I hadn't seen a Water Vole for some time in the narrow ditches that skirt the east and west scrubs. So I was really pleased to see this very young individual feeding in the edges and showing little concern about the humans and dogs who passed by every few minutes.
On the bird front, things are changing too with the arrival of the first Summer migrants, notably the Chiffchaffs. There have been a few on site right through the Winter but now numbers seem to have risen and the air is full of their monotonous but very welcome song. More melodious was the first Blackcap song of the year from the individual below who was singing from the area around the NW corner of Brooklands lake. Further round the lake, close to the NW corner of the sunken marsh, was where a Ring-necked Parakeet flew by me and over bucket wood. That was a surprise and although not a site tick, was only my second ever in the area. Buzzards deserve a mention too. I lost count of how many I saw that day, but a minimum of nine in the air all at once was bordering on a flock. Good to see, even without all the other individuals and pairs and trios also drifting over during the morning.
Yesterday morning I got a text from Glenn to sat he'd just had a probable Short-eared Owl from bucket wood. This has now been confirmed by his own pics that he managed to take and is a great record for the site, especially as it came across the river and over to the sunken marsh. Am I jealous? I sure am. That's why I visited this morning in the very faint hope that it would return. Of course it didn't, it was probably just passing through. But I did manage to find my first Sedge Warbler of the year, singing intermittently right alongside the Blackcap who was also still in full voice.
On the first of October 2015 I drove down to Dungeness to see and take some pics of the Firecrests and Goldcrests who had arrived to spend the winter here and were feeding up before dispersing into the wider countryside (including New Hythe as it happens). On the first of April 2016, exactly six months later I went back down to Dungeness to see their return.
I was a bit late to see them in the numbers that were there a few days earlier but I probably got to see half a dozen or so as they fed incessantly, along with a few Goldcrests.
Unfortunately the sun shine was a bit patchy and the breeze didn't help, but I was quite pleased with some of the pictures that I managed to take when they stopped for half a nano second!
Here's a Goldcrest who wasn't too shy.......
.......and here's another who was.....
.....and here's another who looked a bit odd posing on the grass.
The RSPB reserve was a bit quiet. I did spot this rather distant Gt White Egret. But apart from that it was mostly Reed Buntings really. Although just before I reached the approach to Dengemarsh hide a pair of Bearded Tits flew straight over my head. Somebody a bit sharper than me (no pun intended) might have got a quick shot of them, but my 'birds in flight' skills are notoriously poor. Must try harder.
I don't know who was more surprised when this Stoat ran across the path in front of me and disappeared into a patch of Gorse. When I tried to call it back it surprised me again by popping up behind me. Just as well I wasn't a Vole in distress or I'd have probably been lunch.
Anyway, realising he'd been duped, he left the scene double quick. 'A clean pair of heels' I think this is called.
On my way round the reserve I'd heard and seen a few Marsh Frogs. And at first I thought this was one. But it was crossing a wide track away from the water and it was walking, not hopping. Must be a Toad then..........