Saturday, 7 November 2009

Bough Beech, today

What's this? Sunshine?

Rob-being-on-call woes meant we didn't get out til 1pmish, and he said he wanted to go to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve but then drove straight past it and it became clear we were heading for Bough Beech.

The drive down here is lovely, a narrow hilly hedge-edged lane with views now and then into woodland (home to furtive Fallow Deer - the real, wild deal or at least closer to it than the cossetted Knole Park ones) and across scrubby grassy open hillsides. You get a glimpse of the shining sheet of reservoir from one such bit of the lane, then nothing more until you drive onto the causeway.

The water was as low as I've seen it, exposing lots of mud either side of the causeway, with a narrow channel connecting the main bit to the little offshoot on the other side. On the main reservoir there were numerous Black-headed Gulls in and by the water, a few Lapwings on the shore and assorted badly-lit wildfowl. On the other side - almost nothing, just a couple of Pied Wags and a Mipit exuberantly bathing in the shallow water. The hedge by the causeway had Dunnocks and Wrens in it.

We headed for the visitor centre/feeding station bit, pausing on the way to point the camera at an extremely vocal Goldcrest, perhaps wondering where all its Goldcrest pals had gone (there hardly seem to be any around at the moment). Then onto the feeding station, where many Blue and Great Tits rubbed shoulders at the nut and nyjer feeders with Chaffinches, Greenfinches and at least one Coal Tit and one Nuthatch. A couple of Moorhens were munching from the large pile of apples under the feeders, while a flock of Fieldfares, for whom those apples were probably intended, made chicken noises and flew about but refused to come very close. There were Redwings about too, but they were even more eager not to be seen properly. The main feeder is a bit too distant for decent photos, but there is a closer one, attended by numerous Blue Tits.

We got a brief look at a long-tailed apparition as it zipped overhead to the feeding area, cutting a strange figure with wings completely tucked in as it boinged over the hedge. The hysteria its arrival caused among the little birds suggested it was a Sparrowhawk, and it actually obliged us by landing briefly on a clear (albeit distant) perch before bombing off to its next hunting opportunity. I missed the cause of a subsequent similar disturbance because I was distracted by a small wader flying past, whose dark upperparts and neat square white rump said 'I'm a Green Sandpiper'.

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