Tuesday, 20 January 2015


My New Hythe species list for 2014 ended with a moderate total of 95 species. I say moderate because all but three on my list are pretty much guaranteed if regular visits are made throughout the year. The three 'extras' were Red Kite, a Woodcock just before year end and the star of the show for me in the shape of a Ring Ouzel, my first ever for this site. The absence last winter of Smew, Goldeneye , Goosander and Waxwing, along with the lack of 'drop ins' like Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher all conspired to deprive me of my hoped for 100. 

On monday Terry and I paid another visit to NH in the hope of boosting this year's list, which for me stood at 62 species. These of course are the easy ones. It's the next 40 which take longer. With a full tide and the added flood water from upstream, we gave bucket wood and the river a miss and went to look for Bittern on Abbey Mead. It was a fruitless search for what is becoming a much more difficult bird to see here in the last couple of years.
Near the Streamside reed bed, famed for once being the winter residence of choice for New Hythe's Bitterns, I heard a faint trill which betrayed the presence of a Treecreeper (63). Not an easy bird to find here. We crossed the country park, seeing Little Egret and a very handsome Harris Hawk which circled lazily against a blue sky with two Buzzards and an entourage of very indignant gulls. Where the path runs adjacent to the new housing estate I spotted this amazingly obliging Redwing foraging in the grass. This was the closest i'd ever been to a Redwing I think, just a pity the sun had gone in. We decided to wait for a bit of better light but this is a busy path and a split second after I said "somebody is bound to come round the corner and spook it," somebody did. Hey ho. It was here also that Terry found a Blackcap (64), a good bird to see overwintering at NH.
By now the tide was dropping so a final look from bucket wood seemed like a good idea. And so it proved. Within a couple of seconds I found a superb male Marsh Harrier (65) quartering the extensive reed bed on the other side of the river and looking stunning in the low sun aginst the backdrop of Burham church.

Today, Tuesday 20th January, I went to Sevenoaks reserve, mainly because the weather looked a bit better to the west.
I headed straight for the field just past Long Lake, favoured hang out I thought for the almost legendary White Ibis which has graced this reserve for some time now. It wasn't there. Only interest were two Parakeets squawking nearby and looking a bit incongruous in frosty, leafless trees.

I headed back and had a surprise encounter with a pair of Bullfinches who were perched low on a bush as I rounded a corner. Unfortunately their reactions, as always, were faster than mine. They quickly flew, showing clean pairs of heels and very white rumps. My usual view of these shy birds. A Treecreeper and a sparkling Kingfisher also gave interest. The latter offering a possible picture if a very strange looking chap hadn't turned up at the same time and spooked it. I offered a cheerful "good morning" to show I held no grudge. All I got in return was a stony stare from a face like a slapped arse. Happy days!
This female Blackbird seemed happy though. She was leaf and moss turning along the side of the path and wasn't the slightest bit bothered by my presence. Those Bullfinches should take a leaf out of her book. So should the man with the face!

Just past a very busy Tyler hide I stopped to scan the islands and there was the White Ibis along with a male and female Goosander and dozens of Snipe. It's a bit distant but you can't have everything.


Graham Nichols said...

Surprised I didn't bump into you Phil, I was at Sevenoaks Tuesday - been up 3 times after those elusive Goosander

Mike Attwood said...

I have found it very quiet so far this year Phil. I like your description of the stoney face, thats a descriptive term I shall have to remember.

alan woodcock said...

Hi,I think Marsh Harrier,are more regular in the area than the records would suggest.

Marianne said...

Great post - sounds a nice day at Abbey Mead (lack of Bitterns notwithstanding). Sorry you met a grumpy arse at Sevenoaks though! Maybe we can try for our long-postponed trip to Dunge or somewhere in Feb.