I intended visiting Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve today, but I changed my mind when I heard of a burst water main on the A25. So that's how I ended up at Oare marshes at about 10am this morning. The east flood was mostly frozen, as you'd expect after several nights of sub zero temperatures, consequently there wasn't much going on. There were the usual Shovelers, Mallards, Teal, Wigeon and some splendid Pintails and as I watched, half a dozen Greylags came honking in and tentatively landed on the thin ice. Some broke through for a soft landing but a couple must have chosen a slightly thicker patch and did a good impression of dancing on ice before regaining their composure.
I left the hide fairly soon and started the walk around the circuit seeing a few Reed Buntings (above), and a Kingfisher who had found a small patch of unfrozen water in the ditch by the sluice and was diving into it, seemingly without success.
I stopped for a few minutes to watch this Robin who was shadowing a cow's every move in the adjacent field. I presumed it was finding some sort of food disturbed by the cow's hooves, as it flew continually from the bushes to the cow for some time. A Kestrel was hunting over the flood and that, together with a couple of distant Marsh Harriers over on Sheppey were the only raptors seen. I stood by the sea wall hide for a few minutes and watched a large flock of Avocets close to the distant tideline at the mouth of the creek, they briefly took to the air for a few moments and looked great in the bright sun, pity they weren't a bit closer. Curlews, Redshanks, Dunlins, Oystercatchers and Shelducks all poked about in the freezing mud but I couldn't find anything out of the ordinary.
After finishing the usual circuit I decided to walk along to Dan's Dock and from there to a small wooded area which I think is called Uplees? There were two Green Woodpeckers flying around on the salt marsh and two Stonechats accompanied me for a while, perching as usual on fence posts and bushes just out of range of the camera. Apart from a few Skylarks, Greenfinches and Robins that was about it. I didn't see a single Egret or Grey Heron during my visit, quite unusual I should think.
Just before I left I had a call from Alan Roman to say he'd just seen a Goosander on Streamside lake at New Hythe. I had decided to stay away from the lakes for a few days but as usual I couldn't resist it and called in on my way home. It took a while to find but sure enough there it was, a fine Redhead Goosander, without a doubt one of my favourite birds and number 62 for the New Hythe year list. Sorry about the crap picture. Despite my misgivings yesterday regarding the duck shooting, I will still continue to patronise the lakes I think, it's where I've spent most of my time in the last few years and I don't want to let it go.