I've had a few short trips to New Hythe in recent weeks and in general have struggled to find much of interest.
A couple of weeks ago I found this unfortunate Jay at the southern end of Abbey Mead lake. It was clearly unwell, or injured, and made no attempt to move away as I approached. It didn't even seem aware of my presence. This was the closest i've been to a Jay, such a shame it was in these circumstances. I knew the best thing would be to despatch it quickly, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I hope it didn't suffer too much more.
Sedge Warblers seem to get harder and harder to find at New Hythe. I don't think I had one at all last year. This year I have seen two. The first was in September I think, Terry spotted it skulking among the reeds by the river, in front of the bucket seat. Which reminds me, the famous bucket has disappeared. I don't know what's happened to it but it's gone. A sad loss of an iconic New Hythe landmark. Anyway, back to the Sedgies. I found the one above, alongside Brooklands lake a few weeks ago and despite waiting for about half an hour to show itself properly, this was the best I got.
I left the Sedge to continue to refuel for its imminent migration and headed back to the car park. Before I got there I came to the new fishermen's 'stewpond' in the corner of Brooklands lake. This is actually a holding pond for fish which are being grown on ready for restocking the lake. It didn't take long for the local Kingfisher to wise up to it. I just managed a quick snap before he spotted me and streaked away. It's a poor shot and I include it only because I like the way its back perfectly matches the nylon rope that it's perched on.
Last Tuesday, in drizzly, misty conditions at New Hythe I found a superb male Ring Ouzel. This was a site tick, my first in about eight years of watching there. What a great bird to give me my 90th species for the year. Later, two Goldcrests, a rare NH species in the last couple of years were my 91st.
On Tuesday 16th I ventured across the water to Sheppey and visited Elmley NNR. The entrance track was quiet, just a few Skylarks, some Linnets and the usual Starlings playing chicken beneath the feet of the cows. I did see a Brown Hare and a Stoat though. The former showed a clean pair of heels as I approached and the latter crossed the track and disappeared into the long grass. I stopped the car and did my usual impression of a very distressed Vole and sure enough after a minute or so the Stoat popped up on back legs a few feet from me expecting an easy lunch. As ever, the lifting of the camera alerted it to its mistake and it was gone. One day I'll get the picture, but even if I don't I'll still enjoy my brief moments of contact with these great little creatures.
At the orchard, there were two Long-eared Owls. The male was, as you would expect, buried deep in foliage and just showing a few feathers between the leaves. But the female (I believe), pictured above, was much less fussy and was happy to be seen and was completely disinterested in me and anybody else who happened to be passing.
I continued to walk to the hides thinking that anything could happen after that. But nothing much did. There was not a single bird on the flood in front of Wellmarsh hide, not one, not even a Mallard. I made my way back to the car park noting the occasional Marsh Harrier, a couple of Kestrels and a couple of Stonechats.
In the car park I was briefly entertained by the resident House Sparrows above and on the track a couple more Stonechats were seen, along with a couple of Wheatears, below, who accompanied me for some distance, Roadrunner style before perching briefly alongside the car.
In September Carol and I spent some time walking in the Dordogne region of France. Birdwise it wasn't that great, but the butterflies made up for it. When the wind is howling and the temperature has dropped and Summer is a distant memory i'll post some pictures of them to cheer us all up.