Weather wise it wasn't the greatest day for a spot of bird watching, but beggars can't be choosers, so off I went to foggy New Hythe lakes this morning to see what Autumnal delights (if any) were on offer. For reasons that escape me there were two council workers hard at work strimming the soggy dead undergrowth along the edge of the car park when I arrived, but even above this din an audacious Robin made itself heard above the machines. Although I have to say, it would have struggled more just around the corner, where the paper mill easily drowned out all competition . It was aided by the north easterly breeze that blew its noise towards me and deposited a foul smelling, moisture laden pall of contaminated steam all across Brooklands lake. I held my breath, covered my bins and hurried past.
As it happens, despite the bad visibility, there were quite a few delights in the end, 45 to be precise. These are some of them.
In and around the sunken marsh were about a dozen Redwings, three Lesser Redpolls, two Grey Wagtails, good numbers of Song Thrushes and even more Blackbirds (surely incomers). Several Cetti's Warblers shouted at each other and a mixed flock of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits worked their way through accompanied by a couple of Goldcrests. A single Reed Bunting was also seen. Where have they been recently?
As usual, this time of year Abbey Mead lake is the preferred Coot 'street corner', just the place to hang out, preen and have a fight. This time though they were joined, unusually, by around twenty Mute Swans, along with the usual mix of Great Crested Grebes and good numbers of Tufted Ducks, a more genteel species and less inclined to brawling than Coots I find. The east scrub yielded Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers a Jay or two (hardly an irruption), a small charm of teasel finches and a surprise Kestrel who hovered briefly above the bushes where Terry found the Wryneck last week. It was while watching this, that I briefly saw two waders fly over in the gloom, heading for the river. I'm not sure what they were, (I need waders to be standing close by, in good light and preferably with a sign round their neck stating their name) but my guess was Redshanks. I wanted to head straight to the river, there's been an absolute drought of waders at NH recently, so these two could well break my duck, if you see what I mean. But first I wanted to have a look and see if the Bitterns had arrived yet at Streamside. I don't think they have, it was a bit optimistic really. But I was pleased to see that the Ranger team at the country park have got their interests in mind when they do. The sign pictured below should hopefully ensure that they are undisturbed and safe in their traditional reedbed location. Nice one.
I hurried back over the east scrub to the river, noting a few overflying Siskins and surprisingly a couple of low flying Swallows on the way. No sign of waders but a Kingfisher brightened things up as they always do. The final stop was at the small wood by the river where the upturned bucket provided a seat while I watched the last bit of the river on the falling tide. It was here that I spotted a Redshank, down stream in the shallows, the drought was over. Then I got a text from Terry who had just seen three Wigeon on Abbey Mead and also spotted a flyover Goldeneye. A really good record for October. While texting him back a Common Sandpiper flew past me and landed briefly on a small exposed island in the river. Given that my luck seemed to be in, I went back to Abbey Mead and eventually found the three female Wigeon, as well as a couple of Gadwall and best of all the female Goldeneye, who must have dropped on to the lake after Terry had spotted it flying over. It's feeling like Winter!!