Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Freezing February

Today's weather forecast was a LIE. Actually, it's looking quite nice and sunny now but this morning was mostly rather gloomy (as well as cold). We got the Sigmonster back from the menders today and Rob decided to take it to Cliffe on his way to work to make sure it really is mended. I asked him to drop me off at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve on the way.

Yesterday we had snow and wall-to-wall grey cloud, and this morning there was still a fair amount of snow lying around in shady spots. However, the lakes were mostly unfrozen.

As soon as I walked into the car park I noticed the excitable hubbub of lots of finches, flitting from tree to tree in the wildlife garden. They were mostly Siskins with a few Goldfinches and Lesser Redpolls (I didn't actually see any of the latter at the time but my photos reveal that at some point at least I was looking right at one). This male Siskin was actually singing, despite the chill in the air.

From Grebe hide there was, for once, quite a lot of wildfowl on view including a flotilla of drake Pochards. There were also yet more Siskins eyeing the feeders, although they were too shy to visit them while I was there. I walked on towards Willow hide, hearing but not seeing a Bullfinch on the way.

There wasn't much doing from Willow hide. I walked on, stopping to enjoy a passing flock of Long-tailed Tits on my way down to Long Lake and beyond. At the far end of Long Lake I heard then saw four Ring-necked Parakeets going over East Lake, and in the shallows a Little Grebe was discreetly feeding.

I went back to Tyler hide and checked out a large gathering of gulls, hunkered down and looking cold. A mixture of Black-headed and Common Gulls, they shared their island with a load of Lapwings. I scanned around and found Teals, Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Wigeons, the usual Cormorants and Grey Herons.

I decided to keep going to the far end. Through a gap in the trees I spotted a pair of Goosanders coming in to make a perfect touch-down on the somewhat choppy water. I admired them through bins for a while but they were way too distant for a worthwhile photo.

From Eric Sutton hide, all looked quiet, but a closer study of the grassy spit in front of the hide revealed a couple of Common Snipes, then a couple more. In the end I counted nine of them - a Jack Snipe would have been nice but today wasn't the day.

I gave the Kingfisher hide a miss and went straight to the Slingsby hide, walking carefullly through the darkness to open a window at the far end. No sooner was it open than the famous Slingsby hide Robin appeared on the ledge, said 'tick' in an expectant way, then flew neatly over my shoulder and into the hide and began to hop about on the floor. He was completely unafraid of me, which meant I couldn't chivvy him out of the hide but had to wait until he'd completed his very thorough exploration of the floor, benches and shelves, and left of his own accord the same way he came in.

On the walk back, I was watching four Greylag Geese flying past when it occured to me that one of them looked a bit smaller and darker, and I wondered if it was the juvenile White-fronted that has been around. Unfortunately I didn't get the camera on them until they were going away, and my photos are inconclusive.

I bumped into Mr Sharp by Nature, Phil Sharp ( on the way out, who said he'd abandoned a glacial Oare Marshes and decided to give Sevenoaks a go instead. Hope you had a good visit, Phil :)


Christian said...

Give me the cold, clear and crisp days anytime eh?

Lovely images of the siskin and Snipe.

Alan Pavey said...

It certainly has been bright today, which looks great on your Siskin pic, despite not working at the moment, I haven't had a chance to get out there today :-( Maybe tomorrow, nice post as always :-)

Mike H said...

Nice account Marianne with some nice shots to accompany it. Must pay the resreve a visit soon it has some good stuff around.

ShySongbird said...

I enjoyed the account of your visit and the photos Marianne and the more I read accounts of the reserve the more I wish it wasn't so far away from me!

That little Robin is becoming a real Blogland star :-)

I keep meaning to say how much I like your header!