blue Tits and a Blackbird in the woods behind me and two Mallards and a Cormorant on the river. All in all enough interest to keep me happy during my short visit.

By the time I left, the tide had turned and the flow was heading northwards. Which was obviously the direction that the three Redshanks above and below wanted to go. Why fly when you can hop on the local 'Shank plank'!


Alan Pavey said...

Nice Grey Wag pics Phil, a bird that has become a bit sporadic here. It was a pretty dark day overall but your words conjured up a good picture, I can see the corvids now :-)

Warren Baker said...

You did well to get out at all in that weather Phil, photo's as well!!

Jason K said...

Ha...Shank Plank...I like it Phil!

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
Well done with the Grey Wags.Good photo's too.
The Redshanks seem to like ferrying a ride up and down the river.
Are you sure they was on a shank plank, and not a Sharp plank?

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Definitely a 'who dares wins' day yesterday .
That Goldeneye is very skittish .
Managed to work up on the Common till 2o'clock before the rain came in .