Sunday, 27 February 2011

Back on the patch

It was a beautiful sunny morning and I was in Sevenoaks for a change, so I decided to skip aikido and head for Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. I got the camera out on the way, as I was seeing so much photogenically lit (albeit common) birdlife around.

The most interesting fly-by was probably this male Great Spotted Woodpecker...

... while the most alarming would be this Canada Goose, who was honking loudly and seemed to be on a collision course. Unlike the woodie shot, this one is uncropped from the 300mm lens. I was very brave and didn't duck.

One of several beady-eyed Jackdaws checking me out from their vantage points on handy TV aerials.

A remarkably confiding Collared Dove (or maybe it didn't realise I was looking at it) enjoying the early morning sun at the top of the access track.

Once in the reserve, I was very pleased to find a small flock of Lesser Redpolls close to the start of the main track, and my delight was only slightly diminished by their extreme flightiness and tendency to hide behind branches.

It was very encouraging, after such a cold December, to hear lots of Goldcrests while going round the trails. This one even found time in its busy schedule to pose for a quick snap.

I only had time to visit one hide on the main reserve - Willow. Not too much to see here, lots of Gadwalls, including these two, plus Teals, Egyptian Geese and the (even more) usual suspects. The water seemed very high.

I completely fluffed my attempts to photograph the Egyptian Geese in flight, but one of the three shots I got of this passing Gadwall drake was sharpish.

On the way back, I stopped for a long hard stare at the particularly gnarly tree that's covered in dead ivy branches, and was rewarded with a Treecreeper.

The alders were playing host to quite a few Siskins. Light and the need to hold the camera almost vertical made getting any photos rather difficult. Here is one of the few that sorta kinda worked.

A sign of spring - some lovely pussy willow. Photographed from Grebe hide, where the feeders were being largely ignored as all the tits and finches concentrated on trying to get off with each other.

On the track out, I got surprisingly close to this Redwing, but before I could move to a spot where I could see its whole head, a car came along and scared it off . This is still quite possibly my best Redwing shot to date.

Walking home, I spotted this nice male Grey Wagtail trotting along the margin of one of the Bradbourne Lakes - a nice addition to the usual crowd of 'mucky Mallards' that frequents these small and rather shady ponds.

I'd planned to go for a walk with Michele later today, hence the need to be home by 11am. By then, the clouds were gathering in a slightly ominous way. We opted to have a quick walk in Knole Park rather than anything more ambitious.

We had hoped to find a cast antler or two. No luck, but some of the deer had photogenic moments. Here's a white Fallow doe...

... and a not-white Sika hind.

Finally, two of a party of five or so very loud Ring-necked Parakeets. Birdlife was not very much in evidence in the park today. We did see a Sparrowhawk on the way home (after I'd packed the camera away, naturally).

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