Tuesday, 5 February 2013


 The bitter North wind nearly took my breath away as I stood by the bucket seat next to the River Medway on Saturday morning.I didn't stand there long, there wasn't much to see really. As was the case with Brooklands lake, which was cloaked in the mist, stench and noise spewed out by the paper mill which looms large on its northern edge. A couple of Great Crested Grebes, the inevitable Coots and a smattering of Tufted Ducks made up most of the birds who chose to brave the conditions, man made and otherwise. I didn't stand there long either. 
Abbey Mead lake was much more sheltered and as has been the norm this Winter, was teeming with all the usual wildfowl, plus two of the less usual red-head Smew, who looked a bit unsettled to be honest. Maybe it was my presence or maybe it was the three fishermen around the lake, either way, I moved on and left them in peace. The birds that is, not the fishermen.

It's now early February and I still haven't managed to see a New Hythe Bittern, i've usually been lucky enough to see one by the end of November. With this in mind I headed for Streamside lake to see if I could catch up with one. While there I watched a small flock of Long Tailed Tits working their way through the trees lining the lakeside. Among them were Blue Tits, Great Tits, and at least one Goldcrest, while above them a surprisingly noisy flock of Siskins and Goldfinches fed on Alder seeds before suddenly moving off, en masse to the next chosen tree.    

This small piece of woodland is sometimes visited by Treecreepers, quite a difficult bird to see at New Hythe. But today I was lucky enough to have two visit and hang around long enough for me to settle down and try for some pictures.

Sorry about all of those but I don't often get a chance to see them, let alone take their picture. I was joined soon after by Terry and Martin and while we chatted  I spotted a Buzzard drifting high above, one of two seen that morning and my 67th NH species for the year so far. As we walked back down the river a flock of twelve Common Snipe circled above, the most i've ever seen at New Hythe I think. At the same time a bigger flock of Lapwings also took to the air, put up by my 68th species, a Marsh Harrier which  I spotted flying low over the reedbeds a bit further downstream. By the way, i'm still waiting for a Bittern.

I forgot to mention that at last, after at least six, maybe seven attempts, I finally connected with Adam's famous Barming church Hawfinches. My lack of success was becoming legendary, the 'kiss of death' was Adam's response when I called in to the church on the way to West Farleigh on Monday morning, where he was already on duty. An apt description given that we were standing among the grave stones at the time!  He left for work leaving me in charge and after half an hour or so I was rewarded with my first ever Hawfinch, a female who flew in twice but unfortunately didn't stay very long. Never mind, at least I can hold my head up now. Many thanks Adam for all your texts and help.


Alan Pavey said...

An interesting visit and well done with the Hawfinches finally, lovely set of Treecreeper pics too.

Marc Heath said...

Great Treecreeper shots.

Mike Attwood said...

Sharp with the Box-brownie today Phil.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Congrats on finally seeing one of Adam's Hawfinches , I think it's a first for many of us who have visited the site .
Great set of Treecreeper shots .
I see there was a drake Goldeneye on Little Alders yesterday .

ShySongbird said...

Very well done on the Hawfinch Phil, it reminded me of my long but eventually successful Waxwing hunt :-) Very well done too with the Treecreeper, such a difficult brd to photograph, great photos!

Warren Baker said...

Well that leaves just me to connect with the Hawfinches then Phil!

Ken. said...

Well done with seeing the Hawfinch. I reckon the Bittern is giving you the runaround, still the Marsh Harrier made up for it.
Is that bucket still going strong?