Wednesday, 2 January 2013
2013 OFF TO A GOOD START
The first of January 2013 dawned bright and clear, a welcome but short respite to a depressingly wet end of 2012. The first bit of good news was the early arrival on the feeders of our long staying garden Nuthatch, a good bird to kick off my New Hythe lakes year list.
Carol and I had to go up to the new house at West Farleigh in the morning so the NH list couldn't start properly until today. More of that later. Anyway, given that the sun was out we decided to put our boots on and have a walk while we were there. Within about ten minutes walk from the house we reached the River Medway above which is the fresh water stretch as opposed to the tidal stretch further downstream at New Hythe. The river has recently burst its banks here but has now receded, leaving us with a very soggy and muddy walk upstream to Wateringbury and then back downstream on the far bank to the mediaeval bridge that connects West Farleigh and Teston.
Birding highlights included a flock of Linnets at the spot where the top picture was taken, several good sized flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares and a couple of Kestrels. One of the Kestrels, pictured above, was basking on a ledge near the top of West Farleigh church. I think its a regular churchgoer as i've seen it there before.
While we were out on our new patch I got a couple of texts to say that there was a female/immature Smew and a female Goosander on Streamside lake at NH. So when we got back to Larkfield in the afternoon I popped down to the lakes to see if I could find them. Which I did. While there I checked out the Bittern site for a while with Terry Laws and John Tilbrook. We didn't see it but while we waited, we heard a commotion in the trees alongside us which turned out to be a poor old Fox being hotly pursued by a dog. That makes a change, it's usually poor old me they're chasing.
This morning I managed a proper visit to good old New Hythe, there was no sign of the Smew or Goosander so i'm pleased I got them when I did. I'm not sure if they've moved on or were just 'ducking and diving' today, time will tell. I did manage to see fifty other species though (i'll list them on the sidebar), the best of which are as follows; two Common Snipe and two Redshanks from the small wood by the river as well as a flock of twenty or so Lapwings over. A Kingfisher and two Treecreepers from the south end of Streamside (still no Bittern though). At least six Goldcrests around the site. Just one Redwing, two Fieldfares, a large, swirling flock of Goldfinches and Siskins and a Kestrel performing a balancing act (below) in the east scrub. A Water Rail which flew up noisily from the reeds in front of me in the NE corner of Abbey Mead and a Sparrowhawk hunting alongside Brooklands lake. Other birds heard but not seen and therefore remain off the year list for now included Bullfinch, Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff.
I ended 2012 with a list of 107 species seen at NH which is two up on 2011. However, although I saw them all, I didn't necessarily find them all myself. So a big thanks to those other New Hythe watchers who took the trouble to text me with their hard earned finds and gave me the chance to see some great birds. Many thanks also to all those who have taken the trouble to read my ramblings, especially those who left very welcome comments. Happy new year to you all.