Wednesday, 1 December 2010


I do have an excuse for not blogging lately, but it's pathetic. It's because I've switched to shooting in RAW, after some very insistent advice from a friend who knows what she's talking about. Now I have to severely edit my existing photo library to free up some disk space, before going through the huge backlog of photos I have to file, and working out how best to file them, given that .NEF images don't give you a preview in Windows XP. Anyway, that's my problem, not yours. Today Rob was off work because of stupid quantities of snow everywhere, and we waded down to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve to see what was about.

 This gives you a pretty good idea of the depth of snow, and only a couple of walkers before us had disturbed it.

Going into the wildlife garden to look at the feeding station there was difficult (snow jamming the gate shut), treacherous (you couldn't see where the pond was) and ultimately pointless (the feeders were empty). However, several Song Thrushes were visiting the guelder rose tree, and I also saw a Mistle Thrush high in one of the tall trees. No 'winter thrushes' though.

About six Dunnocks were at the Grebe Hide feeding station, rubbing shoulders with the tits and Chaffinches, and doing a bit of singing and displaying at each other in between amateurish attempts to take food from the hanging feeders.

While the Dunnocks sat around posing in full view, this Wren was much more furtive and refused to pose nicely in the open. It didn't look very happy - the smallest birds suffer most in weather like this.

The big lake was unfrozen (though it looked damn cold). We walked up towards Willow hide, stopping on the way to photography a group of snow-covered Canada Geese. Otherwise, the walk up was very quiet. The occasional sneeze of a Siskin overhead, and we flushed a Green Woodpecker from the ground. That may be a site tick for me (or a site sight tick at least, have definitely heard them here before).

From Willow hide, there wasn't much to see. The lake was mostly frozen, I guess because it is smaller than the main lake, with a bit of clear water around the island. In this small pocket of water swam a pair of Wigeons, a few Gadwalls, one Teal, two Great Crested Grebes, a bunch of Coots and a juvenile Mute Swan. It looked pretty crowded. On the edge of the ice lay a dead something (possibly a Canada Goose, but it was half covered with snow) being picked at by a Magpie and a Carrion Crow.

We went back to Tyler hide and enjoyed the sight of lots of wildfowl and gulls on the water and islands. I'd been chuckling at Lapwings falling over in the snow for some minutes before I noticed something unexpected - a tight-knit group of swans, not the regular Mutes. They were Bewick's - nine adults and two juvs. I don't recall seeing this species in the sightings book before, so I'm guessing this is quite a notable record.

A fast-flying group of ducks went over. I grabbed a couple of shots - zoomed in I could see they were Goosanders, which was nice as I hadn't managed to find the two females that were supposed to be on the lake.

There's been a Bittern about lately, apparently seen from the Tower hide. We went into the bit underneath the tower and from there had quite close views of a nice Snipe. However, the light was disappearing already and we were both freezing, so we opted not to continue the Bittern search. Maybe tomorrow... meanwhile, if I get my act together and sort out those old photos, there should be a belated post about Slimbridge coming soon.


Dina said...

Beautiful pictures of the snow. It's so weird to see those tiny birds in the snow. You would think they would freeze.

Sheila said...

Great pictures Marianne.