Thursday, 2 September 2010

Kingfisher addiction

It's not like me to spend ages in a hide waiting for that one special bird to show up. I guess that's why I don't have a better collection of wildlife photos. But it was another sunny morning yesterday, so I went to the reserve and headed straight for the Carter hide. I wasn't the first - two 'togs' were in situ already but I squeezed in and waited for about an hour, during which the Kingfisher/s didn't show up.

Willow hide had more birds and fewer humans (none, in fact, at first). There were at least four different Gadwalls around, including this pair whose pic I've cropped to a panorama shape to remove a blurry Coot in the foreground. Does the crop work? Hmmmm, not sure.

Same Gadwall drake, different part of the lake so different light. People are always on about how nice-looking drake Gadwalls are 'if you look closely'. Well, I think they look fine from a distance too.

Here's the world's scruffiest Little Grebe. I haven't seen many Little Grebes at the reserve, and this little fella was very obliging, swimming as close to the hide as the extensive mudflats would allow. As I was photographing him, I also enjoyed a chat with a fellow birder who was clearly one of the local super-keen people. He had the Sevenoaks lowdown on every species I cared to mention, and I learned an awful lot from our brief conversation. I wish I'd thought to ask him about the local Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers!

I returned to Carter hide after this. Again, no Kingfishers on the sticks, but at least I saw one this time, having a sit-down quite high up in a tree and ignoring the antics of several Chiffchaffs and Long-tailed Tits nearby. That reminds me - Knowledgeable-man said that more than 70 Chiffchaffs were ringed on this reserve over the weekend - amazing.

Further distraction was provided by this Grey Heron, which was either swimming or taking wading to the absolute extreme. A peculiar sight, either way.

I finally gave up on the hide and left, but I checked the fallen tree by the path on my way back and there was a Kingfisher on it. I tried to creep up on it but flushed it. Must improve creeping technique.

From there I called in at Tyler hide, from where there were some birds to see (though photography is pretty much hopeless). Two Common Sandpipers pottered about on one of the islands, and an eclipse drake Shoveler came in for a spectacular crash-landing nearby. There were little groups of Teals here and there, alongside more Gadwalls. A distinct hint of autumn/winter, in other words.

I spent a little while at the new feeding station in the wildlife garden before going home. The huge viewing slots mean the birds know perfectly well that you're there, but after a short wait they seemed to stop caring. This Blue Tit took a drink from the upturned dustbin lid, no more than 10 feet away. It looked to be a poorly bird though, kept almost losing its balance and falling in.

Besides stuff already mentioned, I saw one Green Sandpiper, a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Magpie, and heard Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers plus at least one Nuthatch. There are still darters and hawkers around, including a fine Brown Hawker which I spent quite a while trying and failing to photograph from Grebe hide.


Phil said...

Hi Marianne.
Who wouldn't get addicted to Kingfishers?
Very nice post which once again reminds me to drive up for a visit soon. Love the Heron shot, looks like one mixed up bird.
I eventually managed to get a copy of August Birdwatch btw. I was very impressed with your excellent article about the ongoing illegal hunting in Malta and hope that it helps raise awareness and pressure to bring about it's end.

Marianne said...

Thanks Phil! Glad you liked the Malta article. If and when you come to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, give me a shout if you like, I'd be happy to show you round.