This winter is never ending. It seems longer than usual and colder than usual. Or maybe it's just my age. Still, February is well under way and spring is just around the corner.
At New Hythe lakes on Thursday a brief burst of ever so slightly warming sunshine showed off this local blue tit's bright plumage as it posed, not for me, but for a prospective mate. They don't need a calendar to know there's light at the end of the tunnel.
Here's another clue to the impending spring. A black-headed gull, red of legs and bill and just beginning it's partial moult into the dark brown head that gives the lie to its name.
I arrived at bucket wood where the River Medway was at low tide. Apart from the usual teal and mallards I was lucky enough to see two common sandpipers, a green sandpiper, an oystercatcher, lapwings, a single redshank, an unusually brave water rail, a snipe, a grey wagtail and my first New Hythe kingfisher of the year.
At abbey mead lake I finally found the female scaup among the multitude of sleeping pochards, gadwalls, grebes, gulls and tufted ducks. There is another scaupy looking duck with a white saddle to its bill on this lake which tends to hang out with this one. I think it's a pochard/tuftie cross or something of that ilk. I hope the one in the distant shot above is the real McCoy, apologies if i'm wrong.
The last bird on my list was a chiffchaff in the wet wood at the car park end of the millstream and was my 47th species of the morning. This included five new ticks for my New Hythe year list which now stands at 69.