Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Bough Beech and SWR

On Sunday afternoon, we went to Bough Beech, racing the gathering clouds. That's about all there is to say about that. Well, I did take a few photos, but it was very quiet, and nearly everything was out of range.

 As ever when visiting a reservoir in early autumn, our fingers were crossed for an Osprey. No luck but there were three Common Buzzards sailing around.

The water levels were super-low, and there were a fair few birds congregating around the channel by the causeway, including a very close Little Egret. However, it flew before we could head in its direction, so I offer a Grey Heron instead.

On the other side of the road, there was very little water, just a winding ditch lined with Teals. The drakes are almost out of their eclipse plumage now.

We walked down to the visitor centre, looking at the feeding station on the way. Empty feeders, no birds. There was this Red Admiral on the apple tree, desperately trying to soak up some warmth before the sun disappeared for the day.

The pond behind the barn was no longer a pond but a lush grassy field. The pathway alongside it was closed, with a sign up saying that some habitat development work was underway and also, excitingly, there were plans to build a hide here. That should be really good.

The sun was gone but we bought icecreams anyway. Heading back to the car park, we found a female Southern Hawker whizzing about over the ditch that connects the reservoir to the pond that's no longer a pond. I tried in vain to take its photo while Rob made sarcastic remarks about my lack of skill, then I handed him the camera and he failed just as miserably. We did enjoy some point-blank views of the little beauty though, before she lost patience and zoomed away.

And so to today - the second still, warm, cloudless day of what looks to be a true Indian summer. Rob has a new lens, so we went to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve to test-drive it. He had to go straight off to work after a couple of hours so I haven't seen his photos yet but here are some of mine.

I'm quite impressed that I managed a sharpish shot of this Blue Tit at the feeders by Grebe hide - it was very early and, according to my camera, too dark for proper shutter speeds.

We went to Tyler hide, pausing briefly at the viewing mound where we saw a Kingfisher plunge into the shady water directly below, then disappear into the trees on the island. Not too much to see from the hide - a few Black-headed Gulls, Teals, Lapwings and Cormorants. A lone Snipe.

A trio of Pheasants came wandering into view. This female was on the mainland in front of us.

Over on the nearest island was another female, and this unusual-looking male whose plumage was liberally sprinkled with pale fawn feathers.

We went on to Willow hide, nearly colliding with the same or another Kingfisher that belted across from East lake to the river in front of us. From Willow hide, the lake was prettily sunlit, with Gadwalls, Coots and Mallards drifting about. The resident Mute Swans and their full-grown cygnet were on the far shore. All rather so-so, but a lot of new ducks were arriving which kept my camera busy as I tried for flight shots.

These arrivals were all Mallards at first, and then a trio of smaller ducks with white wing-flashes appeared. They were two Wigeons, in company with a male Gadwall (which couldn't quite keep up).

A closer look at one of the Wigeons. Both were males, still with mostly eclipse body plumage.

A series of agitated whistles drew our attention to yet another Kingfisher. It flew in and landed in the large willow that takes up most of the central island. Here it sat in the shade, pretty much out of reach of my lens. I watched it for a while, but got distracted by these scrapping Moorhens.

I therefore missed the Kingfisher making a dive. It came up empty-billed and landed on a slightly more photogenic branch of the willow, but decided it didn't want to stick around for a photo-shoot.

And that was that - it was time to go. We walked back, just pausing long enough to grab a shot of this quizzical-looking Dunnock, and to admire from a distance a Nuthatch in trees behind the visitor centre.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Nice post Marianne, despite what sounds like a quiet Bough Beech.
I really like your silhouetted Cormorant and who needs another posing Kingfisher? Your take off shot is more interesting.
Thanks very much for helping with the Skipper ID, it's good to know someone is keeping their eye on me:-)