Tuesday, 27 December 2011


With christmas finally over I was pleased to have a couple of hours at the lakes this morning. Light winds and a mild temperature combined to give an almost Spring like feel. Even the birds seemed to sing optimistically as I made my way to the small wood past the paper mill, rendered quiet at last by the christmas break. I checked Brooklands lake on the way in the hope that the drake Goosander might have returned. It hadn't but at least I'd had some decent views during its visit last week.
A very low tide revealed lots of mud, glorious mud, on the river but only a single Redshank was enjoying it apart from a Little Grebe and a couple of Teal on the far bank. I wondered if perhaps the shooters had been around again, a thought reinforced by what looked like some fairly new tracks winding through the reeds in the sunken marsh. The presence of guns on my local patch saddens me and if this were to become a regular occurrence I think I would prefer to move on to pastures new. I'll see what the new year brings.
In the meantime my thoughts turned to Bearded Tits and specifically, why don't we get them here on a regular basis, I know of no sightings at all this year. The four pictures below, represent the view from the small wood looking left to right. The reed beds in the first three pictures are extensive and look like ideal habitat for the Bearded Tits and there certainly are some half a mile downstream (north) from here at Holborough marshes. So why don't we get them, i'm sure there used to be some in years gone by, the habitat doesn't seem to have changed but something must have.

Having just about stripped the berries from the Sloes and Hawthorns in the sunken marsh, the winter thrushes have moved on. Just a few Redwings and the odd Song Thrush mopping up the last remaining morsels today. Finches seemed the more numerous inhabitants today with Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch all seen in decent numbers, along with Wren, Dunnock and Robins, of which I saw four all in one bush, there may be trouble ahead there I think! Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails were heard but not seen and on the river at the far end of the marsh there was another Redshank and three Herons, who lifted off from the opposite bank and flew laboriously to the tree tops where at least six more were already perched and silhouetted against the grey sky.
Abbey Mead held no surprises, the usual Coots, Grebes, Tufties, Mallards, sleepy Pochards and a few Gadwalls dabbled and dived and a couple of Jays criss crossed the lake going about their noisy business.

Once again no sign of the Bitterns at Streamside, probably keeping their heads down to avoid the daily cacophony of dogs and owners competing for the highest decibel rating. The owners winning hands down as they shout their unheeded commands and direst threats at their untrained and uncontrollable mutts. I moved on, quickly.

A single Water Vole swimming across the east scrub ditch with hardly a ripple to disturb the surface was my reward for my foray to the wrong side of the tracks. A couple of Green Woodpeckers who managed to shine, even in the gloom, also helped.
My December list now stands at 69 species for New Hythe, last Decembers total was 72 and the missing three birds were Slavonian Grebe, Waxwing and Woodcock, what a difference some snow makes! As for the New Hythe year list, it's still at 105 and that's where I expect it to stay now. I'm not unhappy with it but I missed some great birds, most recently the Gt Grey Shrike seen in the sunken marsh, before that the Gt White Egret seen along the river and what about the Black Stork seen circling over Abbey Mead in April, all great birds for little old NH. But there were also some good highlights, the best being the Hoopoe that flew across the corner of the sunken marsh in front of myself and Terry Laws, also in April and two great sightings of Red Kites, one across the east scrub and another over the sunken marsh, not to mention the Common Scoter and Little Gulls at Brooklands both welcome additions courtesy of other birders. It's not quite over yet, I might get down once more before the end of the year and you never know there might be a 106 in the pipeline, but if not i'm really looking forward to the start of another year and another new list.

Finally, many thanks to everyone who has read my blog during the year and especially to those who have left much appreciated comments. Happy new year to you all.


Warren Baker said...

I must say Phil, that the shooting activity on my patch, and the inrease in dog walkers, has also got me thinking about moving on to pastures new.

Anyway, as you say, we'll see what happens :-) Have a good new years celebrations mate, and if you stay with NH good luck with next year ! :-)

Bob Bushell said...

Nice blog you have written.

elcamperoinquieto.com said...

Really nice places to see waders and other birds....in some cases the interests between hunters and birdlovers colide in those places.....
Saludos from Spain!

Mike H said...

Phil nice round up of your year. NH certainly used to have beardies not too long ago. I have photos taken from the path between the sunken marsh and the little stream that flows into the river. Mike

Jason K said...

I wouldnt mind a single Water Vole on my patch Phil.

The dog walkers etc is always a problem at holiday times/weekends...its the problem with having a patch near to where people live...I get the same at Shenstone

Greenie said...

Phil ,
I think any of us will be lucky to get a Waxwing if this weather keeps on .
Not lost 'the Bittern touch' , have we ?

Alan Pavey said...

Great post Phil, you've seen and missed!! some great birds this year, I'm sure we'll do the same next year :-)

JRandSue said...

A very happy New Year to you Phil,have a Bird filled 2012.