Monday, 2 January 2012


Well it's 2012 at last. I have high hopes that this year will be an improvement on the last few months of 2011, which for one reason or another haven't been the best I can remember. Although with a fault on our main computer being diagnosed as pretty much terminal, (I think there's a joke there somewhere), and our roof springing a leak during last night's deluge, my optimism is beginning to wane already.

I couldn't get out yesterday but I did call in to the Trout lake to make sure I got Goldeneye on to my New Hythe year list. The immature/female bird had recently been joined by a very handsome male so I was pleased i'd made the effort, especially since he had disappeared when I looked in this morning. It would be nice one day to get a decent picture of them but as in previous years they stayed well out of decent shooting range, as you can see above, just about!

I didn't expect much to have changed as I left Brooklands car park and headed for the small wood by the river and that was pretty much the case, with Pied Wagtail being added to the list along with Collared Dove, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Blackbird and the ever present Robin among others.

The first bird I saw on the river was this female Gadwall pictured above.

The second bird was her mate above who clearly knows his place and glided dutifully past in her wake.

The wood was sheltered from the wind, which coupled with clear blue skies evoked a spring like feel, I think the Blue Tits pictured above felt the same way too. I spent about half an hour watching the tide fall on the river and added among others, Teal, Little Grebe, Jackdaw, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Mallard, Redshank and Cormorant to my list, while a Chiffcaff called constantly and hunted for food in the bare branches of the trees around me.

The footpath around the sunken marsh now resembles a quagmire and looking up is sometimes not advisable. But when I could, I saw a 'little brown job' flit silently past me and into the reeds on the river side of the path. Luckily it then broke its silence and revealed itself as a Cetti's Warbler, a pleasing early addition to the year list. There can't be many better birding sights than a male Bullfinch, lit in all its glory by a low winter sun, so two of them along with two females was a spectacular treat as they posed, albeit a bit distant, in the top of a bush in the marsh. Apart from a couple of Song Thrushes that was about it here, not a Fieldfare or Redwing in sight now that the berries have been eaten.
Pochards, Gt. Crested Grebe, Tufted Ducks, Gadwalls, dozens of Coots and a Little Grebe which was engaged in a monumental struggle to eat a relatively large and spiny Perch it had just caught, were all present in the middle of Abbey Mead lake, herded there by a large dog swimming around the margins. The Little Grebe finally consumed the Perch and eventually the Pochards were able to go back to sleep when the dog climbed out of the lake and subsequently sprayed me with its efforts to shake itself dry, all in a days walk eh!

I reached streamside lake without further incident but once again failed to connect with the Bittern, yes Greenie, I think I am losing my touch. Siskin were a nice addition though, several were feeding in the nearby Alder trees and a Wren also joined the list, as did the Mute Swan pictured below who started his take off from the far end of the lake and passed straight over my head.

With time getting on I started my return to the small wood via Johnson's lake, I dropped in at the north east corner to look for geese and Shovelers and came face to face with a Water Rail, i'm not sure who was most surprised but I think it was me, especially as it took me eleven months to see one down here last year! I also got the Shoveler and a couple of Canada Geese. All I needed now was a Green Woodpecker from the east scrub, there's always a couple there, but not today. There was nothing there actually, but maybe it was because there were rockets being launched there ten minutes earlier, I jest not, smoke trails, loud noises the lot, all in a days walk eh?

The peace and quiet of the railway path gave me a Goldcrest, two more Chiffys and a couple of Redwings and from there it was back to the wood, and coffee and lunch from the comfort of the bucket. From which I saw and enjoyed a Kingfisher, a Gt Black-backed Gull, a distant Buzzard over the north downs and a couple of Rooks, which bought my total species to 46. I bumped into Mike Easterbrook on the way back to the car park and we managed to add Green Woodpecker and Stock Dove. Starling and House Sparrow were seen on my return home bringing the total to a nice round 50.

I know it's a bit gruesome but I took the picture below of poor old Moley on the NH raptor viewing mound. You don't often see their digging utensils do you!

A very happy new year to everybody who reads my blog and many thanks for all the comments, all very much appreciated.



Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
Not a bad start to you local patch year list. Shame the Bittern wasn't showing, still plenty of time yet.
Well done with adding Water Rail to the list.

Marc Heath said...

A nice account of the day and good luck for the year.

Jason K said...

Goldeneye is a good bitd to start the year list with Phil. Ps. loving the Swan flight shots mate

Alan Pavey said...

A nice start Phil, with some birds I would love to find on my patch one day, Happy New Year!!

Marianne said...

Happy new year, Phil! That Goldeneye's a cracker. Bet you're glad you're not out there today (or maybe you are...???)

Greenie said...

Phil ,
If , and when the car is fixed , the Trout lake could get a visit .
Hope today's weather hasn't made things worse with the roof .
Good start to the year , and I'm sure the 'Bittern touch' will return .

Warren Baker said...

An excellent start to the year Phil, I'm well envious of some of those species, esecially the lake dwellers ( not the dog though!!)

It's taken me 3 visits to get to 50 here, i'm not at all confident about 2012 being very good birding year here - but who knows :-)

Chris said...

Wow gorgeous start Phil... May I have the same please... I wish you a happy new year and hope you will see many more birds than last year :-)