Saturday, 21 December 2013


 I haven't posted much about New Hythe for some time now. I've paid a few visits recently but haven't found much of interest to be honest. On Thursday, Terry Laws spotted a drake Red-Crested Pochard on Abbey Mead lake. So on Friday, with the sun shining, I thought i'd pop down and see if it was still there. I found it eventually, sleeping with the growing flock of Pochards that usually move on to the lake at this time of year. As usual the birds had positioned themselves far enough away from the bank to make getting a picture difficult. But after some careful and very slow manoeuvring on the high and slippery southern edge, I managed to park myself behind a tree and waited for it to wake up. Which it didn't, well only very briefly when a Coot dived alongside it and disturbed it. They have their uses!

 In the north east corner of Brooklands lake I found this Heron fishing in the margins, he looks like he's enjoying the low sun as much as me. He wasn't enjoying my presence though and would have preferred to fly off I think. Trouble was he was hemmed in by low branches and so decided to do an impersonation of a plastic Heron in the hope that I would clear off quickly. Which I did after a quick snap or two.

The ugly, noisy, smelly mill which spans the northern edge of Brooklands has been exquisitely quiet now for several months. I think it's had its day, a new building is being built behind it. I for one will be glad to see the back of this blot on the landscape if it goes. Since it has stopped operating I have sometimes seen this Kestrel perching on the window ledges. This time was a couple of weeks ago and he had just caught his lunch. Left click for a more gory view.

From the bucket wood I was pleased to see no less than four species of wader on the river. This doesn't happen very often here, at least not to me. Common Snipe, Redshank, Lapwing (above) and Common Sandpiper were all making the most of the rapidly diminishing muddy margins as the tide rapidly flooded in. Also here were several Little Grebe, a small flock of Canade geese with a single Greylag in tow, good numbers of Teal and a Buzzard perched in a tree on the opposite bank. 

My final tally for the morning was a creditable 48 species. Not bad for an inland site in the middle of December. It could so easily have been well over 50 if the likes of Grey and Pied Wagtail, Song Thrush and Fieldfare had been found. These were species that I just didn't connect with on the day, but what about species such as Goldcrest for instance. I would expect to see these on nearly every visit during the Winter but I haven't seen one so far this year. Siskins too are in short supply with none seen at NH yet this Winter, although I heard just one calling over Abbey Mead while I watched the RC Pochard. On the other hand Blackbirds are everywhere, with literally hundreds across the site at present. And in my back garden as it happens, along with a single Fieldfare who visits most days for next doors Apples and occasionally has a bath in my pond.

As I walked back along the wide path adjacent to the river I stopped to listen to a strange call coming from close by. It turned out to be the 'local' Harris Hawk who has taken up residence recently. He was, maybe understandably, quite tolerant of my presence but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find a decent gap in the branches to get a picture without the obligatory twig across the face.
Of course I won't be adding the Hawk to my New Hythe year list which is a shame really because the Red-crested Pochard bought my tally up to 99. Only one more for the ton, but it's unlikely to happen now........unless Terry helps me out again!


Marc Heath said...

So close, you never know, perhaps one more species will turn up.

Warren Baker said...

So you need Goldcrest to make the ton up then Phil? Got to be worth a visit or two over xmas!

Jason K said...

Cracking shots of the Red Crested Pochard Phil.. The drakes are stunning looking birds

It's funny about the Harris Hawk as we have an escaped one in these parts that has been doing the rounds for a while now

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Good to see that you still remember where NH is !!
Nice RCP .

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Beautiful pictures.. Merry Xmas.. :-)))